Regional competitors have seized control of the market by replicating Iranian carpets. Each square meter of Persian handmade carpet is equivalent to the value of 5 to 20 barrels of oil.
Iran has been a major global exporter of carpets for many years, but regional competitors capitalized on the opportunity and dominated the market by imitating Iranian carpets.
Machine-made carpets pose another significant competition to handwoven carpets, as their industrial production results in lower costs.
Handwoven carpets are an important part of Iran’s history and civilization, encompassing not only cultural and historical aspects but also art, industry, and commerce.
Iran used to be one of the primary carpet exporters, but sanctions targeted this sector extensively. Regional competitors seized the opportunity and captured the Iranian market by duplicating Iranian carpets. Machine-made carpets, with their lower production costs due to industrial processes, also present a formidable competition to handwoven carpets.
The National Carpet Center of Iran is responsible for formulating policies in the carpet industry, and while it has taken positive steps, it requires greater autonomy.
Ali Shahbazi, the CEO of the Rural Handwoven Carpet Union in Isfahan Province – Iran, lamented the lack of support for the handwoven carpet industry. He added that if only 10% of the advertising budget allocated to industries like oil were directed to the carpet sector, each square meter of carpet would generate the equivalent of 5 to 20 barrels of oil in revenue. In essence, every carpet workshop would be an oil well, but it remains unsupported.
Stressing the importance of raw materials, designs, patterns, and tools as foundational elements of carpet production, he highlighted that the raw materials sector directly links to agricultural efforts, including silk, wool, cotton, and yarn. Unfortunately, measures for self-sufficiency have not been taken, with over 70% of raw materials dependent on foreign sources, a figure that continues to rise.
While there are 270,000 certified Iranian handwoven carpet weavers with identity codes, the actual number is higher. However, only one-third of these identified individuals are actively engaged in carpet weaving, with the majority having abandoned the profession.
However, in modern Iranian society, handmade carper weaver is often seen as a challenging and low-status occupation. Consequently, there is a limited number of weavers under the age of 40, and there is little inclination to pursue this line of work.
Shahbazi expressed his dismay at the meager daily wages of carpet artists, pointing out that these low wages are not seen as economically viable from their perspective. Simultaneously, carpet producers face limitations in their ability to pay higher wages, presenting a complex issue requiring resolution.
Carpets are uniquely associated with Iran, representing not just an economic commodity but a multifaceted embodiment of culture, economy, civilization, employment, and social stability. However, it has not received the priority it deserves within the national agenda or the endorsement of the country’s leaders.
Branding and franchising: Two pivotal strategies for the development and job creation within the carpet industry
When a successful business in production matures and reaches a stage of self-improvement and standardization, it can be replicated and generate income across various locations, referred to as franchising or commercial franchising. While this concept has thrived in sectors like automotive maintenance, food, textiles, and more, it has been less prevalent in the handwoven carpet industry, which is currently in a favorable position for branding.
We are all know the significant challenges facing the export sector and the Iranian hand made carpet industry. Although many designs have been copied, the concept of exclusive production still holds relevance due to emerging roles.
The carpet industry remains one of the country’s competitive advantages, necessitating an export-oriented approach. Specialized export activities should be primarily conducted by export management companies within the framework of trade development organizations.
New techniques, including nanotechnology, have been integrated into the carpet industry, providing a boost to the sector and sparking innovation. Correctly implemented, these advancements can render countries engaged in replication incapable of competing with authentic Iranian carpets.