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Futons branded Simmons

Jan 19, 2018

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Simmons Co, through a joint venture with United Sleep Products, has entered the futon market. Many futon makers welcome Simmons' entry, because it brings brand recognition to the category. Simmons' futon mattresses, manufactured and distributed by United, feature Simmons' pocketed coil construction. Simmons-brand futon covers and frames are also available.

EVEN RIVALS WELCOME SIMMONS

By adding a band name to a non-branded category, the Simmons futon program is making its competition take notice. But the competition is not running scared. In fact, many welcome the recognition the brand brings to the category.

The futon program is a joint venture between Simmons Co. and United Sleep Products, an independent bedding maker. United Sleep Products manufactures and distributes Simmons-brand futon mattresses that feature the pocketed coil construction manufactured by Simmons and used in Beautyrest mattresses. The futon program also offers Simmons-branded frames and mattress covers.

The Simmons brand, along with its clearly differentiated pocketed coil construction, offers a clear point of differentiation from other futon mattresses, according to Mitchell Gelbard, vice president of futon sales for United Sleep Products.

"We are the only real true name brand in the industry. And the Simmons pocketed coil is a proven commodity," Gelbard explained. "Consumers already have confidence in the brand name."

Les Watkins, president of New Energy Bedrooms, a competing manufacturer of a variety of bedding products including futons, waterbeds and innerspring mattresses, said, "I think the brand will be successful. Companies have done innersprings before but the Simmons pocketed coil is different," Watkins said. "They have given a brand name to an industry that has none."

Gary Witherbee and Gary Cohen of Wolf Corp. and Robert Naboicheck of Gold Bond Mattress Co., both manufacturers of futon mattresses, agree with Gelbard and Watkins, and think the Simmons brand futon is good for the industry as a whole.

"The Simmons name has credibility, so if the licensee is credible, the industry as a whole gains credibility," said Witherbee, a sales representative for Wolf.

Cohen, sales manager for Wolf's bedding division agrees: "It just goes to show the popularity and value of the category. More and more people are getting into it. It makes sense to market a pocketed coil futon as a high-end or step-up product."

Neither Witherbee nor Cohen is worried about losing market share to the Simmons brand. "It doesn't concern us at all," said Witherbee. "We have a position of leadership in the industry. And the industry is still young and growing."

Naboicheck, president of Gold Bond and president of the Futon Association International, said: "Consumer confidence and knowledge of the category has grown tremendously. As an industry we are growing and giving the customers what they want.

"The Simmons brand continues to give credibility to the industry as a whole," Naboicheck added.

From Simmons' perspective, the entrAe into the futon category is part of its strategy to become "the complete bedding resource," according to the company. At the October market, in addition to showing its Beautyrest lineup and its redesigned BackCare collection, Simmons launched its specialty sleep division, featuring futons, air mattresses and adjustable beds, as well as its Sleep Logic and EOS sleep systems.

"Many retailers see futons as a growing opportunity," said Craig Dorsher, vice president and general manager of Simmons Specialty Sleep Products.

Dorsher added that Simmons' original plan for the futon business was focused on just the mattress. "But the word futon has evolved to encompass the whole package - frame, cover and mattress," Dorsher explained. "From a strategic standpoint you don't offer just a piece of what the customer is looking for."

The Simmons futons and covers are currently being manufactured and are on the floors of several futon specialty shops in the Northeast, according to Gelbard. The frames for the program are in the process of being imported. Once the importing program is firmed up, the Simmons futon program will be seen in a number of retail operations, based on discussions at the October furniture market, according to Gelbard.

"Reception at the market was excellent. It was better than excellent," reported Gelbard. "While I can't give any specific retailer names at this time, I can tell you we had basic commitments from all across the country. We're working with some very major retailers - specialty shops, mass merchants, furniture stores - a nice representation from across the industry."

"Some retailers are interested in our complete line - mattresses, frames and covers - but a lot have interest in the individual components," Gelbard added.

The line includes three Beautyrest futon mattresses in a good, better, best offering, retailing between $199 and $299 in full size. The mattress covers are available in two styles: One is a traditional futon cover; the other is designed much like a slipcover and covers both the frame and the mattress. The slipcover-style mattress covers are expected to retail for $49 to $149 in full, while the traditional covers will retail from $59 to $169 in full. Both cover styles are available in 48 fabrics and 54 colors.

The program also offers six oak hardwood arm styles with a metal inner frame and four all-wood frames made from a northern Chinese oak or an Argentine maple. A fully upholstered futon sleeper is also available in three styles of arms. Frames are expected to retail from $199 to $499 in full size. Queen sizes and futon chairs are also available in some styles.