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  • David Perry

Luxury bedding speaks volumes to retailers and their customers

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then pictures of luxury beds are worth thousands of dollars.

That's certainly the case with the roundup of high-end sleep sets pictured here. Each of these beds brings in thousands of dollars to the retailers who sell them. These are big-ticket, high-profit transactions. And the consumers are smiling, too, because the bedding cradles them in comfort.

The high-end bedding market — loosely defined as sleep sets that retail for $1,000 or above — has exploded in recent years.

One of the most tangible signs of its strength is the amazing growth of Stearns & Foster, a premium brand that now generates revenues in excess of $200 million, the company says.

That ranks Stearns & Foster, part of the Sealy stable, as one of the industry's largest bedding brands in its own right, according to Jim Ross, director of marketing for Stearns & Foster. That brand was relaunched in 1994 exclusively as an upper-end line — and it has been growing rapidly ever since.

Another company that has enjoyed rapid growth with high-end bedding is Kingsdown, which ranks as a Top 10 bedding producer, according to Furniture/Today market research. That producer raised plenty of eyebrows in 1991 when it came out with a bed at the then unheard of price of $2,000. "People thought no one would buy it," recalled David Tenuta, Kingsdown's vice president of marketing and sales.

But consumers did buy the Kingsdown beds and the numerous other high-end models that the company has brought out since then.

Now a number of major producers are vying for a share of the high-end market — another sign of the category's growing success.

No one knows the exact size of the high-end bedding market. Estimates range from 5% to as much as 20% of all bedding sold.

What is clear, however, is that consumers of many different types will pay $1,000 or more for a sleep set. That's good news for retailers, who get more gross profit dollars from these sleep sets than their less expensive brethren.

Plus, consumers love the luxurious comfort and support they receive from these richly upholstered, plush beds, producers say.

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