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David Perry

Gel beds gaining ground at Market

HIGH POINT - Interest in gel bedding remains on the upswing, bedding producers report.
Gel beds at all price points are attracting attention in mattress showrooms across the market here. Senior bedding executives, watching the activity, said gel has emerged as a breakthrough category.
"This is the first category in the last dozen years that has made not only a splash, but has had a sustained impact on merchandising programs," said Gerry Borreggine, CEO of Therapedic, which is showing eight gel-cushioned beds here, including the four models in the Agility line that combine various encased coils and different foams, including gel. "Gel is continuing to attract new customers."
He said Therapedic's first gel offering, the EcoGel line, "is still picking up steam" more than a year after its introduction.
"Gel is booming," agreed Jamie Diamonstein, president of Paramount Sleep. "Consumers probably relate to gel better than they can to memory foam, because gel is in other products with which consumers are familiar."
He said Paramount is offering gel in a number of its new lines and made this observation about the category's future: "There is no doubt gel is here to stay."
Restonic, which is getting a good reaction to a gel-cushioned bed in a promotion for Furniture First members, continues to ride the gel boom, said Laurie Tokarz, vice president.
"Gel is a new category, and it is definitely on the left side of the bell growth curve," she said.
Restonic, like a number of other bedding producers, is combining gel foams and innersprings, which should spark sales of more innerspring beds, Tokarz said.
Jamison's Gel Comfort line, retailing at upper end price points, has rapidly become a top seller for the company, noted Ken Hinman, senior vice president. He said Jamison's version features a breathable design that promotes the cooler sleep that consumers want. "Consumers say they don't want to sleep hot," Hinman said. "They hear so much about sleeping hot."
"Gel continues to be extremely popular," said Mark Akerman, vice president of sales and merchandising for Enso Sleep Systems. "We are riding that wave." Enso's proprietary gel spheres differentiate Enso's gel line from other gel lines on the market, he said.
Five Star's new Gel-Active gel line is off to a strong start, said Paul Sullivan, vice president. "It's doing very well," he said. And gel in two new TLC hybrid models is also adding excitement.
Sullivan sees much more growth ahead for gel.
"I don't see anything that would cause gel sales to slow down," he said. "Gel is a new story in the mattress business. This gives us something new to talk about. And there is substance to the gel story."
Pure LatexBliss incorporates gel and phase change materials on top of and inside its sleep sets, giving consumers beds that provide temperature control - an area of growing interest for consumers, said Kurt Ling, president.
Gel beds are also being shown at market by Anatomic Global, Carolina Mattress Guild, Classic Brands, Global Furniture, Magniflex, Sealy, Serta, Simmons and Symbol, among others.

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