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  • Larry Thomas

Upholstery sources offer gel, memory foam in sofa-sleepers

HIGH POINT - Upholstery producers are taking a cue from their mattress industry brethren by offering a variety of gel foam and memory foam mattresses in their newest sofa-sleepers.
At least a half-dozen upholstery showrooms are showing such mattresses at market, hoping to take advantage of their surge in popularity in the bedding world.
Upholstery executives say the success of Tempur-Pedic's line of high-end memory foam mattresses and Serta's iComfort line of gel-infused foam sleep sets give instant credibility to the new sleeper mattresses - not to mention a more comfortable night's sleep.
Plus, they say it allows retailers to boost their sales per square foot since the newest mattresses, usually adding $100 to $300 to the retail ticket.
"Memory foam is a product that really resonates with consumers, and combined with our brand, it gives the retailer a great opportunity to sell an upgraded product," said Mark Wagner, vice president of brand and retail marketing at La-Z-Boy, which is unveiling a memory foam sleeper mattress at market.
Bruce Birnbach, president of American Leather, said his company's decision to add a gel-infused foam model to its mattress offerings was an easy one, given its success with a high-end Tempur-Pedic sleeper mattress unveiled two years ago.
"Gel is so popular in the bedding industry right now. It just made sense to make it a part of our sleeper program," said Birnbach. "We think we will do well with it."
American Leather is introducing its gel mattress as part of a the latest upgrade to the company's popular Comfort Sleeper program, which features a proprietary mechanism that allows for easy opening and closing, he said.
Also jumping on the gel-infused bandwagon is Lane, which is showing its iRest gel-infused memory foam mattress for its sleepers, and Palliser, which has a gel-infused foam mattress as part of its new high-end sofa-sleeper program, My Comfort.
For iRest, Lane is taking a marketing approach similar to what Serta uses for iComfort - emphasizing the way gel helps cool the memory foam surface.
La-Z-Boy, meanwhile, is focusing on the comfort of its newest sleeper mattress. It features a quilted, ¾-inch layer of memory foam combined with a second, two-inch layer of memory foam over three inches of high-density foam.
"This helps take the comfort experience to a whole new level," Wagner said.

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