Major floor covering producers are integrating all types of floor materials into coherent cross-merchandising packages that can include rugs, carpets and hard-surface floors.
"If you buy a wood or laminate floor, you've got to put a rug on the darn thing," said Bob Shaw, president of Shaw Industries. "It's about time we recognized that and showed the two products together." No doubt that's why, during the recent Surfaces 2001 exposition, Shaw Rugs and Shaw hard-surface products were shown in the same display area.
Shaw said the company will become more deeply involved in related flooring and decorative home products this year. "We will be expanding through acquisition, and I think you will be surprised at the new developments and directions we will take," Shaw promised.
Major carpet producers have been branching out into other floor products for several years but, for the most part, each category has operated separately. Now they are working together - and it's not merely a merchandising and display story. Many of the products are being designed from the ground up as complementary lines.
For the past year, the Shaw Rugs division has produced a successful line of rugs that are part of the home furnishings umbrella program developed by former supermodel Kathy Ireland. Now, the program is being extended into the broadloom arena with The Shades of America Colorwall by Kathy Ireland. The concept was developed to take the fear out of choosing carpet. Ireland's core colors are chosen to give consumers confidence in selecting coordinating furniture and accessories.
"The Waverly program offers a tremendous platform for cross merchandising," he said. "We are aiming these products at independent stores as well as major home decor stores."
The Waverly rugs are not being marketed through the Beaulieu Rug division, which aims its machine-made rugs primarily at mass-market channels. "The Waverly rugs are a better fit with the Beaulieu Residential sales organization," said Dossche.
Similarly, Mohawk is developing a rug program outside of its rug-making division. The Mohawk Home division, which makes machine-made rugs, has become more oriented to the home textiles and mass-market channels.
In the upper price points, Mohawk has introduced a new bordered rug program for its CustomWeave division. Any of Custom Weave's carpet lines can be made into area rugs that utilize a broad variety of border treatments. Retail prices range from approximately $600 to $1,500 in 6' x 9' size.
Perhaps the most high profile rug and broadloom programs on today's market is Karastan's Ralph Lauren Home collections. Last year, the company introduced Lauren broadloom designs.
This January, handmade and machine-made rugs began to come on-stream. Many of the hand-knotted and hand-woven rugs were inspired by Ralph Lauren's personal collections. However, the Lauren contemporary machine-made rugs are directly linked to the broadloom assortment in terms of both color and design, explained Phil Haney, Karastan's senior vice president of marketing and sales.
Couristan, Radici, Stanton, Masland, and Milliken are also involved with programs that bring the two product categories more closely together.
Liora Manne, well known for her Design Rhythms collection of area rugs for Trans-Ocean, made her debut as a broadloom carpet designer this winter with a high-end residential line for Stanton Carpet. "The Liora Manne carpeting adapts many of her well-known rug motifs such as textural effects, tone-on-tone geometrics and swirls," commented Sy Cohen, president of Stanton. "These are cutting-edge designs and we are banking on her becoming a design leader in carpets, just as she is in rugs.
"In fact," Cohen opined, "the Liora Manne line was the hit of the Surfaces market."
Rug importer Radici USA began importing high-end broadloom carpeting from Italy last year. "Now we are introducing a line of Wilton-woven carpeting in classic Oriental rug designs," said Jim Beard, vice president of U.S. operations for Radici. "We are presenting the rugs and carpeting as companion pieces, and we think they will do particularly well in the decorator market.
"The carpet retails at over $100 a yard, so the market is limited," he added. "But overall, this is a product that is going gangbusters."
At Masland Carpets & Rugs, the company's new Inlaid rug program has been developed as a way to totally integrate the company's broadloom and rug programs, according to Steve Coccozza. "It's a semi-custom rug program consisting of about 300 designs in 130 colors, using Masland broadloom as the base fabric. It's really a giant cross-merchandising program between rugs and carpeting," he explained.