Evolve to Innovate

Mike Crowshaw, joint managing director at Breasley, talks about the evolution of the rolled and boxed mattress.

Pioneer bedmaker Breasley has long been at the forefront of innovation in the industry. From its early days manufacturing pillows, it has grown to become one of the UK’s most successful foam conversion operations. It started making mattresses in 2005 and now leads the way in the revolutionary rolled and boxed mattress sector.

Breasley prides itself on its innovative approach to manufacturing beds and mattresses, often pioneering at the cutting edge of new ideas and techniques.

The Ilkeston-based company was one of the first to produce a range of British-made, vacuum-packed mattresses and, in recent years, has been a major player in the ongoing evolution of the rolled and boxed mattress.

Joint managing director Mike Crowshaw said: “The emergence of the internet and its importance for sales meant that we had to find quicker ways to manufacture and distribute products like mattresses. There was also a rise in demand for a simpler, quicker delivery solution for bricks and mortar sales.

“Breasley recognised this opportunity early on and pioneered the introduction of the boxed mattress product in the UK market.”

The company, which employs nearly 200 people, has continued to develop the rolled and boxed mattress, quickly moving on from the original, simple, foam-based product. Today, across its own Uno range and white label manufacturing on behalf of various other brands, Breasley’s output is sophisticated and vast, producing up to 5,500 rolled and boxed mattresses per week.

Mike explained: “Today’s rolled and boxed mattress has a much more intricate specification as demand for varying degrees of comfort level, price points and functionality has evolved — boxed products need to meet the requirements of consumers for comfort and luxury as well as quick delivery and easy access.”

Boxed products now include multiple layers with pocket springs and even natural fillings. For example, Breasley’s Natural Affinity range includes three models all with a sleep surface containing natural wool, silk and cashmere and up to 3,000 pocket springs. Additionally, the Brook + Wilde Elite range products consist of eight layers that work together to provide outstanding levels of functionality, comfort and support. These include a removable, washable cover and a thermo-regulating top layer, which provides a higher level of moisture evaporation to keep the sleeper cool and comfortable. There is also advanced wave technology to support shoulder and hip alignment, and pocket springs to support the individual movement of the sleeper.

“When you consider all these elements, it is easy to see the justification for a ‘luxury’ tag for today’s top end boxed product. These mattresses take the bed in a box offering to the next level,” added Mike.

External independent endorsement has also come with Which? Best Buy awards won by six different brands, whose boxed product has been designed and manufactured by Breasley, itself an AIS Gold Standard Award winner.

Innovation also represents significant investment and an element of risk taking. Has it been worth it?

Mike said: “Definitely. According to research by the National Bed Federation (NBF), of which we are a member, rolled and boxed is the fastest growing sector in the industry and we are certainly seeing that reflected in our sales. It is also incredibly satisfying to see our ideas come to fruition.”

The NBF surveyed 500 people who had bought a mattress in the six months to February 2019 and found that roll up mattresses accounted for 23 per cent of purchases — up from 17 per cent the previous year.

Breasley’s own Uno boxed range now includes four models, all of which are available in four sizes. Uno mattresses, named for being the first of its kind, all have 10-year warranties and are available on next day delivery.

With direct to consumer sales across flat and rolled mattress also continuing to grow — the NBF says this has grown from four per cent in 2015 to 11 per cent in 2018 — Breasley is continuing to lead innovation as it continues to work on new product development.

This shift in shopping habits goes hand in hand with increased consumer confidence in products bought online. That is reflected in Breasley’s return rates, which have been maintained at less than one per cent since they entered the market.

Meanwhile, the company continues to innovate across its mattress production, investing in flat as well as rolled and boxed products.

It is due to unveil the latest version of its premier non-vacuum packed Salus brand at the NBF Bed Show at Telford in September, to tie in with the 10th anniversary of the range. Expect to see the most being made of a range of technologies and comfort options, plus cleverly-designed bases, including Breasley’s innovative ottoman.


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