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PE firm buys stake in apparel retailer Soft Surroundings
Aug '12
Soft Surroundings, a leading direct marketer and specialty retailer of branded apparel, accessories, beauty products and home furnishings, announced that it has sold a majority interest in its company to form a strategic partnership with Brentwood Associates, a leading consumer-focused private equity firm. 

Soft Surroundings will continue to be actively managed by CEO Tom Wilcher and President Robin Sheldon.  In partnership with Brentwood, the team will remain focused on building the unique and compelling lifestyle brand through expanding both the direct (catalog and e-commerce) and retail channels.

Tom Wilcher, CEO of Soft Surroundings, expressed his enthusiasm for the new partnership and growth prospects for the Company, commenting, "We are proud of what we have achieved to date and are excited to bring on a value-added partner in Brentwood that will help us continue to grow our business."

Robin Sheldon, president and co-founder added, "Brentwood has a clear understanding of the importance of brand in today's retail world and will be a strong influence in maintaining our unique position." Grant Williams, co-founder and majority shareholder of Soft Surroundings, added, "Brentwood's expertise and successful record in the direct-to-consumer and retail sectors will prove to be a huge asset in expanding our brand."

Founded in 1999 by the current executive team of Robin Sheldon, Tom Wilcher, and Grant Williams, St. Louis-based Soft Surroundings is a unique, multichannel lifestyle brand, offering proprietary apparel, beauty and home solutions to today's active woman who has tremendous demands on her time.  Tom and Grant were also a part of the group that sold Home Decorators Collection, Inc., a home furnishings catalog and internet retail company, to The Home Depot in 2006.

"Brentwood invests in authentic, differentiated brands led by exceptional management teams, whose focus on accelerating growth can leverage our broad industry and business expertise," said Eric Reiter, partner with Brentwood Associates. "Soft Surroundings has carved out a unique niche within the women's apparel market, targeting an underserved consumer and bringing her special products and a unique customer experience."

In addition to growing its highly successful catalog and e-commerce business, Soft Surroundings is expanding its retail store network, with recent store openings in Kansas City, MO and Denver, CO.  The Company is also planning new store openings in leading malls and lifestyle centers in Boston, MA, San Antonio, TX and Houston, TX by the end of 2012.

"Soft Surroundings is a stellar example of spot-on product mix with truly pleasing customer service, all delivered by a strong and enthusiastic management team – a winning formula for a successful growth strategy," said Roger Goddu, partner with Brentwood Associates.

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