Orchard Brands’ Attenborough Takes “Golden” Opportunity

Neale Attenborough, chairman/CEO of multititle mailer Orchard Brands for the past 10 years, has found a new gig: He’s joined private equity firm Golden Gate Capital, which had owned Orchard Brands up until the latter’s Chapter 11 filing and subsequent agreement with creditors in February.

Attenborough left Orchard Brands in May to become an operating partner in the consumer group for Golden Gate Capital, which has $9 billion in capital under management.

“I worked with Golden Gate for six years now, and they’ve been terrific partners,” Attenborough says. “This was a real compelling opportunity, and I decided to take it.”

Attenborough’s new role at Golden Gate allows him to not focus on just one portfolio company, but several of them along a broad spectrum. “It’s more of an oversight role,” he says. “I’m working in the consumer group to help with current portfolio companies and look at new investments.”

Claire Spofford, group president of Premium Brands at Orchard Brands and president of Appleseeds, was named interim president/CEO at Orchard Brands, a role Attenborough believes Spofford is well suited for. “I worked with Claire for 20 years at different companies and she’s fantastic,” he says.

Though Orchard Brands had filed for Chapter 11, it emerged with a reorganization plan in late April and in June received $90 million in secured financing from PNC Financial Services Group.

Attenborough is confidant Orchard Brands is now on firm financial ground. “I think the restructuring leaves them in a much stronger position with a unique property.”

Golden Gate Capital actually created Orchard Brands (formerly called Appleseed’s Topco) as a portfolio company in 2005, when it acquired women’s apparel catalogers Appleseed’s Drapers & Damon’s and The Tog Shop. Today Orchard Brands also includes Blair, Haband, Linen Source, Monterey Bay, Norm Thompson, Old Pueblo Traders, Sahalie, Solutions, and WinterSilks, among other titles.

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