Hanover Selling Improvements to HSN

Hanover Direct on June 14 agreed to sell its Improvements home and garden products catalog to St. Petersburg, FL-based home-shopping TV network HSN for $33.4 million.

The sale, which at press time was expected to close by the end of June, includes Improvements’ lists and inventory. Hanover’s Keystone subsidiary will provide fulfillment services for Improvements under a three-year agreement. HSN will retain the staff in Improvements’ Cleveland headquarters.

The sale price “was very attractive and to the benefit of the stockholders,” says Hanover executive vice president/CFO Brian Harriss, “and the buyer was attractive because HSN is able to offer new growth opportunities to the Improvements business.” Hanover’s remaining properties include the upscale decor and gifts store Gump’s and the Gump’s by Mail catalog, both of which are also up for sale; plus-size women’s apparel catalog Silhouettes, and bedding and home goods books The Company Store and Domestications.

The Weehawken, NJ-based Hanover reached $603 million in sales for 2000. Improvements represented less than 10% of the company’s overall sales, Harriss says. The sale is part of Hanover’s strategy to focus on its core titles.

As for HSN, up until the mid-1990s it operated six catalogs, including jewelry book Signature Gems and general merchandise catalog HSN by Mail. Home and garden items are a major product category for the cable network, so Improvements is a “terrific fit,” says vice president of new business development Brad Galinson, who vows to “significantly” grow the catalog business over the next few years.

The acquisition didn’t totally surprise catalog consultant Coy Clement, president/CEO of East Greenwich, RI-based ClementDirect, who led the launch of Improvements a decade ago. “Hanover has done a fair amount of experimentation with TV marketing with the Improvements brand in the past, so I think it’s a good fit.”

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