Marysville, OH-based lawn care manufacturer Scotts has purchased Novato, CA-based upscale garden products cataloger/retailer Smith & Hawken for $72 million from private equity firm DDJ Capital Management. Additionally, the $1.9 billion Scotts will assume $14 million in debt. The deal is expected to close Oct. 1.
Calls to Jim Hagedorn, Scotts’ CEO, and Barry Gilbert, CEO of Smith & Hawken were not returned by press time, but several industry watchers, including Deborah Douglas, a principal with St. Louis-based investment bank Douglas Group, speculate that the deal is designed to help Scotts expand beyond pesticides and lawn seed to garden accessories and lawn furniture. What’s more, Scotts says it plans to introduce Smith & Hawken products into the big box retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s.
With this kind of distribution, “Smith & Hawken now gets a far wider access to the retail market through Scotts,” Douglas says. “It’s something that Smith & Hawken couldn’t get previously” with its 56 stores in the U.S. It’s interesting that a mass market to consumer producer such as Scotts wants an entree into the catalog market, she notes. “That’s a good sign for everybody–it means that the market is widening.” Douglas estimates that Scotts paid about six times earnings for Smith & Hawken, which is “about the market for stronger catalog companies these days.”
Smith & Hawken was founded in 1979 by Dave Smith and Paul Hawken, who sold the company in 1993 to CML Group. In February 1999, CML sold Smith & Hawken to Wellesley, MA-based investment firm DDJ Capital and the Madison-based State of Wisconsin Investment Board.