BEAUTYSCENE’S WOES CONTINUE

Byline: Kerry Diamond / Vicki M. Young

NEW YORK — Have operations ceased at Beautyscene.com?
On Thursday, the e-tail site was not processing any product orders. Anyone who tried to go through the site’s checkout process was jumped to a page that read “Inventory in progress! We’re sorry that we can’t complete your order at this time. Thanks for your patience. Please check back later.”
The Web site used to feature a customer service number, but that has been removed from the site. Calls to the Beautyscene offices in New York and San Francisco went unreturned. A person who answered the phone at the Fair Oaks, Calif., office said the site wasn’t taking orders because “our fulfillment center is being upgraded and moved to a bigger location.” The site, he noted, will resume taking orders on April 3.
But the reality is that Beautyscene.com is looking for a buyer. Keen Strategic Advisors said last week it was retained by the e-tailer to find a buyer for the business. The deadline to submit bids is April 13.
“All aspects of the business are up for sale,” said Keen’s Matthew Bordwin. “The company is looking for a quick deal.”
Earlier this year, Beautyscene.com management confirmed that the company was in the midst of a cash crunch and was seeking a partner with which to merge.
According to a fax sent to Internet companies by Keen and obtained by WWD from another e-tailer, Beautyscene has had average weekly sales in 2000 of $18,500 and average monthly sales of $74,000. Sales in December 1999 were $104,200. It was noted on the fax that the information was from the seller and had not been independently verified.
According to Keen Strategic Advisors, Beautyscene had 436,734 unique visitors from Nov. 24, 1999, to Jan. 25, 2000. Bordwin said 94 percent of members and visitors were female, 54 percent of members were under age 28 and 58 percent of all buyers were also under age 28.
Bordwin doesn’t believe the April 13 deadline for bids will preclude anyone from doing a complete due diligence on the company.
“When we did the J. Peterman bankruptcy, we had eight days to sell the business,” he noted. “We had a contract from someone willing to pay $4.5 million, and 24 hours before the auction, Paul Harris called and said they were interested in getting more information. Paul Harris paid $10 million for the business. Anyone who is seriously interested can do the work in a short period of time.”
Bordwin declined to provide the names or other information on the parties who have expressed an interest in Beautyscene. He noted that potential buyers could be anyone from a beauty product manufacturer to an entrepreneur or venture capitalist.
One Beautyscene.com executive, editor in chief Jean Godfrey-June, reached at home Thursday afternoon, said the site hadn’t ceased operations, but that things were on hold while merger talks are talking place. She gave the same answer when asked why her weekly column hadn’t been updated in several weeks.
However, it doesn’t seem that anyone is even monitoring the Web site as a buyer is being sought. Beautyzine, Beautyscene’s online magazine, has a feature called “Get on the Soapbox,” in which readers can post comments underneath each article. The current issue of GodreyGuide.com, the column penned by Godfrey-June, featured Soapbox comments about the fact that her column hasn’t been updated. One reader even posted a highly negative comment about the site’s fiscal problems.

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