MacKenzie-Childs acquired

Private equity firm Twin Lakes Capital acquired ceramics manufacturer/marketer MacKenzie-Childs on May 7. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. MacKenzie-Childs, known for its whimsical majolica tabletop ceramics, includes a Website launched in 2003, a print catalog that debuted in 2004, and a few stores.

MacKenzie-Childs had been for sale since last June. Lee Feldman, managing partner of Twin Lakes Capital, says his company has pursued the acquisition since that time. “We got involved from the beginning of the process,” he says.

What was the appeal? “It’s a very strong brand with unique, high-quality products,” Feldman says. “The company is doing well and we think there are a lot of opportunities to aggressively grow the business in the market it operates. There is a good team in place, and we plan to partner with existing management.”

Feldman says the new owners will keep MacKenzie-Childs’ staff of approximately 175. “We’re not looking to make any material changes,” he says. “We’ll take the multichannel approach for the direct and wholesale side.”

Twin Lakes Capital plans to invest in and grow the direct business. There are tremendous opportunities on both the catalog and Web side,” Feldman notes. “We’re growth players with a hands-on approach in partnering with management in an aggressive fashion.”

Pleasant Rowland, owner/CEO of MacKenzie-Childs, said in a release: “Over the years, but now with increasing frequency, various individuals have expressed interest in purchasing the company. I rejected all inquiries until I felt confident the company was stabilized with a sound business model and a competent, experienced management team.”

Founded in 1983 by Richard and Victoria MacKenzie-Childs, the company had filed for bankruptcy in November 2000. Rowland, who founded dolls marketer American Girl in 1986 and sold the company to toy giant Mattel in 1998, purchased MacKenzie-Childs from the founders in June 2001 for $5 million.

Chris Shannon, managing director for New York-based investment bank Berkery, Noyes & Co., says of the deal: “MacKenzie-Childs is a strong brand and complements Twin Lakes’ other investments. It is nice to see two strong companies making a good investment and not in the difficult financial position that many retail/catalog companies are in.”