Chef’s Catalog Sold to Private Equity Firm

JH Partners, a private equity firm in San Francisco, has acquired Chef’s Catalog from Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group. The $75 million kitchenware title had been up for sale since May.

Jon Medved, former CEO of gifts and housewares mailer Walter Drake, will become CEO of Pikes Peak Direct Marketing, the corporation formed by JH Partners for the transaction. Medved says Chef’s Catalog’s operations will move to Colorado Springs, CO, in the spring. In the interim, it will continue to operate from Dallas.

Neiman Marcus expects to record a pretax loss of $15 million-$17 million in its fiscal second quarter from the sale. New York-based Elixir Advisors advised Neiman Marcus in the transaction.

In the five years that Neiman Marcus owned Chef’s Catalog, the kitchenware market has become increasingly competitive. What’s more, Chef’s Catalog’s margins were lower than those of Neiman Marcus’s other titles, which include high-end home decor catalog Horchow. In recent years Chef’s tried to introduce more private-label and tabletop items and giftware, but customers did not respond to the offerings as well as the company had hoped.

Katherine Galligan, vice president of research for Dallas-based research and trading firm Aperion Group, believes that Chef’s Catalog has the chance for growth under new management. “Now that it’s in the hands of someone who can put some money and resources behind it, the brand may be able to realize it’s true potential,” she says.

JH Partners has also invested in catalogers Peet’s Coffee & Tea, Performance Bicycle Shop, and Design Within Reach.

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