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Ashley plans sleep shops

Gary Evans, David Perry -- Furniture Today, June 2, 2012

ThorudThorud
ARCADIA, Wis. - Ashley Furniture Inds. is getting into the sleep shop business in a big way.
     The fast-growing manufacturer and retailer is planning to open about 50 sleep shops under the banner of Zzz's By Ashley this year, with many more to follow in the years to come.
     "I think we can open several thousand in the next 10 years," said Ben Thorud, the Ashley executive who is heading the new sleep shop program.
     Ashley's vision is to become the No. 1 mattress retailer "by selling quality, innovative sleep products, offering a unique store experience and complete customer satisfaction," the company says.
     The sleep stores, which will be about 4,500 square feet, will be designed to provide a better type of retail mattress shopping experience, according to Thorud. That will include a methodology for mattress selection that is informative and easy to understand, he said.
     The stores will talk to consumers in ways that are unexpected in the mattress retail category, Ashley says. The goal is to offer a friendly, more knowledgeable, more aspirational and more intelligent dialogue with consumers, the company said.
     Sleep accessories, including adjustable bases, will be an important offering in the sleep shops, Thorud said.
     The sleep shop program will operate in a similar fashion to that used by the Ashley Furniture HomeStores. There will be licensees and corporate-owned stores, officials said.
Ashley hasAshley has developed this logo for its new sleep shop banner.

     Ashley Furniture HomeStores retailers, with their established presences in key markets across the country, would be well positioned to add the sleep shops to their portfolio, Thorud said.
     He said he company is still finalizing contracts with suppliers, but that Ashley Sleep, Ashley's mattress division, will be one of the suppliers.
     The sleep shop program has been in the works for almost two years. Officials initially talked to retailers about their bedding product needs and the conversations expanded to focus on the mattress shopping experience and on the importance of sleep.
     The Ashley Furniture HomeStores are already major bedding retailers, collectively ranking among the nation's largest mattress sellers. Ashley Sleep is a key line carried by those retailers. Thorud said the HomeStores enjoyed a good year of bedding business last year and said the Ashley Sleep line "is doing very well."
     Ashley Sleep features specialty beds that are imported and produced domestically.

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