Adieu to Rue de France Catalog

Aug 01, 2004 9:30 PM  By

It’s the end of the road for Rue de France. Direct Holdings Worldwide, the parent company of multititle mailer Lillian Vernon Corp. and the Time Life books and video business, is shutting the home decor cataloger/retailer. The final catalog edition mailed in late June. Rue de France’s two stores, a full-price store in Newport, RI, and an outlet called Le Warehouse in Portsmouth, RI, are expected to close by the end of the year.

According to a statement from Direct Holdings Worldwide, Lillian Vernon and Time Life “have been having a strong year and exceeding plan and expectations. In order to concentrate our efforts and resources on their promising, long-term initiatives, we have decided to wind down our current Rue de France product line over the remainder of the year. We are evaluating new opportunities to capitalize on the value of the Rue de France name and brand.”

Founded in 1985 by Pam Kelly, Rue de France sells French lace curtains and other upscale French-inspired home accessories. According to its data card, Rue de France has 27,849 12-month buyers and an average unit of sale of $180.

Rye, NY-based Lillian Vernon acquired Rue de France in February 2000. At the time of the sale, Rue de France’s revenue was estimated at $5 million-$6 million. Three years later, in July 2003, Lillian Vernon itself was acquired. Backed by a private equity fund managed by New York-based Ripplewood Holdings, marketing and media firm ZelnickMedia bought the $247.4 million Lillian Vernon for $60 million, creating a holding company called Direct Holdings World-wide. In December 2003, Direct Holdings purchased the Time Life music and video business from Time Inc., the magazine division of Time Warner.