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Spencer, Dufresne partner

Jim SpencerJim Spencer, left, and Jeff Edgeworth, The Spencer Group, Saltillo, Miss.; Mark Dufresne, The Dufresne Group, Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Chad Spencer, The Spencer Group. The newly formed Dufresne Spencer Group replaces the Spencer Group name.
WINNIPEG, Manitoba - Top 100 company The Spencer Group has formed a new partnership with Canadian retailer The Dufresne Group, deepening an existing relationship and giving Dufresne entry into the United States.
     It's also expected to give the Top 100 Spencer Group unidentified expansion options in Canada, according to the companies.
     The two formed Dufresne Spencer Group, which replaces The Spencer Group name. It will continue to be led by Spencer's key executives, said Chad Spencer, president of the newly minted DSG.
     Through the arrangement, Dufresne has acquired an equity interest in Spencer, although the terms of the deal were not disclosed.
     Saltillo, Miss.-based Spencer is No. 61 on Furniture/Today's latest Top 100 with estimated 2011 sales of $91 million. It has since opened two additional locations for a total of 11 Ashley Furniture HomeStores, two HomeStore outlets and two Stash home furnishings stores in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, and expects sales of about $98 million this year.
     Dufrense operates 12 Ashley Furniture HomeStores in western Canada, 11 Dufresne Furniture & Appliance stores in Manitoba and Ontario, and the 93-store Dufresne Retail Solution Group buying group.
     Chad Spencer said the two companies have worked together for the past five years through a retail performance group. But now, instead of meeting two or three times a year to discuss operations and best practices, they will be able to "create a new dynamic," sharing resources and talent.
     "This is about the power of two great companies combining their resources, people and strategies," Spencer said. "This partnership will provide great opportunities for our people, our partners and ultimately, our guests."
     The Dufresne Group and the new Dufresne Spencer Group will maintain separate management structures and operations "with an advisory role connecting the two," according to a release.
     "Both TDG and the newly formed DSG are focused on growth opportunities on either side of the border," the companies said. Chad Spender added that DSG is looking to expand both its HomeStores operation and the multi-line, value-oriented middle to upper-end Stash business, but he declined to elaborate.
     "Partnering with the Spencers is a great introduction to expanding The Dufresne Group into the USA and we thank the Spencers for welcoming us as partners," Dufresne Group CEO Mark Dufresne said.
     Historically, Canadian furniture retailers have not fared well when crossing in to the U.S. market. However, Dufresne said he believes TDG will do better because it isn't taking control of the Spencer organization, but rather partnering with an already successful and dynamic retailer much like itself.
     Jim Spencer, CEO of the Dufresne Spencer Group - and former CEO of the Spencer Group - added that he welcomed Dufresne "as our colleagues, our friends and now our partners. I can't wait to see what the future will bring for DSG."

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