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David Perry

Steinhafels grows bedding to more than 25% of sales

MorrisMorris
WAUKESHA, Wis. - Full-line furniture and mattress retailer Steinhafels here has written a strong growth story in the bedding arena.
     From a paltry effort in the category back in the early 1990s, when bedding was less than 3% of its total business, the third-generation, family-owned retailer has become a mattress dynamo, with bedding currently representing more than a quarter of its total business. That's a performance very few furniture retailers can match.
     Steinhafels achieved that growth, merchandise manager and bedding buyer Kristi Morris said in a thoughtful presentation at Furniture/Today's recent Bedding Conference, by devoting attention to the category. She said there is "a passionate commitment" throughout the company to the bedding segment.
     That commitment has seen Steinhafels follow a path that other savvy furniture retailers are embracing: Opening its own sleep shops. Steinhafels currently has eight full-line furniture and mattress stores and an equal number of mattress specialty stores, with two mattress specialty stores slated to open in malls this fall.
     Morris cited three mattress success stories at Steinhafels:
     ► Specialty sleep. The retailer has aggressively pursued this segment with foam and hybrid sleep sets retailing at $999 and up, with high gross margins. Steinhafels is committed to providing the best values and most innovative products, regardless of brand. Each brand on the floor occupies an important and distinct niche.
     Specialty sleep vendors include Simmons, Tempur-Pedic and Serta. The company backs the segment with an appropriate percentage of its ad dollars, Morris said.
     ► Power foundations. These products give consumers additional benefits and boost sales tickets. Steinhafels has built its power foundation attachment rate with Tempur-Pedic from 16% to 40% in just 18 months. It has done so by being open to learning about best practices, a refreshing dose of humility ("we don't know it all and we know it - and it's OK"), quick implementation, advertising support and performance management.
     ► Dreams by Steinhafels. This is the company's in-house bedding line, which it started 2007 with a promotional innerspring focus. The company has continued to invest to upgrade its machinery. It added specialty models last year and just introduced its first luxury line at prices topping $1,000. That line is a critical part of Steinhafels strategy of differentiating itself from competitors in its trading area, Morris said.
     Those three elements all add up to a strong growth story, one that is also fueled by the support of the company's top management, led by President Gary Steinhafel.
     Look for even more growth from Steinhafels; Morris says her company remains committed to learning as much as it can about the bedding business.

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