By Michael J. Knell
© Windsor Bay Communications Inc. Reprinted here with permission.
For most furniture, mattress and appliance (FMA) retailers, particularly the single-unit independent, mattresses typically account for 14.5% of their annual revenue. It’s equally well known that 14.5% generates more gross margin dollars than any other department on the floor.
Maximizing the performance and profitability of the sleep shop is high on every owner-operator’s ‘to do’ list and is the primary motivation for the launch of BrandSource Sleep (BSS), created specifically for members of the primary go-to-market banner operated by Mega Group.
The new gallery program debuted at nine BrandSource Canada stores across the country on April 21st, with at least another round expected to come online in October. Overall, 15 members signed on to the program when it was first presented to them in 2021 and are in various stages of conversion. To date this year, another eight have come aboard, with the goal to attain 75 BSS galleries in operation across the country by the end of 2025.
Tania Dionne, a mattress industry veteran who was named Mega Group’s director of merchandising for bedding in November 2020, was charged with developing BrandSource Sleep and is part of a five-year plan designed to give member retailers the tools and training needed to give the category the spotlight it deserves, and manufacture sales.
“Bedding industry sales have grown by more than $200 million in the past 24 months or so, pushing past the $2 billion mark,” Dionne noted. “People are more and more into wellness, lifestyle and performance and show increasing awareness about the value and role of sleep in their overall health. So, having a sleep gallery program dedicated to these ideas makes sense.”
She also firmly believes this program is a step-up from others – both past and current. “BrandSource Sleep is all about results,” she said, “keeping track of sales, performance and training. It’s a national program supported by key suppliers. We have guidelines to be followed and targets that need to be achieved. We also have a dedicated marketing plan in place designed to increase our presence in the market.
“The past three years have brought us more experience in omni-channel strategies, so there is a well-connected effort from all Mega departments – marketing, digital services, merchandising and design – to help ensure the success of the program,” Dionne added.
Designed to be customer-centric
BSS is designed specifically as an in-store gallery occupying between 1,500 and 3,000 square feet featuring product from both Tempur Sealy Canada (TSC) and Simmons Serta Bedding (SSB). “It’s designed to maximize bedding sales in multi-category stores,” Dionne said.
Indeed, the concept is designed to generate sales per square foot of at least $250 within the first year of operation. Mega Group’s General Manager of Sales and Strategic Development, John Power, noted the first few galleries to come online in recent months have produced revenue upticks of more than 50%.
The gallery’s interior concept and layout was created by Mega Commercial Design Director Carole Vallières, who believes it’s firmly centered on creating the best customer experience “which is the heart of our approach.”
It fosters an environment that stresses the BSS brand benefits – ‘Sleep, Recover, Perform’. “It’s exciting and interesting to promote these benefits compared to the more normal product feature driven approach,” Dionne said.
The space is also structured to make the product selection process easy for both the retail sales associate (RSA) and the customer – using visual aids to explain and describe potentially complex issues such as mattress firmness and sleep technologies – while maximizing closing rates as well as the average ticket price. The BSS concept also requires RSAs be trained to the level where they can call themselves local sleep expects.
Brands and accessories
The key vendors to BrandSource Sleep will be Tempur Sealy Canada and the Canadian division of Serta Simmons Bedding, this country’s two largest mattress producers.
The sleep shop’s third brand will be GhostBed, the digital mattress specialist that recently signed the world-famous American tennis star Venus Williams as its spokesperson. “GhostBed is a fast-growing brand that showcases a lot of what we want to achieve with BrandSource Sleep, so this is a great opportunity for both companies,” Dionne said. “They are great at D2C (direct-to-consumer) and we are building that ability on our retailers’ web site in partnership with them.”
And GhostBed’s partnership with Williams, she added, is a perfect fit with BSS’s ‘Sleep, Recover, Perform’ mission statement. Headquartered in Florida, GhostBed maintains an office in Vancouver and manufactures its product in Canada.
As proven by more than one retail sleep specialist, accessories are vital to the success – and profitability – of every mattress shop.
The launch of BSS has given Mega the opportunity to expand its private label Concept ZZZ assortment beyond mattresses. “We have a brand-new Concept ZZZ accessory line-up,” Dionne said, noting the first product to be launched will be a pillow program with retail price points ranging from $35 to $185. “The program includes lavender, triple cooling and feather pillows.”
“We are aware of the need to expand our accessories and are working to give our member retailers great options,” she continued, adding the BrandSource Sleep pillow bar will also feature product from the Montreal-based Blu Sleep as well as Sealy, Tempur, Serta and Simmons.
Over the coming months, Dionne said the Concept ZZZ accessory program will be expanded to include duvets, blankets, linens and protectors.
One thing is clear, Mega Group is investing heavily in the BrandSource Sleep program believing the mattress/sleep category is vital to the ongoing revenue growth and profitability of the banner’s 150 or so member stores from coast-to-coast.
Michael J. Knell is the publisher and editor of Home Goods Online and all three of its platforms. This article first appeared in the Spring 2022 edition of the HGO Merchandiser. All Mega Group members are entitled to receive its newsletter. Click here to subscribe.