tempurThmbTempur’s introduction into the British market represented a paradigm shift for UK mattress manufacturers, distributors, retailers and end users.

The emergence of the memory foam mattress fundamentally changed the market—our underlying perceptions of it—and continues to do so, even in smaller ways, to this day.

The chart below (fig.1) highlights Tempur’s impact on the UK market in sales terms over the past 15 years.


In the period since Tempur became front-of-mind, other manufacturers have sought to counter its influence, either by attacking perceived weaknesses, or by incorporating memory foam in their own products.

Memory foam—either as a standalone product or as part of a foam/springs hybrid—has become an important part of the UK mattress market.

Much of that is down to Tempur, and its UK md Jacqui Stefanov. Tobin James, well known already to the UK mattress retail sector as Tempur commercial director, has been installed as the new md following Ms Stefanov’s decision to step down after 24 years with the company, announced this week.

In its statement announcing Ms Stefanov’s departure, Mr James described her as “one of the greats of the UK furniture industry.”

Many will echo those sentiments.

Though Tempur is yet to release its 2014 accounts for the UK, economic indicators suggest they will show significant growth on the £31.8m sales achieved in 2013.

Imports of foam mattresses from Denmark—where Tempur’s European factory is based—climbed nearly 35 per cent year-on-year in 2014, well ahead of the 9.7 per cent growth achieved by UK mattress manufacturers. It remains to be seen how closely that tracks Tempur’s sales, but prior years suggest a reasonably close correlation.

Growth has continued into 2015 (fig.2) with shipments in the first eights months of the year—the latest figures available from HMRC—putting Danish foam mattress imports up by a further 8.4 per cent on the January to August period in 2014.


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Tobin James replaces Jacqui Stefanov as Tempur UK md