Current USA, the parent company of personalized gifts merchant Lillian Vernon, plans to shut down the venerable cataloger’s Virginia Beach, VA, operations by August 2011.
The reason, according to a press release, was “due to current and projected levels of business,” though the statement says Current USA “is committed to growing the Lillian Vernon brand in the marketplace and serving its customers.” Current USA spokesperson Sue Hesse says that the company won’t answer further questions.
Virginia Beach has been home to Lillian Vernon’s distribution center, call center operations, IT, and some human resources positions for 22 years. The 900,000-sq.-ft. facility employs about 200 staff year round and adds roughly 1,000 seasonal positions in the fall.
Indeed, Lillian Vernon’s Virginia Beach facility was “huge,” says Lee Helman, managing director with investment firm Financo. “It must not be cost effective to keep a smaller Lillian Vernon business in there.”
Current USA will transition Lillian Vernon’s operations to other locations within its own parent company, Taylor Corp., in the next few months. Colorado Springs, CO-based Current USA, which includes the Current, Colorful Images, and Times to Cherish titles, sells greeting cards, paper products, gifts, and home decorating items.
It’s been a rough couple of years for Lillian Vernon, which was famously started by pregnant housewife Lillian Vernon in 1951. The company was sold to investment firm Sun Capital Partners in 2008 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2008. Current USA acquired Lillian Vernon in April 2008 for $15.8 million.