Kamis, 09 Juli 2009

Smith & Hawken to close stores, including six in Bay Area

Thirty years afterwards Dave Smith and Paul Hawken founded agronomical apparatus importer Smith & Hawken in Mill Valley, the aggregation will be shut bottomward by the edger analgesic maker that purchased it in 2004.

Ohio-based ancestor aggregation Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. said Wednesday that it will cease all Smith & Hawken business by the end of 2009, accepting a assassin a liquidator, Gordon Brothers Group of Boston, to advice it do so.

The move calls for the cease of all of Smith & Hawken's 56 retail aliment in the U.S. and the blow of the company's 700 advisers nationwide, including 70 at its accumulated offices at Hangar Four in Hamilton Landing and 30 at its retail abundance in the Strawberry Village arcade centermost in Mill Valley.

Some of those advisers will be kept on through aboriginal December to advice with the defalcation of the company's inventory, all of which will action through its stores. All inquiries to the Novato address and the Mill Valley abundance were directed to the Scotts accumulated appointment in Ohio. There are bristles added Smith and Hawken aliment in the Bay Area, in Berkeley, Walnut Creek, Los Gatos, Palo Alto and Burlingame.

While the cease marks the end of an era for one of Marin's authentication companies, its two founders are adequate because the business had continued back become alone from its aboriginal values, they said. While the aboriginal Smith & Hawken focused on high-end English agronomical accoutrement with a lifetime guarantee, lateriterations of the aggregation angled into alfresco active articles such as furniture, blaze pits, lighting and garden decor.

"Scotts couldn't accept been a worse accumulated owner," said Hawken, who lives in Mill Valley. "Smith & Hawken had become aloof a apparition of itself."

Smith, who lives in Mendocino County and owns Mulligan Books in Ukiah, said he had gone so far as to ask accompany to avoid the aggregation address his name.

"When Scotts bought it and Smith & Hawken was endemic by the better pesticide agent in the U.S., I appropriate bodies avoid it," he said. "It had absolutely absent its roots."

The accommodation to abutting Smith & Hawken came afterwards Scotts was clumsy to acquisition a client for the company, which had apparent its sales bead 22 percent during the aboriginal two abode of the accepted budgetary year.

"We would accept adopted to advertise the Smith & Hawken business in adjustment to assure jobs and accumulate the retail authorization intact," Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO Jim Hagendorn said in a statement. "However, afterwards discussions with several abeyant investors over the accomplished 12 months, it became accessible that shutting bottomward the business was the best advantage available.

"It is with affliction for the assembly of Smith & Hawken and our abounding loyal barter that we accept accomplished this conclusion. I appetite to accede our assembly who accept been acutely loyal and formed endlessly to accomplish Smith & Hawken a applicable enterprise. Unfortunately, the aggregate of a anemic abridgement and the abridgement of calibration accepted too abundant to overcome."

A agent for Gordon Brothers Group did not acknowledgment a alarm for comment.

Smith & Hawken's aliment will activate going-out-of-business sales today.

Hawken, now arch of engineering close Pax Group, acclimated the break of the cease to host a affair Wednesday night.

"I couldn't be happier to see my name appear down," he said.

Smith and Hawken, who opened their aboriginal retail abundance in Mill Valley in 1982, awash the aggregation in 1993 to CML Group. In February 1999, CML went bankrupt, affairs Smith & Hawken to Massachusetts-based advance close DDJ Capital for $75 million. Scotts bought it in 2004 for $58 million, additionally accepting its $14 actor debt.

At the time Scotts bought the firm, then-CEO Barry Gilbert promised to bang Smith & Hawken's advance affairs into overdrive, bringing added jobs to Marin. Scotts, afresh a $2 billion close best accepted for its Miracle-Gro bulb aliment and Ortho edger killer, approved to use Gap Inc., with its higher-end Banana Republic accouterment band and its arrangement accouterment at its Old Navy stores, as an bread-and-butter model. Gilbert projected that Smith & Hawken would about-face into a $300 actor to $400 actor company.

But admitting adventurous moves - in 2006, Smith & Hawken alien an absolute accumulating for the 1,400 Target aliment civic - the aggregation struggled to bout Gilbert's prediction.

In 2008, Scotts brought in Pat Farrah, co-founder of Home Depot, to check Smith & Hawken. According to Scotts' second-quarter balance report, Smith & Hawken had absent $15 actor year-to-date.

Both Smith and Hawken said the aggregation that bears their name had continued back veered abroad from actuality a agronomical aggregation and was clumsy to booty advantage of the contempo billow in absorption in agronomical because of that.

"How could you possibly accept a agronomical abundance in this abridgement and go wrong?" Hawken said. "I'll acquaint you why. This wasn't a agronomical abundance anymore.

"When money is acceptable short, alike admitting agronomical and garden seeds are booming, all of a abrupt you're larboard with an angel and a lot of articles that absolute gardeners and absolute farmers don't absolutely charge or want."

Those gardeners ability anon accept a new abode to acquisition the exceptional agronomical accoutrement from about the world, from a hasty source. Hawken, who already wears abounding hats as an author, ecology activist and entrepreneur, is planning to barrage an Web-based abundance for garden tools, in affiliation with Marin Roots Farm client Jesse Kuhn.

"I never did assurance a non-compete [agreement]," he said. "I ability accept to go with my name again."

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