Furniture Brands International, one of the nation’s leading furniture makers, whose brands include Thomasville, Broyhill and Lane, filed for bankruptcy protection after struggling with weak sales in recent years. The St. Louis-based company said it has reached a preliminary agreement to sell most assets, with the exception of its Lane portfolio, to investment firm Oaktree Capital Management.
Furniture Brands has blamed a weak economy and struggling housing market for its poor sales performance in recent years. Some analysts also have pointed to the company’s inability to keep up with the competition from cheaper, imported products. The proposed sale to Oaktree Capital through a court-supervised auction process could include other bidders. But a Furniture Brands spokesman said the hope was that many of the brands — as well as perhaps the company as a whole — would remain fairly intact. Oaktree also has committed to providing $140 million debtor-in-possession financing, which will allow the company to continue to pay employees and service customers’ orders during the bankruptcy process. Furniture Brands employs about 235 people in the St. Louis region, including headquarters staff and customer service workers.