Mattress Firm shakeup as CEO resigns

A new if familiar face is taking the reins of the nation’s largest specialty mattress retailer.

Mattress Firm’s president and CEO Ken Murphy is stepping down after two years on the job. He will be succeeded by Steve Stagner, executive chairman, effective March 1. Stagner, who has been with Mattress Firm for more than 20 years, previously served as CEO from February 2010 to March 2016, handing over the reins to Murphy.

Stagner returns to the CEO role at a turbulent time in the company. In September 2016, Mattress Firm was acquired by South African conglomerate Steinhoff International Holdings in a $3.8 billion deal that included Steinhoff assuming more than $1 billion in debt the U.S. retailer had racked up in an expansion move that saw it acquire several major competitors. Last December, Steinhoff’s president and chairman resigned following the discovery of what the company described as “accounting irregularities.”

Also in December, Mattress Firm revealed plans to close about 200 underperforming or duplicate stores in 2018. The company has more than 3,900 stores in 49 states and multiple online sites.

Mattress Firm called Murphy’s departure as “joint decision” made him by him and the board and one that reflects the need “for a singular voice of leadership … as it navigates the next phase of its growth story.”

"Ken has been an integral part of growing our company, and we are forever grateful for his incredible 20-year impact,” said Stagner. "We are now in a new phase of our development as the first and only coast-to-coast mattress specialty retailer. We will look to our experienced leadership team to build on our platform of unique business assets to win at retail, leverage our scale to bring unparalleled value to the customer, and navigate the current environment."

Mattress Firm noted that incoming CEO Stagner previously guided the company through the "great recession" in 2008 and 2009, and oversaw its successful initial public offering in 2011.