Art Van Furniture President and CEO Kim Yost on Friday announced plans to retire after nine years with the company. He will remain until a successor has been appointed in order to ensure a seamless leadership transition, according to a company press release. The search for his replacement has begun.
The company’s founder, Art Van Elslander, died last week at the age of 87, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.
About a year ago, private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners acquired the 58-year-old furniture and mattress company for an undisclosed amount, according to a press release. The company's brands include Art Van Furniture, Art Van PureSleep, Art Van Flooring, Scott Shuptrine Interiors, Levin Furniture, Wolf Furniture and Gardiner Wolf Furniture.
After growing into one of the largest furniture and mattress companies in the Midwest, Art Van Furniture has surely been buffeted by major disruption as shoppers increasingly turn online for those purchases, and as pure-play startups have made that increasingly easier.
Nevertheless, in a statement Yost promised that the company’s "next chapter will be a great one."
"I am very proud of what the company and its associates have achieved during our time together over the past nine years – growing from $350 million to over $1.3 billion in sales, from 35 stores to over 180 across 9 states, and from 1,500 associates to over 5,700," he said, adding that a strategic plan has been drawn up "that will ensure the continued growth and success" of the company.
But legacy companies have struggled as the likes of Wayfair in furniture and Casper, Leesa and Tuft & Needle in bedding have grabbed market share. E-commerce furniture sales have emerged as a major growth area, rising 18% in 2015, second only to grocery, according to research from Barclays. Some 15% of $70 billion in U.S. furniture sales are now online, according to IBISWorld data.
Mattress Firm is another legacy furniture retailer that is turning to new leadership and shuttering stores as sales have tumbled in the fiercely competitive new landscape. The turmoil comes at an especially tense time for the market, as some of those upstarts look to stoke growth through retail partnerships that include brick-and-mortar expansion. In recent months, for example, Williams-Sonoma brands West Elm and Pottery Barn have partnered up with Leesa Sleep.
Mass merchants are also getting into the game. Target has begun to display and sell bedding from Casper on its site and in stores, (and reportedly almost bought the company outright for $1 billion) amid a new push in furniture, part of its renewed commitment to differentiated merchandising. Amazon in November launched two furniture brands. Just this week Walmart is set to announce a new in-house mattress brand, Allswell, as part of a revamped online home destination effort.