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Atlanta Market Sets Stage For New Year of Opportunity

Rizzy HomeRizzy Home pays homage to the Mojave desert with a new collection that is hand-tufted of 100% hard-twist wool and made in India.
Rug suppliers just wrapped up an encouraging year that saw growth in the category across various distribution channels, giving them just cause to hope for more good times ahead - starting with the Atlanta International Area Rug Market this month.
     Appointment books are filled, retailer inventories need replenishing, the housing and construction markets are on the mend, and employment levels are showing signs of recovery, noted Nourison principal Alex Peykar, making way for the bounty of new products set for launch at the market.
     "In recent years, some retailers had empty [rug] arms yet they weren't replenishing much because of the slower customer traffic," Peykar told H&TT. "But now we are seeing signs of improvement in traffic and sales, and retailers are looking to increase their inventories when they come to Atlanta to meet the need."
     Surya, too, has seen the improvement and laid the groundwork early on to support the growth it is projecting for 2014 and beyond. Over the past year, the company has significantly expanded its in-house design team and brought on board a new vice president of product development, "which has further enhanced our ability to deliver fresh, highly relevant and on-trend rug designs that span a variety of design aesthetics, colors, lifestyles and price points," noted Satya Tiwari, president.
     He added: "It's clear that rugs are no longer seen as a commodity item ... Based on this year's strong performance and our solid momentum, I believe we are on track to realize substantial growth for our rug sales in 2014."
     Oriental Weavers is bringing its largest-ever offering of new product introductions to Atlanta.
     "We're moving back into some higher-end hand-knotted goods because our customers are asking for them again," Jonathan Witt, vp, told H&TT. "Probably about 50% of our new introductions are at the higher price points [$499 and up] than we've introduced in recent years."
     The story is different for Capel Rugs, where higher-end goods have been a saving grace. This month Capel will show its least expensive hand tufted rugs ever.
     "It is made in India and is a fashion-forward design that we worked aggressively on to create at a value price-point that targets all distribution levels," said Allen Robertson, vp, sales.
     Home Comfort/Jellybean Rugs has also created a collection for value-conscious shoppers. "Over the years, many of our customers and consumers have asked us to make area rugs with the same design, color, texture, and durability of our accent rugs," said Rusty Boone, sales manager.
     Momeni Inc. is bringing a broad assortment that ranges from machine-made polypropylenes through hand-tufted and hand-knotted styles, principal Reza Momeni told H&TT.
     "We are over the recession and people are coming out and spending, and we are ready for them," he said.
     Safavieh principal Arash Yaraghi expects retailers will be looking for new qualities and price points. "The good old days are here - and now."
     He continued: "I think that based on our sales in last quarter and over 2013, our expectations are strong that retailers are coming to market looking for all kinds of new products with new qualities and new price points."
     The company stocked up on inventory last year "because we knew if we had inventory ready in the fourth quarter, it would be good for us - and the effort paid off."

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