September 2, 2014

Castanea Partners Announces Investment in Aurora Brands

Castanea Partners announced today that it has invested in 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.

Castanea Partners is partnering with the Aurora Brands management team, led by Lee Feldman and Howard Cohen. As partners in Twin Lakes Capital, they led the acquisition of MacKenzie-Childs in 2008 and Jay Strongwater in 2011 and have driven significant growth in both brands.

“We really look forward to working with Lee and Howard to support the continuing growth of MacKenzie-Childs and Jay Strongwater,” said Steve Berg, Partner at Castanea. “We feel that our operating and marketing experience will add value in the next stage of the company’s development.”

“We are excited to partner with Castanea, and believe their investment sets the stage for future growth. Castanea’s extensive operating experience building premium consumer brands was the distinguishing factor when it came to selecting a partner,” said Lee Feldman, CEO of Aurora Brands.

As part of the transaction, Ron Frasch Operating Partner at Castanea, will be joining Aurora Brands’ board. Ron is an experienced luxury retail executive who most recently served as the President and Chief Merchandising Officer at Saks Fifth Avenue. “Aurora Brands has established itself as a leader in the luxury home segment and is well positioned to capitalize on future opportunities,” said Frasch, “I am excited to work with this impressive team to further develop the MacKenzie-Childs and Jay Strongwater brands.”

Financo served as the exclusive financial advisor to Aurora Brands. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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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