Nau Calls it Quits

Nau said it will shut down operations because of insufficient funding.

LOS ANGELES — Nau, the outdoor clothier that aggressively integrated e-commerce with traditional brick-and-mortar stores, said it will shut down operations because of insufficient funding. 

The Portland, Ore.-based company said it was unsuccessful in securing money in its fourth round of funding. Since its founding three years ago by Nike and Patagonia veterans, Nau has raised $35 million from private and institutional investors, including hedge funds and private equity firms. 

The announcement came less than two weeks after the company introduced in California its concept known as a Webfront, which combines conventional retail space with the convenience of an online shopping site. A Webfront lets shoppers make an immediate purchase or choose to have a purchase shipped directly to their home from Nau’s warehouse in Portland, with a 10 percent discount and free shipping. 

After starting online sales in February 2007, Nau opened a total of four Webfronts in the next two months in Boulder, Colo.; Bellevue, Wash.; Chicago, and Portland. Nau launched its first California Webfront in Los Angeles’ Beverly Center on April 19. It had planned to more than double the number of Webfronts across the U.S. to nine this year. 

“Those who invest in lifestyle brands are definitely pulling back,” said Debra Stevenson, owner of a fashion and retail consultancy firm called Skyline Studios in Los Angeles. 

Nau said it exceeded its first-year sales goal by 5 percent. That figure ranged between $5 million and $10 million. 

But Nau’s innovative concepts couldn’t defy the challenging retail market.
Ian Yolles, Nau’s vice-president of marketing, said the firm planned to close all five stores by the end of Saturday and will continue to sell product at a 50 percent discount on its Web site for an indefinite period.