Art Van Furniture to be sold to private equity firm

Image 1 of 3

Art Van announced on Wednesday that the Detroit-metro based company would be sold to a private equity firm.

The company said in a press release that it reached an agreement to sell the company to the private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL).

Art Van Furniture is pure Michigan. The family owned business that was first founded in 1959 on Gratiot Avenue in Detroit by Art Van Erslander. He's grown it from one store to 100 over the course of six decades. For people like Pam and Ray, they came to Art Van years ago - and never stopped.

"When we got married 52 years ago we bought our furniture here and now 52 years later, we are still buying furniture here," Pam said.

After 58 years, the midwest furniture and mattress retailer said it is "embracing the next chapter in the company's impressive growth story and continued evolution".

The founder and chairman of Art Van, Art Van Elslander, said that it's time.

"The heartbeat of any organization is its people," said Van Elslander in a statement. "I am proud of Art Van Furniture's history and what we have accomplished. The time for an ownership transition is right and the opportunity presented itself. There is still much I want to do, and I feel confident knowing the company and its people will be in the very best of hands for continued growth and success."

Thomas H. Lee was founded in 1974 and has a history of investing in brands including companies 1-800 Contacts, Bargain Hunt Superstores, Dunkin' Brands, Fogo de Chao, and Party City.

The company said management is expected to stay in their same positions and will work with THL to move forward.

Gary Van Elslander says it's what his father wants: a partnership with someone with a track record of growing companies.

"He'll be able to lay his head on his pillow without the worry of 3,500 employees across five states," Gary said.

The loyal customers we spoke with say they shop here for a reason. They know what to expect but now that change is on the horizon. they don't know what to expect.

"My grandfather had a business years ago bigger companies moved him out so I know how that feels. So I'm kind of sad," Pam said.

Gary said on Wednesday that the change will be for the better.

"Part of what they are buying is the Art Van brand, which is all the stores and community involvement - everything that has made it what it is over the last 60 years," Gary said.

The company expects to expand significantly in the next year and a half and double the store count in the next 36 months.

While the financial details arent being released we do know the the change will happen fast and will take effect by mid-February.

The company says customers shouldn't notice any change with the new ownership.