May 25, 2007, 12:00 AM

Sun Capital takes bigger slice of Sharper Image

Buyout firm Sun Capital Securities Fund Equities, a part of Sun Capital Partners Inc., has doubled its ownership of Sharper Image Corp. with the purchase of 1.49 million shares of stock.

Sun Capital Securities Fund Equities, a part of Sun Capital Partners Inc., has doubled its ownership stake in Sharper Image Corp. with the purchase of 1.49 million shares of stock from the company’s departed founder, Richard Thalheimer.

A Securities and Exchange Commission filing disclosed Sun Capital paid $13.78 million for the shares, which were held in a trust set up by Thalheimer.

Sun Capital thus became Sharper Image’s largest shareholder. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based firm now owns a 19.8% stake in Sharper Image, up from 9.8%. Sharper Image is No. 122 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Sharper Image shares rose $1.42 to $10.90 on Thursday and settled to $10.69 at 12:00 p.m. CDT Friday.

Sales at Sharper Image, a retail chain known for electronics and other gadgets, continue to slide. For the first quarter ended April 30, 2007, Sharper Image Corp. reported total sales were down 36% to $21.3 million from $33.1 million a year ago. Internet sales were $3.2 million compared to last April’s $5.3 million, a decrease of 40%.

For the first quarter, total sales dropped 37% to $65.5 million from $104 million in the year-ago quarter. Internet sales for the first quarter were down 42% to $10 million from $17.2 million, a year ago. Total store sales declined 22% to $44.1 million from $56.8 million a year ago, while comparable store sales for the quarter decreased 22%. Total catalog/direct marketing sales including wholesale dropped 62% to $11.3 million from $30.1 million.

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