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  • Jennifer Marks

They're Buying for the Bedroom Again

Pine Cone Hill’sPine Cone Hill’s Varkla French Blue quilt and shams are paired with the Mod Pintuck duvet cover and Silken white sheet.
Tedding suppliers heading to the The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market and The Las Vegas Market this month are armed with new products and expectations for an improved selling environment.
     The second half of 2013 was particularly active for Sferra, on top of strong growth in 2012, according to Steve Schneider, president. Despite the fact that the universe of specialty linens retailers isn't showing much expansion in terms of store count, Sferra's volume in the channel has been steadily moving up. "It's a combination of them doing better and, hopefully, us doing better for them," he added.
     He expects more appointments in Atlanta compared to last January and open-to-buy to run strong going into spring. "The economy is better. Our stores are seeing more business," Schneider said.
     Only about 10% of Sferra's 600 home specialty store accounts engage in ecommerce, said Schneider. "For the most part, luxury soft home is still a market where the customer wants to see and feel the product before making a purchase. They also need the guidance and expertise of the home specialty staff sales staff."
     Some of Company C's store accounts remain cautious, but "others are really branching out," said Walter Chapin, co-founder and president. The supplier is generating particularly strong results from its omni-channel approach to servicing retail.
     "The formula is to create compelling programs that work well in all channels, bring them to the right customers at the right value, a
Company C’sCompany C’s Sumiko collection draws its design from an original vase and is available in rugs as well as bedding.
nd then let customers choose which channel they prefer to interact with," he said.
     That requires investing in inventory and quick order fulfillment, said Chapin. "As stores strive to minimize costs and reduce risk, they are hesitant to make large inventory commitments."
     Company C is also focused on the designer community as a growing customer segment. "We recognize designers offer customers important services and are influential in selecting innovative designs, colors and quality products for their customers' homes," said Chapin.
     Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, highlights of its introductions at the Atlanta, Las Vegas and Dallas markets will include the original, bold vase design found in the Sumiko collection for bedding and rugs.
     The Annie Selke Companies also kicks off its 20th anniversary celebration in Atlanta this month. The company's brands include Pine Cone Hill (home textiles), Dash & Albert (rugs) Fresh American (décor and accessories) and Annie Selke Home (decorative fabrics by P.Kauffman).
     "I'm crazy about the spring 2014 Pine Cone Hill collection," said Selke. "It's a tropical spin on our ever-popular world Cape Calm. With its washed linens, soft voile quilts, pretty printed sheets, and decorative pillows with intriguing shell and rope details, it's a light, airy, tactile, and decidedly unfussy take on island-inspired bedding."
     For utility bedding suppliers headed to the Las Vegas Market, the focus is on specialty sleep shops and mattress stores - which range from single-unit independents to large national chains.
     Soft-Tex's Bob O'Connell, executive vp of marketing and product development, described the outlook for utility bedding at retail in 2014 as encouraging. "I think we're going to see an increase- single-digit, but we'll see growth. We've crossed the hurdle we'd all been waiting to cross for some time."
Sferra’sSferra’s new Denina yarn-dyed jacquard will be offered as both a duvet cover and a quilt.

     Consumers are beginning to buy again, and it's key to understand that during the down time "they've really been educating themselves" about product quality, value and pricing, said O'Connell. That's one reason an omni-channel strategy is important to driving growth.
     "Retailers using ecommerce as a tool in combination with bricks and mortar are seeing better results than the ones that aren't," he said, pointing to the options of allowing consumers to place online orders in-store and giving them the opportunity to pick up ecommerce orders at their local shopping site as particularly important.
     As a supplier, "we have to increase the involvement level to support this process. Where we've done it, we've seen the benefits."
     In Las Vegas, Soft-Tex will spotlight its Sensopedic Memory Cloud collection of pillows and mattress toppers. The therapeutic, pressure-relieving memory foam sleep products are integrated with the ICool technology system for enhanced breathability.
     Malouf Fine Linens is making its second showing in Las Vegas and will exhibit a range of sheets, pillows, mattress protectors, mattress toppers and bed frames.
     "A lot of our stores are saying business is slow because they're seeing fewer people in the stores. But we think that gives them an opportunity to sell more of a well-rounded selection of products," said Mike Douglas, general manager.
     Malouf is encouraging accounts to think about the margin enhancement to the overall transaction when it includes sleep solutions such as toppers and pillows. "They can make as much profit on $200 of our mattress accessory components as they're going to make in margin on the mattress sale," he said.
     The company's major introductions at Vegas are Wool Tite mattress protectors, an omniphase mattress protector, and new additions to its sleep pillow line.

Malouf’s new Wool Tite protectors feature 100% natural crimped wool fi bers that absorb and release moisture with compromising thermal effi ciency.
Malouf’s new Wool Tite protectors
Soft-Tex’s Sensopedic Memory Cloud collectionSoft-Tex’s Sensopedic Memory Cloud collection employs pressure-relieving memory foam in a decorative shell featuring Comfortech cooling and stain release technology.

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