Orchard Brands picks up Crosstown Traders

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Charming Shoppe Inc. has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its non-core misses apparel catalogs, known as Crosstown Traders, to Orchard Brands, a portfolio company of Golden Gate Capital, for a purchase price of $35 million in cash.

Orchard Brands is a multichannel marketer of apparel and home products for women and men over the age of 55. Its brands include Appleseed's, Blair, Draper & Damon's, Gold Violin, Haband, Norm Thompson, Sahalie, Tog Shop and WinterSilks.

The deal with Charming Shoppes includes the catalog titles and associated e-commerce sites for Old Pueblo Traders, Bedford Fair, Willow Ridge, Lew Magram, Brownstone Studio, Intimate Appeal, Monterey Bay Clothing Co. and Coward Shoe.

The Crosstown Traders headquarters are expected to remain in Tucson, AZ. The transaction is expected to close by the end of September 2008.

As part of the agreement, Charming Shoppes will provide certain services to Orchard Brands including distribution, information technology and call center functions for a limited transition period.

Charming Shoppes also announced today that it has entered into an agreement for the sale of the misses apparel catalog credit card receivables for approximately $40 million in cash to Alliance Data Systems Corp.

“We have made the decision to sell our non-core catalogs as key steps in our strategy to focus on our core brands – Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug and Catherines – and leverage our leading market share position in women's specialty plus apparel,” said Alan Rosskamm, chairman of the board and interim CEO of Charming Shoppes, in a statement.

Concurrent with the Orchard Brands deal, Charming Shoppes has appointed Lori Twomey to the position of president, direct-to-consumer. In addition, it said it is exploring the sale of its Figi's Gifts in Good Taste catalog business.

In a separate announcement, Charming Shoppes said net sales for its retail stores totaled $622 million during the second quarter ended August 2, a decrease of 9%. Same-store sales dropped 10% during the same period.

Net sales from continuing operations for the company's direct-to-consumer segment totaled $22.5 million during the second quarter, compared to $4.2 million last year. The increase is related to the launch of the Lane Bryant Woman catalog in November 2007.

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