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Barry Davidson to lead Art Van Furniture's drive into Chicago

WARREN, Mich. — Art Van Furniture has hired Barry Davidson as vice president and general manager of the Chicago market, signaling a push forward into the new metro market for the Michigan retailer.

 Barry Davidson, Art Van FurnitureBarry Davidson

Diane Charles, director of corporate communications, confirmed the retailer is looking opening six to eight stores there but hasn't signed any leases yet. She couldn't confirm an exact timing for the openings but said several should be in business by summer 2013.

She said the retailer is shooting for selling space ranging from 60,000 to 90,000 square feet in each store.

In a press release, Art Van said it tapped Davidson after an extensive national search. Davidson has more than 30 years of furniture industry experience, staring as a buyer for Macy's, later rising to vice president. In 2000, he joined Sears to oversee the construction and opening of 17 Great Indoors stores.

Davidson reports to Art Van President Gary Van Elsander.

"We are very impressed with Barry's drive, experience and vision," Van Elslander said in the release. "He is the ideal candidate to lead the expansion project team while providing local oversight."

Art Van leaked its Chicago plans in March when it began advertising for a "vice president-regional general manager-Chicago" on the business-oriented social media site LinkedIn.

The Warren, Mich.-based retailer is No. 18 on Furniture/Today's Top 100 with estimated furniture, bedding and accessories sales of $470 million last year, up 9.3% from 2010. Art Van's store count nearly doubled last year to 68 stores with the expansion of its Art Van full-line stores and the Art Van PureSleep bedding store and in-store formats as well as the purchase of 29 Mattress World stores in Michigan and Indiana.

Earlier this year, the company announced plans to open a store in Toledo, Ohio, in a former theater complex. Charles confirmed work on the 100,000-square-foot showroom there will begin next month and that the opening is slated for some time in the spring.

The company also has announced plans to franchise its Art Van store format in smaller markets throughout Michigan and to expand PureSleep as a national chain through franchise and licensing agreements.

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