News round-up

Foamex’s first–quarter sales decline

Foamex International, a foam supplier based in Linwood, Pa., has announced that its net sales for the first quarter were $241 million, down from $306 million in the first quarter of 2007.

The decrease was driven primarily by lower sales volumes across all segments and lower average unit selling prices in the carpet cushion segment, the company said. Gross profit for the quarter was $21.2 million, or 9%, compared with $39.7 million, or 13%, in the first quarter of 2007.

“While the deterioration of the U.S. economy continues to impact our volumes, we remain focused on our efforts to reduce costs, streamline operations, and develop new products, markets and channels in order to position the company for future growth,” said Jack Johnson, president and chief executive officer.

The loss from operations was $34 million for the first quarter of 2008 and included a goodwill impairment charge of $38.5 million, compared with income from operations of $22.2 million in the first quarter of 2007.

Net loss for first–quarter 2008 was $48.6 million, or $2.05 per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $17.6 million, or $1.04 per diluted share, in first–quarter 2007.

SABA acquires DUX’s foam–bonding operation

SABA North America LLC in Kimball, Mich., is acquiring Seattle–based DUX Area Inc.’s interest in a joint foam–bonding partnership formed last year. Prior to the sale, SABA and DUX had a strategic partnership to provide adhesive application systems to the North American foam–bonding market.

SABA will assume all business operations while retaining the exclusive rights to the patented DUX Advanced Laminar Airflow spray–gun technology for the foam–bonding market.

Jim Turner, former DUX vice president of business development, has been named SABA North America president. The current DUX foam–bonding sales team also will transfer to SABA.

The acquisition will strengthen the service provided to current and future customers while allowing each company to focus on its core competency, according to the companies. SABA will focus on its strengths in foam–bonding adhesives; DUX will continue to specialize in spray application equipment.

Natura World has new headquarters

Natura World, a manufacturer of natural and organic bed sets and accessories, has opened a new 141,000–square–foot headquarters and manufacturing facility in Cambridge, Ontario. It is 300% larger than its previous complex.

The company said it relocated to meet demand for its products and to increase efficiency.

“Consumers are clearly excited about eco–bedding right now, a category that we have been passionate about for over 14 years,” said Ralph Rossdeutscher, Natura World president. “We anticipate the market for environmentally friendly bedding will remain strong, and the main purpose for relocating was to better service our customers and handle future growth.”

The new headquarters, just 2 miles from the old facility, was designed to promote a relaxed, motivational atmosphere for Natura’s 90 employees. A staff lounge is outfitted with a billiard table and sofas, encouraging employees to enjoy breaks and brainstorm.

In addition, Natura has expanded its presence at the World Market Center in Las Vegas, taking over the space adjacent to its permanent showroom in Building A to create a 6,800–square–foot showroom—up from the 2,800 square feet it has occupied for three years.

The entire space has been redesigned with natural elements, including a waterfall, river rocks, greenery and nature sounds. Retailers also will find new signage, multifunctional display units and “touch–and–feel” product areas.

Fireplug FR fabric available in U.S.

The U.S. arm of textile supplier Cosmo/Starensier has begun marketing Fireplug mattress ticking, a flame–resistant, printed, rayon stitchbond fabric, in the United States.

The Fireplug fabric also can be used as a dyed filler cloth on the top of a box spring and the bottom of a single–sided mattress. The fabric is made in China as a gray good and then printed and finished in the United States. The FR finish, Sleep–Safe, is a technology provided by the Felters Group in Roebuck, S.C.

Cosmo/Starensier is headquartered in Hong Kong. Its U.S. operations are based in Newburyport, Mass.
Cosmo/Starensier currently markets the fabrics in Europe and Asia, too. U.S. sales are handled by Dan Schrein, assisted by Herb Pilkington. Kristin Azzari handles customer service.

The company also is a producer of performance fabrics used in the making of athletic footwear.

Magniflex unveils all–season mattress

Bedding maker Magniflex is introducing the Superbo, a mattress designed to change with the seasons by incorporating a built–in, reversible topper.

The topper features Outlast, a high–performance temperature–regulating fabric, on one side and natural wool on the other, providing a cool sleeping surface in the summer and a warm one in the winter. The Superbo, with a suggested retail price of $5,499 for a queen size, will make its debut at the Las Vegas Market at the end of this month.

“Consumers really enjoy changing home decor items, such as table linens, draperies and bed linens, with the turn of the seasons,” said Marco Magni, global sales director for Magniflex, which has headquarters in Prato, Italy. “Now they can extend that same personalization to their mattress.”

Both the Superbo’s 10–inch mattress core and the 4–inch mattress topper are made of Memoform, Magniflex’s proprietary memory foam created with soy and vegetable oils. The core offers seven zones of comfort to support the body’s curves.

In addition to Superbo, the company will unveil its Riposo and Buongiorno collections, with opening suggested retail prices of $999. The beds feature cores made of Eliosoft, the company’s proprietary water–expanded memory foam.

Magniflex also has announced a new pricing structure for its GeoEthic collection, which incorporates memory foam made with renewable oils and tickings made of soy, bamboo, corn, crab shell and other natural fibers. The beds now have suggested retail prices from $1,299 to $5,499, with six models priced under $3,000.

OHM honors bedding makers

Software supplier OHM Systems rolled out new products and celebrated bedding makers and other users of its systems at an OHM user–group meeting in French Lick, Ind., in May.

Companies in various industries attended the meeting. Bedding manufacturers included Serta, White Dove Mattress, Wickline Bedding, Lady Americana, Springwall and Restonic.

OHM honored the 65% of attendees who have been using OHM software for between 10 and 14 years and the 15% who have partnered with OHM for more than 15 years, as well as one company that has been with OHM for more than 25 years.

“At OHM, our customers are not the top priority, they are the only priority,” said Catherine Anbil, vice president of OHM, which has headquarters in Cincinnati.

At the meeting, OHM announced the release of a new Contact Decision Management system (available integrated or stand–alone), a broader Executive Information system and a new Retail Point–of–Sale system. In all, the company rolled out six new products and major enhancements to its base product.

In addition to educational sessions about improving company Web sites and optimizing computer systems, attendees were treated to tennis, golf, horseback riding, casino gambling and other entertainment during the 2 ½–day meeting.

“OHM learned long ago from their Malaysian affiliates and customers a motto they have since lived by: We work hard and we play hard,” Anbil said.

Sealy launches new latex line

Archdale, N.C.–based bedding maker Sealy has introduced the Sealy Posturepedic PurEmbrace mattress featuring the company’s proprietary Smart Latex.

The company says the new model aligns with its growth strategy, which includes a focus on innovation within the specialty mattress segment.

“Sealy sees the new Sealy Posturepedic PurEmbrace sleep system as the springboard to growth and product innovation in the specialty bedding category,” said Cindy Wenger, Sealy vice president of marketing for specialty bedding. “We have built a latex plant in the United States that allows us to produce our own materials, conduct proprietary research and testing, and further investigate innovative uses for latex. The Sealy Posturepedic PurEmbrace mattress was created using the latest technology to help consumers maximize every minute of sleep they can get.”

The Posturepedic PurEmbrace is available exclusively at more than 300 Macy’s stores and at Macy’s Web site through mid–October. Suggested retail prices for queen–size beds in the line range from $2,199 to $4,499.

Vi–Spring adds juvenile line

Bedding manufacturer Vi–Spring, which has headquarters in Plymouth, England, has launched a collection of handcrafted beds for children age 5 and older, using high–quality natural materials, such as cotton and lambs’ wool, for the mattress filling.

Each bed is made by hand and to order. The collection includes deluxe divan beds. Mattresses can be covered in more than 60 tickings.

Vi–Spring also has introduced bamboo fiber into its top–of–the–line bed, the Monarch.

The Monarch is an innerspring model that incorporates 3,420 springs for comfort and support. Bamboo fiber is
used in the ticking and blended into the mattress filling, along with cashmere, lambs’ wool and mohair. Harrods, the upscale department store in London, has become the exclusive dealer of the Monarch.

Green Idea: Don’t forget about water conservation

With oil prices routinely setting records, it’s easy to focus all your company’s conservation efforts on energy and fuel. But some smart companies are looking ahead to the next natural resource that could experience shortages and sharp increases in price—water.

Jeff Immelt, chief executive officer of Fairfield, Conn.–based General Electric, has announced that GE will cut its global water use by 20% over the next five years.

“We believe, just like greenhouse gas emissions have been a big societal challenge, the same thing is true for water. We are committed to using our technology both inside and outside the company to reduce our water consumption by 20% by the year 2012,” Immelt said at a press conference in May. A 20% cut equals about 1.8 billion gallons a year.

Showing off

Bodet & Horst, a supplier of knitted mattress fabrics based in Elterlein, Germany, has opened its fourth showroom, this one in Waregem, Belgium. Mattress manufacturers can visit the showroom to get detailed information about the designs and technologies included in the company’s current collections. Producers also can work with the Bodet & Horst/Enthoven Associates design team to create unique products. The company also has showroom and production facilities in Hörstel, Germany; High Point, N.C.; and Vrbové, Slovakia.

Mattress Firm aids charities

Houston–based retailer Mattress Firm recently participated in the “BP MS150” bicycling event as a member of Team Dream, which raised $100,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Team Dream, with 67 riders, also was sponsored by OnlineTickets.com and Clear Channel Radio. Mattress Firm and bedding maker Sealy also used the event to help Boys & Girls Harbor in La Porte, Texas. At the halfway point of the two–day ride, Team Dream riders, volunteers and others slept on 135 Sealy mattresses. The next day, the mattresses (with protective plastic removed) were delivered to the charity.

WARN Act reconsidered

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Employment Commit–tee recently held a hearing on the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The WARN Act requires companies with 100 or more employees to notify workers in advance of a plant closing or massive layoff. At the hearing, witnesses and some senators suggested that employers should be required to provide employees with more advance notice than is required by current law. Employers can familiarize themselves with the current requirements by checking www.dol.gov/compliance/laws/comp–warn.htm.

Tupelo market damaged by tornado

A tornado struck a section of the furniture market complex in Tupelo, Miss., in mid–May, causing significant damage. The tornado hit the morning of May 8 and damaged the roof and front of Building D in the Mississippi Furniture Market complex. There were maintenance workers in the building at the time, but no one was injured. Just days after the tornado, market officials said they expected it would take weeks for insurance adjusters to finish their work and for repairs to begin.

Sleep Country donates shoes

Sleep Country USA, a Seattle–based retail chain, has donated 4,231 pairs of shoes to organizations throughout Oregon and Washington that help foster children. “Many of the children in our programs have never had the opportunity to own a new pair of shoes,” said Tamara Boyd, Foster Family Care Network recruiter. “Getting to select a pair of shoes that fit and are comfortable is incredibly exciting for these children and for their foster parents, who have generously taken them into their homes.” Sleep Country USA conducts six annual drives, including those for clothing, coats, school supplies and holiday gifts.

Magniflex starts magazine

Bedding manufacturer Magniflex, which has headquarters in Prato, Italy, has launched Magniflex Today, a magazine for its dealers. The 24–page publication features articles about the company’s mattresses and accessories and its showrooms and manufacturing facilities around the world. It also includes pieces on the importance of sleep and sleep research. Articles are written in both English and Italian.

Serta teams with Gerber

Serta and Gerber have partnered to deliver “green dreams” to one lucky infant this summer. Consumers who are registered as “preferred parents” on Gerber’s Web site can enter the contest through July 31. The grand–prize winner will receive a Serta Perfect Balance organic crib and toddler bed mattress, a Serta Organic Contour mattress pad, Gerber Organics Bedding Essentials and various bath items. The crib and toddler bed mattress has a suggested retail price of $200 and is manufactured for Serta by LaJobi Industries.

Giving back, giving big

Trey Gonzales and other fans of the reality TV program, “Oprah’s Big Give,” worked with Verlo Mattress Factory Stores to deliver 64 beds and Everloft pillows to the Interfaith House in Chicago on May 19. The donation, valued at $30,000, outfits the entire facility with sleep sets. Interfaith House is a shelter that provides residential and support services for homeless adults recovering from acute illness or injury. Verlo Mattress Factory Stores, a factory–direct manufacturer and licensing group, is headquartered in Whitewater, Wis.

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