Meanwhile, a new Government directive to prefer the use of woollen fibres in its buildings has the potential to transform the rural sector, according to Bremworth.
As the company looks to grow its share of the domestic and export rug markets, the prototype retail concept store in Auckland will be expanded throughout New Zealand and Australia – if the trial proves successful.
Bremworth chief executive Greg Smith says the local rug industry is highly fragmented and research shows over half of rug purchases by Kiwis are made offline.
He believes opening the store will help the company diversify into a growing segment of the market and address the complexity that can be associated with the category.
“Traditionally most Kiwi homes would have had carpet in the lounge, however, there is an established trend towards the use of hard flooring in these living spaces – which may then be covered with a showpiece rug,” Smith explains.
“We know that for many consumers purchasing a rug online or from a small sample can be challenging.”
Smith says most rugs are sold through big box department or furniture stores and consumers have little flexibility when it comes to the size of the product, let alone whether it is made with New Zealand wool.
“The new concept store in Parnell is designed to offer our consumers and interior designers an immersive retail environment where they can get inspired, learn about and interact with the brand,” he adds.
“Once we have proof of concept the natural next step is to expand our omni-channel concept around the country, and possibly into Australia and other export markets,” he says.
Smith says the company sold over $1.1m worth of rugs through their online store last year with sales up 45% over the previous 12 months.
He says the new retail presence will have flow-on benefits for their wool carpet business.
“The performance of our e-commerce channel in a relatively short time frame has given us confidence that there is considerable demand for our product and opportunity for the wool sector.
“In store, we are able to work with a customer to understand what their needs are and design a customised rug which perfectly matches their space, and then deliver it to their home. It’s exciting because a customer can transform the look and feel of a room in minutes with a rug they design.”
“We live our lives on carpet, but it doesn’t tend to get the same attention as say a bathroom or kitchen or even a rug. To grow wool’s share of the flooring market we need to elevate the importance of carpet in the home from a design and aesthetic perspective.”
He says the company has selected the Residium (formerly the Home Idea Centre) in Parnell as the site of the new Bremworth brand experience concept store as it provides close alignment with over 80 other home and living suppliers in the building.