Godfrey Hirst: Success with PET but committed to wool

Home Inside FCNews Godfrey Hirst: Success with PET but committed to wool

by Jenna Lippin

With a 150-year history beginning in Australia and a reputation as one of the Top 10 wool carpet companies in the world, Godfrey Hirst took a significant leap in 2012 when it entered the world of polyester (PET) and introduced easyliving@home.

The new product line consists of spectral solution dyed fiber, which is manufactured from continuous filament PET.

While PET is considered a more affordable carpet choice, Godfrey Hirst does not want consumers to assume its polyester product is low-end in comparison with its wool designs. “Our history is wool carpet, and because of that we did not want to move from wool to a pure synthetic,” explained Laurie Bray, marketing manager, North America. “Wool has always been known as a high-end, well-designed product, and that’s why we moved into PET—we can still offer atypical textures and patters.”

To that end, the easyliving@home collection offers what Godfrey Hirst considers an edge in the design realm. With unique patterns and colors, the PET selections step away from the usual cut piles and loops.

“A representative from Australia creates our designs,” said Bray. “We use designs based on the environment as it gives ideas on what patterns would perform well. In terms of color, we have a standard bank that many companies use, but we wanted to add something more. We looked at wool carpet and noticed what worked well. We wanted to go to a higher level for the consumer, so for PET we use what has been successful in wool. We expanded on the popular neutral colors, but added blues and grays that are less typical.”

Because of the differentiation Godfrey Hirst offers with its designs and quality, the products are at price points that are a bit higher than typical PET offerings. “We feel the product warrants [the prices],” she explained. “The product justifies the cost. It is well received; price is not an issue for us.”

Godfrey Hirst’s PET line, easyliving@home (both photos), has taken off with many dealers, including those who traditionally focused on the company’s staple wool products.

The line has exceeded the company’s expectations, Bray added, bringing a welcome addition to sales, as “wool is only 2% of the market. You won’t get high volume sales out of wool. We knew we would do well with [PET], but it has been a phenomenal success. It’s overtaken our business for sure.”

The positive response to the PET line came as a bit of a surprise as Godfrey Hirst’s dealers have historically specialized in wool. “We didn’t know how they would respond to our PET,” Bray said. “We thought, ‘Well, we will go to them and see what we can do, but we will also go to dealers we haven’t met before and offer it to them.’ Across the board it has been well received, and that’s because of the product’s design.”

Paul Rivington, sales manager at The Floor Show in Winnipeg, Canada, can attest to easyliving@home’s high quality and success in the marketplace. “We’ve always been skeptical with new polyesters, but we are extremely pleased with the patterns and colors of Godfrey Hirst’s line. The products feature more modern patterns that we don’t see in low-cost polyesters from other manufacturers. We’ve gotten a great re-sponse from consumers. In smaller areas of the home where they don’t want to spend a lot of money, [easyliving@home] allows for a nice looking product that doesn’t break the bank.”

Echoing Rivington’s sentiment, Steve Brannen, COO of Carpet King with multiple locations in Minnesota, said customer response has strengthened the relationship his store has had with Godfrey Hirst in the wool arena.

“We’ve gotten a tremendous response to easyliving@home,” he said. “The line offers higher style looks than competing polyester items, and it has been very successful with both customers and salespeople. [Godfrey Hirst] has done a nice job with styling. The products aren’t the cheapest, but they are the best looking. Overall, these polyester products are high style and come at a very competitive price point. This is not the same old, same old you see with everyone else. Because they are a select player in a niche market, people trust Godfrey Hirst products are high quality.”

While the PET collection has taken off, Godfrey Hirst is absolutely not straying from its wool roots, Bray stressed. The company is certainly not giving up its title as the largest manufacturer of wool-tufted carpet in the world “We definitely have [recently] put an emphasis on PET, but wool is still the backbone of our company; we are not neglecting it. We’re spending time on PET but we still have a strong focus on wool as well.”

While the focal point for the company in 2012 was the introduction of easyliving@home, 2013 brings the company back to its commitment to wool product lines. For more on Godfrey Hirst and its products, visit godfreyhirst.com.

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