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David Perry

Gel still a hot category for bedding majors

Gerry BorreggineGerry Borreggine
LAS VEGAS - The gel bedding phenomenon charges ahead this market, with most of the industry's largest players aiming to stand out in the rapidly growing category with new introductions.
     They are doing so at price points that range from promotional to high end, and in beds that include hybrid designs combining springs and specialty foams, and in all-foam models.
     Recently crowned domestic sales leader Serta, which launched the gel boom last year with its introduction of the iComfort line, is expanding its second gel bedding offering, the iSeries. The line features a Duet innerspring coil and the company's gel memory foam.
     New in the iSeries this market is a $1,999 pillowtop and a $2,999 model with a zippered cover.
     Sealy, which didn't enter the gel category until earlier this year, continues to push hard in that category. It is introducing a new Optimum gel bedding model in a pillowtop design, and also is launching what it calls the first branded gel line at promotional prices. The Sealy Comfort Series Gel Memory Foam Collection starts at $599.
     Simmons is expanding its luxury Beautyrest Black line with three new models featuring a firmer coil. All of the Beautyrest Black beds feature ventilated foam encasement, a high-tech mesh border fabric for breathability and airflow, and the company's GelTouch foam. Retails for the collection range from $1,999 to $3,299.
     Comfort Solutions is introducing a new gel-latex material in its Natural Response line at high-end price points. And the producer is also adding ultra-premium models at the top end of its iMattress gel memory foam line. The new iMattress beds have additional layers of the company's iFusion gel foam.
     Also new at Comfort Solutions are a Laura Ashley Value Collection and two new King Koil Posture Sense coil models.
     Therapedic is combining gel foam and micro-coils in the four models in its new Agility line, retailing from $1,299 to $2,499. The line offers the most responsive sleep surface on the market, according to the producer.
     Therapedic also is revamping its Kathy Ireland latex offering, First Lady.
Earl Kluft, E.S. KluftEarl Kluft, E.S. Kluft

     "The specialty sleep category has been growing at a rapid rate, with latex offerings at the forefront of that growth," said Therapedic CEO Gerry Borreggine. "Our Kathy Ireland Home collections have been some of our most successful beds and retailers are constantly asking for new models. Based on dealer demand and the popularity of the category, updating the First Lady series just seemed like a logical move."
     Englander is expanding its Egel line with a gel-latex mix. The gel cells are permanently bonded to the latex and feature a zoned design to put more support in the center third of the bed, the producer says. Englander is also showing a new Nature's Finest latex line retailing from $999 to $1,899.
     Kingsdown is making a broad introduction of new lines, and includes gel in a number of its new models. The intros include MySide models tied to the company's proprietary BedMatch diagnostic selling system.
     Spring Air International officially enters the gel arena this market with two lines that it is billing as "first-incategory" offerings. The Conforma Gel collection features a new marbleized gel memory foam that is tri-zoned, while the Cool Dots line features gel that is poured into indentations in the memory foam. Retails start at $799 and go up to $2,499.
     Both of those lines are designed to give retailers unique gel products that will help drive retail sales and profits, said Rick Robinson, the company's president.
     Restonic features its TempaGel memory foam in its new $888 Marvelous Middle line that is one of four models tied to the company's new "Sale-A-Bration" promotion.
     And E.S. Kluft introduces its Aireloom Devereaux Hybrid in its "airegelle" collection. The new model has individually wrapped coils paired with the company's gel-infused foam. Retails start at $3,700.
     "When we developed airegelle we realized that one type of gel was not sufficient to use across all products, so we created different feels for different models," said Earl Kluft, president. "We used the same custom concept when creating the Devereaux's smooth, euro styling. While Kluft is renowned for its plush hand-tufting, we understand that the cooling benefits of gel are amplified with closer contact, which prompted us to create this distinguishing design."

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