Surfaces 2008 - March 2008

By Darius Helm, Kemp Harr and Brian Hamilton

This year’s Surfaces may not have been as glitzy and glamorous as in years past, but even more so than last year, folks were there to do business, and that made for a brisk and efficient environment. And with some of the bigger players not in attendance, there were more new exhibitors than ever, and the lower level was overflowing with enthusiasm, opportunity, and huge potential.

The numbers only tell part of the story. With 34,540 visitors, attendance was down nearly 10% from 2007. Exhibitors numbers were down about 8% to 982. However, about a quarter of those exhibitors (249) were showing at Surfaces for the first time, and they were there to establish themselves and take what marketshare they could find—at the expense of the complacent or dispirited.

Armstrong, Shaw and Mohawk haven’t been at Surfaces for a few years now, and a bunch of fairly big players have also jumped ship. This year, Congoleum, Milliken, Pergo, Tarkett, Marazzi, Amtico, Florim, and Oriental Weavers were noticeably absent. 

The departure of Oriental Weavers may well spell the end of area rugs at Surfaces, mainly because of competition from the Las Vegas Market at the World Market Center, which coincided with Surfaces. The furniture show is a great venue for rug players, since so much of their business goes through furniture retailers, or at the very least not through independent flooring dealers.

This year’s Surfaces offered many new or enhanced features, including the New Product Pavilion, Decorative Concrete Pavilion and Hand Crafted Tile Pavilion. And new to the Conference Program were six one-hour mini sessions offering seminar topics in an accelerated format. 

Mannington once again had the largest display at the show, featuring products across five flooring categories (hardwood, laminate, porcelain, resilient and commercial carpet). According to Ed Duncan, vice president of marketing, “The 350 new SKUs we are introducing this year is the most aggressive product launch we’ve ever had. Consumers’ tastes change every year, and we strive to be the leader in style in this fashion oriented flooring industry.”

Probably the most dramatic carpet news at Surfaces 2008 was the complete strategic redirection that Beaulieu of America is undergoing by launching the new Bliss brand name. Representing a shift in marketing focus to the female consumer, all products will be sold under the Bliss name and at the same time the retail display system has been simplified and products repositioned to fit the needs of the female consumer.

For a full report on Surfaces 08, see the March 2008 issue of Floor Focus Magazine.

Copyright 2008 Floor Focus 


Related Topics:Mannington Mills, Beaulieu International Group, Tarkett, Florim USA, Armstrong Flooring, Marazzi USA, Mohawk Industries, Shaw Industries Group, Inc.