DIVESTITURES: SHAKEUP AT RIVERTOWN

Mar 01, 2000 10:30 PM  By

President Donna Avery resigns; four titles to close

Rivertown Trading Co. has undergone what some might call a millennial makeover. Donna Avery, president of the St. Paul, MN-based gifts cataloger, announced in early January that she would resign by the end of the month. At the same time, Rivertown’s parent company, Dayton Hudson, said it would discontinue four of the company’s 10 titles: Well & Good, Audio, Circa, and Daily Planet.

Jeff Johnson, vice president of creative services for $190 million Rivertown, says that Avery’s resignation is not associated with the decision to close the four catalogs. “More than a month ago, she made a personal decision to leave and step out in a new direction,” Johnson says.

Minneapolis-based Dayton Hudson (which plans to change its name to Target after the department store chain that accounts for 75% of its $28 billion in annual sales) plans to cut 30 of Rivertown’s 420 jobs. But Dayton Hudson spokeswoman Susan Eich insists that the changes don’t indicate financial troubles. “Rivertown is performing to expectations,” she says. “Our focus now is to concentrate on our strongest franchises, which include the Seasons, Wireless, and Signals catalogs and Websites.”

The last Daily Planet catalog to mail will be the summer book, and the last editions of Well & Good, Audio, and Circa will go out in the spring, Johnson says. As for Rivertown’s remaining titles, “it’s full steam ahead. Our online sales were much above projections for our first holiday with our Wireless and Seasons Websites.”

Johnson says the company will launch an e-commerce site for Signals by midyear, and expand the product categories for Seasons and Wireless, though he won’t disclose when or how. The company’s liquidation catalog, Smart Shopper, will be retitled Iloveadeal.com, to strengthen the brand of Rivertown’s liquidation Website of the same name.