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This brand returns to Mattress Firm stores after bitter feud

Nathan Bomey

Mattress Firm and the maker of Tempur-Pedic mattresses are getting back together less than a year after a bitter dispute over accusations that Mattress Firm was illegally selling lookalike products under the similar name "Therapedic."

The nation's largest mattress retailer and Tempur Sealy International, the second largest mattress manufacturer, have resolved their differences and renewed a sales partnership. Their original deal imploded amid acrimony in 2017, and their clash spilled into court in 2018 over the Therapedic allegations.

Tempur Sealy announced Tuesday that it would begin providing its products once again to Mattress Firm, which remains the No. 1 mattress seller despite its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2018 that culminated in about 640 store closures.

The new deal gives Mattress Firm the right to sell Tempur-Pedic, Stearns & Foster and Sealy branded mattresses in its 2,500 stores beginning in the fourth quarter.

"The expansion of our distribution is a testament to the strength of our brands, coupled with reliable manufacturing and quality service," Tempur Sealy CEO Scott Thompson said in a statement. "Our premium brands and innovative products have allowed us to service a growing customer base."

After Tempur Sealy initially lost the Mattress Firm deal, archrival Serta Simmons Bedding –the nation's largest mattress maker, according to research firm IBISWorld – landed the Mattress Firm contract. But the deal turned out to be less lucrative than the company had envisioned as Mattress Firm's financial challenges intensified, according to analysts.

Mattress industry drama: There's a fierce battle over your bed

Serta Simmons said Tuesday that it will continue to sell products at Mattress Firm. The company said it will benefit from increased foot traffic into stores and that its products will prove to be superior.

"Our strategic partnership with Mattress Firm is strong and we look forward to continuing to work together to bring consumers the great night’s sleep they expect and deserve," Serta Simmons said in a statement provided to USA TODAY.

For an industry filled with drama, the renewal of vows between Mattress Firm and Tempur-Sealy marks a particularly surprising twist.

Tempur Sealy had filed a lawsuit against Mattress Firm in August 2018, accusing the retailer of "conspiring" to sell mattresses that bore a strong resemblance to its Tempur-Pedic brand.

They settled that lawsuit earlier this year and confirmed that they had launched negotiations to resume sales.

Weeks later, Mattress Firm CEO Steve Stagner resigned abruptly in what analysts viewed as a necessary step to address the scar tissue between the two companies.

Accusations: Mattress Firm conspired to sell bogus mattresses, Tempur-Pedic alleges in lawsuit

The mattress industry has been roiled by intense competition in recent years, sparked in part by the rise of online bed-in-a-box sellers like Casper and Leesa.

The traditional mattress companies have responded by closing hundreds of stores and introducing their own bed-in-a-box products, including Tempur Sealy's recent introduction of the Tempur-Cloud.

Also Tuesday, Tempur Sealy announced a deal to expand its existing sales agreement with 1,400-store retail chain Big Lots to offer more Sealy mattresses primarily under $1,000. The company will also expand its European retail distribution network with a retailer called Beter Bed Holding.

Taken together, the three deals announced Tuesday will increase Tempur Sealy's annual sales by more than $400 million and increase its adjusted earnings by $75 million to $100 million beginning in 2020.

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: This brand returns to Mattress Firm stores after bitter feud