• Michael J. Knell

Founder Norman Ricard buys Rev Sleep

Will operate as division of Sommex Bedding

TORONTO - Mattress industry veteran Normand Ricard has taken back the company he founded almost 40 years ago, having acquired what is now known as Rev Sleep Corp. from Bedford Capital, a private equity firm based here.
The terms of the deal, which closed last month, were not disclosed.
     Rev - which produces and markets mattress brands Natura World, ObusForme, NexGel and Sommex - will become an operating division of the newly formed Sommex Bedding Corp.
     Ricard, who founded the original Sommex in 1973, will be chairman while Chris French, formerly chief operating officer, has been promoted to CEO. Valerie Stranix will remain chief marketing officer and will also be responsible for new business development.
     Ed Farquharson, who joined the company as executive vice president of sales in February 2012, has left the company.
     "We are, indeed, fortunate to have Mr. Ricard's expertise, knowledge and contacts to help us to continue to drive our business forward," French said in a statement. "Normand brings tremendous experience and a unique perspective that will allow us to restart our company and serve our customers well."
     Ricard sold what was then Spring Air Sommex to Spring Air Partners in 2001. The senior management of the Canadian operation banded together with Bedford Capital to buy the company from Consolidated Bedding in March 2007. On its website, Bedford maintains that its policy is to hold on to investments for four to seven years.
     The company acquired Natura World in March 2012. It changed its name from Spring Air Sommex to Rev Sleep Corp. in January and it parted ways with Spring Air last year.
     "I am delighted to be back in an industry I worked in for over 30 years," Ricard said. "I am looking forward to seeing all my old friends and making many new ones. This company has all the elements to be a great success story. Great brands, especially Natura, position us well to deliver compelling values to our customers, with great quality, and the outstanding service you have come to expect."
     In addition to its head office and factory here, the company operates production facilities in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. It exited the Natura World plant in Cambridge, Ontario, earlier this year.
     French said the deal to sell the company back to Ricard has been in the works for three months.
    "We are particularly thankful to the support our customers have shown us over this transition period and are excited to be in a position to introduce exciting promotions," he said, noting the sale has ensured the preservation of 130 jobs in Canada and the United States.
     Rev sells to about 600 retailers in the two countries.
     Stranix said it's good that the company is once again owned by someone who has worked in the mattress industry most of his life. Ricard's daughter, Anne Ricard, is the longtime Trois- Rivières plant manager.
     "We are once again owned by people who understand the business," Stranix said, pointing out that most large mattress makers in North America are owned, at least in part, by investment firms.
     "It's an exciting time for all of us," she added. "The resources brought by Mr. Ricard, the commitment of the existing team, and the dynamic growth of our crown jewel, Natura, all demonstrate our clear path forward to continuing as Canada's largest independently owned mattress and bedding manufacturer. We're looking forward to continuing development with our customers, and driving our business forward together."
     French said all of the company's customer service and sales functions will continue to operate as they have for the past few years. The new owner, Sommex Bedding Corp., will honor existing warranties, coop and other marketing commitments made by Rev Sleep.

Michael KnellMichael J. Knell | Contributing Editor

Michael covers home furnishings news in Canada.

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