Lillian Vernon Catalog Company Sold
Lillian Vernon, the Rye, NY-based gifts and housewares catalog company, was sold to Ripplewood Holdings, a private equity fund, and ZelnickMedia, a media management firm, for $60 million. The deal is expected to be complete by July 31.
Founder Lillian Vernon will retain a 5-percent ownership of the company, and will continue in her role as company spokesperson, although she will step out of the day-to-day catalog operations, said David Hochberg, her son and an executive at the company. Hochberg will remain in his position at Lillian Vernon, he told Catalog Success.
Ripplewood Holdings, which will own a majority share in the catalog, manages about $4 billion of committed capital through four institutional private equity funds, focusing primarily on investments in the United States and Japan, according to published reports.
Ripplewood’s partner, Zelnick-Media, owns and manages an array of U.S.- and Asia-based media enterprises in recorded music, magazine publishing, CD manufacturing, online games and media-related software. ZelnickMedia was founded two years ago by Strauss Zelnick, whose resumé includes stints as president and CEO of BMG Entertainment, and president and COO of 20th Century Fox.
Zelnick will become chairman of the company’s direct marketing group (which will include Lillian Vernon) and will handle day-to-day management. Karl Slatoff, a ZelnickMedia partner and former head of new media at BMG, is expected to work closely with the catalog company, according to Jim Friedlich, a partner at ZelnickMedia.
Zelnick told reporters he intends to expand and improve the operation significantly, in part by signing a distribution deal with a home-shopping provider such as HSN or QVC, and by furthering the cataloger’s e-commerce initiatives.
For more than 50 years, Lillian Vernon sat at the helm of the catalog company, which she started on her kitchen table. Her two sons worked for the company, but one left to pursue a career in politics, and Hochberg did not want to take over.