Art Van founder sells the company

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WARREN, Mich. - The founder of Art Van Furniture announced Wednesday that he has sold the company to a private equity firm.

Art Van Elslander, founder, chairman and the only shareholder of the company until the sale, made the announcement today.  Thomas H. Lee Partners purchased the company.

Van Elslander opened his first store in 1959 in Detroit.  There are now over 100 stores in five states with 3,500 employees.

“The heartbeat of any organization is its people,” said Mr. Van Elslander in a press release. “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.”

THL is an investor in several retail brands, including companies such as 1-800 Contacts, Bargain Hunt Superstores, Dunkin’ Brands, Fogo de Chao, and Party City.

The company says CEO Kim Yost will work with THL in the transistion. Gary Van Elslander will remain as president of Art Van Furniture, and David Van Elslander as president of Art Van PureSleep.

The sales is expected to be completed in February. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.  Impact on employees was also not discussed.

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