14103 Mon, 03/24/2008 - 3:38pm
For an industry so dependent on the import of goods from a relatively short list of countries, the business of importing rugs to the United States is faced with changes—some already taking place, some still in their infancy.
Some importers have seen oil costs affect their freight costs and/or raw material costs. Emerging desire among exporting countries for labor unions to protect and boost their income, and other establishments seeking to avoid the importing middleman and bring buyers overseas and directly to their doors have created challenges as well.
For several years running, India has led the production and export of handmade wool rugs. However, it has also led the hand-knotted area by approximately $100 million dollars and is now leading in the wool-tufted area as well. These figures may have led the country to take a more aggressive role in exporting the goods for which it has long been known. Case in point is the International Home Deco Park, opened recently in Delhi, India. A series of exporters for floor coverings and other home decorative products have taken space at this modern facility in the hope of attracting buyers directly.
Lending further to this notion is the fact one of the first tenants is a large buying group that is now within walking distance of a plethora of potential clients. Also of note among the initial lineup of tenants here are rug companies such as Jaipur and Surya, each of which operate multiple showrooms in the United States.
Importers in the United States have expressed concern over such tactics, but, for the time being at least, have the benefit of limited buyers with limited time and travel budgets on their side. The importers’ job has long been to preselect for the retailers, bringing the best product and establishing a specific look and level of quality buyers have come to know and rely upon. Still, as more showrooms fill at IHDP and fairs such as the India Carpet Expo invite global buyers and cover many of their expenses, U.S. importers and show operators should pay close attention to this evolution and its effect on retail perceptions of buying direct. — Jennifer Quail