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LONDON-US furniture retailer Ethan Allen Interiors is to enter the UK market through a joint venture with MFI, the flat-pack furniture retailer. The company has launched an initial search for up to five stores of about 10,000 sf, and the first store is expected to open in London by May 2002.

In the UK MFI trades from 189 out-of-town stores and 15 in-town units. Ethan Allen is understood to be keen to trial both out-of-town and town centre formats. Unlike MFI, which is still struggling to throw off a down-market image acquired during the 1970s and 1980s, Ethan Allen is targeting the premium furniture market, worth an estimated $1 billion ($1.45 billion) annually in the UK.

Ethan Allen trades from a network of more than 300 stores in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and there are 18 overseas. Chairman and CEO Farooq Kathwari said: ‘We look forward to working with MFI to bring Ethan Allen’s reputation of innovative style, quality and value to consumers in the United Kingdom.’

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