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Innerspring bedding tops poll as producers look at 2014

David PyerrDavid Pyerr - Executive Editor
The votes are in and we have a clear winner: Innerspring bedding. Better luck next year, specialty sleep segment.
     That was the strong consensus of the leading bedding producers we recently polled to get the product pulse of the industry in the new year. Many of those producers cited the hot hybrid bedding segment in explaining why the innerspring category will do well this year.
     Twelve of the Top 15 bedding producers gave us their product predictions, and you will find their comments in a special report elsewhere in this issue. In this column we offer our thoughts on the survey findings.
     First, the predictions of an innerspring win this year are strong.
    Eleven of the 12 producers made clear predictions about product category wins this year, and seven of those 12 - King Koil, Englander, Restonic, Kings down, Symbol, Spring Air and Southerland - said innerspring bedding, and especially hybrid beds, which combine innersprings and specialty foams, will be a strong performer this year.
     One producer, Tempur Sealy International, sees strength on both the innerspring and specialty sleep sides of the business. If we give each segment half a point based on those comments, that would give innerspring bedding 7.5 votes for outperforming specialty sleep this year.
     But the specialty sleep side of the ledger has some big names in its column, including Simmons and Serta, both of which are predicting a rebound for the category this year. Also voting for specialty sleep to outperform innerspring this year are Therapedic and E.S. Kluft & Co. Adding in half a point from Tempur Sealy for a specialty sleep win, that gives the specialty sleep category 4.5 votes.
     It is important to note, however, that all bedding producers are not equal. The four largest brands - Serta, Sealy, Simmons and Tempur-Pedic - have a market share of almost 70%. And all of those producers, of course, know what new products they have in the pipeline for this year.
     Simmons President Tony Smith dropped a tantalizing detail about a new specialty sleep product from Simmons when he said that producer will introduce "the revolutionary memory foam sleep system ComforPedic iQ." And Andrew Gross, senior vice president of Serta, said he expects "significant innovation" in the specialty sleep segment from Serta and other producers.
     Rick Anderson of Tempur Sealy International predicts that "increased innovation" above $1,000 will drive sales in specialty and innerspring bedding.
     So how will the bedding battles play out this year? Leading producers say innovative products will spark sales. That has always been true. Will the innovations coming in specialty sleep be strong enough to return momentum to that category? Or will innerspring, which has been outperforming specialty sleep of late, be able to maintain its strong showing?
    Those, dear readers, are the key questions that await answers in the new year. Our coverage of the dynamic bedding scene at the upcoming Las Vegas Market begins with this issue, where we start looking ahead to some key Las Vegas introductions. Stay tuned. We promise you a steady stream of bedding news leading to Las Vegas.

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