Struggling Venus Swimwear has been Tossed a Lifeline. German mail order firm Bon Prix purchased the swimwear cataloger/retailer in a transaction finalized on July 10.
While terms of the deal were not disclosed, it included all of the assets of Venus Swimwear and Venus Manufacturing, but not any debt or liabilities, or any retail stores, according to Kathleen Kuhn, a certified public accountant in the offices of Meeks, Ross, Selander & Associates, CPAs.
Venus Swimwear has three Florida stores — in Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, and Estero; it is unclear what will become of these stores.
Jack Meeks, who’d been acting as Venus’s court-appointed receiver since May 19, and during the sale process, couldn’t be reached for comment.
While contending with the sluggish economy, the Jacksonville, FL-based merchant’s parent company, Venus, had its financing pulled by American Capital Bank, a lender that had facilitated the purchase of Venus by Golden Gate Capital in 2006. According to reports, American Capital called in the Venus loan on May 7, which sent the company scrambling to secure new capital.
In mid May, Venus filed notice with the state of Florida, saying it might have to lay off 240 employees. Venus founder and former president Daryle Scott resigned May 29, shortly after the company went into receivership.
“From everything we can tell, it was a brutal effort to keep [Venus] running while it was in receivership,” says Kuhn.
Founded in 1986, Bon Prix is a mail order general merchant with more than 14 million customers in Europe. The company has 1,250 employees worldwide, and operates in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and the U.K.
Bon Prix is part of the Otto Group, a German catalog giant that bought Crate & Barrel in 1998 and owned Spiegel from 1982 to 2004.
The company used to mail a U.S. catalog, but Bon Prix discontinued its U.S. operations five years ago.