September 13, 2010, 1:59 PM

Industry veterans buy e-retailer FurnitureBlue

One of the new owners worked as a vice president at the furniture retailer.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Lead Photo

The four founders of FurnitureBlue have sold the home furnishings retailer to an executive from the company and his business partner.  The two new owners say they might buy other furniture e-retailers.

Johne Albanese, previously executive vice president of merchandising at FurnitureBlue, and business partner Charles Schlaeppi, an investor based in Thailand, have bought the retailer’s outstanding shares for an undisclosed price. Albanese has taken over as president and CEO and Schlaeppi serves as an advisor who will not be involved in day-to-day management of the company.

Two of the previous owners, David Haut and Brian Levine, remain with FurnitureBlue and are in talks to stay with the company. The other two previous owners have left the retailer.

“Several years ago, Charles and I had worked together to create a web-centric business model for home furnishings but the economy at that time made such a launch prohibitive,” Albanese says.  “However, after joining FurnitureBlue in March and having an opportunity to see such a model in a very practical sense, it was clear to me that it was time to revisit our partnership.”

During discussions with the previous owners, Albanese says he saw an opportunity to buy the company.  “We were able to close the share purchase in record time because of the significant industry knowledge and expertise we possess,” he says. “We have already begun to initiate changes in the operation that we feel will generate significant performance improvements.”  For example, Albanese says he and his staff  want to shorten delivery cycles, improve customer service operations  and implement new sales strategies and incentives.

Albanese adds that he and Schlaeppi might buy other online retailers. “We are most certainly interested in speaking with other home furnishings e-retailers who might be interested in being acquired, “Albanese says.  

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