In what hopefully will be portent of things to come throughout the year, the majority of carpet mills exhibiting at Surfaces 2011 seemed genuinely happy with the way the show transpired as they reported brisk business in their booths. Attendees were greeted with new collections and additions to existing lines as mills once again raised the bar by utilizing state- of-the-art technology to place an emphasis on fashion, design, innovation as well as an environmentally friendly story.
Beaulieu of America
There was a lot of news from the mill’s booth, including a totally new website. “The entire purpose of this new site is quite simple,” said Patricia Flavin, senior vice president of marketing. “We want to support our dealers with the best website possible to entertain and educate the floor covering customer about Bliss product and drive them to Bliss dealers to make the sale.”
According to Michael Johnson, account director for Definition 6, the marketing agency that helped design the new site, the consumer can now see the “differences with warranties, backing, filament, everything she needs to know. Then she can find the dealer near her who has that carpet. She can print out her project, bring it into a dealer and tell him, ‘This is what I want.’”
Beaulieu also unveiled several collections. The mill’s popular and proprietary odor-reducing formula, Magic Fresh, gets its own carpet collection in 2011. The company selected the most popular colors, textures and weights when it created this Bliss collection of 32 styles sorted good/better/best. All feature lifetime stain protection and a “You’ll love it or we’ll take it back” guarantee.
The mill also launched a new Magic Fresh display. “The key thing about the rack is there is a little bit of everything on it,” said Ralph Boe, president and CEO. “We have Stainmaster with Magic Fresh, our own in-house nylon and polyester products. So, even if a retail salesperson has an aversion to one of those three, he can go to that rack and get what he wants to sell to the consumer.”
Another new entry for 2011 will be Bliss by Beaulieu HealthyTouch, a 20-product collection designed to address two desires of today’s carpet customer: softness and durability. Thanks to Beaulieu SoftSense polyester fiber technology the consumer can have both, Flavin noted. Built-in to the collection are Magic Fresh and Silver Release technology that inhibits the growth of odor and stain-causing bacteria, mold and mildew. All HealthyTouch carpets carry the 3M Scotchgard Protector lifetime stain protection and the “You’ll love it or we’ll take it back” guarantee.
On the commercial side, Beaulieu launched six collections into its Hollytex Main Street line.
The Dixie Group
The mill featured one of the most consistently busy booths at Surfaces.
With its Masland brand, the emphasis was on nylon products made with Stainmaster fiber. “We’ve brought out a new collection of Luxerelle products that offers a nice combination of luster and soft hand,” said Paul Comiskey, president of The Dixie Group’s residential business, “all coordinating with the same 45 colors.” Masland’s
Inverness, a classic basketweave with subtle striations, was also a big hit, while new Stainmaster additions to the Masland Avenue collection—using the company’s proprietary tufting technology to create the look and feel of tufted wool—were also a popular choice among dealers.
The big news for the mill’s Fabrica brand included additions to the Chez collection. With the Ultra Chic pattern, the Chez yarn is used to create what Comiskey called “the ultimate pindot,” which is backed by a 48-color line. Another Fabrica highlight was the development of a new fiber that helps recreate the look of wool and viscose. “This new fiber features the soft hand the high-end customer wants.” The new fiber is featured in three new products.
With Dixie Home, the mantra is affordable fashion. Canoe Ridge is a Stainmaster product that uses different luster levels at a more moderate price point, while with Charleston Place, “The pindot is taken to a new level by not just using a cut and loop construction, but by using different yarns and different luster levels,” Comiskey said.
Diane Murphy, the mill’s national sales manager, said she had never seen a more positive outlook after a show than what she saw at Surfaces. “People are much more optimistic now.”
A broadloom called Art Silk was the hot item in the Glen Eden booth. Featuring a synthetic nylon that took three years to develop, “It has a good hand and a good sheen,” she said, “and it has a life span com- parable to that of wool. It has cleanability and durability. And it’s made right here in the U.S., so it’s a quick delivery. That’s our buzz [product] for this market.”
Soft was hot, according to Tony Prespitino, executive vice president of sales and marketing. To that end, the most popular items for Gulistan were several introductions featuring Stainmaster Luxerelle fiber.
Eight Gulistan carpet styles and 11 American Lifestyles products debuted at Surfaces. The introductions included 13 Stainmaster carpet styles under the Luxerell, Tactesse and Soft brands, and six American Lifestyles styles using Gulistan’s new 6,6 continuous filament nylon system with Scotchgard carpet protector.
“Our goal this year is to give consumers the best choices in the soft categories—Luxerell, Tactesse and Soft—as well as our own new soft nylon,” he said. The 2011 styles are a diverse mix of on-trend textures, contemporary friezes and patterns.
Nine new styles are crafted using soft Stainmaster Luxerell type 6,6 continuous filament nylon. The products include the Plaza good- better-best textures with rich luster; Paradise Touch, a texture with wool-like luster; a good, better, best offering in an ultra-soft contemporary freize in natural tones with a berber-fleck accent; and a combination ultra-soft mid- and heavy-weight casual frieze in barberpole tones.
Richton, a new Stainmaster Tactesse style, is a contemporary continuous filament texture with a frieze look. The hues share a common palette with the successful Park Avenue texture product which is already in the market.
Fairlane and Kailey debuted as two entry-level Stainmaster Soft casual friezes, with Kailey available as one of two roll specials. Windly, a classic cut-and-loop pattern made with Stainmaster ExtraBody II 6,6 BCF nylon, also debuted as a roll special with its nine colors comprising the best of the Windridge line.
Under its American Lifestyles brand, Gulistan introduced six styles built with type 6,6 continuous filament Soft nylon and finished with 3M Scotchgard. Braxton I and Braxton II are better-best heavy- weight textures; Garbo and Garbo Tones showcase stylish, dense, heavyweight textures with refined finish (solid and tonal); Grantly Art offers a casual frieze with kaleidoscope multi-colors; and Viesta provides a heavyweight frieze-shag with earthy multi-tones.
The mill enjoyed a very strong show, according to Don Karlin, vice president of sales. “There were moments during the first two days where there were more customers than we had people to handle them.” Even on the market’s third day, he noted, the mill offered a 2,400-yard sale to dealers who came in to buy rolls.
J. Mish received a great response to three products from its Silk Impressions collection. Allure, a wool/silk combination the mill debuted last year did very well, Karlin said, as did Williston, which also offers a wool/silk effect “without the lofty investment necessary in true silk-accented carpets.” Tufted of New Zealand wool to create a soft patina background with a high luster Sateen, Williston is also applicable for commercial. The last of the three is Intuition, another faux silk product.
“The difference between our faux silk and those of our competitors is our competitors tend to be importers which use viscose as the shiny component in the wool,” he explained. “Viscose, frankly, is not a good fiber for the floor. We are using a Sateen nylon as our shiny, silk- like component.”
Bruce Kurtz, vice president of sales and marketing, was pleased with the reaction to the mill’s new open line updates for 2011 as well as its new venture, Weave Masters, a state-of-the-art space technology.
“This new nylon printed program has the depth of clarity like nothing ever seen before,” he explained. “We have the ability to place over 50 colors to any design. And visitors to our Fort Knox room got to see the remake of our famous Quadrille, a wool/nylon blend Axminster. With this, we truly believe we will be able to finally fill a void Milliken lost years ago.”
Natural Carpet Co.
The company that specializes in natural fibers did much better than expected at Surfaces, according to Norman Marks, president, who also saw much more optimism from the buyers. “We hope that translates into optimism from the consumer as well. But we believe the dealers have been willing to take risks they weren’t willing to take for the last couple years. And they are re-investing.”
Through a lot of marketing and hard work in the past year, he noted, the company has been expanding. “We’ve been very proactive, found new markets and worked twice as hard to expand. Our push has been to add new clients.”
A trio of major developments were unfurled at the show. Already known for its abaca and raffia handmade natural fiber products, Natural Carpet has started to add color to its products. Marks noted the company’s dyed multi-colors have taken off.
Another new initiative is the hand tufting it is now doing in China, which Marks acknowledged many other companies are also involved with but not at the quality and “incredibly competitive price points” Natural Carpet is offering.
Lastly, but perhaps most significantly, are the company’s Sunbrella handwoven products that can be used indoors and outdoors. The product combines Sunbrella fabrics with nylon and fishing line which are UV stabilized. “We’ve created what looks like a luxury indoor product that can be used out- doors,” he explained.
According to Chris Dragan, president, the first two days of the show were “quite active” as “there has been a more consistent amount of traffic than last year. There’s a lot more optimism and positivity in the air.”
For Nature’s Carpet, the story is all about being environmentally sensitive as all products are 100% wool. A hot item was its Dark Green line, which is chemical-free and contains a jute, natural rubber backing system. It is a 100% sustainable, biodegradable product. “That’s the product that’s getting the most attention at the show,” he explained.
Royalty Carpet Mills
Paul Engle, vice president of marketing, said the first day of Surfaces was “very active.” New products that created a buzz included several Stainmaster additions to the mill’s Camelot and Royalty lines as well as several nylon 6,6 Scotchgard-treated products. “Patterns are very strong right now, especially for the nylon market,” he explained. “Where the premium nylons are playing better in today’s value-oriented market is in the patterned goods.”
Royalty also introduced its Nubond/Super Rebond padding. The features include Microban antimicrobial treatment and DuPont’s Hytrel, a one-way breathable moisture barrier. Engle said the company is positioning Nubond/Super Rebond as the pad of choice for a “safe, clean, healthy, environmentally friendly, consistent carpet cushion that promises great resiliency for the life of your carpet.”
Surfaces was “excellent,” according to Jonathan Cohen, COO. “We have many of our top customers coming in. Everybody is optimistic and people are buying.”
In addition to 15 new Wilton patterns, a category that has been a mainstay for the company for years, one of the major highlights was a new Antrim display. “Antrim is a great product line featuring many hand-woven wools imported from India,” Cohen said. “We needed a new merchandising vehicle to act as a go-to for the line. We changed the color and styling of the display. We’ve sold a lot of them.”
Also new for Stanton was a sisal pattern added to its Sisal and Seagrass lines introduced last year. “It has a fabulous design element to it,” he explained.
The mill also added eight shag products to its portfolio. “We introduced a few last year and had pretty good success with them. Now we’ve got some gorgeous shags in all polyester.”