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Thanks to hybrid models, Innerspring seen bouncing back

High Point - Led by hybrid models, innerspring bedding will have a strong year in 2014, according to a number of bedding produce

Rick AndersonRick Anderson
rs.
     Hybrid beds, which combine innersprings and specialty foams, are generating a strong buzz in the industry and are resonating with consumers, a number of producers say. They believe the category has considerable momentum.
     But don't count out specialty bedding just yet, other producers note. They say that innovations in the specialty segment - several of which are slated for this month's Las Vegas Market - will resonate with consumers this year.
Those contrasting views emerged from a survey conducted by Furniture/Today in which bedding producers were asked this question: "Which product category - innerspring (including hybrid) or specialty sleep - will enjoy the greatest growth in 2014 and why?"
     Here's how they answered:

    Rick Anderson, executive vice president and president, North America, Tempu

Tony SmithTony Smith
r Sealy International: "We foresee premium products raising the bar and driving sales in both categories, driven by increased innovation above the $1,000 price point. On the specialty side, enhanced technology and aesthetic design will continue to excite consumers. On the innerspring side, we expect continued consumer demand for our premium hybrid products and, of course, continued growth for our Stearns & Foster brand."
     Tony Smith, president, Simmons: "Between new products from Tempur-Pedic and Serta's iComfort and our introduction of the revolutionary memory foam sleep system ComforPedic iQ, I believe we will see a rebound in the specialty segment. Innovation is what has driven the specialty category, and we'll see a return to innovation in 2014. Combine that with national advertising support from all the major players, and you lay the foundation for the rekindling of consumer interest in the category and driving specialty growth ahead of total industry
Dave RobertsDave Roberts
growth."
     Andrew Gross, senior vice president of Serta International: "We see a rebound in the specialty segments in 2014 as we expect significant innovation in this segment from both Serta and other manufacturers. This is reinforced by strong underlying consumer trends in both purchase interest and satisfaction that point towards continued growth of specialty products."
     Dave Roberts, president, King Koil: "Our consumer research is suggesting that innerspring will have a strong rebound. The specialty sleep category may have difficulty in sustaining the appearance of providing better sleep and with the price points being where they are, consumers have indicated that the price/value relationship is questionable."
     Gerry Borreggine, president, Therapedic: "However it is defined, specialty bedding will continue to drive the new business in the category."
     Kevin Toman, president, Englander: "The hybrid will continue to gain strength. The unique combinations of innersprings/foam/gel have taken the sizzle away from the specialty sleep segment."
     Ron Passaglia, president, Restonic: "Not unlike the rest of the industry, our hybrid business has fueled our sales last year, with the introduction of our Comfort C
BorreggineBorreggine
are Signature collection. This collection has cutting edge technology - our Marvelous Middle individually wrapped coil, Air Flow Edge, Tempa-Gel by Restonic, gel-infused quilting foam - and Outlast technology. With the consumer's focus on good value in the $899 to $1,999 price points, we believe the Comfort Care series will continue to excel."
     Frank Hood, president, Kings down: "Hybrid is the story and that is what our retailers are looking for us to produce. What's interesting is that we are seeing more national retailers interested in our portfolio of products because we can offer them something different that they won't see on a competitor's floor, and because we can successfully handle national or multi-regional distribution. We are also seeing an interest in our constructions because of our higher-end products and a feeling in the marketplace that our thought leadership in better bedding and the science of sleep trickles down into lower price points and offers higher quality and features with greate
Kevin TomanKevin Toman
r value."
     Mike McQuiston, executive vice president, Symbol Mattress: "Hybrid is the growth area. It allows for more flexibility in product builds, unique marketing stories and a better variety of comfort choices."
     Rick Robinson, president, Spring Air: "The innerspring category - especially the hybrid segment - will see the most growth in 2014. The majority of consumers are pre-sold on specialty materials for comfort, but they also don't want to spend a fortune on a specialty bed. I think mattress shoppers will view hybrids as providing the best combination of what they want from a new bed and what they can afford to pay."
     Earl Kluft, CEO, E.S. Kluft & Co.: "Foam will have slightly better growth as the business is being driven by new and innovative foam products. When you couple this innovation with specialty sleep's large ad spend, led by Tempur-Pedic, that virtually assures continued faster growth in this category. Even in the luxury category, we are finding new and exciting ways of integrating high quality foams into our products to make some exceptional feels for the consumer."
     Bryan Smith, president, Southerland: "Innerspring will continue to grow as the market segment between $1,000 and $2,000 continues to recover."

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