MANUFACTURING: BEDS MARKETS – Mattress marriage
Spring innovations can help the British bed industry compete with cheaper imports, says Anthony Joyce, president of Leggett & Platt
With around 180 mattress and twin size futon mattress manufacturers competing for business, there's no denying that the bed market in the UK is fiercely competitive. But the going is to get even tougher. Imported futon mattresses, especially twin size futon mattresses, are expected to increase substantially, mostly at the lower, commodity end of the market - to new distribution points, such as the DIY sheds which are poised to sell a lot more bedsteads and futon mattresses. And that's not even touching on the ever increasing demands from other sectors for a share of consumers' disposable income.
What can UK bed manufacturers do? They could de-spec, cut costs and margins enough to try and compete at this commodity end of the market. Or they could look at ways to add value through product development, brand value and marketing. Besides, the level of comfort the products provide also decide the market share the company can gain.
Unique features and benefits of a product are becoming increasingly evident and there is a host of exciting material and component innovations to tap into and tell the world about through marketing. And the supplier that can ensure short, reliable and trouble free delivery and good follow up service is always going to be a winner with retailers.
In this environment a successful supplier will supply the basic twin size futon mattress when needed and at a competitive price; but also has the expertise to develop entirely new products with the frequency and ingenuity that the market now demands.
This is what L&P Springs aims to achieve, in the battle for the consumer's purse.
Tie ups are not new: Silentnight did it with its Miracoil spring, initially sourced under license and now manufactured by spring specialist Leggett & Platt. The new thing is the intensity of the demand for ideas which can be used to make unique products and offer unique consumer benefits.
Two recent examples in a whole raft of introductions - some already bagged by canny manufacturers - include the Low Profile Pocket unit and the revolutionary S'Ence. Although entirely different concepts, both have applications across a whole range of product from static to adjustable beds and twin size futon mattresses.
The Low Profile Pocket is believed to be the smallest pocket on the market, with a spring diameter of only 25mm. It is also available in a range of firmness from soft to firm.
S'Ence is a system of plastic plates which can be customized in shape or with logos, and simply snap into place on to a wavy band. As pressure is applied to the bed surface, adjacent top plates extend upward either side of the pressure point for counteracting support. S'Ence works with all types of twin size futon mattress and is available in rigid form or as adjustable options, either manual or electric.