AP NEWS

Ethan Allen set to launch design center on Amazon

June 26, 2017

DANBURY - Ethan Allen employees had several reasons to celebrate at the company’s recent annual picnic.

It was Ethan Allen Day, the company kicked off its 85th year in business and, in a sign of the times, the Danbury-based furniture maker prepared to launch its design studio on Amazon.

“We wouldn’t have even thought of that two years ago,” Ethan Allen CEO Farooq Kathwari said at the picnic last week as he mingled with employees. “The world has changed - not just for me, but for our interior designers, too. Two years ago, (Amazon) was seen as a threat.”

For a company steeped in history, Kathwari is embracing technology and the changes it brings to industries. Ethan Allen recently held its annual spring conference as a webinar to introduce new products to its employees and designers. The conference had previously been held in Danbury and attended by about 400 people.

“We did it as a webinar and about 3,000 people attended,” Kathwari said. “It’s technology and an attitude. We have evolved with many initiatives to stay relevant. If you aren’t relevant you won’t be around.”

Kathwari said Ethan Allen has changed 70 percent of its product lines in the last four years.

Ethan Allen products are now available through its brick-and-mortar design centers and its website ethanallen.com. The launch on Amazon will happen this week. The Ethan Allen branded site on Amazon will include live chat with designers.

Amazon currently has a user base of more than 300 million people and had net sales of $136 billion in 2016. Ethan Allen products sold on Amazon will be shipped by Ethan Allen’s in-home delivery operations.

Late last year, Ethan Allen launched its Disney collection. It was the company’s first partnership with another corporation. Items from the Ethan Allen-Disney collection are also available at both ethanallen.com and disneystore.com.

Also this month, the Ethan Allen-Disney collection launched in China, where the company has about 80 locations. The launch included a celebration in Shanghai, where there is a Disney park as well as a flagship Ethan Allen location.

“I’m so proud to have Ethan Allen here,” said Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, who attended the company picnic. “The employees are motivated and successful, and it’s nice to see them being recognized. It is one of the bedrock organizations in Danbury.”

Ethan Allen will hold a gala celebration in the fall to mark the company’s 85th anniversary. The company moved its headquarters to Danbury in 1972.

Ethan Allen employs about 250 people in Danbury at its headquarters, design center and adjacent hotel. It has nearly 300 design centers across the U.S., and has manufacturing facilities in Vermont, North Carolina, New Jersey and Mexico. The majority of its products are made in the U.S. Each location celebrated Ethan Allen Day.

It is celebrated on June 23 to mark the day in 1775 when the Revolutionary War hero was recognized by the Continental Congress for leading the Green Mountain Boys to a victory at Fort Ticonderoga. Allen was born in Litchfield in 1738.

“The culture and heritage is so strong here,” said Mary Garrett, a new Ethan Allen board member. “This (employee picnic) is a nice commemoration for the company that has been around for 85 years. It’s going back to its roots.”

cbosak@hearstmediact.com; 203-731-3338