|ALLIANCE FLOORING GROUP: RUGS GROWING IN IMPORTANCE
The rise of hard surface sales at Alliance Flooring member stores has led to increased sales of rugs from programs like Nourison's Fifty to Infinity. Glamour collection pictured.
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Alliance Flooring, which oversees the CarpetsPlus, Colortile and Carpetland brands, strengthened its offerings in the rug category with the introduction of programs from three new vendors at its Feb. 25-28 convention in Tucson.
Arguably the most aggressive of U.S. flooring buying groups when it comes to emphasizing hard surface products, Alliance projects 61 percent of its portfolio will be hard surfaces in2018 -- a far cry from 2002 when soft surface represented 80 percent of the business.
Lexmark Residential showcases the Explore collection in Warm Cider from its Unite Custom Rug Program.
While carpet has been losing share and falling out of favor, the same cannot be said about rugs. In fact, rugs are an increasingly important part of the group's strategy, according to Alliance executives. To that point, new suppliers Nourison, Lexmark Residential and Phenix Flooring joined existing members Mohawk, Shaw (which includes the new Anderson Tuftex brand), and the Dixie Group as rug and broadloom suppliers at last month's Tucson convention.
Greg Frainer of Carpets Unlimited, Santa Monica, Calif., chats with Nourison's Owen Baker during the Alliance Flooring convention in Tucson.
Alliance Flooring limits the number of suppliers for each category, according to Kevin Logue, vice president of marketing. This is by design to help its 370 retail members focus on a select few.
"[Alliance] asked us to come here because they want to expand their rug business," said Owen Baker, Western Regional sales manager for Nourison. "The rug business is exploding with all the growth of the hard surface business. We expected to have a good convention and we are."
Nourison was touting its Fifty to Infinity program, which offers high fashion rug collections that are custom sized and shipped within two weeks from the company's facility in Calhoun, Ga. Available sizes range from 5 x 7 to 10-foot x 10-foot square, and everything in between. "We can offer 100-plus SKUs, plus with 50 different sizes, retailers can do even more," Baker said. "They can put this in the wood department for an easy add-on sale. Dealers will miss a good opportunity if they don't jump on this."
Flooring dealer Greg Frainer of Carpets Unlimited, Santa Monica, Calif., decided to take on the program. Frainer said he had gotten out of the rug business but was looking for a way to get back in without tying up so much inventory. "This program makes sense for my business," he said. "For two years I have been looking for something like this."
Some Alliance Flooring dealers custom order rugs through various cut a rug programs including Shaw's; others say they want to do more business with rugs because the margins are good and because they are selling more hard surface than ever before. Logue said Nourison's custom program, for example, "gives dealers multiple options, and they don't have to stock rugs."
Heidi Jones and John Madden of Lexmark Residential show off the display signage for the Unite Custom Rug Program.
Lexmark Residential was baiting retailers to its booth for a chance to win free rugs (part of a trade show raffle). The hook was its Unite Custom Rug Program that lets retailers select their choice from any of Lexmark Living's three broadloom pattern collections. "What is great about this program is that it is built on the same construction as our hospitality line, which is our bread and butter," said John Madden, general manager, Western Region.
Phenix Flooring, another new member to the group, announced it has entered the area rug business under the Cleaner Home Rugs banner. Mark Clayton, president and CEO, said the jump into rugs is a nod to the explosive growth of hard surfaces. "With so many beautiful patterns in our line this is just a natural addition to what we are doing for hard surfaces," he said.
Returning vendor Dixie Group (Dixie Home, Masland and Fabrica brands) recently launched a custom program that can make any size or shape rug from its broadloom offerings. The program has been well received, according to Jared Coffin, vice president-rugs and wool products, who noted, "rugs gives us an insight into trends, therefore, it's an important part of our business."