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Sleep Innovations eyes $100M in '05

Although the foam bedding segment represents a small portion of the overall bedding world, foam manufacturer Sleep Innovations is setting an aggressive goal: $100 million in sales by the end of fiscal year 2005.

Business has been reorganized into three segments — not all of them foam-related — and the company plans to stake part of its growth on breaking into non-traditional textiles channels.

The foam and foam-related products business, the company's backbone, is adding a new travel and leisure line for non-textiles channels such as drugstores and supermarkets.

Its textiles business is expanding into bed ensembles and blankets.

And beach/outdoor, a new segment, is producing a new line of beach, tote and insulated beverage/picnic bags, which also stand to extend Sleep Innovations' placements beyond the bedding department.

"We're looking at the market to find where opportunities present themselves in related categories of business, and we're going to pursue them aggressively," president Michael Fux told Home Textiles Today. " 'Comfort' can mean more than simply comfort — it can mean aesthetic comfort as well."

Since its founding in 1997, the company has grown at an annual rate of 20 percent to 60 percent, Fux said. With the ground shifting in the home textiles industry and some traditional companies struggling, Sleep Innovations believes it can broaden its market share by creating new business niches.

"We are going to go after this thing with guns blazing," Fux said.

In its core foam business, Sleep Innovations has been elevating its upper-price-point assortment by mixing foam with other components. At the upcoming October market it will unveil its latest offering — Novagel pillows and pads, an extension of the Novaform visco-elastic and down combo line it launched one year ago.

Sleep Innovations discovered the gel technology in China and earlier this year struck a deal with the manufacturer to become the sole manufacturer and supplier of the product for the United States and Canada. Novagel products wrap memory foam with a layer of supple waffle-patterned gel for added lift. The line will broaden the company's assortment within upper-end foam products priced from $80 to $100 for a sleep pillow.

"This is a major thrust for us, taking visco-elastic to a new level," Fux said.

The company will introduce seven to nine products under the Novagel label, including pillows in various shapes and sizes as well as mattress pads.

Packaging will take a step forward as well, with holographic packaging designed by Sleep Innovation's in-house packaging department. Each package also will have a touch-me field in the window.

"If we can get someone's attention, that's half the battle," said Dave Stewart, executive vp.

The core Novaform line will upgrade as well. The original line employed a 5-pound visco-elastic foam core surrounded by an outer layer of goose down with natural cotton covers in sateen, jacquard and cotton/silk offered in counts ranging from 260 to 300.

The new step-up offering, the Comfort Plus Pillow, uses two types of memory foam cores — one soft, the other firm — and two types of natural fill — cluster on one side, down on the other — to create a pillow that offers two types of sleep experience at a $49.99 retail.

"We're trying to put some romance into the white pillow business," Fux said.

Novaform also is extending into travel and leisure, with the launch of visco-elastic foam products for cars and chairs. The line includes travel pillows, neck rolls, seat cushions, u-neck pillows, contour pillows and juvenile pillows covered in black or blue leatherette. Pricing will range from $29.99 to $89.99.

The line is intended to broaden Sleep Innovation's channel reach, targeting supermarkets and drugstores as well as health & beauty care departments in broad-line retailers, Fux said.

Sleep Innovations' extensive new line of carry-all bags marks another bid to extend into new categories — in this case, accessories, beach and outdoor living.

The line comes in three basic shapes — tote, ladder bag and bucket bag — and in a variety of fabrications, including nylon, parachute fabric, cotton canvas and cotton duck cloth. Better items will retail from $30 to $40, while some offerings in mesh and vinyl will retail at $5 to $6.

A sampler of the assortment includes nylon beach bags with inside-zipper compartments as well as pockets for shoes and a cell phone; nylon cooler bags with a side zip for dispensing cans; and an all-purpose insulated beach bag with storage areas for food, beverages and wet beach clothes.

Meanwhile, Sleep Innovations continues to pursue fashion bedding, although it has shifted gears since it extinguished its sales and marketing relationship with Italian bedding company Bassetti in early 2002. While it continues to service some existing business under the line, Sleep Innovations has begun developing its own product.

This market it will introduce dupioni silk down comforters in six mix-and-match designs that reverse to high-thread-count sheeting. Offered in a variety of florals and striped designs, the comforters feature baffle box construction and will retail from $249 to $299.

In yet another new venture, Sleep Innovations this market will debut a line of blankets and throws, most priced in the $30 to $40 range, although some constructions hit price points over $100. The move was prompted by the recent disarray in the blanket world, notably the liquidation in late summer of Beacon Blankets, once the industry sales leader.

"We see a big opportunity in blankets — but as a focused business," said Stewart, who added that Sleep Innovations does not intend to enter the generic solid-color blanket world where it would be forced to engage in a war of price points.

Blanket offerings will include a 5-pound cotton fleece with a woven border offered in six colors at $39 twin, a bouclé blanket in four colors at $39.99, fake fur at $39.99 and split cowhide at $49.99 twin. Three promotionally priced blankets will be offered at $29.99 all sizes: a 200-gram polyester with self hem, a 200 gram 50/50 cotton-poly, and a 220-all cotton. Better goods include a mat acrylic pieced on the sides in brushed micro-denier with denim backed at $149 queen.

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