ASHFORD.COM ACQUIRES WATCHNETWORK

NEW YORK — The dot-coms are continuing to connect in the wake of the Internet’s meltdown: Ashford.com, e-tailer of fine jewelry, fragrance, and accessories, has completed the acquisition of e-tailer Watchnetwork.com, in a stock-based deal.
Under terms of the previously announced deal, shareholders of EST Inc., which does business as The Watch Network, received 2 million shares in Ashford stock upon closing of the arrangement and may receive up to 5.5 million additional shares in Ashford, if certain unspecified measures are met.
Shares of Houston-based Ashford gave up 13 cents to close at 63 cents a share in Nasdaq trading during a particularly volatile session Monday that saw the high-tech-dominated exchange retreat 129.4, or 6.3 percent, to close south of 2,000 for the first time since Dec. 14. Among other style-driven e-tailers that traded on the Nasdaq Monday, Bluefly closed unchanged at $1.38 a share; Fashionmall stayed steady at $1.66; Delia’s added 25 cents to conclude the session at $4.38, and Global Sports, the e-commerce enabler of various sporting goods and activewear sites, including Fogdog Sports and thesportsauthority.com, tacked on 6 cents to close at $5.06.
Scott Hockler, former president and chief executive officer of Watchnetwork.com, has been elected to the Ashford.com board of directors and will serve as president of the company’s watch division. Hockler will also serve as editor-in-chief of Ashford’s TimeZone subsidiary, which produces online content about watches.
During 2000, Ashford focused on expanding its assortment from fine watches into other categories of upscale merchandise, such as fashion accessories, fragrance, eyewear, writing instruments, and home goods. For the nine months ended Dec. 31, Ashford’s net loss widened to $120 million from a year-earlier loss of $31 million, despite an 88 percent surge in sales to $53 million.