Sundance Catalog Sold

Jul 09, 2004 8:50 PM  By

Although previous reports indicated that the Sundance Catalog Co. had last week received a capital infusion from two private equity firms, sources confirm that the company has been sold. Actor and Sundance founder Robert Redford and Sundance Catalog CEO Bruce Willard together sold the $70 million business on July 2 to a partnership of Boston-based Webster Capital and New York-based ACI Capital for an undisclosed amount. According to reports, the deal is valued between $20 million and $40 million.

Willard, the founder and former president of apparel catalog The Territory Ahead, had bought a controlling 50% share of the Sundance catalog business from Redford in July 2002 and ran the company until the sale. The new owners were working with an executive search firm to find a replacement at press time, Willard says.

Redford, who founded the Sundance Catalog 15 years ago, could not be reached for comment. The book sells apparel, accessories, home décor, jewelry, and other handcrafted products inspired by the American West. The catalog was part of Redford’s stable of Sundance properties, including Sundance Institute, Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Channel, and Sundance Village Resort.

While Willard sold off his entire share of the company, Redford has retained a minority share of the business, Willard says. ACI owns the larger share of the two firms, but is relying on the experience of Webster principal Don Steiner, who cofounded the catalog conglomerate Cornerstone Brands, which owns, among other titles, The Territory Ahead.

Willard, who now plans to concentrate on growing his sourcing business, says he had always planned for his stint at Sundance to last just two to three years. For one, “I didn’t want to commute,” as Willard’s home is in Santa Barbara, CA, and Sundance is headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT.

Moreover, Willard says, “one of the reasons it seemed like an opportune time for a transaction was because we’re coming off two very strong years of profitability,” although he would not reveal specific figures.