Mattress Firm has named a retail outsider as its CEO one month after Executive Chairman, President and CEO Steve Stagner resigned from the position. John Eck officially takes on the roles of President and CEO effective May 28.
Eck most recently served as a senior advisor and consultant for media and emerging technology platforms at Rockdale Partners, an independent financial advisory firm. Prior to that, he was Chief Local Media Officer at Univision.
The mattress retailer, which presently operates 2,600+ stores, has struggled significantly over the past few years, culminating in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2018. Mattress Firm exited the bankruptcy one month later, but at a cost of nearly 700 store closures ahead of the holiday season. The company had total assets of nearly $3.36 billion and total liabilities of more than $4.39 billion as of July 31, 2018, and anticipated that 2018 same-store sales would dip 2.2% year-over-year.
Mattress Firm has been under heavy pressure from recently launched bedding disruptors including Casper, Leesa, Nectar Sleep, Tuft & Needle and even Amazon, which launched its own in-house brand of foam mattresses that cost a fraction of rivals’ beds. These retailers have gained popularity in recent years as consumers became more comfortable buying mattresses online. Additionally, these companies have arguably provided a more transparent fixed pricing model than traditional mattress retailers.
The troubles ultimately led to Stagner’s resignation. Stagner had worked with Mattress Firm for 23 years, previously serving as the CEO from 2010 to 2016, and oversaw the company’s 2011 initial public offering. He resumed the CEO position again in March 2018 after then-CEO and President Ken Murphy stepped down.
Eck does not have experience in retail, but Mattress Firm hopes to capture the magic he brought to the table as an officer at GE, where he spent 28 years. At GE, Eck led the integration of NBC and Universal, which had combined revenues of approximately $14 billion at the time, and he is considered largely responsible for the companies’ operational and cultural alignment. Eck was later named President, NBC Television Network and President, MediaWorks.