Bedding plays bigger role for Nationwide's members
David Perry -- Furniture Today, March 20, 2013
LAS VEGAS - Bedding is playing a growing role for members of the Nationwide Marketing Group, a top executive of the group said here.
Speaking during Nationwide's PrimeTime show here, which attracted more than 5,000 attendees, Bill Bazemore, vice president of furniture, said bedding is giving "a shot in the arm" to Nationwide retailers. "It's an incredibly important category to them."
Bazemore estimated that more than half of Nationwide's 3,500-plus members carry mattresses in their stores and said that number is growing rapidly.
Several appliance and electronics retailers are adding bedding, Bazemore said. They appreciate the high margins that bedding brings them, he said, adding that appliance and electronics retailers that already carry bedding are enjoying "phenomenal success" with the category.
Nationwide helps its retailers sell bedding with its full-service approach to the business, offering retailers a variety of advertising, marketing and merchandising programs, Bazemore said. He said the theme of the Nationwide show, "Solutions," emphasizes how the group's programs help mattress retailers find success.
Nationwide put a spotlight on the mattress category with two presentations during the event. And the group's bedding vendors, including Serta, Sealy, Simmons, Enso, Ashley and Boyd Specialty Sleep, were prominently represented on the 325,000-square-foot show floor.
"These guys really know how to put on a show," said Marty Melcher, group vice president of retail sales for Serta, which had a large stand near the entrance to the show floor.
Melcher said groups like Nationwide help retailers remain competitive. "Any retailers who don't belong to these groups are at a competitive disadvantage to retailers who are in the groups," he said. "They aren't getting the best practices that members share."
Serta offers its Bellagio line exclusively to Nationwide's members in the U.S. and has enjoyed strong growth with Nationwide retailers, officials said.
"This show gives independents the power to compete with larger retailers," said Dan Iftiger, director of sales for Sealy, which has reintroduced its Bassett bedding line to the buying groups. "It gives independent retailers new life. Nationwide has been great to work with and their members are growing. We partnered with them to share in that growth."
Hank Hegert, national director of Ashley Sleep, said appliance and electronics retailers are increasingly adding bedding to their merchandise assortments because they appreciate the hefty margins afforded by the category.
He said Nationwide's programs, which include advertising support and website development, help independent retailers hold their own.
Mark Akerman, vice president of sales and marketing at Klaussner's Enso Sleep Systems' unit, said the strong margins in the Enso line are "a big eye-opener" for retailers shopping the line.
"Appliance and electronics retailers are taking a hard look at bedding," Akerman said. "We have placed our new Solutions Studios with several of those retailers who have never been in bedding. Our program makes it easy for them to get into the category."