Sales expert to speak at Bedding Conference

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Jim Jacobus, an expert on building high-performance sales teams, will be one of the featured speakers at Furniture Today’s Bedding Conference.

The conference is set for May 10-12 at the PGA National Resort and Spa here. The theme is “Mastering the Details of Retail.”

Jacobus’ talk, “Mastering the Art of Salesmanship,” is sponsored by Top 10 bedding producer Therapedic.

“Jim Jacobus is a recognized authority on developing extraordinary sales teams,” said Gerry Borreggine, Therapedic’s CEO and president. “He’s been a trusted resource for top sales organizations around the world, and his insights will help retail sales associates – and salesmen and saleswomen throughout the bedding industry – better connect with their key customers.

“Jim has helped us build our sales team at Therapedic, and we know he will help the salespeople who drive the bedding business improve their performance,” Borreggine continued. “At the end of the day, nothing happens in our industry until a sale is made, and Jim Jacobus is all about helping salespeople do a better job of closing the sale.”

Simple Finance is Now Acima Credit

Simple Finance is Now Acima Credit

Posted: Jan 30, 2017 6:39 AM EST Updated: Jan 30, 2017 6:39 AM EST

“We’re changing our name due to a trademark issue.” – Aaron Allred, CEO


Simple Finance is changing its name to Acima Credit. Acima will continue to provide lease-purchase financing and world-class service and support to retail merchants and their customers who come from a variety of credit positions. This name change is driven by a trademark issue between the Utah company and Simple Bank (located in Oregon).

“Simple Bank was awarded the trademark for ‘Simple’ in July 2016,” said Aaron Allred, founder and CEO of Acima Credit. “When our company was founded we didn’t realize we would grow as quickly as we have grown. So we didn’t trademark the name. As a result, we are now Acima Credit. We are doing everything we can to cooperate with Simple Bank to make the name transition as smooth as possible, and to respect their trademark.”

Acima means “Rise Above,” and reflects the company’s core mission to provide point-of-sale finance products through retail merchants to help people rise above their financial constraints. The company firmly believes people are better than their credit scores. That is why Acima offers a lease-to-own service to help people achieve a quality of life they may not have felt was possible.

Over the past three years, Acima has experienced extraordinary growth, allowing it to employ nearly 300 people and underwrite hundreds of thousands of consumers nationwide. Consumer demand for point-of-sale finance continues to rise at an extraordinary rate. Acima’s proprietary technology enables consumers to finance life’s necessary purchases. Acima believes retail merchants who offer this service will experience an increase in revenue from a customer base that typically may not have been able to get financing otherwise based on their credit scores.

“Lease-purchase financing has become more attractive as many traditional and subprime lenders refuse to extend credit to large portions of the population,” said Allred. “In many cases Acima’s point-of-sale product helps consumers climb the credit ladder as they work to improve their traditional credit scores.”

Acima uses their proprietary technology platform to analyze non-traditional data points when making decisions to extend credit to thousands of customers that are often denied by traditional and subprime finance companies. Acima is able to do this by accurately determining credit risk without accessing the traditional credit reporting system, allowing it to provide customers (through their retail merchant of choice) with a simple “no credit needed“ lease-to-own financing option.

The new name officially became effective Jan 27, 2017

Art Van to be sold to private equity

art van elslanderArt Van Elslander

WARREN, Mich. — Art Van Furniture has reached a deal to sell the Top 100 company to private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, after 58 years under one owner and recent years of aggressive expansion.

Terms of the deal, including the purchase price, were not disclosed. The transaction is slated to close in February.

Art Van’s current leadership, including CEO Kim Yost “will work closely with THL to continue to enhance organizational growth and the brand’s plans for the future,” the retailer said in a release.

Gary Van Elslander will remain as president of Art Van Furniture and David Van Elslander as president of Art Van PureSleep.

In a follow-up interview with Furniture Today, Yost said the acquisition gives Art Van the opportunity to share best practices with THL’s portfolio of great businesses as well as a connection to the firm’s “unlimited access to capital for growth.”

“One of the things they like about us is we’re on a growth path and they felt they could really assist us … with additional capital and maybe even accelerate” those plans, Gary Van Elslander added.

In a statement, the Warren, Mich.-based retailer, with 117 stores in five Midwest states, said it “is embracing the next chapter in the company’s impressive growth story and continued evolution.”

“The heartbeat of any organization is its people,” said Art Van Elslander, the 86-year-old chairman, founder and sole shareholder since opening his first store in 1959 on Gratiot Avenue in Detroit.

“I am proud of Art Van Furniture’s history and what we have accomplished. The time for an ownership transition is right and the opportunity presented itself. There is still much I want to do, and I feel confident knowing the company and its people will be in the very best of hands for continued growth and success.”

Art Van is No. 19 on Furniture Today’s most recent Top 100 with estimated 2015 sales of $690 million at then 98 stores in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and Indiana. Today it employs more than 3,500 people and operations include 17 franchise stores and specialty store banners Art Van PureSleep, Scott Shuptrine Interiors, Art Van Flooring and Hillside Furniture.

Art Van previously set a goal to top $1 billion in sales by the end of 2018. While Yost declined to share 2016 sales figures, he said 2015 numbers are “understated” and that the retailer is actually on track to hit $1 billion sooner than previously stated. Among other things, Art Van plans to open five additional Chicagoland stores this year and “a record amount” of freestanding PureSleep locations, adding to the 51 sleep shops it operates today, Yost said. It also will be investing millions of dollars into its online business, he added.

Founded in 1974, Thomas H. Lee “has an outstanding history of investing in growth-oriented businesses like Art Van Furniture, and they have a strong track record with consumer and retail brands — including companies such as 1-800 Contacts, Bargain Hunt Superstores, Dunkin’ Brands, Fogo de Chao, and Party City,” the release said.

According to its website, the Boston-based THL has raised more than $22 billion of equity capital, acquired more than 140 portfolio companies and completed more 350 add-on acquisitions, with a combined enterprise value of more than $150 billion at the time of the acquisitions.

The private equity firm has been involved in the furniture industry before: as a previous owner of bedding producer Simmons, which it agreed to acquire in late 2003 in a $1.1 billion deal, and Stanley, for which the firm led a leveraged buyout in early 1989, holding 95% of its shares until Stanley returned to the wider public market in 1993.

“After thoughtful consideration and strategic evaluation, we determined that Thomas H. Lee Partners is absolutely the right ownership partner for Art Van,” Yost said in the release. “We are collectively committed to building on Mr. Van’s tremendous legacy as we enter this new chapter of the Art Van Furniture story.”

THL Managing Director Jeff Swenson, said the firm is “gratified and honored to be able to partner with Art Van Furniture as the company moves into its next phase of growth.”

“Over nearly six decades, the company has continuously realized Mr. Van’s vision and set the standard for excellence in furniture retail in the Midwest,” he said. “We look forward to working with the entire team at Art Van as we continue to aggressively grow this outstanding brand.”

RBC Capital Markets acted as financial advisor to Art Van Furniture in connection with the transaction. Goldman, Sachs & CO acted as financial advisor to THL.

“Art Van has one of the most successful formulas in furniture retailing,” said Jerry Epperson, managing director of Richmond, Va.-based Mann Armistead & Epperson, which advised RBC in the transaction. “He’s never stopped growing and thinking and innovating, and he has created a terrific management team with Kim Yost and Gary Van Elslander at the top.

“Thomas H. Lee was very enthusiastic in their interest in Art Van, and they’re one of the most successful private equity firms in the nation, so it’s a natural combination.”

In meetings with employees today, Yost said  he was asked if the retailer anticipates changes under the new ownership, “and we said there will be several,” he told Furniture Today. “But those changes are consistent with the changes we’ve gone through for 58 years. Art Van for decades has been a leader in transition, evolution and always staying relevant. Change is about success, and we’re all about that.”

Furniture Today Consensus Bedding Forecast sees 2.4% unit increase

HIGH POINT – The bedding industry will record a 2.4% unit increase this year, while the wholesale dollar volume of bedding shipments will grow 4.2%.

Those are the predictions of Furniture Today’s Consensus Bedding Forecast, an annual feature developed by the newspaper to give bedding players additional insight on business prospects in the new year.

The FT forecast is more conservative than the latest forecast issued by the International Sleep Products Assn., which envisions 3.5% unit growth and 6% dollar growth this year.

ISPA issued its latest 2017 forecast last fall, before the presidential election in November. Furniture Today developed its forecast after the election, with figures generally supplied by bedding producers after the election.

The FT Consensus Bedding Forecast represents the views of more than two dozen bedding producers surveyed last fall.

Furniture Today begins the process of developing the forecast by asking dozens of bedding producers to share their confidential unit and dollar projections for business in the new year. That confidentiality is designed to encourage the producers to share their candid thoughts.

Next Furniture Today weights the projections based on the market share enjoyed by the various producers. The projections from the four top brands – Serta, Sealy, Simmons and Tempur-Pedic, which command about 70% of the market – are given more weight than the projections offered by other Top 15 producers, who together command about a 20% share of the overall market.

And the projections by producers outside the Top 15, who together command about an eight percent market share, are given weighting that reflects that share.

The most optimistic bedding forecast, offered by a producer outside of the Top 15 group, envisions 6% unit growth this year, with 10% growth in the wholesale value of bedding shipments. That forecast assumes a growing sense of optimism in the country following the presidential election last fall, the producer said.

The most pessimistic forecast for dollar growth comes from a producer outside of the Top 15. That producer sees a 1% decline in the wholesale dollar value of bedding shipments this year.

Cash-poor Millennials don’t have as much money to spend on mattresses as older consumers, the producer said.

That was the only producer to forecast a decline in units or dollars this year. But one Top 15 producer sees 0% unit growth this year and just 2% dollar growth, one of the most conservative forecasts.

Macy’s set to close 68 stores, cut more than 10,000 jobs in restructruing

CINCINNATI — Macy’s identified 68 stores set for closing and other restructuring moves that will cost about 10,000 jobs, as the department store chain aims to further streamline and recover after a poor holiday sales period.

The retailer said the closings planned in markets in Florida, California, New York, Pennsylvania and other states are part of about 100 closings it announced in August. The closings and related restructurings are expected to save the company about $550 million a year starting this year and enable it to pump an additional $250 million into its online business in the face of declining store traffic.

In a separate announcement, the department store retailer said same-store sales were off 2.1% in November and December from the same months a year ago.

Macy’s Chairman and CEO Terry Lundgren said the performance “reflects the broader challenges facing much of the retail industry.” The retailer saw double-digit e-commerce gains at and, but “store sales continued to be impacted by changing customer behavior.”

Furniture and bedding were among Macy’s stronger categories along with apparel and jewelry

Kingsdown moving to ‘Madison Avenue of mattress shopping’ in Las Vegas

MEBANE, N.C. – In a move to strengthen its presentation and better showcase its growing product line, Kingsdown is moving its World Market Center showroom to a more prominent location.

The new showroom, located in space C-1588, will display the company’s line in fully accessorized bedroom vignettes and will serve as inspiration for retailers in setting up Kingsdown displays in their stores, officials said.

“The display opportunity that the new showroom affords us is fantastic and puts us on the main bedding floor of the market – the Madison Avenue of mattress shopping if you will,” said Frank Hood, president and CEO of Kingsdown. “We know retailers are always on the hunt for new, creative ways to spotlight bedding in their stores, and our new Las Vegas showroom layout allows us the ability to present the Kingsdown story of better sleep through diagnostics and handcrafted, luxury beds in an exceptional manner.”

Throughout the 7,899-square-foot showroom, Kingsdown will spotlight its bedding collections in a retail store format to give retailers merchandising and showroom design ideas. The Vintage collection, Crown Imperial, Diamond Royale, Sleep Haven, Passions and Sleep To Live lines will each have dedicated areas in the showroom. Wall graphics detailing each collection will adorn the showroom.

Located among major mattress suppliers showing at the market in Building C, Kingsdown will gain additional exposure to retail mattress buyers traveling the market in search of product, officials said. The company previously exhibited in Building B.

Kingsdown’s recently secured High Point Market showroom in the International Home Furnishings Center and the relocated Las Vegas showroom give the company a better opportunity to showcase its lines to bedding buyers, officials said.

Target stops selling supplemental baby mattresses

MINNEAPOLIS — Target announced it will stop selling supplemental baby mattresses following repeated requests from non-profit organization Keeping Babies Safe (KBS) to remove the product that poses suffocation hazards.

The national retailer joins Toys R Us, Sears, Kmart, Buy Buy Baby and Wayfair who have already removed these products in their stores and online. Meanwhile, other major retailers such as Walmart and Amazon have, to date, continued selling the product.

Supplemental mattresses are mattresses sold individually for use with cribs, play pens and play yards. According to U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission data from 2000 through 2013, at least 15 children died while sleeping on supplemental mattresses. These deaths involved a child being wedged between gaps created when the supplemental mattress was added to the play yard or portable crib.

The voluntary standard, ASTM F406-13, acknowledges this risk with a warning label telling parents not to use these mattresses and instructing consumers to only use the original mattress pad contained in the play yard package.

On Dec. 19, the New Jersey General Assembly voted unanimously to prohibit the sale of the supplemental mattresses designed for children’s products.

Warren, N.J.-based KBS has a petition docketed with the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission seeking a nationwide ban of the products. Public comment for the petition was 99% in favor of the ban, with mattress manufacturers as the primary opponent.

Bedding was in the spotlight at the Furniture Today

Bedding was in the spotlight at the Furniture Today Leadership Conference here.

A number of bedding CEOs and presidents attended the event, and bedding leaders were also part of the program.

Serta’s name shined brightly in elevated globes that provided illumination for the opening night cocktail party. And Serta was in the spotlight at the awards dinner the following evening, when its iComfort Hybrid line, launched earlier this year, was named Product of the Year.

Two bedding leaders had slots on panel discussions.

Kim Knopf, CEO of Innovative Mattress Solutions of Lexington, Ky., talked about her path to leadership, admitting that it would have been helpful to have the kind of mentors available these days back when she was starting her company.

Knopf said her company, which operates under the Mattress Warehouse, Mattress King and Sleep Outfitters brands, will rebrand under the Sleep Outfitters banner.

Sam Malouf, CEO of Malouf Sleep, talked about how he is leading a culture of change at his company with a clever portfolio of employee-friendly benefits. He has grown Malouf from a company of two 13 years ago to a staff now of more than 140, and he’s expanded the product line to encompass pillows, woven linens, protectors and mattress toppers.

Executives from Top 15 bedding producers Tempur Sealy, Therapedic, Englander, Restonic and E.S. Kluft attended the conference, as did executives with Leggett & Platt, Hickory Springs, Protect-A-Bed, PureCare, GBS Enterprises, DreamFit and Cozy Mattress, among other bedding companies.

Maersk Line acquires Hamburg Süd…..

COPENHAGEN – Maersk Line, the world’s largest container carrier, just got bigger.

Maersk and the Oetker Group have reached an agreement for Maersk Line to acquire Oetker division Hamburg Süd, the German container shipping line.

With the acquisition, Maersk Line will have container capacity of around 3.8 million 20-foot-equivalent units and an 18.6% global capacity share. The combined fleet will consist of 741 container vessels with an average age of 8.7 years. Maersk had 2015 revenue of $23.7 billion.

Maersk Line expects to close the transaction next year, following the approval of the sales and purchase agreement, which is expected early in the second quarter of 2017.

Hamburg Süd is the world’s seventh-largest container shipping line and a leader in the North-South trade routes. The company operates 130 container vessels with a container capacity of 625,000 20-foot equivalents. It has 5,960 employees in more than 250 offices across the world and markets its services through the Hamburg Süd, CCNI (based in Chile) and Aliança (based in Brazil) brands. In 2015, Hamburg Süd had sales of $6.7 million of which $6.3 million stems from its container line activities.

“Hamburg Süd is a very well-run and highly respected company with strong brands, dedicated employees and loyal customers,” said Søren Skou, CEO of Maersk Line and the Maersk Group. “Hamburg Süd complements Maersk Line, and together we can offer our customers the best of two worlds, first of all in the North-South trades.”

“While gaining access to a superior network and systems, we will continue the Hamburg Süd brand and business model offering personalized solutions to our shippers and consignees,” said Ottmar Gast, chairman of the Hamburg Süd Group. “By joining forces both Maersk and Hamburg Süd will strengthen their product portfolio and cost position to the benefit of their customers.”

In September, Maersk Line had announced that it would grow market share organically and through acquisitions. “The acquisition of Hamburg Süd is in line with our growth strategy and will increase the volumes of both Maersk Line and APM Terminals,” said Skou.

Hamburg Süd and Aliança will continue as separate brands and continue to serve customers through their local offices.

In the combined network, Hamburg Süd and Maersk Line’s customers will have access to the dedicated end-to-end services provided by Hamburg Süd in the North-South trades as well as the flexibility and reach provided in Maersk Line’s global network. Furthermore, the combined network will enable Maersk Line to develop new products with more direct port calls and shorter transit times.