Focus 100 Retail

By Darius Helm and Kemp Harr

 

With the housing decline now officially into its sixth year—the market turned in August 2006—flooring retailers and contractors have by now firmly readjusted their expectations. For many, this slowdown has brought wisdom and deepened understanding of the business. Those who are growing and taking share have successfully retooled their sales strategies, broadened their client base and expanded their product offering. 

The last couple of years have seen some significant attrition among retailers and contractors in the residential market. In the end, many businesses that had managed to hold on for the first two or three years, fighting for their slice of a shrinking pie, were unable to maneuver into more favorable positions, overrun by their balance sheets in a climate greedy for debt and stingy on credit. Some were acquired by larger players, while others filed Chapter 7 or 11. By some estimates, the number of brick and mortar independent retailers has fallen from 14,400 to about 11,000 over the last five years. 

This year’s Top 100 list reflects growth by many retailers, largely through acquisitions or share gains in markets where competitors went under. Others, through shrewd diversification or sheer willpower, posted organic growth. Large numbers of retailers and contractors have successfully targeted parts of the commercial market, or have gained a foothold in the low margin, high volume multi-family market.

The overall flooring market will probably be up close to 3% this year, with gains in the commercial sector and a slight loss in the residential sector. The good news on the residential side is that the market has pretty much stopped falling and is as close to stable as it’s been in five years—cold comfort to retailers who must spend long hours turning over rocks and scouring the bottom to eke out every square foot of flooring opportunity.

For retailers across broad swathes of the nation, a brutal winter hampered sales through the first half of the year, and those regions by and large reported a turning of the tide around the month of August—and since then, business has been stronger. Others reported that business has been up and down all year long. And nobody is willing to prognosticate on what 2012 will bring, though several retailers pointed out that election years can have a stifling effect on sales, in part because of how political discourse tends to focus on all the ways things are going wrong in the country—making a nervous populace even more nervous.

Unemployment arguably has the largest impact on the vitality of the residential market, though consumer confidence also affects spending habits. Nationally, unemployment stands at about 9.1%, down marginally from 9.6% this time last year. However, there are huge disparities between the states. For instance, unemployment stands at 10.7% in Florida, 11.1% in South Carolina and Washington, D.C., 11.2% in Michigan, 12.1% in California and a whopping 13.4% in Nevada. By and large, retailers in those states had a hard time making gains this year—except for the notable exceptions gaining share because competitors went under.

For the complete story of the Top 100 Retailers, see the November 2011 issue of Floor Focus Magazine.



Other Archived Articles

NAFCD Releases Executive Trends Index   Full Article
Chicago, IL, July 17, 2014 -- The North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors said it has released its Q2 Quarterly Executive Trends Index.

Initial Jobless Claims Fall Again   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 17, 2014 -- Initial claims for unemployment benefits hit the lowest level in nine weeks, according to the Labor Department.

Metroflor Forms Sales Team for Aspecta Brand   Full Article
Norwalk, CT, July 17, 2014 -- Metroflor Corp. said it has established a network of specification representatives for its contract LVT brand, Aspecta Plank & Tile, which debuted at NeoCon last month.

Housing Starts, Permits, Fall in June   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 17, 2014 -- Housing starts fell unexpectedly in June to a nine-month low, according to the Commerce Department.

Summit International Names Sales Director   Full Article
Florham Park, NJ, July 17, 2014 -- Summit International Flooring said that Marc Becker has been promoted to national sales director.

Foreclosure Activity Hits Eight-Year Low   Full Article
Irvine, CA, July 17, 2014 -- Foreclosure activity hits its lowest level in eight years in June, according to tracking firm RealtyTrac.

Contract Furnishings Mart Opens 11th Location   Full Article
Beaverton, OR, July 17, 2014 -- Contract Furnishings Mart has opened its 11th Northwest location in Beaverton.

Producer Prices in June Rise More Than Expected   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 16, 2014 -- U.S. producer prices rose more than expected in June, according to the Labor Department.

Builder Confidence Grows in July   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 16, 2014 -- Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose four points in July to a reading of 53 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.

Industrial Production Rises in June   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 16, 2014 -- U.S. industrial production edged higher in June, according to the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.

Mortgage Applications Fall Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 16, 2014 -- Mortgage application volume fell 3.6% the week of July 11 from the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

J+J Flooring Group Offers Customized Rugs   Full Article
Dalton, GA, July 16, 2014 -- J+J Flooring Group has rolled out a new commercial customized area rug program called Invision Rugs that complements the broadloom and modular products offered by J+J brand Invision.

Shaw Releases Sixth Sustainability Report   Full Article
Dalton, GA, July 16, 2014 – Shaw Industries said it has released its sixth annual sustainability report.

New York Area Manufacturing Surges in July   Full Article
New York, NY, July 15, 2014 -- A New York-area manufacturing index rose to its highest level in more than four years this month.

Retail Sales Rise in June   Full Article
Washington, DC, July 15, 2014 -- Retail sales rose in June despite slower auto sales, according to the Commerce Department.

FIANA, CFI Planning Joint Event in September   Full Article
Vancouver, WA, July 15, 2014 -- The Floor Installation Association of North America and the Certified Floorcovering Installers are planning a joint convention in New Orleans Sept. 4-6.

Beaulieu International Group To Build Plant in Georgia   Full Article
Cartersville, GA, July 15, 2014 -- Beaulieu International Group said it will invest $200 million to build a campus-style manufacturing facility in Cartersville.

Volkswagen Chooses Chattanooga for New SUV   Full Article
Chattanooga, TN, July 14, 2014 -- Volkswagen said it will invest $600 million to build a new seven-passenger SUV at its factory in Chattanooga.

Median Age, Credit Scores For High-End Borrowers Fall   Full Article
New York, NY, July 14, 2014 -- The median age of borrowers seeking high balance mortgages has declined steadily over the last three years, according to private lender LoanDepot.

Meritage Homes To Acquire Atlanta Builder Legendary   Full Article
Scottsdale, AZ, July 14, 2014 -- Meritage Homes said it will acquire the Atlanta-based homebuilder Legendary Communities for approximately $130 million.