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David Perry

Market topics: Gel beds, Tempur-Sealy proposal

Here's your handy guide to some of the key topics that mattress men and women will be discussing this week in High Point:

David PerryDavid Perry - Executive editor
     The proposed Tempur-Pedic-Sealy deal. "Unbelievable" was the way one industry veteran reacted when he learned the news. Well, believe it. Tempur-Pedic put itself in a leading position in the industry with years of stellar growth and strong financial performances. On the flip side, Sealy's struggles in recent years are well known. Now Sealy will be part of a big, marketing-savvy company that rewrote the rules of the mattress industry in just over a decade, a remarkable achievement.
     And there are some related issues to consider. Tempur-Pedic exited the High Point Market years ago. I wonder if its deal with Sealy will bring it back? I'm sure Sealy could find some room in its corporate showroom in Archdale to add some Tempur-Pedic models. Another question: Will Sealy and Tempur-Pedic maintain separate showrooms in Las Vegas?

     Debates about industry performance. The latest Bedding Barometer report from the International Sleep Products Assn. says that large producers are up 9.1% in units and a very healthy 14.8% in dollars through August. The problem is, a number of observers say those numbers are just too high. Exactly why that might be the case no one (including me) can say for sure. But it doesn't feel to us that the industry is roaring along quite as briskly as those ISPA numbers would suggest.

     A new phase for phase-change materials. Some bedding veterans are predicting that phase-change materials, which help sleepers find their ideal sleeping temperature, will be the next big trend in bedding. They might be right. This market, Simmons is introducing phase-change materials in its new ComforPedic line, while Jamison is incorporating them into its new TLC latex line. Top 15 producers Sealy, Tempur-Pedic and Restonic already offer the technology, as does Pure LatexBliss, an early proponent of the technology.

     Glorious gel. I'm sure they may be out there, but I haven't heard of a single gel bedding line that is not doing well these days. The gel bandwagon continues to roll, with gel beds being shown across the market. One reason for gel's popularity, it seems to us, is the wave of excitement that accompanies it. Gel is energizing the bedding market. Excitement produces sales. Sales lead to more excitement. More excitement leads to more gel. Let's enjoy the ride.

     Hybrid power. Leggett & Platt's Mark Quinn is mounting a smart campaign to spotlight hybrid beds, which combine innersprings and specialty foams. And hybrids are getting some traction. This market Serta, Therapedic, Restonic and Carolina Mattress Guild, among others, will be showcasing hybrid lines.

     I hope you have a great market. I look forward to seeing you in the halls and in mattress and sleep accessories showrooms across the market.

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