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Bob Sherman steps down as Serta president

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Bob Sherman, who built Serta into the nation's largest bedding producer, is leaving Serta to pursue other interests, officials announced. His wife, Barbara Bradford, a senior Serta official, is also leaving.

No reason for the departures, which are effective today, was given. Bob Sherman, who was out of the office at Serta today, was not available for comment.

 Image of Bob ShermanBob Sherman
 Image of Barbara BradfordBarbara Bradford

The surprise announcement came from Serta Simmons Holdings, the parent of Serta and Simmons. That company also announced that Gary Fazio, CEO of Simmons, will become CEO of Serta Simmons Holdings and will be responsible for overseeing both the Serta and Simmons businesses, which will continue to maintain separate product development, marketing and sales divisions, officials said.

"We have a lot of opportunity as a group," Fazio told Furniture/Today. "We will build the market share of the brands and keep them separate. We do not want them to lose their identity."

Fazio will continue to be CEO of Simmons.

Asked why Sherman and Bradford are leaving, Fazio responded: "They have decided to step down and pursue other interests. They felt this was a good time to do that."

Fazio said that both the Serta and Simmons brands are doing "very well" in the market and continue to outperform the competition.

Sherman, 61, has spent 45 years in the bedding industry, the last 25 with Serta, where he "drove a combination of groundbreaking product innovation, strong customer relationships and operational excellence that led Serta to become the top mattress brand in the United States," according to a statement released by Serta Simmons Holdings.

The statement said that accomplishments under his leadership at Serta included Serta's well-known Counting Sheep advertising campaign being named Advertising Icon of the Year in 2008, and Serta's iComfort line of gel memory foam beds setting an industry record "by being the fastest brand to reach $1 billion in retail sales."

It credited Bradford, who has 42 years of industry experience and was Serta's senior vice president of marketing and merchandising, as playing "a key role in the development of the iComfort series" and said she was responsible for developing Serta's branded product collections, including Trump Home.

"Bob has been a true leader in the mattress industry," said David Swift, chairman of the holding company for Serta and Simmons. "On his path to building the leading brand in the mattress business, he also delivered one of the most successful product launches and some of the most successful marketing campaigns in history. We thank Bob for creating such a strong and lasting brand, and we'll endeavor to build upon his legacy as we move forward."

Fazio, a 41-year bedding veteran, said the future looks bright for both the Serta and Simmons brands.

"We have great people at Serta and Simmons," he said. "Together we will continue to lead the industry delivering innovative products, investing in all of our brands and providing differentiated services to our channel partners and end consumers."

Serta is coming off one of the most successful years in bedding history. Sales for the Serta brand soared 26.7% last year, to $1.47 billion, as Serta lengthened its lead over No. 2 Sealy to $261 million. Simmons, with wholesale bedding shipments last year of just over $1 billion, is the No. 3 bedding producer.

Bedding leaders have credited Sherman with doing a masterful job of growing the Serta brand.

Asked if Bob Sherman has a non-compete agreement, Fazio responded that most senior executives in the bedding industry have such agreements.

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