Furniture retailer Heilig-Meyers has stepped off the asset-backed financing wagon temporarily as the company refocuses on its core business and completes an overhaul to its credit operations.

The company hasn't securitized since November 1998 after originations slowed considerably. Heilig-Meyers securitizes consumer installment loans for the purchase of home furnishings.

"Our comp sales have been in the low single digits, so we haven't seen a lot of growth in our receivables portfolio," said a company official.

In response, the Richmond, Va.-based company sold off its "unprofitable and noncore assets over the last year," the official said.

"The company strategy is to focus on the core Heilig-Meyers business, which is really small town,'" she said.

Heilig-Meyers completed a $400 million, five-year fixed-rate securitization that priced in February of 1998 and then sold a $311 million, three-year floating-rate deal that circled in November 1998. Both deals were rule 144A.

Sometime after March 1, 2000, the official said, Heilig-Meyers will launch a large conduit that will hit the term ABS market when it reaches critical mass. The company will then evaluate the size of the deal, and whether to securitize in the public market for the first time.

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