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Why This 1,000-Store Chain Just Bought a Trucking Company

Ashley Furniture added another tool to its logistical arsenal with the acquisition of Missouri-based Wilson Logistics.

An affiliate of Ashley Distribution Services signed an agreement in late November to acquire certain assets of Wilson, which has a fleet of more than 1,000 trucks serving the western United States, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.

Wilson operates truck terminals in Springfield, Mo.; Missoula, Mon.; Pacific and Yakima, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Tracy, Calif.; and Garland, Texas.

The acquisition comes at a time when pandemic-induced logistical delays—both at the ports and on the ground—have pushed furniture lead times from weeks to months.

Ashley has long boasted one of the most robust logistical operations of any furniture company in the U.S. Its Ashley Distribution Services fleet, which is already one of the largest private fleets in the nation, will add nearly 50 percent more capacity with the acquisition, giving the company nearly 2,000 trucks and 5,000 trailers.

The Wilson Logistics deal is Ashley’s first logistics-related acquisition and will allow the company to better serve its more than 1,000 Ashley HomeStore locations in North America, as well as independent retailers who carry Ashley products. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2021.

Retailers this year have dug deep into their creative arsenal to circumvent supply chain bottlenecks and backlogs. Walmart notoriously chartered its own vessel to freight goods into the U.S. while Home Depot took a similar approach to flowing in product among weeks-long delays.

Trucking partners, meanwhile, have seen their own financial challenges amid ongoing industry disruption. One factoring firm recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy even as the industry focuses on driverless and autonomous vehicles in addition to sustainable options.

Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.