Bain Capital buys Bob's Discount Furniture

Bob's Discount Furniture, which has a major distribution center in Norwich and retail stores throughout the Northeast, announced an agreement Monday to sell a majority stake in the company to Bain Capital LLC, a global private investment firm, for an undisclosed price.

The Bob's Discount Furniture management team will continue to own a significant stake in the company, said Jaclyn Petros, a director at the Boston-based public relations firm Full & By LLC, which represents Bob's Discount Furniture. The business has been majority owned by private equity firm KarpReilly/Apax for the past nine years.

The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2014. The Wall Street Journal reported in October that the KarpReilly/Apax partners had been looking to sell its portion of the company, and the sale could be worth $350 million.

Reached by phone briefly Monday, company co-founder and President Emeritus Bob Kaufman of Salem said he "very much" would still be involved with the company. Kaufman referred all questions about the sale to Full & By.

Kaufman spent Monday afternoon recording new advertisements for the retail furniture stores. His often comic ads have become the signature of the company. Giant depictions of a smiling Kaufman also adorn the furniture store's delivery trucks.

"He's very active in all facets of the company," Petros said of Kaufman, "and is and will remain very much the face of Bob's."

Petros said the daily operations of the Manchester-based furniture company will remain the same. None of the 47 stores will close and no layoffs are projected with the pending sale, Petros said. Bob's Discount Furniture will open a new store in Philadelphia in February. Locally, the company has a retail store in Niantic.

The Norwich distribution center in Taftville is the city's second highest taxpayer, with a total assessed value of $22.7 million for the real estate, personal property and trucking fleet, said Norwich Assessor Donna Ralston.

"We are thrilled to partner with Bain Capital, a firm that has been investing in great retail businesses and consumer brands for decades," Ted English, chief executive officer of Bob's Discount Furniture, said in a press release from Full & By. English will continue to lead the company.

"Bain Capital brings the experience and resources we need to support our continued expansion to serve more customers in more places, and to provide opportunities for advancement for our people."

Bain Capital has a history of investments in retail and consumer businesses including Michaels Stores, Dunkin' Brands Group, Bombardier Recreational Products, Outback Steakhouse, Burlington Stores, Dollarama, and Samsonite International.

According to the press release announcing the sale agreement Monday, Bain Capital is "one of the world's foremost privately-held alternative investment firms, with more than $70 billion of assets under management in several pools of capital including private equity, venture capital, public equity, credit products and absolute return."

Founded in 1984, Bain Capital has made private equity, growth, and venture capital investments in more than 450 companies around the world and has "deep" experience in consumer-retail, financial services and institutions, health care, industrials, and technology, media and telecommunications. Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, was among the founding partners.

"We are excited to partner with Ted English and the great management team at Bob's Discount Furniture to support continued growth in this dynamic business," Tricia Patrick, a principal at Bain Capital, said in the press release. "We believe the company's quality furniture at deep value fills an important need in the market today, and along with the authenticity of the Bob's brand, should drive sustainable growth for years to come. We look forward to supporting the management team in executing their plan to grow and offer more customers the opportunity to shop at Bob's Discount Furniture."

c.bessette@theday.com

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