By Steven Feldman
Volume 26/Number 17; January 7/14, 2013
NORWALK, CONN.—Following a nine-year absence, Metroflor is returning to Surfaces with a 2,000-square-foot booth.
“After going to Surfaces last year as an attendee and seeing so many LVT players exhibiting, my feeling was that the show floor was polluted with newcomers,” said Russ Rogg, president. “I thought it was important to re-establish our leadership position in the LVT category.”
With six flooring brands and one accessory brand, the primary message this year will be to create awareness that all are under the Metroflor umbrella. As such, Metroflor designed “a departmental style booth” for the show. “Attendees can walk into the Engage area and see all the new products and merchandising we have. Then they can walk into the Konecto, Aspire, Metroflor, Artistik, Starloc or Prevail areas and do the same.”
Rogg is particularly excited about the launch of Aspire, which he claims to be an entirely new category: the industry’s first floating groutable LVT. The 16 x 16 tile employs the same grip strip technology as Konecto and features the new Crescent Edge profile, an eased edge that offers more depth than a typical bevel. “We are taking a proven system and adding a rounded edge to enhance authenticity.”
In order to achieve the rolled edge effect, Metroflor replaced the fiberglass sheet with shredded fiberglass and uses Active Treatment Technology (ATT), which involves treating the outside of filler material— limestone—so it will bond better with the PVC.
The 5mm Aspire debuts with three collections comprising 14 SKUs. A new wing display accompanies the launch, as does collateral material such as a customizable brochure that depicts features and benefits, coordinating grout options, room scenes and more. The brand will be offered first to those distributors that carry Konecto and Engage.
On the subject of Konecto, two new collections—Legacy and Oasis—will be rolled out at Surfaces. Legacy features a handscraped visual, while Oasis offers a fine tick embossing. The nine SKUs in each collection feature the aforementioned Crescent Edge profile for enhanced realism. The planks measure 5 x 48.
Customization comes to the Konecto brand via a print-on-demand brochure, which allows distributors to choose the specific products they want to appear in their brochures to coincide with their customizable product mixes. This is taking place simultaneously with the launch of Legacy and Oasis.
Finally, Metroflor is launching an entry-level collection within Konecto called Elements. Retailing at around $2.49, Rogg said the line offers everything the mid-range Project ($2.99 at retail) offers, except with a 4mil wearlayer. It contains fiberglass and is 4.5mm thick. “It allows the retailer to hit a certain price point when needed and it’s a great solution for property management.” Legacy & Oasis will retail at approximately $4.29, just below the Premium (Commercial) Plank & Tile Konecto offerings, which retail at about $4.59.
Other brand updates
Metroflor LVT: Rogg said the Metroflor brand is in the process of an overhaul which involves thinning the line by taking out the poor sellers and adding new designs and collections to refresh the offering. A new combo wing/waterfall display will be unveiled at Surfaces, where the wing panels will house the basic gluedown LVT products and the waterfall will showcase the company’s first foray into the true loose lay category, Metroflor Intact. The 4mm Intact collection offers a 20mil wearlayer and includes 10 planks and six tiles, engineered with a fiberglass sheet for stability.
“We will be gauging interest at Surfaces,” Rogg said. “We will promote attributes about the back of the product that are unique, such as the wave-like texture that bridges against moisture and helps from an insulation standpoint. Also, a non-skid coating prevents the planks and tiles from shifting after installation.”
Artistek: For this brand, Metroflor created a universal portfolio of product supported with a new display, architectural folders, sell sheets and brochures. Distributors will have the option of buying containers directly from Metroflor with the choice to replenish inventory from one of Artistek’s six distributors, which will serve as a master distributor. “That wholesaler will inventory everything and the others can buy from them FOB,” Rogg said. “It’s all about strengthening service and creating a more meaningful line-up of products.”
Engage: When Metroflor first introduced Engage Select, the company’s premium click platform, it was only available in a 7-inch-wide plank. Now, 5 3⁄4- and 81⁄2-inch widths are being added. Also, the entry-level Essentials line is receiving the addition of a tile series that will be offered in a 12 x 24 format featuring a 12-mil wear layer. “So many companies are entering the click category,” Rogg said. “Now that we are established, we have to bring out new, innovative products in both Essentials and Select so we are not competing on price alone.”
China distribution center
For some time distributors have requested that Metroflor expedite its product delivery as well as provide the capability to receive a mix of products in one container. Until now, they have been relegated to purchase entire containers of one product because Metroflor utilizes many factories in China.
In response to distributors’ needs, Metroflor has opened a distribution center in Shanghai. Distributors can now mix a container across the Engage family and soon they will be able to mix Konecto and Aspire, Rogg said.
This can cut lead times in half, allow a distributor to double its inventory turns and improve service for its customers. The only requirements are that the distributor must buy at least one pallet per color and fill a container.