December 8/15, 2014; Volume 28/Number 12
By Ken Ryan
Flooring manufacturers and association members are forecasting growth of between 1% and 5% for laminate in 2015. While not headline-grabbing numbers, it does represent an increase for a segment that has been hurt by competing products and big boxes. Laminate continues to grow by offering high performing, visually appealing characteristics at affordable prices.
Derek Welbourn CEO, Inhaus
Overall we see the market as a bright spot. We have seen continuous success for ourselves and for our competitors. There is definitely a little wind at our back with market demand, and we believe this will continue. It doesn’t seem to us that the market is growing at a pace that will create a bubble, but rather slow, steady growth that is benefiting the industry as a whole both now and in the longer run. This is our outlook for North America.
However, being part of the Classen Group based in Germany, the European market is important to us and we see some weakness there. One note of caution is that if Europe slides into a recession it could be bad for North America. We are all tied to the global economy; I believe that the saying is, “If Europe catches the flu, best case scenario, North America gets a cold.”
We see the laminate market in North America continuing to grow—5% in dollars and even higher numbers in volume because of lower and mid-priced laminate taking a larger share of the market. We see the mid and upper end of the laminate market growing but getting increased competition from other categories, mainly LVT. There is also tremendous growth in hybrid products that combine strengths of multiple categories such as wooden-based composite products. We have made a major investment in this growing category that will be making its debut at Surfaces.
Laminate is continuing to grow as it offers value with high performing and visually appealing attributes at a very affordable price point relative to other categories. For this reason the low- and mid-end laminate segments continue to claim share.
We continue to be successful and enjoy the laminate category. It is our focus. 2014 will be the third year running that Inhaus has posted a strong double-digit growth. This is due to our customers having success with our unique laminate line, leading to an increased focus on our offerings. We also continue to expand geographically, and have an ongoing focus on new designs and innovations. Our laminate line is not for everyone as we center on design-oriented products. We find that consumers who are looking for something unique that fits more with their personal style often choose Inhaus. We will not be changing this strategy and we will be launching six new, totally unique laminate designs in 2015. We see more steady growth in 2015 for both Inhaus and the industry.
Roger Farabee Senior vice president, marketing, Unilin NA/Mohawk Hard Surfaces
We are forecasting laminate to be up about 1% in dollars for 2015. This growth will continue to be driven by sales outside of specialty retail. All category growth will come from home centers, warehouse clubs and national retailers such as Lumber Liquidators. We anticipate floor covering retail [for laminate] to be down again in 2015 as in 2014.
Weakness in Europe impacts the U.S. market for laminate in that it allows for more low-cost goods to come in, adding to the imports from China. This is putting pressure on all domestic producers, particularly at some of the opening price points.
We have a lot of exciting new products coming in 2015 for both Quick-Step and Mohawk. We will introduce the new Mohawk products at the Solutions convention [in early December] and the new Quick-Step products at Surfaces.
Barbara June Marketing manager, Kronotex USA
Laminate has been steady in 2014 and we expect modest category growth in 2015. Homeowners and businesses alike have numerous flooring options today, more so than ever before with the new tile and vinyl wood looks. Laminate is still a superior choice for the discerning owner who wants durable wood flooring without the expense and mess of traditional hardwood installation. Trendy decors are invigorating the category as well, from end planks to wood grains in vibrant art colors. Laminate can give the consumer the exact look she wants—quickly and economically.
As for us, the initial response to our new American Concepts collection has been outstanding, and we anticipate continued growth in 2015. We have a few changes in store for next season, but for now let’s just say that we are listening to customer demand and industry-wide feedback.
Bill Dearing President, North American Laminate Flooring Association
I expect the industry will dovetail to the recovery of the real estate market. Laminate remains predominately a remodel product and the economy is now progressing enough that all flooring materials are benefiting. Laminate flooring is no exception and consumers appear to appreciate the value option with the styling that laminate flooring provides.
I am bullish on 2015. If you look at the West Coast market, where I am located, it was up, it was down, and now it is up again. That is a good sign, hopefully too for the rest of the country. I think [consumers’] pocketbooks will open up for more exotic and decorative laminate floors. That market will progress in line with the improving housing market.