F+W Media has morphed a joint venture with Hoffman Media into a full-on acquisition, buying Hoffman’s Martha Pullen Company, which serves the sewing and craft markets. Key to the deal was Martha Pullen’s e-commerce and fulfillment operations.
Transaction terms were not released, and while F+W certainly expands its footprint in the sewing market—the company serves a variety of enthusiast verticals—the deal gives F+W direct ownership of hard-good inventory and fulfillment. Up to now, F+W had been facilitating inventory and fulfillment through third-party partnerships.
"Hard goods are defined as things like patterns, wool, fabrics, buttons and beads," F+W CEO David Nussbaum tells FOLIO:. "We had only limited experience with these hard goods before, but we’re now moving a little more aggressively into that type of distribution."
F+W counts e-commerce as a major revenue stream, the company has made a concerted effort to move away from a reliance on advertising. At the recent Dealmakers Summit, hosted by media bankers DeSilva + Phillips, Nussbaum said, "Three years ago I put a call out to the team to become the Amazon of passion markets."
Nussbaum says e-commerce-related revenues jumped 75 percent in 2011 and expects similar growth in 2012.
The relationship between Hoffman and F+W goes back to May 2011 when the two companies partnered in a joint e-commerce venture creating a Martha Pullen online store. According to the companies, year over year sales grew more than 40 percent, and sales are now trending 25 percent over prior year sales. Since the partnership, store visits have increased 96 percent.
Those metrics opened the door to discussions of an acquisition, one that Hoffman EVP and COO Eric Hoffman says will allow his company to focus on its core food and women’s lifestyle markets. Brands at Hoffman include Cooking With Paula Deen and Southern Lady.
Sale proceeds, says Hoffman, will be used for share buybacks and to fund organic growth plans.
Also included in the deal are Sew Beautiful magazine, 10 consumer and trade events, relate websites, DVDs, books, sewing pattern subscription programs and the "Martha’s Sewing Room" TV show.