Furniture Today:

Mattress Firm will enter Wisconsin next year through a new franchise development agreement with former Sealy executive Chuck Dawson.

Dawson, who was Sealy’s senior vice president of national accounts before leaving the manufacturer in early 2008, will develop the Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., markets. He plans to open multiple stores in 2010, the first coming in January.

Wisconsin will be the 22nd state where Houston-based Mattress Firm has operations. With more than 500 stores, the company is one of the largest U.S. sleep shop chains.

“For the past several years, we’ve concentrated primarily on opening new corporate-owned locations and acquisitions, while focusing on operations, training and the store experience – foundations for a great franchise concept,” said Gary Fazio, CEO of Mattress Firm. “This new agreement with Chuck is the first in which we hope will be a series of development agreements as we look to aggressively build in franchising.”

He said the retailer’s team “has developed a complete turnkey package from operations to sales to store design” to help franchisees.