Issue Date: 2019 FEBRUARY, Posted On: 2/8/2019

02102019 Classic Home Reports 40% Increase in 2018 Rug Sales - Execs' New Strategies
By Carol Tisch and RugNews.com Staff

Classic Home's area rug and textiles execs detail strategies that contributed to a winning 2018, including innovative designs (Preston, shown) in sustainable jute fiber, and merchandising rugs with furniture.

LOS ANGELES -- Classic Home, a top West Coast-based source for furniture, textiles and rugs, is reporting a 40% increase in rug sales in 2018 over 2017, with growth attributed to new strategies in product development and merchandising, plus entry into the outdoor category.

RugNews.com probed Classic Home's top textiles and rugs execs, Linda Minjares and Kelly Jeon, for the backstory at last month's Las Vegas Market, where the company unveiled its newest rugs at its World Market space, C309.

At the winter 2019 Las Vegas Market, Classic Home makes a point of displaying inspirational rooms that incorporate its furniture and area rugs. Shown, a hand loomed kilim shag.

Entering the showroom, the initial impression is that Classic Home is a furniture company. On closer inspection, it becomes apparent that rugs are merchandised in vignettes throughout, and they and home textiles are important categories.

In fact, when Classic Home was founded, its sole product was handwoven jute rugs. Going back to these roots, and strengthening the company's position in sustainable natural fibers is a key reason for last year's increase in rug sales, according to Linda Minjares, vice president, textiles and rugs.

Classic Home showcases a nubby sustainable jute rug in a furniture vignette at the entrance to the company's Villa by Classic Home pillow section of its Las Vegas showroom.

"Offering more natural fiber rugs and balancing our product selection to include styles we're known for, especially jute rugs, was a key change. But we began a greater focus on rug development in 2017 and have been introducing two to three new styles every market. The regular release of new, trend-forward rugs has renewed customers' interest in our products and helped increase our sales," she explained.

"We also tracked sales trends more closely to phase out rugs that weren't selling, and to adjust price points to make them more attractive to our customers." When it comes to sharpening prices, the company has an advantage because it owns its factory in India. Over the past 20 years Classic Home has worked closely with its Indian production facilities to achieve faster production schedules, higher quality output and a unique creative collaboration, Minjares reports.

"We have more control over development and production, and it shows in the quality. We're always looking for innovative techniques that can take us and our customers to the next level, especially when it comes to design and sustainability," added Kelly Jeon, product development & merchandising manager, textiles and rugs.

A January market introduction, the Solana Distressed rug is handwoven of natural jute with dyed fringe in cotton.

"Natural fiber rugs have been central to our business for two decades and we're excited to continue innovating in this category," she said. "Introducing new weave patterns, dye techniques, and designs provides innovation to our valued customers, and we are constantly improving our product to meet their needs," Jeon added.

The Solana rug, making its debut at Las Vegas Market, is among the natural fiber pieces that meets the needs of customers. "Solana's tribal-influenced pattern and jute construction meets customers' demands for a handcrafted aesthetic that is also responsibly sourced and produced."

Key turning points in 2018 sales

Minjares says Classic Home's entry into the performance rug category was one of three key turning points responsible for the sales gains in 2018. "Initial sales of Augusta, our debut indoor-outdoor collection introduced in spring 2018 were strong, so we decided to expand the category.

Moroccan-inspired designs, including new takes on Tulus, which Classic Home categorizes as 'kilim shags', have racked up strong sales. Shown, Carmel Kilim Shag.

"We introduced Moroccan style rugs in fall 2017, with consistently strong sales in that category. Regular introduction of new Moroccan designs solidified us as a trusted source for on-trend designs. And we updated showroom merchandising to include layered rug displays that customers love. The release of our merchandising guide in summer of 2018 that provided customers with display vignette inspiration and practical tips on how to create spaces that attract customers," Minjares explained.

Classic Home customers have responded positively to the company's layered rugs displays, and use the technique in their own stores to create a lifestyle look. Shown, Artesia Kilim Shag and chunky loop natural jute rug.

"The layered rugs, when placed with furniture, lighting, and textiles, create fully realized spaces, making it easier for customers to merchandise their stores and showrooms. We start with the rugs," Minjares told RugNews.com. "And our goal is that our rugs make a cohesive statement with our furniture, textiles and lighting." The company also offers handwoven jute baskets and rug racks to give customers innovative ways to display the products and designs.

"Rugs are a great upsell to furniture orders because they complete and add a more lived-in feel to a space. Our merchandising makes it easier for customers to integrate rugs into their spaces and show how essential they are to a complete design," Jeon said.

New tufted jute pillows were a hit at Las Vegas and Atlanta markets, illustrating the synergies available through Classic Home's rug and textile manufacturing facilities in India.

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