Paragon parent buys Popcorn Factory

Wand Partners, a private equity investment firm, on July 6 acquired Foster & Gallagher’s The Popcorn Factory for an undisclosed amount. Lake Forest, IL-based Popcorn Factory sells food gifts and flowers. Wand Partners owns the roughly $100 million Paragon Holdings, the parent company of gifts catalog Paragon, puzzles title Bits & Pieces, and housewares book Practica; it also holds a minority interest in batteries cataloger iGo, formerly 1-800-Batteries.

New York-based Wand Partners plans to use Popcorn Factory’s 178,000-name house file as “a platform for a business-to-business food gifts company,” says Wand president Mal Appelbaum. “Gifts to businesses are a rapidly growing part of the market.”

For its part, $480 million Peoria, IL-based Foster & Gallagher has said it plans to focus on its horticulture (Spring Hill, Michigan Bulb) and childrens’ (Troll Learn & Play, Hearth Song) titles, which it views as its core businesses.

Foster & Gallagher will continue to field Popcorn Factory’s orders through its call center, and it will also handle fulfillment for one year, Appelbaum says. There will be no changes in creative or management. Nancy Hensel, senior vice president and general manager of Popcorn Factory under Foster & Gallagher, will become the president of the catalog.

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