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Liberty Interactive sends Backcountry.com packing

July 6, 2015 04:21 PM
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After nearly eight years as a part of media and e-commerce company Liberty Interactive Corp., Backcountry.com has a new owner.

Private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners has acquired Backcountry.com, an online retailer of outdoor sports and action gear. Terms of the deal, announced Thursday, weren’t disclosed. Backcountry.com also operates five other niche web stores—CompetiveCycle.com, MotoSport.com. Bergfreunde.de, SteepandCheap.com and WhiskeyMilitia.com.  

TSG owns a portfolio of specialty health, wellness and beauty brands and has been in business since 1987. TSG claims to have approximately $3 billion in assets and also owns web merchant Revolve.

“Backcountry’s e-commerce platform and deep merchandising and marketing expertise fit right into TSG’s wheelhouse,” managing director Jennifer Baxter Moser says. “As the outdoor market continues to expand, TSG is looking forward to working with the Backcountry team to harness the company’s potential to grow and expand its reach to more outdoor enthusiasts worldwide.”

Backcountry.com was an early entrant to e-commerce, opening its web store in 1996. In 2007, Backcountry.com was acquired by Liberty Interactive, which also owns home shopping TV and web retailer QVC Inc., No. 15 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide.

At the time Liberty Interactive was diversifying its e-commerce operation by acquiring niche web retailers and technology companies that Liberty considered to have strong growth potential. In addition to Backcountry.com, Liberty also acquired Provide Commerce, which operates Proflowers.com, BodyBuilding.com, Evite.com and CommerceHub.com, an e-commerce technology provider.

Eventually Liberty grouped Backcountry.com and its other niche e-commerce companies in a business unit called digital commerce, which generated combined sales of $1.03 billion in 2014, up 9.2% from $943.0 million in 2014. Liberty did not break out web sales for 2014 Backcountry.com.

Liberty says it sold Backcountry.com to TSG in order to concentrate more on its bigger brands, such as QVC. In 2010 Liberty split its media and retailing e-commerce businesses and formed Liberty Interactive.

In July 2014 Liberty sold Provide Commerce to FTD Inc. in a deal valued at $430 million. Going forward, Backcountry.com, which carries an online inventory that includes 50,000 products from 900 brands, will work with TSG to further diversify selection and up raise awareness of its brand, says Backcountry.com CEO Jill Layfield. “We will work with them to continue to improve our offerings and merchandising, optimize our technology platform, and enhance our distribution efforts, Layfield says. “By combining TSG’s expertise with Backcountry’s position in the outdoor market, the company will be well-positioned to build on our current platform and drive significant growth.”

 

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