Chefs Catalog, a Colorado Springs-based company that sells upscale cooking equipment through its website, catalog and local retail store, is being purchased by Target.
Chefs will continue to be based in the Springs as part of the deal and operate under its existing name, said Eric Hausman, a spokesman for the Minneapolis-based discount department store chain.
Chefs’ online and retail operations also will remain unchanged and its more than 100 full- and part-time employees will be offered jobs with a subsidiary company being formed by Target, he said.
Consumers, in turn, shouldn’t notice any changes when they buy items from Chefs, Hausman said.
“Nothing will change,” he said. “From a shopper’s perspective, they won’t see a difference on day one, for sure.”
Target announced Thursday it’s buying Chefs and California-based Cooking.com in separate transactions; terms weren’t disclosed. Chefs is being acquired from JH Partners LLC, a San Francisco-based private equity firm.
Cooking.com is an online seller of cookware and kitchen products, according to its website. It also sells recipes, menus and member-submitted cooking content, and operates several industry-related retail websites, including those for the Food Network, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury.
After the deals close within 30 days, Chefs Catalog and Cooking.com will be combined to form a wholly owned Target subsidiary. Tim Littleton, Chefs’ current president and CEO, will become president of the subsidiary.
Littleton wasn’t immediately available for comment.
“We’re delighted to be a part of the Target organization,” he said in a news release. “Chefs has grown and thrived online by offering a well-edited selection of leading kitchen tools, gadgets and accessories.”
Target describes Chefs as a “direct-to-consumers speciality retailer of top rated cookware, bakeware, cutlery, kitchen tools and kitchen utensils” that sells Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Le Creuset and other well-known brands. The 34-year-old company moved from Dallas to Colorado Springs in 2005; it has a retail store at 5070 Centennial Road on the Springs’ northwest side.
Target, which operates more than 1,700 stores, is acquiring Chefs and Cooking.com to expand its presence in the cooking and kitchenware market, and to serve customers who increasingly buy online.
“Our guests (customers) are spending an increasing amount of time in the kitchen,” Hausman said. “They’re looking for solutions to make their lives easier, whether it’s utensils, recipes, cookware products. We know that Chefs Catalog offers a lot of those kind of things that guests and consumers are looking for. So it was an attractive opportunity for us.”
Hausman said he couldn’t comment on Chefs’ sales or how much come from its catalog or website.
Cookware, bakeware and kitchenware sales totaled an estimated $2.9 billion in 2012, said Hugh Rushing, executive vice president of the Alabama-based Cookware Manufacturers Association. The figure doesn’t include kitchen gadgets, which might account for another $500 million in annual sales, he said.
Cookware, Rushing said, is considered a mature industry, producing slow but steady growth. There aren’t many new cookware items hitting the market, but the industry sees consistent annual sales as consumers buy or remodel homes, get married or purchase gifts.
At the same time, when the economy gets bad, many consumers cut back on eating out and cook more at home — leading to additional purchases of cookware, bakeware and the like, he said.
As Target competes with Amazon.com and other online retailers, it probably was attracted by Chefs Catalog’s following on the web, Rushing said.
“I suspect Target sees a web presence as a positive,” he said, “and it’s a lot easier to buy an ongoing operation that has a reputation than it is to build one from scratch.”
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