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Ashley Furniture will not sell
 
Date: 07/15/2015
 
Location: Arcadia, WI
 
Arcadia-based furniture manufacturing giant Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. has chosen to retain family ownership after exploring a possible sale last month.

The company said in a statement Monday that its shareholders, "after exploring potential investment options earlier this year, have decided to retain all of their Ashley stock."

"After many discussions with several great firms, we concluded that the best option for our customers, our employees and our future is to continue our current path," CEO Todd Wanek said in the statement. The decision brought relief to Arcadia, a town of about 3,000 people, where Ashley has long been the

biggest employer. New owners might have proved less willing to keep jobs in the U.S., where Ashley has major plants and distribution centers in Wisconsin, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California. Though Ashley has been a huge importer of furniture from Asia since the 1980s, it also has continued to invest in U.S. plants, unlike many rivals.

Losing Ashley’s manufacturing plants “would be a huge hit for Arcadia,” said Kristen Bush, a waitress at Arcadia’s Kozy Kitchen restaurant. A nearby park contains a statue of company founder Ron Wanek, who is considered the Sam Walton of the furniture industry.

Ashley had sales of about $4 billion last year—nearly twice as much as rivals La-Z-Boy Inc. and Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. combined—and has been expanding in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. The company is also the largest furniture retailer in the U.S. and has been a standout success in a domestic industry battered by Chinese imports.

Ashley has 13,000 employees across the U.S., and 23,000 worldwide. Besides its Wisconsin plants, the company operates factories in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, California, China and Vietnam.

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
 
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