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David Perry

Gel mattresses gain ground

Five Star’s newFive Star’s new Gel-Active gel bedding line made its first High Point showing.
HIGH POINT - Interest in gel bedding remains on the upswing, bedding producers report.
     Gel beds at all price points attracted 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 offered 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."
     Magniflex successfully introduced its Magnigel technology as it entered the gel category with a polyurethane gel.
     "Marketing has made gel products well known," said Marco Magni, global sales director. "Gel bedding is an easy product to sell if you have a new story to tell." Magnigel's story emphasizes cooling, breathable properties in the sleep sets.
     Anatomic Global offered three models in its new Rujuvigel line, retailing from $1,299 to $1,899. The gel infused into the Rejuvigel models adds support to the mattresses, the company said.
Klaussner’s LenKlaussner’s Len Burke holds a demonstration unit that shows the spheres of gel in the company’s Enso Sleep Systems line.

     "That was the big winner of the show," said Jacqui Griffith, senior director of marketing for bedding at Anatomic Global's parent, FXI. "Retailers responded really well to it."
     Carolina Mattress Guild did well with its Cool Coils line that features encased coils, latex and gel designs. "There is so much gel out there," said Kathy Grigg, vice president. "The addition of latex adds interest to the line. Retailers are looking for good latex beds."
     Restonic, which got 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, said 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 its gel line from other gel beds on the market, he said.
     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.
     Five Star's new Gel-Active gel line was well received, said Paul Sullivan, vice president. And gel in two new TLC hybrid models also added excitement.
     Sullivan sees 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."

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