Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

c.2013 New York Times News Service

Private equity firm Bain Capital announced on Monday that it had agreed to buy a majority stake in Bob’s Discount Furniture, the chain of stores known for its low-tech commercials featuring its founder, Bob Kaufman.

The company’s management team will continue to own a “significant stake” in the business, according to a news release announcing the deal.

Private equity firm KarpReilly/Apax, which has been a majority owner in Bob’s for the past nine years, will no longer be invested in the company, according to a person close to the transaction who spoke on the condition of anonymity because terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed. Bain’s investment is about $350 million, the person said.

Kaufman, who got his start in furniture by selling water beds, opened his first Bob’s Discount Furniture store in Newington, Conn., in 1991. As the chain expanded, so did its commercials. At one point, Kaufman delivered his “Come on Down” line in 500 commercials that aired in the state every week.

One of the largest furniture retailers in the United States, Bob’s operates 47 stores throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. The company plans to open a store in Philadelphia in February, and Bain wants the number of stores to grow.

“I do think the biggest opportunity for this business really is just continued growth, reaching new customers, reaching new cities and bringing the retail experience to more people,” said Tricia Patrick, a Bain principal.

Bain Capital, which has more than $70 billion under management, has a history in retail. It invested $650,000 to open one of the first Staples stores in 1986, and its current investments include Michaels Stores and Burlington Stores. Bain is also an investor in International Market Centers, the producer of annual home furnishing shows in Las Vegas and High Point, N.C.

“We are thrilled to partner with Bain Capital, a firm that has been investing in great retail businesses and consumer brands for decades,” said Ted English, Bob’s chief executive. “Bain Capital brings the experience and resources we need to support our continued expansion to serve more customers in more places and to provide opportunities for advancement for our people.”

Kaufman, who will retain the title of president emeritus, plans to remain “the face of Bob’s,” according to a company spokeswoman.