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Bain buys into Bob’s Discount Furniture

Will acquire controlling stake in discounter

Customers browse through the Bob's Discount Furniture Store in Stoughton.

Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff

Customers browse through the Bob's Discount Furniture Store in Stoughton.

Boston private equity firm Bain Capital has agreed to buy a majority stake in Bob’s Discount Furniture, the retailer known for television commercials featuring founder Bob Kaufman and his “no gimmick” sales pledge on merchandise like the Bob-O-Pedic mattress.

Bain will purchase a controlling interest of the Manchester, Conn., discount furniture business from another private equity firm for about $350 million, according to people with knowledge of the negotiations. Bain said Monday that it agreed to purchase the 47-store company with plans to expand its business into new markets.

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The private equity firm has developed deep retail experience by purchasing many well-known companies. Now, it will take over a furniture chain that has bombarded television screens with quirky ads for more than 20 years.

“Bain’s been investing in the retail business for decades,” said Ted English, chief executive of Bob’s Discount Furniture. “Their expertise coupled with our expertise will make a great marriage as we look to grow the business and take it to new places.”

Bob’s Discount Furniture has grown by about two stores a years since Kaufman, a former waterbed salesman, and his cousin, Gene Rosenberg, opened the first company store in Newington, Conn., in 1991. Today, the company operates in nine states and plans to open three new stores in the Philadelphia area in February.

Furniture Today, an industry trade publication, ranked the chain number 16 among the nation’s top 100 furniture stores based on 2012 sales. The publication estimated that Bob’s pulled in sales of $685.3 million last year, up 7.3 percent from the previous year.

But Bain, a firm known for growing companies in its portfolio, believes there’s potential to make Bob’s an even bigger player in the discount furniture market.

‘Their expertise coupled with [ours] will make a great marriage.’

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“We think there’s a real opportunity to grow this business substantially,” said Tricia Patrick, a principal at Bain Capital. “We believe in Bob’s Discount Furniture’s business model, focused on providing great value to customers and a positive shopping experience.”

Patrick said the continued recovery in the furniture and housing markets also made Bob’s an attractive acquisition.

The investment firm intends to retain English as chief executive and continue to use Kaufman as the face of the business.

Bain has previously invested in retailers such as Michaels Stores Inc., Dunkin’ Brands Group, and Burlington Stores Inc., operator of Burlington Coat Factory. Earlier this month, the firm agreed to acquire Canada Goose, a Toronto-based clothing company.

Bain invested in the home furnishing business in 2011 with International Market Centers, which operates showrooms for the furnishings, home décor, and gift industries.

Taryn Luna can be reached at taryn.luna@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @tarynluna.
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