After a long, hard day, a soft welcoming bed is all one desires and consumers do not have to look too hard to find a good bed now.
At least 50 companies have stepped in the bedding product industry over the last several decades, but their investment is still too little to cash in on the market potentials.
Big corporate companies such as Pran-RFL, Apex, Swan, Karmo, Bengal, Expo Group, Akhter, EuroAsia, HomeTex, Classical Home, and Zaber & Zubair Fabrics have made their ways into the sector.
They are now expanding their foothold in the market with modern and medical bedding products such as foam, mattress, fibre pillow, blanket, and comforter.
Over 30 big companies – currently in operation – have invested around Tk500 crore for producing foam and mattress in the last 10 years. They are now going for more investment, industry insiders say.
The foam and mattress market has been growing by 20% per annum, they add.
The annual market for bedding products such as duvet, pillow, comforter, blanket, bedsheet, foam and others amounts to around Tk8,000 crore, mostly dominated by small entrepreneurs.
The demand for fancy bedding items continues to go up in the country with a rise of the new middle-class, leading to a change in consumer behaviour. Besides, a markdown in prices of high-end bedding products is also attracting more customers.
The entry of big corporates
The Pran-RFL Group, which entered the market in 2016, now produces foam, mattress, different types of pillows, comforter, katha, baby set and mosquito net.
Starting on a limited scale, the company is now thinking of investing more with its sales growing more than 20% a year.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, director (marketing) at Pran-RFL, said there are 30 corporate houses in the country, but only Tk300-350 crore worth of products are sold annually.
He thinks that there is a big opportunity for branded companies to grab the market, which is now mainly under the informal sector.
In recent times, apart from the Pran-RFL, companies such as Expo Group, Akhter, Dhaka Foam, and National Foam have also invested in the sector, industry insiders say.
However, the brand market is still led by Apex, Swan, Karmo, Bengal, EuroAsia, HomeTex, Fiber Touch, and Zaber & Zubair Fabrics.
Besides, six-seven foreign companies, including Dollie, Feather, I-sleep, and Mayfair Kay are doing business in the country's market.
Big brands in the country sell at least three lakh pieces of mattresses and around four lakh pieces of pillows annually. Their sales have more than doubled in the last five years, sources said.
Subrata Kumar, head of corporate at EuroAsia – having the largest share of the mattress market, said demand for good quality products is now growing, considering health and safety, even though smaller companies offer cheaper products.
Mattress imports have stopped as well as its domestic market has also become much bigger since EuroAsia went into production, he added.
Blanket market still import dependent
SK Shipu, owner of Victory Fashion for Life in Dhaka's Annex Tower, has been importing blankets for local markets over the last five years.
Shipu says blanket sales in Bangladesh begin in November and peak in December-January. He said his annual sale is around Tk5 crore.
Like Shipu, around 80 shops at Annex Tower and another 160 shops at Gulistan Trade Centre sell blankets in winter. Besides, there are hundreds of wholesale blanket shops in port city Chattogram.
According to the market concerned, blankets worth Tk2,500-3,000 crore are sold in the local market every year. Of this, domestic textile companies produce blankets worth around Tk1,000 crore, while imports from South Korea, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and China meet the remaining market demand.
Among the local manufacturers, Bishwas Group, AB Textiles Mills (BD), JR Towels, Sittcotex Cotton Brand, Fabtex Enterprise, Firetech, Zaber and Zubair are producing lightweight blankets.
Several companies, including Pran-RFL, Akhtar, Hometex and Expo, have recently started producing comforters as alternatives to blankets.
Market concerned say as comforters are enough for short-lived winter chill in major cities, comforter-makers have huge business potential.
Non-branded products dominate the market
GM Shyamal Saha has been working at the marketing department of the country's most prominent bedding solution, Pakiza Home Collection, for around 20 years.
He said nearly 40 non-brand enterprises in Dhaka's Islampur and Narsingdi's Babu Bazar supply 60% of the bedding products. Meanwhile, Hometex, Pakiza, Classical, and Zaber and Zubair lead the branded market.
"Local producers are sending their products abroad as there are export incentives. Not everyone is stepping into the market since products made by imported raw materials under a bond facility are not for the local market. As a result, small companies dominate this sector," Shyamal Saha said.
"Apart from this, a huge amount of bedding items come from China and India," he added.
In Dhaka's Nilkhet adjacent to New Market, there is a large bedding market with about 35 shops selling bedding products at wholesale and retail rates. Mattresses, pillows, bedcovers, pillow covers, curtains, and mosquito nets are sold there but most are non-branded products.
Gazi Mohammad Hanif, owner of Messers Bismillah Bedding Centre at the market, said his annual sales are around more than Tk50 lakh, and most of the products are locally made.
Hanif said some of their bedding fabric comes from India and China.
Like New Market, there are bedding markets at Mohammadpur Krishi Market, Muktijoddha Market in Mirpur and several other places in Dhaka. There are several thousand shops outside Dhaka.
The annual sales of bedding products in Bangladesh are at least Tk5,000 crore.
Promising market potentials
A change in the taste and preference for high quality products among consumers is driving the demand for costly bedding products such as mattresses and foams.
Khandaker Asad Uddin, managing director of Expo Group, says a healthy bed is a must for sound sleep, and it is no longer a luxury now.
"That is why the demand for medical mattresses is increasing, and the market is growing 20% per year," he added.
Business people think the emergence of the middle-class in the country and a change in consumer behaviour created big corporates' market opportunities.
Mohammad Siddiqur Rahman, vice-president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FBCCI), said there were no large bedding companies since few people had access to high-end products.
"But brands are being developed now as the market is changing. People are also opting for branded bedding products," he added.