Exclusive: Retailer At Home Group explores sale - sources

(Reuters) - At Home Group Inc, a U.S. home décor retail chain, is exploring options that include a sale of itself, as the poor performance of its stock has turned it into an acquisition target, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The deliberations come as the Plano, Texas-based company is trying to reinvent its offerings in the face of increasing competition from other brick-and-mortar retailers as well as e-commerce firms.

At Home Group is working with Bank of America Corp to engage with potential buyers, the sources said, cautioning that no deal is certain and asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential.

The company did not respond to requests for comment. Bank of America declined to comment.

The retailer’s shares jumped 13 percent on the news and were up 8 percent at $20.53 Thursday morning in New York, giving the company a market capitalization of $1.3 billion. The stock had lost 40 percent of its value in the last 12 months.

At Home Group operates 188 stores in 38 states, selling everything from furniture, mirrors, rugs, art and housewares to tabletop, patio and seasonal décor.

Private equity firms AEA Investors LP and Starr Investment Holdings LLC floated the company in the stock market in 2016. They owned 16.6 percent and 9.9 percent of At Home Group, respectively, as of the end of December.

At Home Group said last week that its net sales increased by 23 percent to $1,17 billion in the 12 months to Jan. 26, driven by the opening of 31 new stores. Net income increased 54 percent to $49 million.

The company warned, however, that its first quarter was off to a “softer start,” as unfavorable weather and a late-season Easter weighed on its retail environment.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Steve Orlofsky