The Room Place
Harlem Furniture, dba The RoomPlace (“Harlem”) is a leading furniture retailer in the greater Chicago area and one of the 50 largest furniture chains in the United States, offering a full line of furniture, bedding products and home accessories for the value-conscious customer. A single store until 1985, Harlem currently operates 19 stores in the Chicago area.
Harlem’s strategy is to sell complete room packages of furniture, where a coordinating set of furniture is priced at a substantial discount to the price for each item sold separately. Harlem markets this concept using the brand/positioning: “The room place – the more you buy, the more you save.” We were immediately intrigued by the efficient sales model of concept of selling entire rooms of furniture, and the targeted customer segments Harlem addressed.
Pouschine Cook saw a business with strong brand recognition and a proven business model, capable of expanding into new geographic locations. We were particularly attracted to Harlem’s sales execution model, efficient operations and its outsourced consumer financing.
Management was looking for partners to help transition the company from a family-owned business with differing objectives to unified ownership supportive of Harlem’s growth opportunities.
We saw an opportunity to employ our knowledge of retail, our understanding of the furniture business and our experience in helping transition founder and family-owned businesses. We made a strategic non-control investment, aligning management rewards with shareholder goals, with two other private equity firms and the CEO.
Pouschine Cook along with other shareholders and the CEO has focused on broadening and strengthening the management team, introducing management to leading evaluation tools in management development, upgrading business processes and information systems and mapping Harlem’s strategic direction.