Large US mattress producers accuse PU foam makers of price fixing

15 July 2011 20:56  [Source: ICIS news]

A mattressHOUSTON (ICIS)--Several of the largest US furniture and mattress manufacturers have accused polyurethane (PU) foam producers of fixing prices, but two foam makers on Friday challenged the allegations.

The mattress manufacturers make up a third group of foam customers that have accused PU foam producers of fixing prices.

This third group of foam customers include Sealy, Select Comfort, Simmons Bedding, Tempur-Pedic International and La-Z-Boy; HM Richards, Foamco Sales, Prime Designs, Legends and Houston Foam Fabricators; Henson Sleep Relief; Factory Direct; and Spring Air International.

Sealy bills itself as the world's largest bedding manufacturer, with sales of $1.2bn (€852m) in its 2010 fiscal year.

Mattress maker Tempur-Pedic and furniture maker La-Z-Boy both reported full-year net sales of over $1bn.

Altogether, these bedding and furniture producers have filed five price-fixing lawsuits.

This third group will join two others - one made up of smaller companies whose products include polyurethane foam and another group of customers who bought mattresses, furniture and other products that contain polyurethane foam.

All three groups make similar allegations and accuse the foam producers of fixing prices.

Among the foam producers, the lawyer for Flexible Foam Products, Michael Mustard, said "The company fully intends to defend its position and believes that it has done nothing wrong."

Mustard added: "At the end of this process, it will be vindicated."

Gordon Billheimer, Leggett & Platt's chief litigation counsel, repeated an earlier statement, saying, "The complaint contains not a single allegation that anyone at Leggett did anything wrong."

He added: "The company plans to vigorously defend itself."

Foam producers Vitafoam and Woodbridge had no comment.

Carpenter, Foamex Innovations, Future Foam, Hickory Springs Manufacturing, Mohawk Industries, Scottdel Inc and Valle Foam were not immediately available for comment.

Many of the foam producers being sued have filed their own price-fixing lawsuits against producers of polyether polyols and toluene di-isocyanate (TDI), the feedstock used to make foam. 

That litigation is pending in the US District Court of Kentucky.

($1 = €0.71)

For more on TDI visit ICIS chemical intelligence

By: Al Greenwood
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