Neiman Marcus Fires Chef

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The Neiman Marcus Group Inc. said yesterday that it sold Chef's Catalog to Pikes Peak Direct Marketing Inc.


Chef's Catalog, founded in 1979, markets brand-name cookware such as Calphalon, Cuisinart and KitchenAid to culinary enthusiasts. It publishes four editions yearly, with an annual circulation of 30 million and annual sales of $75 million.


Pikes Peak, San Francisco, is a newly formed corporation controlled by private equity firm JH Partners LLC. Its CEO is Jon Medved, who most recently served as CEO of direct marketing firm Walter Drake.


Cookware "is a growing area of interest for a lot of people," said Jeff Hansen, principal at JH Partners. "This is an opportunity to take advantage of that by buying the [No. 2] direct mailer in the space."


JH thinks much can be done with Chef's Catalog, which never really found a home at Neiman Marcus, Hansen said.


Along with the catalog, there is chefscatalog.com, biannual warehouse sales and two retail stores. This year, the brand started another book, MasterChefs, which offers top-of-the-line cookware, and an online gift registry.


Neiman Marcus, Dallas, acquired Chef's Catalog in 1998. In connection with the sale, the company expects to record a pre-tax loss of $15 million to $17 million in its fiscal second quarter.


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