Posted on

Carpet: New innovations, processes refresh soft surface offerings

February 2/9, 2015; Volume 28/Number 16

By Ken Ryan

(First of two parts)

From advanced dyeing techniques to new manufacturing processes to the marketing strength of Stainmaster PetProtect, the carpet category created a buzz at Surfaces. A look at some of the top introductions:

Dixie Home

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 2.34.06 PMDixie Home expanded its Stainmaster PetProtect line with Rockport, available in a multicolor pattern, and Fantasia, a cut and loop that gives a high-end look like wool. Magic Moment and Serene Moment, two other new products, also come with the PetProtect system.

Paul Comiskey, president, said the prominent location on the main floor generated steady traffic. “We have seen all the major dealers. The reception has been very good.”

Stainmaster PetProtect, first launched in November 2013, saw resurgence in 2014. “There were two distinct jumps with PetProtect during the year,” he said. “It’s being marketed a lot better, and when national advertising kicked in, it took another jump.”

Engineered Floors/Dream Weaver

Dream Weaver Carpet and Engineered Floors introduced its line of nylon carpet—PureColor solution-dyed soft nylon fiber. This continues the same technology and benefits achieved with PureColor solution-dyed PET and PureColor PureSoft Cashmere solution dyed PET fibers. “We see this as the future of nylon carpet,” said James Lesslie, assistant to the chairman. “Our solution-dye technology has revitalized the polyester carpet market; now we are extending our solutiondyed manufacturing expertise to soft nylon fibers.” Unlike most nylon products currently on the market, Engineered Floors’ has built-in stain resistance throughout the polymer.

At Surfaces, the company introduced 12 products in varying color palettes, weights, styles and textures under the Dream Weaver brand. Triumphant Jamboree and Celebration Jubilee were two standouts. The space dye tufting Engineered uses in these collections creates a “flecking” that is interspersed throughout the carpet. “Flecking is really getting the most wow,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing.

Show attendees also previewed new merchandising displays as well as a new PureColor soft nylon video that highlights the company’s large carpet production facility, known as the SAM plant.

Invista

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 2.34.00 PMMaggie Bidlingmaier, vice president, residential surfaces, called PetProtect “the hottest product in the soft surface category.” She would have few naysayers following Surfaces 2015, in which new mills added Stainmaster PetProtect to their programs and existing customers expanded their assortments.

Launched in November 2013, this expanded assortment and continued advertising, including TV spots, have really elevated the brand in the eyes of consumers. “We have a lot of momentum going, and maintaining the momentum is the goal at this show,” Bidlingmaier said. “Our goal is to be the premium choice in all carpet segments. Whichever segment you are in, the best choice is a Stainmaster carpet.”

Gary Johnston, senior marketing manager, said even if consumers don’t have pets, the product still has value because of the inherent stain resistance.

T.M. Nuckols, senior director of product strategy, performance surfaces, said in 2015 nine mills are launching PetProtect styles compared to only two last year. “That just shows the market reaction.”

Flooring dealers with PetProtect signage can tie in with an Invista-led pet adoption program run by the ASPCA. At the end of 2014, 300 retail locations participated, and Invista is looking to double that number this year. Invista will help dealers find the right animal shelter in their area.

In addition to PetProtect, several mills are coming out with new TruSoft products in 2015.

Lexmark

Tailored by Lexmark (FCNews, Jan. 5/12) drew a great deal of retail attention at Surfaces. The company said the technology fills the opening between everyday LCL products and expensive patterned goods with the end result being high style at a great value. It is tufted in 100% solution-dyed PET, which allows a range of looks, including wide plank wood.

“When you bring out something like this you have a good feel for it, but you never know,” said Ed Williams, president. “You have to grow up a little bit at a time. This is only our third year in residential.”

Marquis Industries

“Subtler, softer and more sophisticated is what is selling,” said Larry Heckman, CEO of Marquis Industries, which operates the Best Buy brand. The company’s new Soft Harmony and Soft Sensations products speak to this subtler, softer trend. Heckman said these offerings will provide dealers with a value price point ($8.99 to $10.99) that can move and make money. “Because chip polymer prices have come down, we can come out with some value prices.”

Mardi Gras is another introduction and features a cut pile, multi-color barber pole construction, tufted in the company’s Continuous Filament Solution Dyed Super Soft PET.

Phenix

Fresh off its incorporation into Pharr Yarns, Phenix came to Surfaces armed with its biggest introduction ever, according to Mark Clayton, CEO.

At the heart of these introductions is ColorSense, a proprietary process that delivers discrete yarn placement to produce a complex play of color. Clayton said individually colored yarns are carefully blended to achieve an overall balance of tone and fashioned into a sophisticated palette of multi-colored carpets.

“We positioned our company in the last couple years as a viable alternative for the customer and solidified that last year with retailers by building momentum,” Clayton said. “We want to expand our reach with independents but also increase our position with retail partners.”

Phenix’s new Artistry Collection, available in 40, 60 and 70 ounces, uses the ColorSense polyester fiber. Phenix also came out with new Stainmaster PetProtect carpets.

Stanton Carpet

Stanton debuted eight new products under the Atelier Icon brand that uses the Stainmaster PetProtect yarn system, marking the first time Stanton has marketed products under Stainmaster PetProtect. Additional introductions are scheduled for later in 2015, according to Jonathan Cohen, president.

In all, Stanton introduced 115 products. “We’re getting great feedback on everything we have here,” Cohen said.

Other introductions included the Block Island collection that features two wire Wilton patterns in undyed wool, with geometric patterns and a textural surface in five natural heathered tones. “We’re really trying to step it up with illustrious yarns and keep it in that wheelhouse of salable and different.”