Splashing colours in millions

Carpet Color plans conquest of Turkey, Lebanon and Qatar after UAE success.

Samir Hammoud
Image Credit: Oliver Clarke/Gulf News
Samir Hammoud (right), Managing Director of Carpet
Color, explains the work his firm does. Carpet Color
specialises in refurbishing old and new carpets by cleaning and
dyeing them to either their original colour or a
completely new colour. Hammoud says that colour refurbishing a
carpet costs cna be as small as 25 per cent of the cost of replacing
it with a new one. 

Samir Hammoud doesn't mind if anyone leaves a mud trail over a carpet. Better still, as far as he is concerned, would be for the carpet to sport sizeable stains or end up getting horribly discoloured.

Because it's on this premise that he has built up a successful business under the umbrella of Carpet Color. Lead him to a dirtied carpet and what you can hope is not just its restoration, but a palette of 16-million colour variants to make it look different from what it was.

By the sound of it, there are quite a few clients willing to roll out their carpets for Hammoud and Carpet Color. There's been a good deal of acceptance by the hospitality industry for some of the pre-eminent properties in town.

Hammoud does not exactly trip over the idea when it comes to launching the business. He had been operating an interior decorating firm for more than three years with operations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi prior to launching Carpet Color.

Patented technology

"It was on a trip to North America that I came across Color Your Carpet, a company that was making waves in that market with their patented technology," said Hammoud. Incidentally, the US company names the White House, the Department of Treasury and a roster of brands in the hotel business as clients fom the original founder's technology.

"I felt that taking out a franchise agreement to introduce the same technology to new markets would be a perfect synergy with what I was doing at the time," Hammoud added. "I met with the founder and owner of Color Your Carpet and, coincidentally, were also looking to new territories. I ended up as their master franchisee."

But there was a lead time to be served before the launch of full blown commercial operations here. A good 24 months was spent on feasibility studies and what would work in the UAE. It was time well spent, according to Hammoud.

"Rather than an immediate launch, this time was spent on building a core team armed with the skills and expertise in carpet dyeing," he said. "Also, we had to have a keen understanding of the chemical formula that Color Your Carpet has patented and to deploy it here."

There was also the initial scepticism to be overcome and not be seen as a glorified carpet cleaning firm. Nothing grates Hammoud more than being taken for one. "We are a specialist company offering a level of expertise far removed from standard carpet cleaning. There's absolutely no comparison. We are specialists in colouring and that's a highly intensive and skilled operation."

After the launch in February and once the first orders started coming through, and satisfied clients in their wake, Carpet Color was on a roll. There are now seven two-member colouring teams on its staff rolls.

"Our business proposition is pretty simple — why not go for the 50 to 80 per cent cost savings that come with a carpet restoration as opposed to buying new?" said Hammoud. "For hotels with their extensive carpeted areas, this proposition represents major savings.

"I guess by now clients have come to realise what we represent for their interests, and by word-of-mouth we are winning new ones." Dyeing and changing the colour may sound time-consuming, but Hammoud is quick to try and convince it's otherwise. "If it's a straightforward dye job, one could start walking immediately. For the colouring process, depending on the pattern, our process wouldn't take more than two hours.

"That's enough time for us to go into specific details — in fact there are three different tests undertaken on the fibre itself to decide the chemical best suited for it."

Rate card

Colour Carpet's rate card is based on the carpet's fibre. For instance, that for one made of 100 per cent wool would be Dh150-Dh200 a square metre.

But doesn't the choice of 16 million colours sound kind of excessive? "This is actually based on four primary colours — blue, yellow, red and black," said Hammoud. "The rest are variants of these and what they offer is choice for the client. You will be surprised at how finicky they can get over the right colour."

Now that Carpet Color has built up a substantial carpet base in the UAE, Hammoud doesn't intend to stop with that. He has plan

s for offering the same services in Turkey, Lebanon and Qatar.

"We are still on the growth path in the UAE, there's lots to do," he added. "Apart from hotels, we are targeting airlines, offices and even private clients.

"Beyond that, there are multiple markets we could choose to get into as outlined in the master franchise status we have."

In other words, there will be no shortage of welcome mats for Carpet Color.

Top Five Tips

- Feasibility study — a comprehensive study of the target business.

-  Sufficient funds — to cover at least six months of running costs, exclusive of assets.

- Location — select prime location according to activity.

- Trade license — after pre-approval of trade name.

-  Skilled staff — recruit according to activity and based on academic talent and experience.

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