June 4, 2008, 12:00 AM

Avenue.com helps pave the way for bigger web sales at Redcats USA

Having integrated its acquisition of United Retail Group, Redcats USA will now leverage that group and launch new organic initiatives to continue to grow e-commerce sales, CEO Eric Faintreny tells Internet Retailer.

Having integrated its acquisition of United Retail Group Inc., Redcats USA will now leverage that group and launch new organic initiatives to continue to grow e-commerce sales, CEO Eric Faintreny tells Internet Retailer.

Redcats, No. 29 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, acquired United Retail Group, which includes Avenue.com, for $198 million in cash in September 2007. At the time of the acquisition, the web accounted for only about 6% -- $27.7 million – of United Retail’s total annual sales of about $462.1 million. But, more important, the deal gave Redcats a bigger share of the web market in one of its core segments of apparel sales to plus-size women and rounded out the merchandise segments on OneStopPlus.com, an Internet mall Redcats launched in November 2006.

“The acquisition of United Retail made us more of a multi-channel retailer and gave us better web penetration into one of our core markets,” says Faintreny. “By adding Avenue.com to the 10 other brands we have on OneStopPlus.com, we now offer our plus-size customers an Internet mall with multiple distinctive brands all tied to one check-out process. Avenue.com is making a big difference.”

The acquisition of United Retail and an earlier acquisition of The Sportsman`s Guide Inc. in 2006 helped Redcats achieve web sales of $801 million in 2007, up 11% from $720 million in 2006. The acquisitions also helped Redcats build a more diversified and updated e-commerce presence. “I looked at where we were five or six years ago and we were trailing the market in web site functionality,” Faintreny says. “One big byproduct of the acquisitions we’ve made is that we are now more current with the web site features and functions our customers expect in today’s shopping environment.”

In the last two years Redcats has added customer reviews, product recommendations and videos as updated features and functions to some of its web sites. But having made two big acquisitions, Redcats is also looking at more niche opportunities, especially in sporting goods and outdoor recreation, to grow web sales. On May 30 The Sportsman’s Guide launched BoatingSavings.com, a one-stop web store for fishing and boating enthusiasts. “We’ve made large acquisitions in order to grow our web market share, but we also think a big part of our future growth will come organically from developing very niche-oriented sites as well,” Faintreny says.

Faintreny is speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 9-12 in Chicago, in a feature session titled The Transformation of a Catalog.

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