Lillian Vernon Parent Buys Time Life Direct Unit

Time Life,

the music and video direct marketing unit of the Time Inc. magazine division of Time Warner, was acquired on Dec. 31 by Direct Holdings Worldwide, an entity created by the partnership of New York-based investment firm Ripplewood Holdings and New York-based media management firm ZelnickMedia Corp. Direct Holdings was formed in July when the firms bought Rye, NY-based general merchandise cataloger Lillian Vernon Corp.

Although Time Life discontinued a Time Life Music catalog this past summer to focus on selling its music, videos, and books on television and online, Direct Holdings may relaunch a print book, says ZelnickMedia partner Jim Friedlich, “using the economics of scale and expertise that reside in the holding company.”

Specifically, the company would use the expertise and paper and list buying power of its Lillian Vernon operation. “It wouldn’t be a Lillian Vernon-branded catalog,” Friedlich says. “But Lillian Vernon’s significant expertise in catalog direct marketing could be used to the advantage of a Time Life catalog.”

The sale wasn’t announced until Jan. 5, to give Time Life the opportunity to inform employees returning from holiday vacations, Friedlich says.

After discontinuing its Time Life music catalog last summer, Time in September sold off its Heartland Music catalog to Itasca, IL-based Infinity Resources. By adding the Time Life unit to its $247.4 million Lillian Vernon property, Direct Holdings’ sales will exceed $500 million.

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