Demand for handmade Irish mattresses increases
From affordable and durable to five-star luxury, Harvey Norman takes pride in 75 per cent of its mattress stock being Irish made
Harvey Norman designs and manufactures products in Ireland to cater for Irish consumers. Photograph: Fotolia
Bedding has come on a lot since we slept in caves, with an animal hide thrown over a straw bed for some small semblance of comfort.
In the 1800s it was horse hair, stuffed inside a mattress, the whole body pouring into its uneven shape, and in the 1920s and 1930s, flock-dirty, chopped up rags were used as a filling. None of these provided the greatest comfort or back support, for that matter. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the mattresses we commonly sleep on today made an appearance and, with that, a spring and bit of bounce.
Harvey Norman can trace right back to those early, 1800s mattresses with the Odearest range, which is stocked in all their stores. Odearest is Irish made, along with 75 per cent of Harvey Norman’s mattress stock, something the company is very proud of.
Manager of the Blanchardstown store, Daven Healy, says that some of the mattress factories they collaborate with were down to working two day weeks. They are now back to full working weeks, even doing double shifts in some cases; the demand for Irish mattresses is that great.
“Through our considered investment in time and expertise we not only design products in Ireland to suit the Irish consumer but also work with our local manufacturers to produce the mattresses here. You are supporting local jobs by buying Irish and 99 per cent of these mattresses are still handmade. We know where the product and the individual components are coming from in Ireland,” he says.
For example Kaymed, one of Harvey Norman’s mattress suppliers, employs 176 people in Kilcullen and another 150 in its Dublin factory.
With several Irish brands including King Koil, Briody, Thermopure and Odearest to choose from, consumers have many reasons to buy Irish.
Harvey Norman also custom-build and design all of their own mattresses and have a whole suite to choose from. They stock some of the most innovative and ground breaking mattresses including gel infused, pressure relieving products that regulate body temperature.
They also stock affordable children’s bedroom mattresses, in a single size that is reliable for little ones right up to the age of eight or nine.
Conor Stapleton, Head of Marketing with Kaymed says, “Harvey Norman really has everything, including King Koil models exclusive to them; that would be our quality range - it would be seen as a luxury brand. It is famous for being in most of Ireland’s 5 star hotels including The Merrion, The Dylan, Monart and Doonbeg. They last and are fantastically comfortable. They have very strong constructions on the side to stop dipping and they have very good back care with extra perimeters to stop dipping in the centre. They are built to perform but feel comfortable as well. The hotels love them for that reason. They are a massive seller in Harvey Norman and so many people from the world of RTE and the sports world use them.”
Cian Healy, Rory McElroy, Jack McGrath, Marty Morrissey and some of the Xposé people are just a few of the names Stapleton mentions.
“King Koil is endorsed by chiropractors. We pulled the whole mattress apart and put it together in a way that supports the back. King Koil would argue you are paying for extra health, better back care and long life.
In terms of Odearest, a brand that originally came from Limerick and evolved from O’Dea Rest, Stapleton says this is a brand that is well known and doesn’t try to be anything out of the ordinary.
“It’s still handmade, quilted on the top panel with steel sprung inners - these are the way mattresses have been made since the 1960s and we haven’t really messed with the formula there. It is Irish made, embroidered and closed with buttons on top. It does what it says and is affordable and durable.”
Harvey Norman is most proud of the fact that 3 out of 4 of their mattresses are Irish made and there are a number of reasons for that.
“We have very strong fire safety regulations for furniture in Ireland. They’re much more demanding than Europe or China – we are compliant, checked and audited. From an environmental point of view, these are huge bulky things and if you are moving them long distances to Ireland, it has a knock on effect for the environment, so if you source locally, you reduce the carbon footprint,” says Stapleton.
Finally, it supports local jobs with everything from seamstresses, quilters, wood workers, sewers and embroiderers being employed in each factory.
Consumers may not realise, but Harvey Norman also designs their own collection from scratch. Stapleton says, “That takes a few months to get right. It’s quite a creative process. It’s very much a partnership and collaboration and they have a big say in their collection”
In terms of products that customers really want, Healy says, “Because we have 300 shops around the world, we take feedback from everywhere, so we can see what is popular in one country and that could come to Ireland in a couple of years.
“The benefit of having a range like ours is that there is something there for everyone. We listen to feedback and design them from that.”
Visit your local Harvey Norman store or shop online today at www.harveynorman.ie and find your perfect Irish made mattress.