Family-owned mattress manufacturer established by Jeff and Mark Quinn, Lance and Neil Ellman, brings venerable U.K. bed brand to U.S.
BY DOROTHY WHITCOMB
Sibose LLC, a company founded by four mattress industry veterans to bring the Spink & Edgar brand from the United Kingdom to the United States, has begun placing its luxury beds with a select group of West Coast retailers. Company executives say they plan to continue a measured expansion of their retail base throughout 2016 and have built a U.S.-based manufacturing, distribution and marketing infrastructure to support that growth.
Sibose, which is an acronym for “Sleep Is Better on Spink & Edgar,” was incorporated in Florida in January 2015 by two sets of brothers, Mark and Jeff Quinn and Neil and Lance Ellman. Mark Quinn is president and chief executive officer of the company, while Jeff Quinn serves as its chief operating officer.
Mark Quinn left Leggett & Platt, the Carthage, Missouri-based components supplier, to co-found Sibose. He spent the past four years of his 10-year tenure at L&P as segment vice president of marketing for Residential Home Furnishings.
Jeff Quinn built extensive retail experience while at Mattress Firm, the Houston-based specialty sleep chain that will include more than 3,500 stores after its anticipated merger with Sleepy’s. After building his own Atlanta-based, 52-store Mattress Firm franchise with his partners, he moved to the corporate office as a vice president of stores, where he was responsible for “overseeing all company initiatives at the store level,” he says.
The Ellman brothers own and are co-presidents of Sherwood Bedding, an independent, Orlando, Florida-based bedding producer they founded in 2011. Prior to that, they worked with their father, industry icon Leon Ellman, at International Bedding Corp., a company that the elder Ellman founded in 1974 and built into a top 10 bedding producer before selling in 2005.
The new venture marks the first time that Harrison Spinks Ltd., an award-winning provider of luxury mattresses, has licensed any of its venerable mattress brands. The Leeds, England-based family business, which has been producing beds since 1840, also designs and manufactures its own patented, high-density springs. In addition to incorporating the springs into its mattresses, Harrison Spinks sells them to the automotive, furniture and footwear markets.
Mark Quinn and Simon Spinks, managing director of Harrison Spinks, met for the first time several years ago at a National Bed Federation meeting in Telford, England. At the time, Quinn was the chairman of the Better Sleep Council, the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, and delivered the keynote speech in which, he says, “I was critical of the industry for not being innovative or looking outside of its ranks for ways to connect with consumers on quality-of-life matters.”
Spinks liked what he heard and the pair connected. But when he later approached Quinn about bringing the brand to the United States, Quinn turned him down.
“Simon came back to me six months later and I was in a different place,” Quinn says. “When he said, ‘Just come to England, see what we’re doing and then let’s change the world,’ I went.”
Farm to bed
What Quinn saw was a 300-acre farm dedicated to producing all-natural filling materials for Harrison Spinks beds. Fleece from a flock of about 900 sheep provides wool, while hemp and flax grow in the fields and are processed on-site for filling fiber.
“We must be the most vertically integrated bed manufacturer on earth,” Spinks says. “We want to be in control of our business, from a bag of seeds to our very high-end beds.”
That integration extends to the coils that go into the beds. “We’ve been innovators in the world of springs for a long time,” he adds. “We build our own machinery because we invent our own coils and draw our own wire.”
The company has been producing its own nonwoven fabric for the past eight years. Last year, it also began weaving its own ticking. “First and foremost, it’s about innovation,” Spinks says. “Secondly, it’s a way to control quality.”
“Simon is a unique blend of an engineer with someone who values the intangibles,” Quinn says. “We drew up a business plan on a white board in three hours and shook hands on it.”
The plan wasn’t quite as Spinks envisioned. “I had initially thought that it would be about reselling U.K. product, but Mark saw the need to manufacture on U.S. soil with our components,” he says.
“There are other manufacturers, like Vispring, that import their product and do a terrific job, but it’s a very boutique business,” Quinn says. “We want to be velocity luxury and help retailers take their consumers upmarket.”
Because Sibose plans to be “very selective in picking retail partners,” the company will not be taking its products to market. Instead, Quinn says, “We will work through our relationships in the industry.”
Partnering with retailers
The Quinns began showing Spink & Edgar beds to retailers early last year. “We’ve shown to three retailers and two have signed on,” Quinn says. “When retail sales associates are fighting to get your stuff on the floor, you know you’re doing it right.”
Sit ’n Sleep added the brand to its 24 Los Angeles stores in December 2015 and plans to debut the beds at its other 10 Southern California stores as 2016 progresses, Jeff Quinn says.
“It’s huge for us to roll out with a retailer with that kind of pedigree and reputation,” he adds.
Urban Mattress began launching the brand in January at five of its 16 locations. In the coming months, most of its stores in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia will carry Spink & Edgar product.
Sibose still was in negotiations with a third retail chain as BedTimes went to press.
The partners have put extensive thought into supporting their retail network. (See story on page 28.)
Sibose has targeted the West Coast for the brand’s launch so that all initial orders can be filled from Sherwood’s Phoenix factory. During the first quarter of 2016, it plans to add the manufacturer’s Dallas and Orlando factories to the distribution grid.
Neil Ellman is ready for them. The company’s current three sites are about 100,000 square feet each. Sherwood soon will move into new 150,000-square-foot facilities in Phoenix and Orlando and is adding a fourth Midwestern site of that same size to its operations.
Ellman believes his facilities also can provide the precision and quality control that the brand demands. “We’ve taken an out-of-the-box approach,” he says. “We have the newest and best equipment and have mechanized much of the sewing and box spring assembly. That’s brought an unbelievable consistency to our product.”
“We’re happy to take that footprint and do this joint venture because we believe that there’s a place for a brand like Spink & Edgar,” he adds. “We think we can grab some serious market share.”
As optimistic as the partners are about the future of their fledgling company, they know they have some challenges ahead. Maintaining the patience to stick to the measured, deliberate course they’ve set for themselves is prime among them.
“We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Jeff Quinn says. “We’ve had a lot of interest, but if we grow too fast we could get into trouble. We have to uphold the integrity of the brand in everything that we do.”
And if they do, Mark Quinn says, “The sky is the limit.”
“I would argue that this is the most innovative product that’s been launched in a very long time,” he adds. “Where will we be in 10 years? It would be great if we were a top 15 company, but, at the end of the day, the consumers will decide that.”
Spink & Edgar boasts high coil counts
Sibose, the licensee for the Spink & Edgar brand in the United States, hopes to get retail sales associates talking to consumers about coil counts again. “We’re not only using coils in the core of the bed, but also as comfort layers up in the upholstery, and from that perspective it’s relevant, it’s compelling and we think it will make sense to the consumer,” says Jeff Quinn, the company’s chief operating officer.
Those microcoils—thousands of them—maintain firmness and height, he says, and, when combined with layers of natural fiber filler materials, create beds that “are unique and discernibly different in feel.”
Better sex is among the many benefits company executives claim for their coil-rich mattresses. The company’s website notes that Spink & Edgar beds “flex to provide the right amount of energy bounce-back for intimacy” and encourages consumers to evaluate all of the uses to which they put their beds.
The debut Spink & Edgar line includes six models, four of which are manufactured in the United States; the other two will be manufactured at the Harrison Spinks Ltd. facility in Leeds, England. Comfort layers for U.S.-produced beds are imported from Leeds, and Sibose sources high-density microcoils from HSM Solutions, the Hickory, North Carolina-based components supplier. HSM holds the Harrison Spinks license to produce the coils in the United States.
All of the domestically produced models are one-sided and include a 1,386-coil box spring. “This working foundation, which includes a set of Nanocoils, impacts the feel and adds value to the sleep set,” Quinn says.
All four are constructed with Leggett & Platt’s Quantum Edge comfort core unit above a base layer of blended hemp. Each also features 71 pick jacquard ticking from Culp Inc.
The line opens with the Egyptian Cotton 3000 model, which retails for about $2,999 for a queen set. It includes a layer of 2,080 HD microcoils and three filler pads, made from a blended mix of Egyptian cotton, hemp and flax.
The Yorkshire Wool 5000 has two layers of HD microcoils and adds Yorkshire wool to the blended filler pads. It contains 5,236 coils and retails for about $3,999.
The Alpaca 7000 model contains 7,316 coils and retails for about $4,799. It contains three layers of HD microcoils and comfort layers of blended alpaca, Egyptian cotton, hemp and flax.
The domestically produced collection tops off with the Angora 9000. This 9,396-coil bed has four layers of HD microcoils. Its comfort layers are made from blended angora, alpaca, Yorkshire wool, hemp and flax. It sells for about $5,799.
Because they require a special skill set to produce, Sibose has chosen to manufacture its two top-of-the-line beds in Leeds. Although complete construction specs had not been finalized at press time, Quinn says, the core structure of the beds has.
“The beds will be double sided and have side-stitched borders consistent with English craftsmanship,” he says. “These borders are sewn by hand, incorporating the spring into the border, and take six to eight hours per bed to complete. The Silk 16,000 model will contain 16,000 coils and sell for about $8,999. The Cashmere 25,000 model will contain 25,000 coils and sell for about $10,999.”
The addition of silk and cashmere into the comfort layers of these models, he says, is a further enhancement that helps regulate body temperature and wick away moisture. “These fibers are extremely resilient, yet soft and supple, providing extraordinary comfort and support,” he adds.
Beds and beer
Sibose LLC owners the Quinn brothers and the Ellman brothers like to explain their company’s place in the marketplace using the analogy of big breweries and craft beer companies. Beer? Beds? It’s not as farfetched as it might seem.
Mark Quinn explains: “The beer industry grew, not because of Coors or Bud Light, but because of the recent marketing around craft beer. Craft beer made it interesting again, and I see us that way.”
Building the buzz about its Spink & Edgar brand is only part of the company’s craft beer approach. “We’re trying to be relevant to our retail partners by giving them a compelling story to share, exclusivity in their market and great margins,” Quinn says.
Retailers can not only expect margins in “the mid to low 70% range,” company executives say, but also a fully integrated marketing strategy to spur sales.
“At the moment of truth on the retail floor when the retail sales associate is going to ask the consumer to spend $5,000, you have to be able to justify the price with something,” Quinn says. “We’ve built a program so that they can look consumers in the eyes and tell them why it’s worth it.”
The program combines the Spink & Edgar “farm-to-bed” story, which RSAs can memorize in less than five minutes, with digital training videos. It also includes “a high-end merchandising presentation that highlights the all-natural materials used in the beds,” Jeff Quinn says.
In-store presentations, he adds, will be based on the needs of individual retailers and the number of SKUs they have on the floor.
A component of the program is a multifaceted, user-friendly website, with the message: The luxury category is for everyone who values sleep. Users will find a shopping guide that compares Spink & Edgar beds with other luxury products on the market, as well as tips on how to shop for a bed. The site also will connect consumers to resources such as the Better Sleep Council, the consumer-education arm of the International Sleep Products Association, and downloadable e-books on related topics.
A link to Harrison Spinks Ltd. (www.harrisonspinks.co.uk) will take consumers to the product’s source where they can learn about its award-winning “farm-to-bed” story.
In 2013, Harrison Spinks received two Queen’s Award for Enterprise from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Last year, the company was named the Best Bed Manufacturer in the U.K. by the National Bed Federation. At Interzum Cologne 2015, Spinks Springs, a division of Harrison Spinks, won the Intelligent Material and Design 2015 award for its Posturflo 3D springs, which combine microcoil springs with 3-D, breathable spacers.