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Investment firm said to be interested in selling Empire Today

June 6/13, 2016; Volume 30, Number 25

By Ken Ryan

Empire Today LLC, the privately held U.S. flooring and window treatment retailer, may be up for sale, according to published reports, which quoted sources.

Mercury Capital LP, the investment firm that has owned Empire for 17 years, has hired investment bank Moelis & Co. to run an auction for the company, seeking to capitalize on consumer demand for remodeling homes, according to sources.

Empire has roughly $50 million in 12-month earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation, the sources said. Based on this, the company could fetch several hundred million dollars in a sale, they added. The sources requested anonymity because the sale process is confidential. Empire, Moelis and Mercury Capital all declined to comment.

Empire, whose competitors include Lowe’s, Home Depot and Floor and Decor Outlets of America, offers shop-at-home services in more than 70 U.S. locations, including St. Louis, Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

The Northlake, Ill.-based company opened its first retail stores last year in Fairfax, Va., and Commack and Westbury on Long Island.

In May, Empire announced a partnership with JCPenney to establish separate flooring departments in seven of its stores—four in the Tampa market and three in the Washington, D.C., suburbs (FCNews, May 9/16).

These store-in-store formats will be Empire Today-branded and range in size from 750 to 1,200 square feet. The Tampa stores are expected to be up and running by the end of this month, while the D.C.-area branches will be operational by the end of July.

The proposed sale of one of the largest U.S. flooring retailers comes as home improvement spending has rebounded from a steep recessionary decline. Rising employment rates and house prices have risen, prompting Americans to make delayed investments in their homes.

Empire Today’s origins date back to a plastic cover business that Seymour Cohen founded in 1959. Cohen later expanded the product lines of Empire Plastic Covers to include carpets. Mercury Capital acquired the company in 1999 and changed the name to Empire Today.