Bluestem Brands Inc. — which owns the Fingerhut catalogue, e-commerce and credit business — is looking to raise $150 million in an initial public offering.

This story first appeared in the April 22, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The company did not reveal a timing on the IPO.

This wouldn’t be Fingerhut’s first time under the glare of the public markets, however. Federated Department Stores, which has since been renamed Macy’s Inc., bought Fingerhut in 1999, but the two businesses never gelled. Federated sold the business’ inventory and intellectual property to FAC Acquisition, which in turn sold it to the newly formed Bluestem brands in 2002.

Bluestem is led by chairman and chief executive officer Brian Smith, who introduced a new marketing strategy extending preapproved credit offers to new prospects and launched the e-commerce site targeting younger customers. The company also introduced Fingerhut FreshStart, an installment credit service for people who don’t qualify for credit cards, and made overtures to Spanish-speaking consumers.

Online orders made up 44 percent of the company’s total orders last year. Bluestem targets low- to middle-income consumers with credit scores between 500 and 700, especially people with household incomes below $75,000.

The company has more than 30,000 stockkeeping units and sells hundreds of brands, including Columbia, Maidenform, Lee, Apple Bottoms and Skechers.

Bluestem’s fashion sales — encompassing apparel, footwear, cosmetics, fragrances and jewelry — shot up 29.5 percent last year to $74.2 million, outpacing sales in the firm’s home and entertainment divisions.

Total 2010 sales tallied $521.3 million and boiled down to losses available to its shareholders of $25.1 million. Those losses translate into pro-forma profits of $19.8 million considering the impact of the proposed offering and other related items.

Bluestem, which detailed its plans for an IPO in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday, said it would use the proceeds of the offering to pay down debt. The company, based in Eden Prairie, Minn., had total debt of $330 million.

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