BON PRIX BUYS VENUS SWIMWEAR

Struggling Venus Swimwear has been Tossed a Lifeline. German mail order firm Bon Prix purchased the swimwear cataloger/retailer in a transaction finalized on July 10.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, it included all of the assets of Venus Swimwear and Venus Manufacturing, but not any debt or liabilities, or any retail stores, according to Kathleen Kuhn, a certified public accountant in the offices of Meeks, Ross, Selander & Associates, CPAs.

Venus Swimwear has three Florida stores — in Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, and Estero; it is unclear what will become of these stores.

Jack Meeks, who’d been acting as Venus’s court-appointed receiver since May 19, and during the sale process, couldn’t be reached for comment.

While contending with the sluggish economy, the Jacksonville, FL-based merchant’s parent company, Venus, had its financing pulled by American Capital Bank, a lender that had facilitated the purchase of Venus by Golden Gate Capital in 2006. According to reports, American Capital called in the Venus loan on May 7, which sent the company scrambling to secure new capital.

In mid May, Venus filed notice with the state of Florida, saying it might have to lay off 240 employees. Venus founder and former president Daryle Scott resigned May 29, shortly after the company went into receivership.

“From everything we can tell, it was a brutal effort to keep [Venus] running while it was in receivership,” says Kuhn.

Founded in 1986, Bon Prix is a mail order general merchant with more than 14 million customers in Europe. The company has 1,250 employees worldwide, and operates in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and the U.K.

Bon Prix is part of the Otto Group, a German catalog giant that bought Crate & Barrel in 1998 and owned Spiegel from 1982 to 2004.

The company used to mail a U.S. catalog, but Bon Prix discontinued its U.S. operations five years ago.

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Bon Prix Buys Venus Swimwear

Struggling Venus Swimwear has been tossed a lifeline. German mail order company Bon Prix purchased the swimwear cataloger/retailer in a transaction finalized on July 10.

While terms of the deal were not disclosed, it included all of the assets of Venus Swimwear and Venus Manufacturing, but not any debt or liabilities, or any retail stores, according to Kathleen Kuhn, a certified public accountant in the offices of Meeks, Ross, Selander & Associates, CPAs.

Jack Meeks, who acted as Venus’s court-appointed receiver since May 19 and during the sale process, could not be reached for comment.

In addition to the sluggish economy, the Jacksonville, FL-based merchant’s parent company, Venus, had its financing pulled by American Capital Bank, a lender that had facilitated the purchase of Venus by Golden Gate Capital in 2006. According to reports, American Capital called in the Venus loan on May 7, which sent the company scrambling to secure new capital.

Venus in mid May filed notice with the state of Florida, saying it might have to lay off 240 employees. Venus founder and former president Daryle Scott resigned May 29, shortly after the company went into receivership. “From everything we can tell, it was a brutal effort to keep it running while it was in receivership,” Kuhn adds.

Lee Helman, managing director with New York-based investment firm Financo, says the deal “kept most of the company intact, and this company was the earliest to the party and was negotiating with Jack Meeks from the outset.” Helman says Venus Swimwear pursued two different paths: sale of the entire company as a “going concern,” and sale of just the intellectual property.

Venus Swimwear has stores in Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, and Estero, FL; it is unclear what will become of these stores. “Ideally, there would be a buyer who would have also taken the company’s real estate along with the assets,” Helman adds.

Founded in 1986, Bon Prix is a mail order provider with more than 14 million customers in Europe. The company has 1,250 employees worldwide, and operates in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and the U.K. Bon Prix is part of the Otto Group, a German catalog giant that bought Crate & Barrel in 1998.

What goes around comes around: Bon Prix used to mail a U.S. catalog, back when Otto owned general merchandise catalog Spiegel. It discontinued its U.S. operations five years ago, when Spiegel was sold to a unit of Golden Gate Capital; the same Golden Gate subsidiary, then called Catalog Holdings, bought Venus in 2006.

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