October 14, 2015

Aurora Brands Announces John J. Ling as New CEO

Aurora Brands, the parent company of the two iconic American home and lifestyle brands MacKenzie-Childs and Jay Strongwater, announces the appointment of John J. Ling as CEO. Ling will take over responsibilities from Lee Feldman, Managing Partner of Twin Lakes Capital.

Following Twin Lakes’ acquisition of MacKenzie-Childs in 2008 and Jay Strongwater in 2011, partners Lee Feldman and Howard Cohen took on active CEO and CFO roles, and have now started the process of transitioning out of the day-to-day management of the business. A search for a new CFO has begun, and is expected to be complete by the end of this year. Feldman and Cohen remain significant investors and board members. A little over a year ago Aurora Brands announced a major investment from Castanea Partners that has propelled the company’s continued growth.

John Ling brings a strong pedigree and relevant experience to the business, having spent 15 years at Crate and Barrel. During Ling’s tenure at Crate and Barrel, it grew from a regional tabletop and housewares retailer to a global, multi-billion dollar, omni-channel retailer — adding furniture, e-commerce and international retail along the way. Ling provided leadership for Crate and Barrel’s e-commerce platform, international retail operations, global sourcing, vendor management and end-to-end supply chain operations. Most recently he was CEO of Artissimo Designs, a leading provider of fashion-forward and licensed wall art to retailers including Nordstrom, Living Spaces, Restoration Hardware, The TJX Companies, Wal-Mart, and Target. Early in his career, Ling was at Frito-Lay for 10 years with roles in plant management, industrial engineering, distribution, transportation and manufacturing engineering. He subsequently spent 4 years with Merck-Medco Managed Care in general managem ent, customer service, and engineering roles.

“In John we have found the perfect leader for this business during its next chapter of significant growth,” noted Lee Feldman, managing partner of Twin Lakes Capital. “It has been an incredible journey since we first arrived in May of 2008, revenue has more than tripled and we have achieved strong profitability,” said Feldman. “The prospects moving forward are even more exciting, and John has the experience, vision and leadership skills to propel us to the next level of growth.”

“These are two special brands that create beautiful products for the home and our discerning and loyal customers, and I look forward to working with an extremely creative and talented team as we continue the growth of the business,” said John Ling, the newly appointed CEO of Aurora Brands. “I have spent a significant part of my career in consumer goods, specifically the home furnishings industry, and I recognize that MacKenzie-Childs and Jay Strongwater are truly unique brands in terms of their design, workmanship and the passionate collectors who support them,” noted Ling.

For more information on the two iconic American luxury and home lifestyle brands, visit www.MacKenzie-Childs.com and www.JayStrongwater.com.

About Aurora Brands

Aurora Brands, the owner of two iconic American luxury home and lifestyle brands: MacKenzie-Childs and Jay Strongwater.

Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Aurora, New York, MacKenzie-Childs is a design driven leader in the luxury home furnishings and personal accessories market. MacKenzie-Childs creates exceptional customer loyalty through its commitment to the company’s unique design aesthetic and lifestyle statement. The brand has a strong multi-channel sales presence, including a robust direct to consumer business, wholesale distribution in the leading luxury department stores and independent home retailers, and three branded retail stores.

Founded in 1995 and headquartered in New York, NY, Jay Strongwater is an internationally recognized luxury brand in home and personal accessories. The company has established a reputation throughout the world for its uniquely designed and handcrafted “jewels for the home,” and ranks among the most important premium luxury brands in its distribution channels. Jay Strongwater is distributed in leading luxury department stores, fine independent retailers and through its direct to consumer business.

About Castanea

Castanea is a private equity firm that works in partnership with founders and management teams of innovative passion brands to grow their businesses through a combination of capital investment and operating expertise. We are focused on select consumer verticals including beauty, food and beverage, multi-unit services, and enthusiast lifestyle. We typically invest between $15 to $150 million of equity in minority or majority transactions. Our team of talented operating executives offers critical expertise in key verticals and functional areas, and provides our partner companies with strategic and tactical support. Castanea has more than $1 billion in assets under management and is currently investing from a $735 million fourth fund. For more information about Castanea Partners read our story.

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