Silvo Gets a Creative New Parent

Creative Catalogs Corp., which mails gifts title Personal Creations, on March 2 bought the name and assets of defunct home and garden products cataloger Silvo Hardware Co. The $3 million Silvo had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January; its last catalog mailed in November.

Burr Ridge, IL-based Creative Catalogs hopes Silvo will act as a counterseasonal business to the $30 million Personal Creations, which takes in 60% of its sales during the fourth quarter. Spring is a big season for Silvo, says Geoffrey Smith, Creative Catalogs’ president of e-commerce and new business development.

At press time, Creative Catalogs was planning to mail a Silvo book in April. The relaunched catalog will be 72 pages, up from last holiday’s 68. The company will focus on, among other things, expanding Silvo’s product selection. “There was a lot of stagnation — not enough new merchandise and a lot of the same old stuff,” Smith says. “And much of the way the book was laid out wasn’t maximizing the sale per page very well.”

The catalog will mail to existing Silvo customers and rented names. The company has no plans to mail to Personal Creations customers, because “it’s really a completely separate brand,” Smith says. “We’re treating Silvo as its own entity, its own brand.”

In addition to mailing the print book, Creative Catalogs expects to relaunch the Silvo Website the first week of May. The site will be built on the same platform used to rebuild the Personal Creations site in fall 2002. Since then, Personal Creations’ online sales have jumped from 45% to 60% of its revenue, which Smith credits to the new site’s improved navigation, cross-selling suggestions, and other improvements.

By providing with many of the same features, Creative Catalogs hopes to rapidly grow Silvo’s online sales. Last year Silvo generated 20%-25% of its sales online; the goal, Smith says, is for more than 50% of Silvo’s sales to come from the Web. To further encourage online orders, which Smith says the company can fulfill less expensively than telephonic orders, Creative Catalogs will use affiliate search programs and promotions such as an offer on the catalog cover for $5 off orders of $40 or more placed online.

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