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Shaw merges Anderson, Tuftex brands into one

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

Combined entity to make debut at Surfaces

By Reginald Tucker

 

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.09.36 AMDalton–What has been rumored for months is now confirmed. Shaw Floors, parent company of the venerable Anderson Hardwood and Tuftex brands, has announced plans to merge the two with the combined entity to be called Anderson Tuftex. The change is effective Jan. 1, 2018.

For Shaw, the deal made sense because both brands have a long heritage in the flooring industry and are a natural fit. According to Carrie Edwards Isaac, vice president, Anderson Tuftex, the brand will take a holistic and consumer-centric approach to marketing and product development. This, she said, is based on the fact today’s consumer demands a simplified shopping experience both in-store and online.

“The entire consumer journey is changing and has been for quite some time,” Edwards Isaac said. “Consumers are finding inspiration everywhere and are more directly connected with brands than ever before. But purchasing flooring is complicated and consumers feel pressured to get it right. At Anderson Tuftex, it’s about simplicity. We don’t want to overwhelm consumers with options but, rather craft intentional designs that serve as a canvas for their lives.”

Anderson Tuftex will be showcased at Shaw Connect 2018 winter markets and will unveil the new premium brand at Surfaces in Las Vegas. The future of these two legacy brands will focus on their new, collective brand identity by working with their valued retail partners to drive premium floor covering sales.

“We’re committed to elevating the discussion with our customers and providing them with a beautiful product mix that they’re eager to sell,” said Trey Thames, vice president of sales, Anderson Tuftex. “By offering bold, yet timeless patterns and foundational colors in both hard and soft surface flooring products, we’re empowering our customers to create a seamless shopping experience for consumers.”

Retailers buy in
For many Shaw retailers the announcement doesn’t come as a surprise, although it is welcomed news.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 10.09.48 AMTodd Wheeler, owner of Wheeler’s Flooring in Salinas, Calif., said that while he initially questioned the merging of an East Coast line (Anderson) with a West Coast mill (Tuftex), he believes the pairing ultimately makes sense. “It goes hand in hand with the trends in the industry of carpet losing share and—in the last few years—the growth of hard surfaces. Tuftex has a good rug program; Anderson is a good hardwood brand. To have the brands merge and complement each other I believe will be a good marriage.”

As a result of the merger, Wheeler said his Tuftex rep will now also have the Anderson line, which makes sense instead of having two people. He also believes Shaw “needed to do something” with Tuftex and not let it fall away and be gobbled up like other mills. “Shaw really is trying to hold onto that brand, which is smart because Tuftex makes great carpet.”

In his Salinas showroom, hard surface products are generally positioned on one side of the floor, across from soft surfaces. However, when the Anderson Tuftex displays come in, Wheeler will likely pair them together in one common area, which he believes will stimulate sales. “As a Kool-Aid drinking Shaw customer who has had a great relationship with Shaw over the years, I am excited about this branding.”

Dean Howell, owner of two Moda Floors & Interior stores in Atlanta, got his first glimpse of the Anderson Tuftex pairing at the Shaw Flooring Network winter market earlier this year (FCNews, Jan. 30. Feb. 6.) Like Wheeler, he believes in the combined marketing strategy. “Shaw’s plans to re-energize the Anderson brand is exciting. They’re trying to elevate the image of Anderson the way they are doing with the Tuftex line.”

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Stepevi debuts 'Sparkle' rug collection

STEPEVI-Bellevue-cut-out
Stepevi’s Bellevue from the Sparkle collection.

New York—Stepevi will celebrate the beginning of summer with the launch of its new collection Sparkle. Inspired by the metallic quality of fine lurex fibers, Sparkle lends a tasteful touch of opulence to any space and can be customized to any size and/or shape.

Produced using a new tufting technique, the handcrafted rugs feature superior silk, wool, viscose and metallic lurex materials that, when combined, give the collection its appearance and namesake. The result of this intricate process is a chic rug with glistening features that is an asset to any room. The collection is available in seven designs: Bellevue, Chess, Floral Cream, Floral Multi Color, Lago, Piano and Sketch. The shimmer of the lurex adds a layer of dimension to each of the different styles, which range from geometric to floral designs.

With a wealth of experience, Stepevi melds history, style and innovative uses of textures in its new collection, which will be on view at the brand’s NYC showroom (147 Wooster Street, SoHo).

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Mannington Commercial enjoys success at NeoCon

mannington-commercial-raise-sheet-prices-fullChicago—Mannington Commercial kicked off NeoCon 2017 with the launch of new hard and soft surface flooring products and a new showroom. The company also reported higher showroom traffic of visiting architects, interior designers and other specifiers than ever before.

New products featured LVT and carpet designed by the in-house Mannington Design Studio, under the leadership of Roby Isaac, vice president of commercial design, as well as collaborations with the Los Angeles- and London-based HOK Product Design.

The two new soft surface products created in collaboration with HOK Product Design are the Paper and Origami carpet collections, which coordinate while meeting different needs in interior environments.

NeoCon also saw the launch of Medina and Self-Assembly, two piece-dye products.

The Umbra collection, developed by Mannington’s UK-based Amtico design team; the Portland Project LVT, an extension of the Portland Project carpet collection; and Color Anchor LVT, a collection of tiles and planks, are three new hard surface offerings.

This year’s showroom, a collaborative effort between Mannington’s designers and Atlanta-based Leap Communications, featured paper craft by artist Christina Lihan and emphasized the process of discovery and creation. Formally trained as an architect, Lihan hand-cuts and sculpts paper into intricate architectural forms. Her recent work has been featured in the Flatiron Prow Artspace in New York and in the Jaffa Museum of Art in Tel Aviv.

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Tuftex dealers thrive on West Coast styling, sales support

July 3/10: Volume 32, Issue 2

By K.J. Quinn

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 3.34.36 PMThe West Coast has earned a reputation over the years for being at the forefront of carpet styling. Tuftex, Shaw Floors’ premier residential brand, is among the California mills taking the lead creating fashionable designs based on regional preferences and trends.

“Being on the West Coast gives them an edge for us, not only because they are local but also because they are constantly getting feedback from local designers and retailers on trends, colors, etc.,” said Dan Mandel, co-owner, Sterling Carpet and Flooring, Anaheim, Calif. “They are our biggest cut order mill by far.”

A key distinction is the Los Angeles-based mill’s innovative carpet styles, retailers say. “Tuftex offers a great color selection with a high emphasis on trending style and design,” said Deb DeGraaf, owner, DeGraaf Interiors, Grand Rapids, Mich. “Their location on the West Coast keeps them on the edge of style.” Earlier this year, Tuftex launched 13 eye-catching introductions to its Signature collection—from high-end textures and elegant patterns to exotic cables and shags—drawn on West Coast inspiration.

The mill’s unique brand personality stands out from other carpet collections based on its West Coast influence. For instance, part of the color schemes and designs are influenced by the surrounding environment where Tuftex is located, an area featuring great weather, plus desert, ocean, mountains and an outdoor lifestyle. “Tuftex is always on the cutting edge of fashion and design,” Mandel said. “They are not just a mill to me; they’re an innovator.”

Indeed, Tuftex has created its own segment in the marketplace, offering designs that bring color, warmth and fashion to the home. “I have had the pleasure of spending time at the mill on three different occasions,” noted Steve Weisberg, president, Crest Flooring, Allentown, Pa. “And each time I came away with the feeling these people truly care about what they’re doing and how they go about creating art for the floor.”

Tuftex retailers also like the fact the manufacturer provides a wide array of trendy patterns and colors for consumers shopping for something different. “We are from Michigan and sometimes the trends take a bit longer to grab hold,” DeGraaf pointed out. “But Tuftex makes sure we have great options for our clients who want to get a jump on things.”

Tuftex continues to make investments to help retail customers grow their carpet business. “They help make us money by consistently helping us drive business day in, day out,” Mandel said. “Not only do they come up with proven plans to steer consumers to their product, but they are in front of our RSAs all the time showing the features and benefits of why their product stands out above the rest.”

DeGraaf agreed, adding, “The extensive number of patterns at various price points allows us to choose stock rolls for every budget, giving the customer a great value while also enabling us to make a healthy margin.”

Indeed, Tuftex is committed to providing excellence in quality, design, service and value. “As part of Shaw Industries, Tuftex provides quality carpet and outstanding service,” said Sam Levine, CEO, G. Fried Carpet, Paramus, N.J. “And because of the integrity of the company, our customers get a quality product.”

Dealers also report Tuftex backs its products with an array of support and point-of-sale services. “Buying stock of their products gives us leverage over cut orders,” noted Todd Wheeler, owner, Wheeler’s Flooring, Salinas, Calif. “Also, their semi-annual promotions and the fact they produce quality products at a fair and competitive price.”

These and other services are designed to help dealers maintain a competitive edge. “Many of their products are unique and, therefore, allow for more margin,” Crest Flooring’s Weisberg said. “Their newer displays really generate interest in the product and create the boutique feel that I believe people are drawn to in the showroom.”

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Carpet pushes back against hard surface

July 3/10: Volume 32, Issue 2

By Ken Ryan

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.29.45 PMCarpet’s share of the overall flooring market has dropped from 50.9% of dollars in 2006 to 41.5% in 2016, according to FCNews estimates. While the downward trend has not been dramatic, it has been steady and consistent.

Carpet mill executives don’t need to look at statistics to know what is happening in the marketplace. The big ones (i.e., Mohawk and Shaw) have already transformed into total flooring solutions companies, well positioned to take advantage of any flooring trend. As Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing for Mohawk Industries, explained, “We are not working to stem the tide on anything. Our business is about meeting consumer demand wherever that may be.”

The smaller mills have options, too. Some have entered the hard surface category; others are contemplating such a move. And there are some who have stuck to their soft surface knitting, redoubling their efforts to deliver differentiated product.

So what are carpet mills to do about combating the inexorable gains of hard surface? Some advocate promoting the benefits of carpet. “It’s softer, warmer, more comfortable, quieter and safer than hard surfaces,” said T.M. Nuckols, executive vice president of the residential business for Dixie Home. “We also make beautiful styles and designs that can complement the many looks available in hard surfaces.”

Rodney Mauter, executive vice president, Lexmark Residential, has his own ideas. “We must keep driving the positives of carpet; after all, no one takes a nap on a hardwood floor, no one plays with the baby or puppy on a tile floor.”

Others say it is the carpet industry’s duty to continue to explore innovation and technology. “Whether it’s through style, design or performance, soft floor covering will continue to evolve and develop and ultimately remain a viable flooring option to consumers long into the future,” said Mike Sanderson, vice president of product marketing, Engineered Floors.

Soft, durable carpet provides a healthy profit margin for flooring dealers, especially when sold with pad. Some observers say the industry needs to drill down on that. “First and foremost, we need to put an end to the continuation of the race to the bottom in terms of PET pricing and overall devaluation of the category,” said Brad Christensen, vice president, soft surface category management, Shaw Floors. “The industry collectively needs to do more to promote the many benefits of soft surfaces, none more tried and true than its value compared to other surfaces. We don’t need to give it away.”

Other mills find focusing on a particular niche is beneficial. Stanton, for example, has grown its business by being selective about its patterns and offerings. “It’s about being thoughtful about the design part of it,” said Jonathan Cohen, CEO. “You can use existing technology that is out there to create something fresh. We can step it up a couple notches and produce something that is really good looking.”

Indeed, executives say there is no substitute for continually innovating to create new and compelling products. “Homeowners are no longer interested in 50 shades of beige,” Mauter said. “They demand every room of the home to denote personal style while providing comfort and performance. Easy care and maintenance is also important; products must clean easily and last.”

Ongoing initiatives
Research indicates that consumers shop by look and feel rather than fiber type. To that end, carpet mills are developing products that look great and can withstand high-traffic areas. That is no easy feat, but driving innovation is the only way to keep carpet relevant, executives say. “Carpet can be on the cutting edge of home décor,” Dixie’s Nuckols said.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.30.06 PMTo address the hard surface opportunity for soft surfaces, Phenix has introduced a line of products that speaks to specific needs and that provide unique solutions for the consumer. In 2017 it introduced more patterns and textures to address the fact that carpet is often being used within individual rooms—as opposed to the entire home. “It allows the consumer to use carpet as a focal point of the room’s design,” said Mark Clayton, president and CEO of Phenix Flooring. “We also recognize the fact that broadloom carpets are often being used to create one-of-a-kind area rugs that can be used in conjunction with hard surfaces, so this provides additional opportunities to expand pattern and textural designs.”

Other companies are combining hard surface and soft surface in the same display systems to create a coordinated look for the home. Shaw’s TruAccents carpet collection pairs bold styles and patterns with hard surface visuals on a single merchandiser. “We understand that consumers want both hard and soft surface products in their homes, and this gives them a convenient, one-stop destination for ease of shopping and comparison,” Christensen said.

Mohawk is a total flooring company, and within that scope carpet remains a very significant piece of business. “How do we keep carpet part of the conversation?” Arnold asked. “The relentless focus we have on innovation, which is true of all our categories, is really true of carpet. We invest to stay competitive. The success we have with SmartStrand and all the innovations we brought to market has allowed us to keep carpet a profitable category.”

For companies that don’t have the depth and breadth of a Mohawk or Shaw, there are still niches to fill. Foss, for example, has focused on promoting non-woven, needle-punch broadloom and carpet tile products as an appealing and affordable accessory—or outright alternative—to traditional flooring. “Many consumers who prefer hard surfaces are attracted to our products because of their beauty and warmth combined with the attractive look and durability of a low-pile floor,” said Brian Warren, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Not to mention, our products provide the consumer with a higher level of affordability and versatility because they work in virtually any application or market.”

Advice for dealers
While carpet manufacturers continue to explore ways to recoup market share, executives also believe flooring dealers can do their part to help combat the growth of hard surfaces. Strategies range from offering custom rugs made of broadloom to creating vignettes showing stairs with carpet inserts to upselling customers to better goods.

Screen Shot 2017-07-10 at 2.30.16 PMLexmark’s Mauter, for example, said his company coaches its retailers to think outside the norm by using different patterns with the same colorway to create subtle differences throughout the home without the need to change paint color or furniture. He also suggested making custom rugs out of broadloom to facilitate room size and dimensions and to create additional revenue.

Mohawk, for its part, emphasizes “X-plusing,” which is educating and selling the consumer on why trading up makes sense. As Arnold explains: “A consumer walks in and is planning to spend ‘X’ and instead of being traded down to lower priced goods—which are often lower-quality goods and reinforces the notion that carpet isn’t made well—offering a smaller selection of better quality product rather than a sea of sameness would be a better option. It’s about great marketing and storytelling. If you provide that customer with a compelling reason to trade up to a premium product like SmartStrand Silk you can X plus them 10%, 20%.”

Arnold said the successful retailers understand that less is more and having the right product at the right price point is key. “You have to set up your showroom for trade-up possibilities and allow consumers to feel the difference. Telling compelling stories and presenting extraordinary product is the formula for retailers.”

Clayton advised retailers to remind the consumer of the true benefits of carpet and hard surfaces and be sure they understand the potential challenges of each product. “Some consumers and their lifestyles would actually benefit from the utilitarian benefits of soft surfaces, not to mention the design opportunities.”

Shaw’s Christensen suggests retailers can help drive excitement by touting the many styling benefits and performance features. “Carpet today has a compelling performance story while also offering breathtaking visuals in a wide array of styling options. Retailers can continue listening to the needs and concerns of consumers and establish credibility by suggesting the right flooring solution for every space and every consumer appetite. There is no doubt that carpet will continue to play an important role for consumers. People forget that carpet is the largest category and still has a dominant position in peoples’ homes, and carpet remains a very import product to help drive this.”