Art Van Furniture on Thursday announced that retail veteran Ronald Boire will join the company on April 30 as president and CEO, succeeding Kim Yost, who announced his retirement in February after a nine-year career there.
Boire has over 35 years of experience in retail, including serving in top roles at a wide variety of retailers, recently as CEO of Barnes & Noble (which he exited in 2016 after less than a year there). He’s also had senior executive positions at Sony Electronics, Best Buy, Toys R Us, Brookstone and Sears Canada.
Just before joining Art Van, Boire was a principal at retail turnaround advisory firm The Upland Group, according to a company press release.
Turning around Barnes & Noble was Boire's latest attempt at fixing up a lagging retail business — and it didn't go so well. His prescription for Barnes & Noble was to beef up its non-literary merchandise, a play that lifted sales only temporarily thanks to the steep rise and precipitous fall in the popularity of adult coloring books and the dependence on music releases from British singer Adele.
Ultimately after less than a year, the board lost faith in his leadership. A short statement from the company announcing his exit only said he was "not a good fit."
Boire now arrives at Art Van at a time of great disruption in the furniture industry. After growing into one of the largest furniture and mattress companies in the Midwest over 58 years, Art Van Furniture was acquired about a year ago by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners. 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.
In a statement Thursday, Boire said he believes the portfolio of brands are "uniquely positioned" to capitalize on new opportunities in the disruptive space thanks to deep customer loyalty.
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.
Mass merchants are also getting into the game. Target has begun to display and sell bedding from Casper on its site and in stores amid a new push in furniture, Amazon in November launched two furniture brands and Walmart recently announced a new in-house mattress brand, Allswell, as part of a revamped online home destination effort.