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Rug briefs

United Weavers rolls with royalty

United Weavers of America has licensed the extensive archives of the U.K.'s Woodward Grosvenor, carpet makers to British royalty since 1790, to create the new Minster Collection of rugs. Launched with 20 designs at the recent market, the 1.1 million point olefin rugs are priced at $399 for a 6' x 9' piece.

"This is probably the biggest collection we've done — not in terms of size but in terms of impact," said Diane Carleo, marketing director of United Weavers.

Hang tags on each describe the date of the original design and its influences — Egyptian, Persian, Italian and the like — as well as for which royal dwelling it was originally created. Also available are audio hang tags that furnish similar information at the touch of a button.

Shaw to expand Martha Signature program

Hot on the heels of the Martha Stewart Signature line of mid-market rugs, broadloom and hard flooring that it unveiled last spring, Shaw Industries is planning to add handmade rugs to the program during the October market in High Point, NC. It also will unveil handmade and naturals in its up-market Tommy Bahama line, said division vp Jeff Meadows during the recent Atlanta Rug Market.

Orders for the initial Martha rollout have not been affected by Stewart's recent trading troubles, he said, and the program should be in place in 600 doors by early September.

"Martha's people have been doing a lot of focus groups and sharing the results with us," Meadows added. "Her consumer is hanging in."

Last month, the company expanded its Kathy Ireland Young Attitudes collection, adding five designs to the juvenile group, which targets a budget-minded consumer.

The Rug Market plans for NY market debut

The Rug Market is scouting for showroom space in New York as it plans to make its first showing at the New York Home Textiles Market this October. The move comes as the company has added sales staff to pursue the specialty and mid-tier retail channels. Recent hires include Leslie Birk, vp/director of sales; Dale Collins, national and corporate account; and Claria Owen, East Coast regional key accounts, all formerly of Croscill.

Karastan sees the shape of things to come

Karastan is seeing expanded business in its round rugs a year after it added its first round sku to its Palazzo collection of value-priced New Zealand wool Wilton wovens. The company also sees fashion rugs migrating into bathrooms, particularly in new homes.

"One of the coolest things in design is furniture for bathrooms — the luxury and the layering to fill out those bigger rooms," said Phil Haney, senior vp, marketing and sales. "Fashion rugs are a good fit."

Milliken boosts holiday offerings

Milliken has expanded its year-old line of holiday rugs with Yuletide, Partridge in a Pear Tree, Frosty & Family and Merry Minstrels. The nylon rugs come in two sizes: 3.10' x 5.4' for $39 and 2.8' x 3.10' for $59.

Milliken also added a new size to its traditional Signatures collection and contemporary Innovations Collection, a 2.8' x 3.10' rectangle, which retails from $39 to $59.

Beauty more than skin deep at Sphinx

Surface interest was the prevailing motif among several new introductions at Oriental Weavers and its Sphinx division. River's Edge, a casual living collection employing coastline hues, combines varying yarn densities and drop stitching for greater texture. Retail is $399 for a 5.3' x 7.9'. At a slightly higher $499 price point, designs in the Seasons Collection combine hand-tufted wool with delicate carving to lend a subtler sense of dimension.

"Color and design are the first driving factors for any rug purchase," said Linda Harlow, managing director of Sphinx's Oasis group. "Breaking the price isn't going to resolve anything. What matters is whether you have the right rugs and the right vendor service."

Louis de Poortere pulls together POP materials

Louis de Poortere has added display and marketing materials to help sell its lines at point of purchase. In addition to covering the basics, de Poortere is concentrating on offering "an eclectic choice," said president Terry Flamant.

At the recent Atlanta Rug Market, that effort included tribal-themed rugs made of New Zealand wool. "We are at the point where people say, 'It's Louis so it's going to be a little different," Flamant said.

Mohawk Home continues to broaden horizons

Mohawk Home's new Golden Reflections Collection is aimed at bringing high-end looks to moderate price points, ranging from $150 to $180 for 5' x 8' pieces. Made of olefin, the collection combines shiny yarns with low-luster yarns for dimension and adds drop stitching for extra texture.

The division of Mohawk Industries also is finding growth in its wall tapestry business, thanks largely to the increasingly larger size of new homes. With price points ranging from $100 for a 39" x 59" hanging to $200 for a 54" x 80" piece, the business is beginning to spread beyond the gift channel into the boxes, said Jeff Jacobs, vp, marketing .

"What we're evolving into is a home décor solutions resource anchored by flooring," he said.

Natco premieres 2-million-point rugs and value lines

Natco introduced its first 2-million-point rug at the recent market: Infinity, a machine-made rug featuring high-clarity designs at a $449 price point on a 5' x 8' rug. Also in machine-mades, it introduced two value-priced lines: the contemporary Canyon collection priced at $99 and the naturally inspired Rain Forest, which uses double-pointing for a thicker feel and retails at $149.

On the handmade side of the business, the company also built out its better-end goods with the introduction of a 160-line, hand-tufted wool and silk group priced at $699.

Couristan sees room to grow

Couristan is finding room to grow its price points in its handloom collection, which debuted at the January Rug Market at a $199 suggested retail. The company has layered in a $399 assortment called Super Indo Natural that features hand-tufted, all-natural spun wool.

Looking ahead, the company will probably build out contemporary and transitional looks from some of its better-selling traditional collections, said Larry Mahurter, director of advertising and sales promotion.

He also said that Couristan's business in round and square rugs is growing "by leaps and bounds," adding that the company has nearly quadrupled its offerings in shapes as a result.

Burlington collections by theme

The Burlington Rug Corp., now a division of Monticello, AR-based Yanoor Corp., has repositioned the way it brings its rugs to market. The company has created four lifestyle categories and is creating merchandise under those umbrellas.

Vogue taps looks that are trending through other areas of the home such as the plaids, paisleys and textures that characterize the men's/nautical look. French Provincial concentrates on toiles and faded florals. New American features quilt-type looks. And Calypso works around West Indies-themed designs and colors.

"These are nylon heat-transfer rugs, not chromajet," noted vp of marketing Shields Smith. "That gives us infinite color, higher definition and great scalability."

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