Gordon Brothers buys, sells

The Boston-based firm has closed three significant retail transactions in the last two weeks.

GB Merchant Partners, the private equity and debt affiliate of investment and advisory firm Gordon Brothers Group, has closed three important retail transactions in the past two weeks.

In the first transaction, GB has partnered with Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherill & Co. to acquire Things Remembered, the nation’s largest personalized gift chain, for $200 million (EUR106.7 million).  The company was acquired from Cole National Group, a subsidiary of Luxottica Group. The chain has 650 stores in 48 states and generated revenues of approximately $300 million in 2005.

According to Gordon Brothers, a key element of the future success of Things Remembered will be seizing multi-channel expansion opportunities to meet the growing demand for personalized gifts. The firm is also looking to strengthen the company’s national footprint, and drive future sales growth both through targeted capital investments and continuous brand building efforts.

The firm has also made two key divestitures. GB has sold Party America, the largest operator of party supply store in the US, to private equity firms Berkshire Partners and Weston Presidio, as well as to Amscan Holdings, a manufacturer of party goods sold through its subsidiary, Party City. GB will retain a minority stake in the company. A sale price was not disclosed.

Party America was purchased out of bankruptcy in 1998, and since that time it has grown from the smallest US part supply retailer to the second largest today. The company has taken an active role as a consolidator in the industry, completing several strategic acquisitions that helped the company expand its market presence from 26 to 250 stores over eight years.

GB has also sold The Bargain! Shop Holdings, a Canadian general merchandise retail chain, to Genuity Capital Markets. Since the company was purchased by GB and Chicago-based Monroe Capital in 1999 from Venator Group, The Bargain! Shop has grown from 85 to 151 stores.