Carpet manufacturer Brintons has a rare distinction – it dates back 225 years and through six generations of family leadership. The company was founded in the U.K. in 1783 and its sixth-generation leader, Michael Brinton, recently retired, turning the company over to the first non-family chairman in its history, Andrew Walker.
The company has operated in the United States since the 1970s and focuses on the hospitality and casino sectors. CEO Jonathan Young says Brintons is effectively a global company with a presence in markets around the world.
“We started doing work in the U.K. and branched out into Europe in the 1960s,” he says. “We moved into Australia and the U.S. in the 1970s and then to Asia and Africa. Today, we have manufacturing facilities in the U.K., Portugal and India. We closed our plant in Australia earlier this year and we’ve just broken ground on a new one in China.”
In the U.S. market, the company focuses primarily on hospitality and casino work, but it has also branched out into the cruise, theater, restaurant and public sectors. Young says the company is a market leader in the U.S. hotel carpet industry.
Brintons has a strong residential carpet business in the U.K. and a small residential operation in the United States, which it hopes to grow over the next few years.
Service and Design
Brintons’ longstanding position in the industry helps it stay competitive. “We have manufactured and supplied carpet for so many years, and we understand the requirements of the market,” Young says.
“We also very much focus on the design element. We bring a lot of new designs to the marketplace through our collections. We have a design team of 21 in the United States. “Service, too, sets us apart,” he adds. “Right from the start of a project, we help manage it through to customer service and making sure the carpet is delivered on time.”
Brintons works to introduce three new design collections yearly. This year, it launched Genesis, which previewed at the HD Expo in Las Vegas in May.
Most recently, it introduced its Hand-Painted Sketches line, which is based on hand-painted drawings from the company’s archives that have been recolored and updated, some dating back more than 100 years.
“From a technical standpoint, we are, at the moment, looking to roll out a new loom that gives us more flexibility than we’ve had in the past with 24-color and smaller run capability,” Young says. “At the moment, we only have two of these looms, but we’re looking for more.”
Bracing for Uncertainty
Brintons works directly with major hotel operating groups with a sales team dispersed throughout the United States. It also sells products through purchasing agents and to individual hotels.
The company operates six U.S. offices with its headquarters in Kennesaw, Ga., and locations in New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.
Young says much of the company’s competition is now coming from low-cost countries. “That’s been the biggest change in the last couple of years,” he says.
“It used to be competitors from the U.S. and Europe, and most are now coming from China, Egypt, Thailand and South Africa, which haven’t always been competitive markets. That’s one reason we’re opening the factory in China – to reduce our cost base.”
Brintons plans to continue to emphasize design as a competitive element. “Companies are looking to differentiate themselves from the competition through design, which is why we’ve put such an emphasis on design leadership,” Young explains.
“One of the biggest challenges we’re going to have in the future is how we adapt to the economic pressures,” he continues.
“We are making a significant investment right now in China, at the same time we’re starting to see a slowdown. It’s not significant yet, but we’re at the end of the chain. Going into 2009 and 2010, it’s going to be even more important to differentiate ourselves from the competition.”
Carpeting the World
Brintons says its products can be found in high-profile locations worldwide, including the MGM Grand casino in Las Vegas, His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, U.K., the Oriana and Aurora cruise liners and Hong Kong airport, where it supplied 135,000 square meters of carpet.
“Brintons carpets are selected by the world’s major interior design practices for their beauty, and their ability to withstand thousands of pairs of feet a day,” the company states.
“From selecting the best raw wool to hand finishing, a Brintons woven carpet is born of over two centuries of experience and the skill of around 2000 people. It marries the latest technology to one of man’s oldest and most-favored materials to create a truly luxurious product.”