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Rug Executives: Bumpy 2023 to Close with Year-over-Year Growth

While 2023 proved yet another challenging year to navigate, surveyed area rug executives -- who have been proactively tweaking their strategies to take advantage of high growth categories -- expect to record steady growth by the end of Q4.

Jessica Harlan
images of area rugs and showroom rug displays
Area rug companies continued to aggressively meet the needs of customers throughout 2023.

SPECIAL REPORT -- As 2023 heads into the final stretch, the rug industry is reflecting on what most agree was a challenging year, while hoping to finish out the fourth quarter in a strong position. With 2024 being an election year, which often brings uncertainty to the economy, companies are doing what they can to position themselves strategically, ready for whatever conditions come their way.

“Obviously it is a tough environment, with high inflation and mortgage rates, but our goal is to capture market share,” said Satya Tiwari, president, Surya. To do so, he said, “We are investing in newness, such as new textures at a price people want to buy. In fact, we’re [making sure to offer] strategic price points across the board. Bringing newness to the market gives us a higher rate of return.”

Tiwari said that the company’s recent purchase of the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams brand and its Global Views acquisition will help position Surya as a true total home furnishings business. “We want great brands that serve a segment well,” Tiwari said, noting that Mitchell Gold and Global Views transform Surya into a total home decor solution for its trade clients. Notwithstanding its expansion at the high-end, the company has also aggressively pursued growth at the mass market too, rolling out hundreds of innovative machine-made and handmade rugs to inject the category with high-end looks.

Surya invested heavily in positioning itself as a one-stop-home decor source for clients during 2023, growing its lineup
of high-end area rugs, furniture and accents.

Nourison, too, anticipates finishing the year ahead of 2022. “Our year has been a little up and down,” reported Giovanni Marra, vice president of marketing and creative, Nourison. “We’ve had good months and soft months. But we think we will end the year with modest growth.” A bright spot in sales is in custom orders, which “are getting stronger and stronger,” says Marra, who also noted that Nourison's entry-level price points for big box and e-commerce have performed will too.

Among the moves Nourison has made recently to grow its business are strengthening the sales team, including appointing a new sales vice president and improving processes to gain efficiencies, particularly in using technologies to streamline systems and processes.

Nourison's hand-knotted custom design rugs took off in 2023 as the company began featuring options more prominently.

Likewise, Feizy, which turned 50 this year, will finish the year above 2022 as a result of key initiatives taken over the course of the past two years, including dramatically expanding its High Point showroom, targeting designers with expanded customization options and rolling out a curated line of area rug designs geared toward those clients called Revolution. In addition, the company has continued to invest in its high-quality machine-mades and more affordably priced hand-made products -- both of which are contributing to a positive end to 2023. Said Mike Riley, president, “We are finishing up slightly over 12 percent this year. And though we are expecting a somewhat soft holiday season and Cyber 5 [the online holiday shopping period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday], many e-tailers are extending the period to 10 days to help make their numbers. We are happy to be up more than 10 percent for 2023, and we are hoping for a decent 2024."

Feizy's luxurious high-end hand-knotted Killian lineup was an instant hit when it was introduced.

Amer Rugswhich returned to HPMKT with a permanent showroom a year ago, saw the fourth quarter off to a slower-than-anticipated start, but Raj Choudhary, president, said based on orders, the company will finish the year strong. He, like many colleagues, describes the year as “a little bumpy,” nonetheless he anticipates that the company will match its sales projections with last year’s numbers. A bright spot is handmade rugs, which Choudhary is seeing performing better than machine-made options. “We are trying to grow that side of the business,” he said, pointing out for the fall High Point Market, Amer introduced 50 new area rug designs with a focus on hand-made qualities. As a bonus, he notes that the production of hand-made rugs helps employ more people in India.

Amer Rugs' hand-knotted Milano collection has become one of the company's best-selling hand-knotted lineups.

Reza Momeni, president and chief executive, Momeni, reported that his company’s business has remained steady this year. “Q4 is going to be strong for us,” he predicted. For Momeni, a few initiatives have contributed to the company’s strong year. The completion of its new warehouse has helped the company improve on-time shipping and enabled it to have in-stock positions on more inventory. The company has also increased its broadloom collections and grown custom orders, both of which strengthened sales. In addition, its fashion-forward approach to its newest introductions, including several new handmade rug collections, proved hits at High Point Market.

Momeni's Pure Salt collaboration continues to gain ground and the playful hand-crafted Patara collection was a fall favorite.

Similarly, at Kaleen, the company is choosing to focus on its handmade products, notably its relatively new high-end Luxe brand, to weather the challenging business climate. In fact, Luxe, which now includes 50 handmade designs, has become a hit with retailers for its customization capabilities -- in widths up to 50 feet wide -- and speedy turnaround time.

“We as a company are moving in the right direction,” said Monty Rathi, chief operating office of Kaleen. In addition to focusing on handmade rugs, the company is also targeting the hospitality market with its custom broadloom offerings, which it has aggressively continued to expand.

“We are very excited for next year,” said Rathi. “The products that are coming in over the next 30 days are what’s going to help us grow in 2024.”

Kaleen's handcrafted LUXE lineup now includes more than 50 designs with clients appreciating its customization options.

LR Home had a busy year with new showroom expansions (in Atlanta and High Point) and product introductions that today include not only area rugs, but home accents and furnishings as well. “2023 was a year filled with various national and global news events and while the home fashions industry certainly took notice, our business returned to bullish pre-Covid numbers,” said Vinamra Laddha, COO of LR Home.  “We are generally pleased with our results and continue to be excited with our growth in each of our product categories,” he added.

LR Home continues to expand its best-selling Naturals assortment with new designer blends of jute, cotton and wool
in coordinating hand-woven rugs (Maples shown) and pillows.

At Harounian Rugs International (HRI), "Business was very good the first half of 2023 but was softer than usual this summer, the third quarter," said Greg Jordt, EVP sales and marketing. "But in spite of all of this, we have doubled down on more new introductions than ever and increases of in-stock percentages throughout all of our programed collections. In addition, our India office continues to work with our weavers in speeding up the production time for all of our custom size orders reducing the average delivery date by one month in 2023." HRI is already seeing those moves pay dividends via an increase in new customers and an uptick in Q4. Jordt expects those factors "will continue to drive our business into the first quarter of 2024.

"A trend we saw coming in 2022 was that of the uber-traditional, and this year it has really exploded. Our oldest and most expensive collection of classic antique reproductions, Antique Heriz, has once again become one of our best-selling collections of 2023." Made in India, Antique Heriz rugs are knotted in 100 percent finely spun wool with zero pile.

HRI's oldest and most expensive collection, Antique Heriz, has again become a best seller in 2023.

Kamran Kalaty of Kalaty Rugs, meanwhile, said of 2023, “The year has been strong, but we are expecting this quarter to pick up even more.” Helping propel that growth was the company's new quick-ship custom program and its rollout of a curated lineup of stocked mansion-size rugs from its best-selling collections. In addition, the New York rug label is moving more aggressively into the hospitality segment, debuting at its first BDNY, a boutique hospitality event in NYC in mid-November.

Kalaty showcases its hand-knotted area rug designs and custom options at its first BDNY show in New York.

“For the home furnishings world, 2023 has been among the most challenging years in the past 15,” said Austin Craley, vice president of sales, Loloi. “The good news is that there is still plenty of business to be had by those who are smart.” In fact, Loloi spent the year expanding its showroom footprints across multiple locations including Atlanta, Dallas, Las Vegas and New York. That growth has allowed it to not only showcase product more efficiently but also continue to grow its successful licensed rugs and Loloi brand assortment, as well as its wall art and pillows.

Loloi's immensely popular Amber Lewis rug collaboration continues to expand.

Brian Vander Werf, vice president of sales and marketing for Dalyn, agrees that retailers and their end customers continue to snap up fresh options when it comes to area rugs. "People are hungry for newness," he said.

He said that although summer sales held steady, "Fall is picking up. We are seeing positive signs with order intake." One marker for success is the strong enthusiasm at High Point Market last month, with the company experiencing three busy days before the market even officially kicked off. This level of pre-opening-day shopping is a first for Dayln, Vander Werf says.

For Dalyn rug newness drove sales for customers and its printed Odyssey area rugs were a market hit.

Kami Navid of Jaunty said he is remaining optimistic with how his company’s year will finish. “Things have changed since the pandemic, sometimes in positive ways, sometimes in not so positive ways,” he said. “But I’m optimistic that [we’re going to] move forward.” Navid said that the first three quarters of 2023 were “decent” compared to the last few years, but that he’s concerned about how the global unrest in the Middle East will affect the economy.

“With all this uncertainty, I am a little hesitant. But all we can do is to tell our customers that we are here for them as far as service,” said Navid. “We’ll provide the quality and the product. What separates us from the competition is the partnership with our customers.”

Asha Choudhary, president of Jaipur Living, is another industry leader who feels that 2023 has been a challenging year. The company, however, has ambitious plans to increase its market share despite unpredictable global economics. “Coming out of COVID, this has been a tough year for everyone,” said Choudhary. “But we are in this for the long haul, and we are building on our capabilities to get to the next level. We have big initiatives in place.”

Among these is building the Jaipur brand with new visuals, marketing and advertising campaigns and a new approach to telling the story of each product.

Jaipur Living reworked its showroom merchandising for fall High Point, giving its bespoke rug display a fresh perspective.

And Julie Weaver, marketing manager of Orian Rugs, said, “Rug sales in 2023 have exceeded our initial expectations, giving us a strong sense of optimism as we approach a peak time in the rug industry, in Q4.”

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