- In January, a comment on Reddit that suggested Mattress Firm was laundering money went viral.
- Reddit users said that the company was overstored in the US, given that it stocks a product that people typically buy every seven to 10 years. Some suggested that this was a sign of something more dubious.
- The parent company Steinhoff confirmed it would be closing 200 stores, but analysts say we could expect to see hundreds more shutter.
- These photos show why this wild conspiracy theory even came into question.
Mattress Firm has had a rocky few months.
In December 2017, its parent company, South African retail conglomerate Steinhoff Holdings, delayed publishing its year-end accounts due to “accounting irregularities” and is now being investigated.
Then, in January, a Reddit thread that claimed Mattress Firm’s many locations was a sign it was laundering money went viral.
That same week, CEO Ken Murphy announced his resignation. The company confirmed he would be leaving in March.
At the end of 2017, the company confirmed it would be closing around 200 stores. On Wednesday, Steinhoff released its first trading update since the accounting scandal and indicated that Mattress Firm’s $200 million cash needs have still not been met. It confirmed that Mattress Firm would close 175 of its stores in 2018.
“Management is focused on optimizing its store estate in an effort to right-size the overall estate and reduce the number of underperforming stores,” the company wrote in its unaudited quarterly update.
But analysts say we can expect to see many more shutter.
“Considering the accounting irregularities at Steinhoff and the operational troubles at subsidiary Mattress Firm, we believe there is a high probability that Mattress Firm will close significantly more than 200 stores announced in December,” analysts at Wedbush wrote in a note to investors in February.
It continued: “Our base case is now 600 store closures in 2018, with potential for as many as 1,000 closures out of the 3,400 store base.”
Wedbush confirmed Thursday that it is still expecting 600 stores to close.
These photos reveal why Mattress Firm is facing issues and why the conspiracy theory even arose in the first place:
Social media users claim that Mattress Firm is completely overstored in the US and are posting maps of their local area to show how concentrated its stores are.
— Las Vegas Locally ???? (@LasVegasLocally) January 24, 2018
Some are opposite each other on a street.
I kid you not, there’s one on the left side and one one the right side of the road. Same intersection. Google map it… Swan and Grant Rd. Tucson Arizona. pic.twitter.com/DwGXrSs01A
— Jonathan (@JPrincetweets) January 24, 2018
Users claim that its heavy store concentration is unusual given that it stocks a product that people typically buy every seven to 10 years.
— The Quiet One (@ellabell1993) January 24, 2018
Twitter users also claim that its stores are frequently empty, which makes its high store count even more surprising.
Yooo this Mattress Firm Conspiracy is really blowing my mind…they are def money laundering or pulling some underground shady shit. Look at how many of them are within 15 mins of where I live and I’ve NEVER seen anyone inside of them! #MattressFirm pic.twitter.com/2zM7huHmYX
— Yordan (@MrJellison) January 24, 2018
One user compared its prevalence in the US to that of McDonald’s. There are over 14,000 McDonald’s stores in America.
— M.J. Mouton (@MJ_Mouton) January 24, 2018
In the past, customers have posted photos on Instagram with seemingly empty stores in the background.
Employees have made good use of times when the store is empty to take a nap on the many beds on offer.
Customers are hosting slumber parties in one store.
These are some of the most Mattress Firm-heavy locations in the US.
- Google Maps
There are numerous Mattress Firm stores in New York City. The business has faced increased competition there from startups such as Casper, which is headquartered in Manhattan.
- Google Maps
Mattress Firm responded to the news on Twitter with a bemused meme.
“The idea that the proximity of Mattress Firm store locations is related to money laundering or any illegal activity is absolutely false,” CEO Ken Murphy told Business Insider in a statement before he announced his resignation in January. “For the last 30 plus years, we’ve been committed to providing customers the value of a good night’s sleep, and our convenient locations in highly-trafficked areas keep us top of mind when it’s time to buy a mattress.”
- Google Maps