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Bedding results leave producers enthusiastic

LAS VEGAS - The mattress industry enjoyed a strong market here last week. Retail traffic was robust in leading producers' showrooms and enthusiasm about business prospects this year was high.
      With majors bringing out a broad array of new products, retailers saw a bevy of new flagship bedding lines.
     Bedding majors gave the market excellent reviews, expressing satisfaction with the size and quality of retail attendance.
      Serta, showing a new high-end iComfort line with several new gel technologies, got off to a fast start. "We've been swamped since we opened," said Bob Sherman, president.
     With three times more appointments than usual, Serta was looking for one of its best markets ever, he said.
     Serta sharpened its pencil in Las Vegas, announcing retail price rollbacks of $200 to $1,000 on some current iComfort models, an aggressive step designed "to make sure our dealers continue their momentum with the iComfort brand," Sherman said.
      "There was a lot of excitement in our showroom," said Jodi Allen, chief marketing officer at Sealy. "There has been a huge retail focus on our hybrid line in Posturepedic, as well as our whole new Posturepedic line and our new Stearns & Foster Monogram collection."
      She described Sealy's introductions as representing the broadest product launch in its history.
     The Simmons showroom was packed as market got under way, with retailers looking over the total of 32 new Beauty rest and ComforPedic models.
     "The excitement we are seeing among our dealer base is unprecedented for Simmons," said Gary Fazio, CEO, "and is a testament to the power of the transformation we have undergone. The launch of these 32 beds signals the beginning of the end of our three year transformation. 2013 is going to be a big year for Simmons."
     But a number of producers were disappointed to learn that Simmons has extended its Beautyrest warranty from 10 years to 25 years, a move that could force other producers to match that warranty, observers said.
     Tempur-Pedic, introducing four beds at $3,500 and up, including two new air-controlled adjustable comfort beds, had a good show.
     "We are extremely pleased with the traffic in the showroom," said Rick Anderson, president of Tempur-Pedic North America. "We are even more impressed with retailers' response to the many new products and programs we introduced. The level of excitement is very high."
     Comfort Solutions got a "very strong" reaction to its biggest product rollout ever, which includes a new Flare mattress design that uses flared borders to provide additional sleeping space on any size mattress, said Dave Roberts, the company's president.
     "The enthusiasm and acceptance of what we have done have matched our high expectations," he said. "The acceptance of Flare has been incredible."
     One bedding retailer told Roberts the Flare design is the biggest innovation in bedding in decades.
     Therapedic also had a broad introduction, showing its new Agility hybrid line, a new Kathy Ireland line and some unusually colorful Therawrap models.
     "This is the best market we've had in four years," said Gerry Borreggine, president of Therapedic.
     Ashley devoted an entire showroom to its new ZZZ's by Ashley sleep shop concept, which features a number of new female-friendly touches.
     Also drawing plenty of interest at Ashley was a new innerspring line, a manual adjustable bed that ships in one box, and an adjustable bed in which the mechanism is built into the mattress.
     "Ashley is in the mattress business to stay," said Ben Thorud, the Ashley exec heading up the bedding program.
     Also reporting strong markets were Fabrictech, with a new aromatherapy mattress and pillow protection line; Restonic and Englander, which both showed several new hybrids; and Symbol, which scored with a new U.S.-made specialty sleep line, Opportunity.
     Kingsdown did well with a broad range of introductions, including a new "smart" bed that analyzes a sleeper's movements and automatically adjusts the air chambers to keep the sleeper comfortable, the company said.

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