Art Van Furniture Agrees to Sell to Private Equity Firm

Art Van logoArt Van Furniture, the Midwest’s most familiar name when it comes to furniture and accessories, Wednesday reached an agreement to sell the company to Thomas H. Lee Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm.

After 58 years, Art Van Elslander, chairman and founder of Warren-based Art Van Furniture, said in a statement that the timing felt right to launch the successful retailer into its next stage of development.

“The heartbeat of any organization is its people,” Van Elslander said. “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.”

The sale is slated for a February closing. RBC Capital Markets, LLC acted as financial advisor to Art Van Furniture in connection with the transaction. Goldman, Sachs & CO acted as financial advisor to THL. As part of the agreement, sale terms will not be released.

Founded in 1974, Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL) has an outstanding history of investing in growth-oriented businesses like Art Van Furniture. The company also has a record with consumer and retail brands, including companies such as 1-800 Contacts, Bargain Hunt Superstores, Dunkin’ Brands, Fogo de Chao and Party City.

Art Van Elslander
Art Van Elslander

Existing company leadership – led by CEO Kim Yost – will work closely with THL to continue to enhance organizational growth and the brand’s plans for the future. Gary Van Elslander will remain as president of Art Van Furniture, and David Van Elslander as president of Art Van PureSleep.

“After thoughtful consideration and strategic evaluation, we determined that Thomas H. Lee Partners is absolutely the right ownership partner for Art Van,” said Yost. “We are collectively committed to building on Mr. Van’s tremendous legacy as we enter this new chapter of the Art Van Furniture story.”

Van Elslander was Art Van’s sole shareholder prior to the sale. Van Elslander opened his first store in 1959 on Gratiot Avenue in Detroit. Today, Art Van Furniture is one of the largest independent furniture retailers in the United States, with more than 100 stores in five states, a franchising program and more than 3,500 employees.

“We are gratified and honored to be able to partner with Art Van Furniture as the Company moves into its next phase of growth,” said Jeff Swenson, Managing Director at THL. “Over nearly six decades, the company has continuously realized Mr. Van Elslander’s vision and set the standard for excellence in furniture retail in the Midwest. We look forward to working with the entire team at Art Van as we continue to aggressively grow this outstanding brand.”

THL invests in growth-oriented businesses, headquartered principally in North America, across three broad sectors: Consumer & Healthcare, Media & Information Services, and Business & Financial Services. Since its founding in 1974, THL has raised over $20 billion of equity capital and invested in more than 130 businesses with an aggregate purchase price of more than $150 billion.