published Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Aaron's acquires Cleveland-based rent-to-own stores

By Christopher Seward, Cox Newspapers

ATLANTA — Aaron's Inc. is acquiring Crusader Rent to Own stores in five states.

The deal includes all 30 of Cleveland, Tenn.-based Crusader's stores in Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. All but one will be converted to Aaron's HomeSmart brand. The remaining store will be merged with an existing franchisee's Aaron's store.

HomeSmart is a Houston-based subsidiary of Aaron's operating in the South and Southwest. The stores offer more flexibility and affordable purchasing options to customers, including weekly payment plans and six months interest free same as cash plans.

The acquisition will drastically increase the number of HomeSmart stores from the relatively few currently opened.

"Crusader is a well-run organization that has always focused on customer service, and we are thrilled to welcome its associates to our organization. We also are excited to expand our HomeSmart concept through this acquisition," Aaron's Chief Operating Officer Ken Butler said in announcing the deal.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Aaron's has more than 1,860 company-operated and franchised stores in 48 states and Canada.

Earlier this year the company said it expected to add nearly 1,000 retail jobs this year at 150 new stores either under construction or planned, and additional support jobs in Atlanta, the company said.

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