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 USA: Englander New Owners To Bring It Abroad

By David Perry -- Furniture Today, 10/18/2006

At The Market, Englander, one of the oldest US bedding brands, is bidding to expand its horizons in this country and around the world.

The brand, owned by its seven domestic licensees since last year, is benefiting from a new team spirit, strong product lines, a history of success in specialty sleep, and a compelling gallery program, its owners say.

The company s showings at the bedding-rich Las Vegas Market are an important part of that growth push. Englander will move into a prime location in the World Market Center s second building, which opens in January. Englander says that move will help raise its profile with domestic and international attendees.

In High Point, the producer plans to continue its showings at a high-visibility showroom in Plaza Suites (space P-100A), making Englander one of a handful of Top 15 bedding producers with permanent showrooms in Las Vegas and High Point.

John Hagglund, Englander s Tualatin, Ore.-based licensee, said the group has enjoyed solid visibility at its markets.

The brand, founded by Max Englander in New York in 1894, has a powerful story to tell marketgoers in both venues, its licensee owners assert. Several of them sat down with Furniture/Today in Vegas to assess the group s progress.

"We have group unity," said Brian Akchin, president of Fraenkel, whose three bedding factories serve nine states in the Southeast and Southwest. "Before, we were fragmented. Now we ve got this great synergy."

Synergy, in fact, is the name of an Englander line consisting primarily of latex and visco-elastic foam. That line provides superior pressure-point reduction, based on pressure mapping tests that Englander demonstrates in its market showrooms and at some of its factories, and it is a strong performer for Englander dealers, Akchin said.

Englander has done well with a Synergy gallery program, one of three gallery programs it offers, said Bob Ashburn, executive vice president of Englander s Rome, Ga.-based licensee, Spears Mattress. (Terry Spears, president of Spears Mattress, is Englander s chairman.) The other gallery programs are built around the new ViscoPedic visco line and the Nature s Finest latex line.

Specialty sleep lines have been important at Englander for decades. The company once was owned by a foam producer, giving it strong entries in that category, Akchin said.

"We are a sleeping giant in latex," he said. "We have been in the latex market for decades. Latex is still one of the greatest sleeping surfaces ever made. Our group uses more pure latex than any other bedding company is using."

Englander s latex, 100% natural, comes from Sri Lanka. "Our product is superior," Akchin asserted. The company s latex lines retail from $999 to $2,999 in queen. Some well-known furniture retailers are putting Englander latex programs in place, he said.

Englander backs its lines with strong point-of-purchase programs, noted Ashburn. The messages coordinate with materials on the company s Web site, and present lifestyle stories.

In addition, the group has a thick sales training notebook, frequently updated, which is designed to give retail sales associates the information they need to tell a strong features-and-benefits story, said Mark Freeman, vice president of sales at Englander s Philadelphia-based licensee. The aim is to boost sales and average unit selling prices, he added.

Now that it has a united front, Englander believes it can take the brand overseas. Ed Ciolkosz, president of Englander s Chicago-based licensee, said the summer Las Vegas market was an excellent one for international prospecting.

"We could have six international licensees by the end of the year," Ciolkosz said. "We haven t gone after them in the past." The brand has no international licensees now.

Englander s good reputation, strong merchandising programs and lines, and rich history make it attractive to prospective licensees, Akchin said.

Englander uses the tag line, "The mattress of choice." That s a message a growing number of retailers are embracing, the company s owners say.