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  • INDUSTRY NEWS

    • On November 20, 2017, Bon-Ton Stores said it will shutter at least 40 underperforming stores, out of the 260 stores making up its footprint, through 2018. CEO Bill Tracy, who arrived at the helm in August after a May executive shakeup, declined to identify which stores would close, saying only "we're looking at everything," according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha of executives' conference call with analysts. The final list will include stores the company normally would have closed at the end of this fiscal year, according to Chief Financial Officer Nancy Walsh. "They are generally the negative cash flow stores that we've talked about, as well as more of our smaller [stores]," she told analysts. The announcement came as the department store retailer also reported third quarter same-store sales fell 6.6%, largely due to unseasonably warm weather that hurt sales of cold-weather apparel. Sales in the winter apparel category fell by more than one-third, or some 240 basis points, according to Walsh.
    • On November 20, 2017, it was reported, Art Van is acquiring the 33-store Levin Furniture in a deal that marries two Top 100 companies while maintaining Levin as its own brand. That's according to a memo obtained by Furniture Today that Levin CEO Robert Levin sent to all employees. The retailer, with full-line furniture stores and Levin Mattress stores in greater Pittsburgh, Pa., and Cleveland, Ohio, will be a separate division of the more than 120-store Warren, Mich.-based Art Van and will maintain its Smithton, Pa., headquarters, Levin said. "Our senior management team will be responsible for running Levin's, and the new owners will be keeping all of our stores, all of our people, and will be signing a 15-year lease on our Smithton warehouse," he said in the memo. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and Levin did not immediate return a call and an email for response. An Art Van spokesperson declined comment. Art Van is No. 18 on Furniture Today's most recent Top 100 report with estimated 2016 furniture, bedding and accessory sales of $740 million at then 117 stores in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa. The deal with Levin should push the retailer near or across the $1 billion sales marks as Levin is No. 39 on the ranking with estimated sales of $218.3 million last year at 32 stores.
    • On November 15, 2017, Valley Forge Fabrics announced the acquisition of the premier window treatment manufacturer, Contract Decor International (CDI), as part of a strategic move to support their continued growth in the Hospitality Industry. The acquisition will expand Valley Forge Fabrics' offerings to include vertical window fabrication solutions from decorative textile to install. "Becoming a more vertical supplier and creating value for our industry is a critical piece of our company strategy. Manufacturing and installing hospitality window products and services is a natural evolution and the Valley Forge Fabrics family fits together perfectly with the CDI family," said Diana Dobin, CEO of Valley Forge Fabrics. CDI is best in class and has a reputation for quality, dependability and flexibility. CDI compliments Valley Forge Fabrics' strategic goals, core values and culture. With the acquisition of CDI Valley Forge Fabrics will be able to leverage their position in the hospitality industry with greater merchandise innovation, new product offerings and design leadership. Going forward CDI will be known as CDI a Valley Forge Company. Based in Massachusetts, the experienced and well respected CDI team will remain in place under the leadership of industry veteran Mike Handler, who is retaining partial ownership of the new company.
    • On November 09, 2017, it was reported, Rent-A-Center has rejected the terms behind a $13-per-share takeover offer from private equity firm Vintage Capital Management, saying it's too early in the review process to tie itself to an exclusive agreement. In a letter to Vintage Capital Managing Member Brian Kahn, the rent-to-own giant said its board "remains committed to exploring a broad range of strategic and financial alternatives and ensuring a fair and impartial process to all parties that have expressed an interest in the company to date, or that may do so in the future." Rent-A-Center said it looks forward to "additional dialogue" with Vintage, but "given the early stage of the strategic review and the level of inbound interest from other parties, we do not believe it is in the best interests of our stockholders to enter into an exclusivity agreement with Vintage at this time." Earlier this month, Kahn sent a letter to Rent-A-Center Chairman Mark Speese with the roughly $693 million, $13-per-share offer, which was lower that a $15-per-share offer reportedly made by the investment firm this summer. But for the bid a premium to the Plano, Texas-based company's current stock price Vintage was asking for a 30-day exclusivity period to conduct its due diligence. Vintage said it owns about 6% of Rent-A-Center's stock and has a 20-year history in the RTO industry. Its website lists Buddy's Home Furnishings in its portfolio of company holdings as well as Aaron's in its past portfolio. The all-cash acquisition offer followed Rent-A-Center's report of a $12.6 million third quarter loss, a 7.2% dip in revenue and the announcement that it is exploring "strategic and financial alternatives." The struggling company has been under pressure from