South African consumers may soon be sleeping like royalty.
Tony Kelemen, chief executive of Beverly Hills mattress manufacturer Royal-Pedic, announced this month that the company will franchise stores in South Africa and eventually the Middle East. Kelemen signed a deal with Zeyad Minty of Zamhat Trading Ltd. in Cape Town last month.
The deal calls for Minty to open at least one of three stores planned for South Africa in the next year, and establish relationships with potential franchisees in other African countries and the Middle East by the end of the year.
The company has only one Royal-Pedic retail store, its headquarters location, but supplies mattresses to more than 100 retailers across the nation, and two outside the United States. The stores in Africa and the Middle East will be the company’s first Royal-Pedic branded stores outside Los Angeles.
Kelemen said he saw an unmet demand for high-end mattresses in South Africa.
“There’s really an elite group of people that are high-net-worth individuals who typically in the past have had to get nice goods when they would travel in London, Paris or New York,” he said.
Royal-Pedic mattresses cost between $3,000 and $12,000, compared with, for example, Serta models, which retail between $500 and $1,500. (Other deluxe mattresses sell for up to $90,000.) Kelemen said the mattresses will continue to be manufactured in Southern California. Royal-Pedic, which was founded 66 years ago, employs 16 people between its Beverly Hills headquarters and its Wilmington manufacturing facility, but Kelemen said he anticipates hiring more employees as demand increases.
Umami Restaurant Group’s Adam Fleischman announced last week that it will open a smaller, quick-serve version of its signature burger joints, U-Mini, in Westwood Village this summer. U-Mini will act as a test venue for web and application-based ordering, new kinds of burgers and other innovations. The company has also announced plans for a quick-serve, low-cost concept called U-ko. Umami is also working on opening a restaurant at the Grove this summer and in New York by the end of the year. The chain projects 20 locations by the end of the year. … Former Patina Restaurant Group chef Bernhard Mairinger has opened BierBeisl, an Austrian restaurant in Beverly Hills. The restaurant serves spatzel, schnitzel and has a separate menu for specialty sausage. Zagat Survey named Mairinger one of L.A.’s 30 Under 30 last month. … Independent video store 50/50 Video on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park closed this month after 16 years in business. … Darren Gold, owner of West Hollywood menswear boutique Alpha, announced he would close the store at the end of the month after eight years in business. Gold told California Apparel News that the recession, growing online sales and steep department store promotions all contributed to his decision to walk away.
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Janet Hsu, former president of Torrance-based Sanrio Inc., has been named chief operating officer. The company is the North American division of Tokyo-based Sanrio Co. Ltd, the small gifts and lifestyle company best known for introducing Hello Kitty to the world. Hsu is Sanrio’s first female COO in the company’s 50 years in business. Before joining Sanrio in 2008, Hsu worked at the executive level for Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor, Mattel and MGA Entertainment. … Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills has named Reed Kandalaft its new hotel manager. Kandalaft comes to Los Angeles after four years with Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts. He spent two of those overseeing hotel operations for the hotel in Damascus, Syria, and two as director of rooms at the hotel in Hualalai, Hawaii. Kandalaft was born in Syria and grew up in Florida. … Sunnie Myung was named manager of market research and business development at Directives West, the downtown L.A.-based division of New York retail consultancy firm Doneger Group. Myung will focus on fast-fashion clothing brands. The company also named Robbins Kachko merchandise manager for contemporary sportswear. Kachko previously worked as buying director for the Santa Monica-based retail chain Planet Blue and for specialty retailer Lisa Kline.
Staff reporter Bethany Firnhaber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.
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