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Serta's CEO optimistic as company's sales rise 7% in 1Q

Company off to good start at High Point Market

David Perry, Staff Staff -- Furniture Today, April 5, 2011

HIGH POINT — Serta, bedding's No. 2 producer, says it posted a 7% sales gain in the first quarter and is gaining market share.

That's the assessment of Serta President Bob Sherman, who said his company was off to a good start at the High Point Market here and is looking for a good year for Serta in 2011.

Serta's new flagship Perfect Sleeper line was successfully launched earlier this year and is well on the way to being completely rolled out by Memorial Day, Sherman said. The new Perfect Sleeper line, the official mattress of the National Sleep Foundation, was designed with input from the NSF to address common sleep problems.

Serta's goal is to have the line placed on retail floors, in stock, and backed with sales training by the Memorial Day holiday, which is the traditional launch of the summer selling season, a key time for mattress sales.

Serta's other key product introduction, iComfort, a gel memory foam line, "is doing well, as well as expected," Sherman said.

The gel memory foam looks different from other memory foams and also performs differently, thereby giving retailers a choice in the memory foam category, according to Sherman. The iComfort line, introduced earlier this year, retails from $1,299 to $2,499.

One sign of Serta's aggressive push with iComfort is the fact that the company is touting the brand with its sponsorship of former President Bill Clinton's keynote address at the Las Vegas Market this summer. "That's a way of putting iComfort in front of dealers and making that a major brand for dealers to think about when coming to market," Sherman said.

He said Serta will hold a VIP event for key Serta accounts and Serta dealers before Clinton's appearance at the Las Vegas Market on Aug. 1.

Serta is joining the World Market Center in sponsoring Clinton's appearance to make a leadership statement. "To us," Sherman said, "Bill Clinton represents leadership. This appearance shows Serta is a leader and is taking a leadership position. This singles us out."

Sherman also said that rising raw material costs have prompted Serta to take a 5% price hike, effective May 2, on most of its products, with the exception of the iComfort line.

"Every single thing we buy today is more expensive than yesterday," he said.

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