• Clint Engel

Art Van to franchise full-line stores in Michigan

WARREN, Mich. - Art Van Furniture, which announced plans last year to franchise its PureSleep bedding store concept, now also plans to franchise the full-line Art Van stores in small markets throughout Michigan.
     Late last year, the Top 100 company hired David Braun as director of franchise development and operations. He has been working on putting together the needed documentation and operation manuals to franchise Art Van, Pure Sleep and "potentially Mattress World in the state of Michigan," said Art Van CEO Kim Yost.
     "There are at least 20 markets, small markets" in the state that Art Van is pursuing for franchised full-line stores, Yost confirmed. He offered a few examples, such as Alpena, Gaylord, Mount Pleasant and Cadillac, Mich., and also "the upper peninsula, where there are no Art Van stores," he said.
     "We see these stores ranging from 30,000 to 35,000 square feet," and doing less than $5 million a year, Yost told Furniture/Today.
     Art Van expects to have all the paperwork in place to begin franchising efforts this spring.
     Yost estimated it will cost existing furniture stores $250,000 to $300,000 to convert to Art Van. That would include signage, point-of sale, inventory and other systems, and training to get the store "on board."
     Art Van will recruit the top existing furniture stores in the targeted markets, and if they're not interested, "we will target No. 2, who eventually will become No. 1," Yost said.
     A second option would be to take on existing retailers not operating in the targeted markets but in a position to expand to them. The third option - and least desirable, Yost said - would be to work with someone outside the industry with enough capital and a strong work ethic.
     He said franchisees and their customers would be served from the retailer's existing 1 million-square-foot distribution center, and they would be offered the full range of Art Van goods and specialty departments, including Paul's TV, Art's Backyard outdoor furniture, and the recently launched World of Floors for flooring and window coverings.
     Braun has 20 years of experience in the franchise arena with companies such as Allegra Printing, Victory Lane, Mr. Handyman and Shell Oil. In addition to developing franchise agreements and other documents, he will be responsible identifying and assisting potential franchisees.
     "The scope of his work will include all three company formats and in-state as well as out-of-state development," the company said. Braun reports to Steve Glucksman, vice president of strategic business development.
     In September, as Art Van was preparing to open its fifth standalone Pure Sleep store in Ann Arbor, Mich., it announced plans to expand the chain nationally through franchise and licensing agreements in both free-standing and in-store formats.
     No additional details were offered about PureSleep or Mattress World, the more promotional, 29-unit bedding chain in Michigan and Indiana that the retailer acquired this past spring.

Clint EngelClint Engel | Senior Retail Editor, Furniture Today

Please feel free to email or call me with all of your retail news and tips, including expansion news, successful merchandising and marketing strategies and anything else you would like to see covered by Furniture/Today.  Contact me directly at cengel@furnituretoday.com or 336-605-1129.

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