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Blackstone Takes Stake In ‘Data-Centric’ Furniture e-Tailer Walker Edison

Citing the growth in demand for online furniture shopping and the rise of data-centric eCommerce, one of the world’s largest investment firms said on Monday (May 24) that it has taken a minority stake in Utah-based eCommerce platform Walker Edison.

In announcing what it called an “undisclosed but significant minority stake” by Blackstone Group’s Tactical Opportunities Fund, the flat-pack furniture maker called the fresh capital injection an important step in its evolution as a data-centric eCommerce enabler.

“Our hyper-growth has been driven by our pivot to data, and we believe that growth will only accelerate by partnering with Blackstone’s unique offerings in data science, logistics and supply chain as we continue to expand across the globe,” Brad Bonham, co-founder and CEO of Walker Edison, said in a press release announcing the deal.

For its part, Blackstone said its investment in the fast-growing 15-year-old company — which competes with global powerhouses such as IKEA and Wayfair — was due in part to its ground-breaking digital design, marketing, service and logistical efforts.

“Walker Edison is a pioneer in its sector and trusted partner to many of the world’s leading eCommerce platforms,” said Blackstone’s Senior Managing Director Jasvinder Khaira, noting the appeal of the company’s scale, technology and products.  “The continued shift toward online purchasing and strengthening consumer recovery are two of Blackstone’s highest conviction investment themes – and [Walker Edison] is poised for significant further expansion.”

The new Blackstone stake follows a separate investment in 2018 by Prospect Hill Growth Partners.

Broadening the Home Category

As much as the pandemic fueled a major surge in consumer spending to make homes, home-offices and outdoor spaces more comfortable and functional, there has been concern within retail circles as to how much of those gains would stick around in the post-pandemic era. That said, a spate of better-than-expected earnings results this month from an array of both existing and non-traditional merchants that are looking to tap into this nesting uptrend has seen the category expand and grow.

“Fiscal 2021 is off to a strong start as we continue to build on the momentum from our strategic investments and effectively manage the unprecedented demand for home improvement projects,” The Home Depot Chairman and CEO Craig Menear said last week after reporting its latest earnings.

To that point, it is increasingly common to see new entrants to the expanding home furniture and furnishings category, such as an apparel retailer putting out a line of kitchen accessories or a department store selling gardening tools and patio trinkets.

Although Walker Edison is not new to the furniture space, it is clearly looking to expand the global reach of its business, which already has international operations in Brazil, Asia, the U.K. and Germany. Since launching in 2006, Walker Edison said it has worked to become a “leading partner and drop-ship solution for the biggest names in eCommerce” via its trademarked “Live Outside the Box” promotion.

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