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

Stonewood Floors Names Martin Senior Vice President   Full Article
Everett, WA, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Daniel Martin been named senior vice president for Stonewood Floors.

Mortgage Application Volume Declines Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Mortgage applications last week decreased 9% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

December Foreclosures Lowest Since 2007   Full Article
Irvine, CA, Feb. 11, 2015 -- There were 39,000 completed foreclosures nationwide in December, according to real estate information firm CoreLogic.

Nydree Expands Distribution Agreement With Spartan   Full Article
Forest, VA, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Engineered wood flooring maker Nydree Flooring has chosen Spartan Surfaces to distribute its products in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

Mohawk, Shaw, Tandus/Centiva Again on Training 125 List   Full Article
New York, NY, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Training magazine has ranked Mohawk Industries 14th, Shaw Industries 54th, and Tandus/Centiva 66th on its annual list of top training organizations.

NeoCon East Moving to Philadelphia   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Feb. 11, 2015 -- The 13th edition of NeoCon East will be held Oct. 28-29 in Philadelphia.

Small Business Optimism Down Slightly in January   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 10, 2015 -- Optimism among small business owners fell in January, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

Job Openings at Highest Level Since 2001   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 10, 2015 -- Job openings increased to more than 5 million in December, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Wholesale Inventories Edge Up in December   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 10, 2015 -- U.S. wholesale inventories ticked up in December but below expectations, according to the Commerce Department.

Congoleum Names O'Connor CFO   Full Article
Mercerville, NJ, Feb. 10, 2015 -- Congoleum Corporation said that Chris O’Connor has been named chief financial officer.

U.S. Firms Win Domotex Carpet Awards   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Feb. 10, 2015 -- Hannover Fairs USA said its U.S. exhibitor clients, Wool & Silk and Art Resources, received Carpet Design Awards at Domotex 2015.

Share of 'Zombie' Foreclosures Growing   Full Article
Irvine, CA, Feb. 9, 2015 -- The share of so-called "zombie" foreclosures is growing, although the absolute number is falling, according to tracking firm RealtyTrac.

RD Weis Marks 25th Anniversary   Full Article
Tarrytown, NY, Feb. 9, 2015 -- RD Weis threw a party this weekend to celebrate its 25th anniversary complete with balloons, historic photos, friends, suppliers and employees.

USFloors Names Commercial Sales Vice President   Full Article
Dalton, GA, Feb. 9, 2015 -- Rick Morris has been named vice president of sales for USF Contract, the commercial division of USFloors.

Cavinato Elected President of Global Flooring Alliance   Full Article
Dordrecht, The Netherlands, Feb. 9, 2015 -- Carlo Cavinato has been named president of the Global Flooring Alliance.

Coverings To Feature Four Keynotes, Six Featured Sessions   Full Article
Alexandria, VA, Feb. 9, 2015 -- The Coverings show set for April 14-17 in Orlando has announced its keynote speakers.

Housing Construction Markets Gradually Improving   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 6, 2015 -- Markets in 63 of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in the fourth quarter.

Monthly Jobs Report Shows Strong Growth   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 6, 2015 -- Employers added 257,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department reported.

Merle B. Smith Adds Showroom, Warehouse   Full Article
Elk Grove Village, IL, Feb. 6, 2015 -- Merle B. Smith added a new location in Elk Grove Village.

Mortgage Rates Hit 20-Month Low   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 6, 2015 -- Fixed mortgage interest rates this week hit their lowest level in more than 20 months, according to Freddie Mac.