DRESS BARN TO LAUNCH CATALOG Discount women’s apparel retailer Dress Barn has begun recruiting executives for the catalog division it plans to launch in fall 1999. “We have a customer list of more than 1 million and a strong national presence,” says David Jaffe, executive vice president of the Suffern, NY-based 670-store company. “We think there’s an opportunity to extend our brand further through the catalog.”
HERITAGE PARTNERS BUYS G. NEIL Heritage Partners, an investment firm that owns organizational materials catalog 20th Century Plastics, bought human resources materials cataloger G. Neil on Oct. 13 for an undisclosed sum. “20th Century is an excellent platform to continue growing aggressively through acquisitions,” Heritage general partner Mike Gilligan said in a statement. “We are excited about providing the capital to continue such growth.”
CONNEY SAFETY SOLD TO K+K AMERICA On Oct. 21, safety and industrial supplies cataloger Conney Safety Products was sold to K+K America, a wholly owned subsidiary of Germany’s Kaiser + Kraft Gmbh, for an undisclosed amount. The business will continue to operate as Conney Safety Products LLC, a separate business under the K+K umbrella, in Madison, WI. K+K America also owns industrial supplies catalogs C&H Distributors in Milwaukee and Avenue Industrial Supply in Toronto.
SUNDANCE CATALOG LEADERSHIP CHANGES HANDS Harry Rosenthal, president of the Sundance gifts catalog for 10 years, has relinquished the role to former Cherokee apparel manufacturer CEO Patricia Warren. Rosenthal has been handling transitional tasks for parent company Sundance Group since July; he expects to leave the company, which is owned by actor/director Robert Redford, by mid-January. “I’ve been doing this for 10 years; it’s time for a new direction,” says Rosenthal, who intends to take some time off before possibly pursuing a career in real estate development.
HARRISON DIRECT REVIVES NABISCO CATALOG Two months after snack manufacturer Nabisco killed its catalog of licensed gift items, Harrison Direct acquired the title, for an undisclosed sum. The Chattanooga, TN-based Harrison also produces gift catalogs for Campbell’s Soup, Meguiar’s auto care, Pennzoil oil, and the Coca-Cola Co., which maintains an equity interest in Harrison. Nabisco shuttered the catalog division in July to focus exclusively on its food business. Weeks after buying the Nabisco title in late September, Harrison mailed a new Nabisco holiday issue. Harrison also plans to mail a corporate gift book touting the Nabisco brands.
LANDS’ END not guaranteed in germany Citing a 1932 German law called the Free Gift Act, a consortium of German retailers has forced apparel cataloger Lands’ End to yank its guarantee from its German catalogs. Lands’ End’s “Guaranteed. Period” policy states that the cataloger will replace any item if the customer is dissatisfied for any reason. But a German regional high court, agreeing with the retailers that sued the Dodgeville, WI-based mailer, ruled that the guarantee is not common in German business nor is it economically feasible for most German retailers; by promoting the guarantee, then, Lands’ End is competing unfairly with German businesses. Lands’ End was forced to black out the guarantee on its November issue as it was on the press. But the cataloger plans to “appeal the ruling as high as we can,” says spokeswoman Anna Schryver. “Germany is the only European country that has this rule. For us, it’s a business philosophy and our way of doing business in 175 other countries.”
FURTHERMORE…Teaming with one of the few airlines that doesn’t distribute co-op inflight catalog SkyMall, catalog conglomerate Genesis Direct in mid-October agreed to produce a cobranded gift catalog with American Airlines. Genesis also produces inflight catalogs-spin-offs of its Voyager’s Collection title-for Northwest Airlines and Midwest Express Airlines….1-800-Batteries, a cataloger of batteries for mobile professionals, received $6 million in capital from an unnamed Silicon Valley investor. Catalog president Ken Hawk says he will use the money to double the $14 million company’s circulation to 2 million, increase its Website marketing efforts, expand its corporate inbound sales division 300%, and grow its proprietary product development….On Oct. 14, Riverfront Development Corp. broke ground for a Wilmington, DE, outlet mall that will consist primarily of catalog stores, among them L.L. Bean, Lillian Vernon, Coldwater Creek, and Exposures.