“A local shop for local people” may come from the excruciating comic genius of The League of Gentlemen, but it’s a mission statement that has worked wonders for Flooring Xtra. And now, following a rapid rise up the Kiwi carpeting ranks, it’s set to become a local company for Aussie people.
Flooring Xtra started out in New Zealand in July 2008, when 18 stores jumped ship from the Carpet Court franchise and in just nine months it had achieved its positioning goal of becoming what it claims is the number one flooring retailer in the country. The company prides itself on its local roots: local co-operatives with local knowledge for local customers. And in less than three years, it has established 55 owner-operated stores nationwide.
In what chairman Henry Van Dyk calls a calculated risk, Flooring Xtra is crossing the ditch next year to expand into the Australian market after the group’s achievements in New Zealand sparked interest in the fragmented Australian carpet retailing sector.
“The Australian industry is very different from New Zealand, with buying and factoring groups often with weak branding and a lack of consistency in presentation,” he says. “Our success is built around providing customers with a full service flooring option, whilst retaining a focus on the local communities within which we operate and the wider environment.”
Flooring Xtra has secured a licencing agreement with Australia’s Consolidated Flooring Pty Ltd, which owns Independent Carpet Retailers, an outfit with more than 125 unbranded stores in Australia. A number of these are expected to take on the Flooring Xtra brand.
“The agreement will entitle them to use of our brand, intellectual property and retail systems,” says Van Dyk. “Both companies will operate independently but we expect operational and range synergies to be developed over time. While the New Zealand group operates as a co‐operative, Consolidated Flooring will have a licence agreement with its owner-operated stores.”
Van Dyk says “access to Australia [has been]a lot quicker than expected”. He anticipates there will eventually be in excess of 160 Flooring Xtra stores across Australasia and, in a similar fashion to its performance in New Zealand, he believes the brand will lead the market within 30 months of launch.