Late Christmas gift for Oriental Trading

Gifts and novelties cataloger Oriental Trading Co. started the year with a new growth initiative, fueled by recapitalization from a private investment firm. On Jan. 5, the Omaha, NE-based mailer announced that Brentwood Associates would invest an undisclosed sum in the company.

Oriental Trading spokeswoman Catherine Williams says that the $300 million-plus cataloger had been looking for opportunities to increase capitalization for some time, but that president/CEO Terry Watanabe hadn’t found a good fit before meeting with Los Angeles-based Brentwood. “He was very impressed with their experience with complementary types of businesses. We weren’t on a high-powered search, but he felt this was the right opportunity.”

Although Williams couldn’t specify how Oriental Trading plans to use its cash infusion, she expects that the company will expand its Internet business. Oriental Trading operates five Websites, including Terry’s Village and Articles. Williams couldn’t comment on whether Brentwood would become a majority owner of Oriental Trading, but she doesn’t foresee dramatic changes for the cataloger. “Right now we’re looking at adding positions within the company; certainly there won’t be any layoffs. Brentwood has stated that it’s not in the business of running companies. The arrangement worked because they were impressed with our management team.”