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Outlook positive as calendar turns

Thomas LesterThomas Lester
As rug manufacturers roll out their newest and best during the winter cycle of shows, they're hoping to build on the strong year they just completed.
     Many vendors indicated that 2013 was strong - some conveyed astronomical growth figures, including an eye-popping 60% growth reported by Jaipur. While they're coming off a good year, a number of manufacturers are jumping in with both feet as we start with a fresh page on a brand new calendar.
     I just wrapped up a visit to Georgia to check out many of the introductions during the Atlanta International Area Rug Market at Americas mart. A number of these will also be on display in Dallas and Las Vegas as well.
     From the perspective of creating buzz around the brand, Kas Rugs certainly had an impactful month leading up to this market. Not only did the Somerset, N.J.-based manufacturer announce the introduction of its branded pillows and poufs to debut at the January markets, but it also grabbed headlines by announcing licensing partnerships with Bob Mackie and Donny Osmond Home - the latter of which is debuting across a number of product categories this month. The rugs will be introduced in Las Vegas in July, but Kas created a lot of excitement for the brand by announcing the agreement in advance of the first DOH launches in Atlanta.
     Oriental Weavers continued to build on a strong 2013 thanks to its Pantone Universe license. When color authority Pantone announced that Radiant Orchid was its 2014 Color of the Year in December, OW was waiting in the wings to announce that it had shag rugs in the hue ready to ship that day - proof that partnership can be a powerful thing.
     Oriental Weavers also scored a new licensing agreement with island lifestyle brand Tommy Bahama for indoor and outdoor rugs that made their first appearance last week in Georgia.
     This year promises to be a big one for Dallas-based manufacturer Loloi, which kicked off its 10th anniversary at Americas mart. Loloi introduced nine new rug collections as well as 29 new styles in pillows, fresh off that category's debut in High Point.
     Surya, which is offering a trip to Hawaii for one lucky winter market attendee, is launching some 21 rug collections during this market cycle to go along with introductions in many of its other product categories.
     From first impressions in the headlines and in the showrooms, it looks like the rug industry is poised to build on all the momentum gained in 2013.

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