February 15, 2001, 12:00 AM

Ashford.com to acquire watchnetwork.com

Luxury pure-play Ashford.com plans to acquire Watchnetwork.com which Ashford hopes will boost retail and b2b sales

Ashford.com will acquire the online watch retailer Watchnetwork.com. The acquisition is expected to expand Ashford.com`s direct relationships with leading watch brands, improve the economics of its largest retail category, and grow its emerging corporate business.

"Watchnetwork brings great relationships with leading brands as well as a talented team of watch industry experts and an industry-leading advisory board," said Kenny Kurtzman, CEO of Ashford.com. "This acquisition will be a key element in our drive to build our relationships with the Swiss watch community and will support our focus on both excellent retail execution and growth in the corporate business."

The acquisition should create marketing efficiencies for the combined entity. Ashford.com will begin communicating with Watchnetwork`s customers, many of whom purchase multiple high-end timepieces each year. In addition, Ashford.com will expand its presence in a number of high-margin growth areas in the watch business, including corporate watch sales, high-end collector watch sales, and watch strap and watch service businesses.

In connection with the acquisition, the shareholders of E.S.T. Inc. will receive approximately 2 million shares of Ashford stock at closing and may receive up to an additional 5.5 million shares of Ashford stock if certain contingencies are satisfied. The acquisition is expected to close later this month.

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