• Thomas Lester

What's next for industry after Shaw?

Thomas LesterWith the Jan. 6 announcement that Shaw Inds. is pulling the plug on its Shaw Living area rug department and retrofitting its factory to produce luxury vinyl tile, a number of questions presented themselves. Some questions can be addressed now, and for others, we'll have to take a wait-and-see approach.
     What does it mean for the industry as a whole? Who's going to step up and fill the void? What does the news mean for retailers who carry the Shaw brands? How about dealer reps and the employees in the Ringgold, Ga., manufacturing facility?
     Clearly, the rug industry is going to be fine. We just weathered one of the worst economic climates most of us can remember and we came through stronger than before. While the numbers might not be at historic highs seen prior to the burst of the housing bubble, they're trending steadily upward and a number of manufacturers are reporting growth at extremely healthy - and in some cases, astronomical - levels.
     If anything, the departure of Shaw Living will present additional opportunities for growth for manufacturers who can step in and help fill the gap. A number of vendors reported new visits from Shaw customers looking to establish new programs while at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market earlier this month. Retailers need rugs and those suppliers who can step in and provide rugs at comparable price points stand to reap the benefit. Along the same lines, good dealer reps are always in demand, so those who had success selling Shaw rugs will likely make up lost income by repping for new vendors or by selling Shaw's LVT.
     It also stands to reason that partnerships with Shaw's licensees, including Bob Timberlake and HGTV Home, are or will soon be in play. Timberlake officials indicated that they're committed to working with Shaw through the transition, and then they're going to take the temperature of the market before choosing what to do next.
     As far as Ringgold goes, in the statement announcing the decision to exit area rugs, Shaw indicated that most of the 400 or so employees in the rug division will be extended opportunities elsewhere in the company. Shaw also expects that by the time the rug manufacturing facility is converted to produce luxury vinyl tile, it will add some 200 jobs to the workforce.
     I'm interested to see how this plays out over the coming months. I'm interested to know what you're hearing in conversations on this big industry news. Feel free to share your thoughts and impressions at tlester@furnituretoday.com

LesterThomas Lester | Assistant Editor, Home Accents Today

Thomas Lester is an assistant editor of Home Accents Today and Furniture Today. A veteran journalist and storyteller, Lester will bring the stories behind the partnerships, product innovations and personalities in the home accents and furniture industries to life in this blog.


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