Archive for November, 2013

Our Chat With Ex-ShopHQ Vendor Croton Watch Co.

November 26, 2013

It certainly is a small world.

We cover commercial real estate in North Jersey for our day job, and today we saw a listing about a property sale in Moonachie, N.J. When we looked up the property, it turned out to have been sold by the Croton Watch Co.

Looking into more detail, we saw the president of Croton was listed as David Mermelstein, a gentleman we thought we had seen many times as a vendor on then-ShopNBC, now ShopHQ, several years ago.

We called up and left a message for Mermelstein, asking about the $1 million sale of his property. We also asked if he was the same guy we had watched on ShopHQ.

He called back immediately, and said yes, he was the vendor. Mermelstein reminded us that he was now on HSN.

The Croton building, its headquarters and warehouse, took on five feet of water during Superstorm Sandy last year, Mermelstein told us. So he decided to sell his Moonachie building and relocate.

We chatted with him a bit about the dissident shareholder group that’s calling for ShopHQ President Keith Stewart to step down. Mermelstein was aware of what was going on.

You never know those home shopping folk are going to turn up, even popping up in the Jersey Meadowlands.

ShopHQ Posts 7 Percent Sales Increase, To $147 Million, In Third Quarter

November 21, 2013

Yowser! ShopHQ saw its sales jump 7 percent in the fiscal third quarter, although it still is bleeding red ink — albeit less than last year.

The No. 3 home shopping network Wednesday reported net sales of $147 million versus the year-ago quarter, “driven primarily by strong sales results in the fashion & accessories and home & consumer electronics categories,” according to a press release.

ShopHQ, formerly ShopNBC, outpaced its bigger rivals in the third quarter. QVC had a 5 percent increase in sales, to $1.3 billion, while HSN was flat at $538.6 million.

Adjusted EBITDA improved to $4 million versus $1 million in the same quarter last year, reflecting higher sales and improved gross profit margin.

But the company reported a net loss of $1 million, compared with a net loss of $4 million a year ago.

Year to date, ShopHQ’s reported a net sales increase of 9 percent to $447 million, adjusted EBITDA of $13 million compared to an approximate breakeven adjusted EBITDA position last year, and a net loss of $1 million compared to a net loss of $16 million for the same period last year.

Total customers purchasing over the last 12 months rose 13 percent to 1.25 million.

“The growth in the customer base reflects continued diversification of the sompany’s merchandise at lower price points as well as a product mix shift from the jewelry & Watches category to the fashion & accessories and home & consumer electronics categories,” the press release said. “Improvements in customer satisfaction and channel positioning also contributed to customer growth. In addition, the size of the total customer base who purchased during the three months of Q3’13 increased 20 percent versus last year’s same period.”

Net shipped units rose 31 percent to 1.7 million in the third quarter over the same quarter last year, reflecting a broader merchandise mix and a 20 percent decline in the average price point.

Onternet sales penetration increased to 47 percent. Mobile net sales grew 45 percent, increasing to 22 percent of Internet sales compared to 18 percent a year ago.

“We are pleased with our operating performance in the third quarter, which marked our sixth consecutive quarter of sales growth and positive Adjusted EBITDA,” ShopHQ CEO Keith Stewart said in a statement. “We continued to improve our product offerings and to diversify our product mix. We achieved double-digit customer growth. Our rebranding to ShopHQ, your shopping headquarters, is largely complete, and we believe we are well positioned for the holiday season.”

Stewart, by the way, is one of the executives that a group of dissident shareholders wants canned.

Condolences To QVC Host Mary Beth Roe On Her Dad’s Death

November 20, 2013

All our condolences and prayers to veteran QVC host Mary Beth Roe, whose father passed away last week.

Roe posted several entries and photos of her dad on Facebook.

“My wise, loving Godly father passed away today, so I won’t be on QVC for awhile,” Roe wrote last Thursday. “As sad as I am, he’s in the presence of God and reunited with my Mom, and God blessed him with 94 wonderful years! May we all appreciate each breath we take and all our blessings.”

Mary Beth Roe and her dad

Mary Beth Roe and her dad

Roe also posted a memorial to her father that she wrote, as well as a photo of the gathering at his funeral.

“The funeral for my Dad today was filled with music, laughter, tears and beautifully spoken tributes to my father,” she wrote. “A friend said that the last gift someone leaves us when they pass away is the gift of bringing the whole family and friends together in one place. What a blessing it has been!”


ShopHQ Jewelry Designer Sonia Bitton Back With Real Bijoux

November 20, 2013

Sonia Bitton

Sonia Bitton

Years ago we used to buy gorgeous gold and diamond jewelry from designer Sonia Bitton on ShopHQ, then ShopNBC. We got a pretty cross from her that we still treasure.

Her Galerie de Bijoux line was high quality, high end.

Then the management at ShopHQ decided to have French-accented Bitton just do a cheap jewelry line with cubic zirconia. We didn’t buy it.

But we got some good news today when Bitton said on Facebook that she’s going to be be reviving her diamond and real gemstone line on the No. 3 home shopping network.

“Working also on my ‘Galerie de Bijoux’ line,” she posted. “YES gold/diamond/color on ShopHQ WEB ONLY….So excited and so is my entire team!”

We don’t care if it’s only online. We can’t wait to see it.

Dissident ShopHQ Stockholders Call Meeting Delay ‘Shocking’

November 19, 2013

Why doesn’t this surprise us: ShopHQ’s dissident shareholder group has rejected the home shopping network’s “shocking” attempt to delay a special shareholder meeting until March,

In a letter Monday, The Clinton Group Inc., which owns more than 10 percent of the outstanding stock of ValueVision Media Inc., namely ShopHQ, told the company’s chairman it won’t go for a postponement of the special meeting it called for.

The dissident group is calling for the ouster of ShopHQ CEO Keith Stewart and most of the company’s board.

In its letter, The Clinton Group noted that ShopHQ contacted it in a bid to get a voluntary delay of the special meeting two weeks ago.

When Clinton Group rejected the home shopping channel’s request for such a delay, the network announced that it had discovered trivial “deficiencies” – such as a missing digit on a zip code – in Clinton Group’s 150+ page submission, the dissident shareholders said.

In a press release last Friday, ShopHQ claimed these deficiencies allow it to ignore binding Minnesota law and set a special meeting whenever the board desires.

“This is a shocking disregard for shareholder rights,” said Gregory P. Taxin, President of the Clinton Group.

“There is no dispute that we own and can vote more than 10 percent of ValueVision’s shares, which is what is required under Minnesota law to call a Special Meeting of Shareholders,” he said. “The only deficiency in our voluminous submissions appears to be a missing digit on a ZIP code. Instead of focusing on creating value for all shareholders, it is clear the Board would prefer to delay this meeting as long as possible. There is simply no justification under Minnesota law for ignoring our demand or the schedule dictated by the binding law.”

The Clinton Group also claimed that ShopHQ has now essentially admitted that its board is inadequate and that it needs to find additional directors in an “accelerated” process.

The shareholder group called for the board to install the independent nominees that Clinton Group has already recruited (including the former CEO of HSN; the former CFO and President of HSN; the former Senior Vice President of Marketing for QVC; Sony Music’s former CEO, Tommy Mottola; Charming Shoppes’ former CEO; a media investment banker; and Fremantle N.A.’s CEO) and to “call off the lawyers, investment bankers, publicists, proxy solicitors, investor relations professionals and executive recruiters.”

ShopHQ Agrees To March 14 Special Shareholder Meeting

November 16, 2013

In the latest chapter of the saga of ShopHQ versus its dissident shareholders, the home shopping network has agreed to schedule a special meeting in March.

ShopHQ, whose corporate name is ValueVision Media, Friday sent a letter to The Clinton Group, the dissatisfied stockholders who want the network’s CEO Keith Stewart and most of its board replaced. The shareholders have called for a special meeting to weave their magic.

In its letter, ShopHQ told the dissidents that their group “and does not hold valid voting power with respect to, a sufficient percentage of ValueVision’s outstanding shares to satisfy the required thresholds for demanding a special meeting.”

But in a press release, ShopHQ said, “Notwithstanding the insufficiency of Clinton’s demand, ValueVision continues to be receptive to listening to and considering the views of its shareholders and is open to adding qualified independent directors to its Board with appropriate expertise in areas that would complement the strengths of its current Board members and its focus on executing on the Company’s strategy to deliver value for all shareholders.”

The network added that its board “believes that prolonging a public dispute over the date of a special meeting is not in the best interests of ValueVision or its shareholders, particularly given the Company’s need to focus on running its business during the vital holiday season. Accordingly, ValueVision has scheduled a special meeting of shareholders to be held on March 14, 2014, for the purpose of voting on Clinton’s proposals.”

ShopHQ also said that it is forming a committee of independent directors to oversee an accelerated board candidate evaluation process.

In connection with that process, the board will be retaining Heidrick & Struggles, a nationally recognized executive search firm, to assist the committee in identifying potential new candidates with skills and experience that would enhance the overall composition of the Board.

Heidrick & Struggles, together with the committee, also will carefully consider the qualifications of the individuals nominated by Clinton, along with any other individuals that may be nominated by ShopHQ.

HSN, Univision Partner On Hispanic Boutique

November 15, 2013

HSN and Hispanic media giant Univision Communications Inc. Thursday unveiled their plans for “Boutique Univision, una tienda de HSN,” where the home shopping channel’s products will be featured on the Spanish-language network.

Their multiyear partnership will include HSN products across all categories, launching with curated collections in the beauty, home, fashion, culinary, electronics and holiday categories, the home shopping network said in a press release.

The partnership will be promoted through a marketing campaign across HSN and Univision’s TV, digital and social media channels, including the Univision Network, local television and radio stations and digital offerings.

The initiative will seek to promote the partnership via talent endorsements, product integration, and other efforts to aid brand awareness as well as incentivize trial offers on feature products, the release said.

“HSN is redefining the experience of shopping through engaging content and storytelling and we look forward to extending this to Univision’s platforms,” our buddy Bill Brand, HSN Inc’s chief marketing and business development officer said in a canned statement. “Univision’s position as the nation’s most trusted Spanish-language media and entertainment company creates a tremendous opportunity for HSN to broaden our customer base and develop new emotional connections.”

The next person quoted was Tonia O’Connor, president of content distribution and corporate business Development, who we presume works for Univision..

“Univision has grown its portfolio of traditional media assets to include digital and innovative platforms such as this one,” she said. “This venture with HSN speaks to this vision and represents a true partnership that will drive growth to our respective businesses while reaching Hispanic consumers in new and meaningful ways.”

Univision Network’s morning show “Despierta America” will serve as a platform for the shopping service as well as for its products via integrations on both a national and local level.

“By having talent present the product, viewers will be able to then purchase the items worn or used on the show — taking product integration to a new level,” HSN said.

Boutique Univision, una tienda de HSN, which will first launch in beta, will feature products from brands such as Coca Cola, Lancome, Benefit, OPI, G by Giuliana, Iman, Vince Camuto, HP, Samsung, Apple, Curtis Stone and Wolfgang Puck.

This product assortment along with the site functionality will increase as time goes on to match the preferences, demand and shopping habits of the Univision audience.

Boutique Univision will also feature the “Oferta Del Dia,” also known as HSN’s “Today’s Special,” a unique item available at a reduced price for a short time every day. Starting in December, “Despierta America” will begin showcasing HSN product on a weekly basis.

Producer Thom Beers: From ‘Deadliest Catch’ To ShopHQ

November 14, 2013

We’ve written several blogs about dissident shareholders, The Clinton Group, who have called for the ouster of ShopHQ chief Keith Stewart.

These stockholders want to replace many of ShopHQ’s board members, and when we read their nominees we were surprised to see the name Thomas David Beers. We know him from our days covering the cable TV industry as Thom Beers, the TV producer who created huge hit shows such as “Deadliest Catch” and “Ice Road Truckers.”

Producer Thom Beers

Producer Thom Beers

We wrote a very well-received profile of Beers for Multichannel News, interviewing him by phone. Here is that story.

And here is the bio that The Clinton Group provided on Beers, and why it thinks he is qualified to sit on ShopHQ’s board.

Name: Thomas David Beers
Age: 61
Business Address: 400 W. Alemeda, Burbank, CA 91505
Principal Occupation: See below

Since 2012, Mr. Beers has been the Chief Executive Officer of FremantleMedia N.A., Inc., the U.S. production division of global media giant FremantleMedia Ltd., where he is in charge of Fremantle’s management and business performance, as well as the development, production and operations of more than 600 hours of programming per year including “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent,” “The X Factor,” “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Family Feud,” and “The Price is Right.”

Prior to joining FremantleMedia, Mr. Beers was the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Original Productions, LLC, a non-fiction television production company that was acquired by FremantleMedia in 2009, where he was the creator and driving force behind the Primetime Emmy® winning “Deadliest Catch”, and Emmy nominee “Ice Road Truckers”, and top-rated shows “Storage Wars”, “Monster Garage” and “Black Gold”;

Mr. Beers served as Chief Executive Officer of Original Productions, LLC, from 2007 to 2012. Mr. Beers has created a unique brand of television programming featuring unheralded heroes in high risk, high reward situations. His catalogue of more than 40 series is firmly entrenched across cable powerhouses Discovery, HISTORY, A&E, Spike TV, The National Geographic Channel, and truTV.

One of Beer's big hits

One of Beer’s big hits

Prior to Original Productions, Mr. Beers had served for 11 years as a production executive and series and specials producer for Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a media conglomerate; and later held a similar position at Paramount Syndicated Television.

As Vice President and Supervising Producer for Turner Original Productions, Mr. Beers’s responsibilities encompassed supervising original programming for TBS Superstation, including the award-winning series “National Geographic Explorer”, “Network Earth” and “The Jacques Cousteau” Specials. Mr. Beers created and executive produced the TBS and syndicated series “Wild! Life Adventures.”

He also served as the producer for the highest-rated specials in the history of Turner Original Productions – “Harley Davidson The American Motorcycle”, the Emmy® winning “Cats And Dogs”, and “The Incredible Life and Times of Robert L. Ripley, Believe It or Not.”

Mr. Beers’s qualifications as a director include his expertise as an executive in the television industry and his experience in development, production and operations of innovative programming.

The Man Who Needed QVC To Sleep

November 14, 2013

Our ex-boss Kent us sent this rather poignant story about a gentleman, very ill, who found his solace watching QVC.

It was written by a woman who is a caretaker for a man who suffers from a variety of disabilities, including terrible seizures. This man, Henry, can’t sleep at night unless QVC is on.

The caretaker complains that she can’t stand listening to the “idiotic sales banter” on the home shopping network, but she eventually gets sucked in, too.

The story is a good read.

Mary J. Blige To Perform Live From Vegas For HSN Sunday

November 14, 2013

Once again, here’s something we already gave you the scoop on — singer Mary J. Blige returning to HSN for a live concert — but here is the press release the home shopping network put out on it Wednesday.

Nine Time Grammy Award(R) Winner, Mary J. Blige Brings Holiday Cheer To HSN With Special HSN Live Concert November 17th

— Mary J. Blige will Perform Seasonal Favorites from her First-Ever Christmas Album A Mary Christmas as Part of the Entertainment Retailer’s Holiday Programming —
— Mary J. Blige Fans Can Now Order an Exclusive CD Bundle with 6 Bonus Digital Downloads of Some of Mary’s Greatest Hits on —

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Nov. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — On Sunday, November 17th, leading entertainment retailer HSN will ring in the holiday season with the HSN Live Mary J. Blige Christmas Special presented by The Venetian and The Palazzo Las Vegas. Nine-time GRAMMY Award winner Blige will perform tracks from her first ever holiday album A Mary Christmas, during a special one-hour performance across all of HSN’s platforms including TV, online and mobile. HSN veteran and the album’s producer David Foster will perform with Mary onstage in support of her new album.


Mary J. Blige is the latest artist to join the HSN Live concert series, which has featured other successful launches from some of the biggest names in music including Rod Stewart, Tony Bennett and Josh Groban.

“Working with the legendary David Foster to bring this project to life has been an amazing experience and I’m proud of what we have achieved together,” said Blige. “I’m excited to have David join me for my return to the HSN Live stage and look forward to singing these wonderful songs for my many HSN fans.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Mary J. Blige back to the HSN Live stage,” said Andy Sheldon, Chief Creative Officer for HSNi and General Manager of HSN Productions. “Through her fragrance and former album releases on HSN, we’ve seen how engaged and loyal Mary’s fans are and look forward to another successful concert in conjunction with her first holiday album.”

Blige has sold more than 50 million albums. Among her many accolades, Blige can claim eight multi-platinum albums, nine GRAMMY Awards (she has been nominated for a staggering 29) and four American Music Awards.

HSN’s exclusive CD bundle ($13.95) feature A Mary Christmas and 6 bonus digital downloads of some of her greatest hits. The individual A Mary Christmas CD is also available for $11.95. Both are currently available across all of HSN’s platforms including TV, online and via mobile.

Track List:

Little Drummer Boy
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
My Favorite Things
This Christmas
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer
When You Wish Upon a Star (featuring Barbra Streisand & Chris Botti)
Mary, Did You Know
Do You Hear What I Hear? (featuring Jessie J.)
Petit Papa Noel
The First Noel (featuring The Clark Sisters)
Noche De Paz (Silent Night) (featuring Marc Anthony]

Bonus Digital Download Track List:

Be Without You
Family Affair
Mr. Wrong
Real Love
No More Drama