Concepts Direct officially on the block

On Dec. 23, Concepts Direct announced that it would begin soliciting buyers for the company, most likely beginning shortly after New Year’s. The decision came just four days after chairman/president/CEO Philip Wiland and his wife submitted an offer to the board of directors to buy the company for $0.68 per share. Longmont, CO-based Concepts Direct mails the Colorful Images, Linda Anderson, Linda Anderson’s Collectibles, Snoopy etc., The Music Stand, and Garfield gifts and stationery catalogs.

The Wilands, according to a company release, “have been invited to participate in the bidding process.” New York-based investment bank Gruppo, Levely & Co. is advising Concepts Direct.

In their letter of intent, the Wilands indicated that they or their affiliates would pay approximately approximately $2.1 million in cash for the roughly 3.1 million shares of Concepts Direct owned by investors. The Wilands already have a 41% stake in the company.

At closing, the Wilands would pay off the principal balance of a promissory note of approximately $1.3 million, plus all accrued interest. A committee is evaluating this offer as part of its evaluation of strategic alternatives for the company.

This has not been a booming year for Concepts Direct. The cataloger has trimmed circulation by more than 10% and faces potential delisting from Nasdaq. In July, it cut 27% of its work force, about 100 employees, because of lower-than-expected sales and higher costs.

Sales for the quarter ended Sept. 30 (its most recent reported) were $10.6 million, down 6% from $11.2 million for the third quarter of year. Worse, the company’s net loss climbed from $856,000 for the third quarter of 2001 to $2.5 million for the third quarter of 2002.