`New names will lead us to a new universe of customers’ Call it cross-pollination of the e-commerce kind. Burpee Holding Co., the parent company of the W. Atlee Burpee gardening catalog, has acquired the brand and customer assets of the now-defunct gardening catalog and Website Garden.com. Terms of the purchase, which Warminster, PA-based Burpee completed in mid-January, were undisclosed.
“We bought the company’s URLs, most notably Garden.com,” says Burpee CEO/chairman George Ball Jr., “and we bought the customer file,” which includes Garden.com buyers and site visitors who opted in to receive e-mail newsletters. The transfer of house file information was contingent upon Garden.com notifying its customers of the acquisition, thereby providing them the right to exclude their information. In contacting the names on its house file, Garden.com also let them know that it would not transfer any personal or financial information to Burpee.
At the same time that Burpee purchased Garden.com’s URLs and house file, Walmart.com, the online arm of general merchandise giant Walmart, acquired Garden.com’s editorial, interactive, and film content. Ball says his company wasn’t interested in Garden.com’s content, since Burpee has its own gardening Website.
“The Burpee and Garden.com Websites were both launched in 1995, but Garden.com spent a lot of money to promote and advertise its site,” Ball says. “While our URL was strong on its own, we now have the strength of both Burpee’s and Garden.com’s names and reputations.” Visitors to the Garden.com URL are now immediately linked to the Burpee Website.
Exploring the synergies Ball says his company is “still developing” how it will use the Garden.com assets, but he plans no major changes for the Burpee catalogs, which include perennial plants book Heronswood Nursery and benches cataloger Benchsmith. “We might try to reinvigorate the [core] Burpee book with some new products,” such as garden accessories and tools, he says. Burpee has no immediate plans to relaunch the Garden.com print catalog, nor does it plan to relaunch the Garden.com site as a distinct Website.
Ball won’t divulge his company’s circulation or annual sales, but he says it might increase catalog circulation as a result of the asset purchase: “We’re going to dedupe the files, but I know that there are nonoverlap names [from the Garden.com file] that will lead us to a new universe of customers. We’ll do a lot of testing with the new names, and we’ll send out a number of direct offers.”