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Castanea Partners Announces Investment In Donald J Pliner

Newton, MA – February 17, 2011 – Castanea Partners announced today that it has purchased a majority interest in Donald J Pliner, a premier designer and marketer of luxury footwear.

“Donald J Pliner is a terrific investment opportunity for us,” said Brian J. Knez, Managing Partner of Castanea. “We’ve been looking at the premium footwear sector for a number of years, and this new partnership provides the Company with the resources to accelerate its growth and enhance the prominence of the brand.”

Founded in 1989 by Donald Pliner, the Company established itself as a stylish and forward-thinking brand. The Company’s products are known for their cutting-edge design, high comfort and high quality, appealing to a broad urban and non-urban customer base. Donald J Pliner’s product line includes women’s and men’s dress and casual footwear. Headquartered in New York, the brand operates five Company-owned retail stores located in Miami, Coral Gables, Houston, Las Vegas and San Jose. Donald J Pliner products are sold nationwide in over 400 specialty stores and upscale department stores and online at donaldjpliner.com and other selected sites.

Donald Pliner will be an important partner in the business following the transaction. He will become the Company’s Creative Director as well as maintain a significant equity interest in the business. Mr. Pliner will be primarily responsible for design strategy and helping to build a team of senior designers. He will also assist with the Company’s marketing and brand positioning.

“Castanea’s extensive operating experience building premium consumer brands was imperative in selecting a partner. Their deep understanding of our industry will give us the strategic direction we need to take advantage of the many opportunities in front of the brand,” said Donald Pliner.

As part of the transaction, Castanea is teaming with Noel Hord to lead the Company as its CEO. Mr. Hord has previously served as President of U.S. Shoe, Nine West and New York Transit in addition to other senior executive positions in the footwear industry.

“I’m looking forward to working with Donald and the Castanea team”, added Noel Hord. “I believe my experience in the industry, supported by the existing operational talent within the organization and complemented by strategic new hires, will provide a foundation for the brand to reach its full potential.”

“We are excited to be working closely with Donald as our partner. He has built an exceptional brand with a loyal following that aligns well with Castanea’s investment philosophy,” noted Troy Stanfield, Partner for Castanea. “Donald’s design talent paired with Noel’s leadership will allow us to further strengthen the brand and reach consumers through multiple channels.”

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

About Castanea

Castanea Partners is a private equity fund founded by operating executives and private equity veterans. We invest between $15M to $75M of equity in companies within specifically targeted industry sectors where we have proven investment and operating expertise including branded consumer products, specialty retail, marketing services, information services, and education.

Our investment philosophy is based on the belief that our industry specializations and unique operating backgrounds enhance our ability to partner with successful management teams and drive top-level returns for our investors. Leveraging over 100 years of combined experience, we invest in traditional MBOs, sales of private companies, industry consolidations, growth equity and acquisition equity capital raises, corporate carve-outs and operationally challenged opportunities.

For more information, visit Castanea Partners or contact Marion Schouten at 617.630.2420 or mschouten@castaneapartners.com.

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