As part of a $35 million deal with a Chinese firm, Kohler Co. has agreed to sell its three luxury furniture brands: Milling Road, McGuire and Baker.
The firm purchasing the brands is a U.S. subsidiary of Samson Holding Ltd. Kohler’s selling of its luxury furniture brands will remove the company from the furniture manufacturing industry.
The Baker and Milling Road brands have been part of the Kohler brand since 1986. McGuire was acquired in 1990.
Todd Weber, a Kohler spokesman, said in an email that it had analyzed its furniture business and concluded that it “no longer aligned with the company’s strategy and core focus moving forward.”
Kohler is best known for its golf courses and bathroom fixtures, but the privately-held company also has an interiors segment. Although the company is dropping its furniture operations, Kohler will still maintain its decorative brands, which sell luxury plumbing, tile and stone, cabinets, vanities and lighting.
Along with its furniture brands, Kohler will be selling Baker’s 750,000-square-foot factory in North Carolina, which has more than 200 employees. The company is also selling a smaller factory in the state as well as two plants in Indonesia and 36 acres in North Carolina.
Samson will pay $29.5 million for the luxury furniture brands and an additional $5.5 million if it opts to buy a distribution center from the company and the surrounding property.
The sale comes at a time when domestic production of furniture has declined due to overseas competition. Asian manufacturers are now producing pieces with a high-end look, but come at a much lower price. European brands like Ikea and Danetti also provide contemporary furniture with high-end designs at consumer-friendly prices.
Baker, a high-end furniture brand, dates back to the 1890s and recently manufactured custom chairs for the White House’s State Dining Room. Over the last decade, the brand closed two other factories in North Carolina.
The closing of furniture-making factories is a growing trend in the industry. More than half of residential furniture manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the U.S. between 2001 and 2015. The number of furniture manufacturing plants in the U.S. has declined by 43%.
In Samson’s most recent annual report, the company said it wanted to expand its furniture-making in the United States. The firm operates an upholstered furniture factory in North Carolina with 800 employees.
Kohler has 32,000 employees globally and generates $6 billion in revenue.