Lillian Vernon Catalog Back in the Mail

Nearly two months after the personalized gifts merchant was acquired by Current USA, the Lillian Vernon catalog is back in the mail. As part of a “soft launch,” the new owner mailed about 600,000 catalogs to the Lillian Vernon house file this week, says Tim Arland, president of Current USA. The next catalog drop will be in mid-June.

Lillian Vernon had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February. Current USA, a subsidiary of Taylor Corp., finalized an agreement on April 3 to buy Lillian Vernon for $15.8 million, according to a sales contract filed with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Wilmington, DE. Taylor Corp. includes the Current, G. Neil, Paper Direct, and Sa-So catalog titles; its direct sales are about $700 million.

Current USA, which includes the Current, Colorful Images, and Times to Cherish titles, markets greeting cards, paper products, gifts, and home decorating items. It is moving Lillian Vernon’s merchandising, creative, marketing, and the Internet to its headquarters in Colorado Springs, CO.

But Arland says the company will maintain the 57-year-old Lillian Vernon’s operations in Virginia Beach, VA. Approximately 190 employees will remain at that facility, which includes the distribution center, call center, IT, and some human resources functions. “We will also staff up with seasonal help for the fall season,” he notes.

What does Current have in store for Lillian Vernon? It aims to return the venerable company to profitability. “Our plans for Lillian Vernon are to maintain the brand name and heritage, run the business with a focus on profits for the Lillian Vernon brand, and leverage synergies and cost structure to accelerate profits for all of our consumer brands,” he says.

Lillian Vernon “is part of our long-term plan to compete with an efficient cost model,” Arland explains. “We will focus on the core customers and products of Lillian Vernon. We expect that the synergies between the brands will enable us to accelerate our profit model for all Current USA brands.”

What’s more, Arland says it’s a good strategic fit: “Lillian Vernon is strong in personalized hard goods, while Current is known for personalized stationery. In addition, Lillian Vernon has a strong Web business, excellent supply chain infrastructure, volume leverage, large customer file, and a great brand name.”

By acquiring the Lillian Vernon business out of bankruptcy, “we were able to acquire the assets at a value price,” Arland says. “This enables us to strengthen the long-term strategy for our consumer model.”

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