Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ex-HSN Host Connie Craig-Carroll Teams Up With Larry King

July 12, 2020

It looks like former HSN host Connie Craig-Carroll has landed a new gig.

Our good friend Ann said she has seen Connie doing infomercials with veteran CNN talk show host Larry King. They are hawking Omega XL, a natural supplement that’s marketed as a pain reliever.

We have not seen these yet, so can’t offer too much more info.

The Passing of a Beloved Mom, and JTV’s Goofy ‘Free Shipping’ Truck

July 12, 2020

It’s weird what little things can kind of give you a laugh, or comfort you a bit, in times of grief. And can you believe in our case, it related to JTV?

Just over two weeks ago, we lost our mom. She was 90, had dementia and really took a bad turn for the worse the final couple of days before she passed away. Still, it is always a body blow when someone you loves dies, even when it is expected. In her case, we knew she was in bad shape, but still thought she had a week or so left.

Her death had nothing to do with COVID-19, by the way. Her frail body just finally gave out.

The only silver lining was that in New Jersey, coronavirus restrictions had been lifted enough where we could hold a wake with up to 100 people, do a Mass, have a ceremony at the cemetery as well as an outdoor repast with social distancing.

We know loved ones who were not able to do any of these rituals for their deceased family members because of the early virus restrictions.

We spent the last three years living with our mom, and working from home since March, we had spent a whole lot of time with her all in all. The house has a void now.

A few days after the burial we went out to dinner, outdoors, with our friend Ann, who has always been a comfort in bad times. We had a nice meal, left just as a downpour started, spied a rainbow and then stopped at another town for ice cream.

As we sat in the car eating our treats, for some reason JTV came up, and its infamous “Free Shipping” interstitial, with the little red truck driving across the screen, a little jingle and then a “beep-beep.” Anyone who has watched the network has seen it, played whenever JTV offer doesn’t charge to deliver an item.

Some JTV hosts imitate the beep-beep, some poke fun at the spot. But when we and Ann started talking about it, we all just cracked up. We remarked that it was kind of a sad sign that Ann and us were so familiar with that goofy truck.

It may sound silly, and not make any sense, but that was the first good laugh we had since our mom passed. Guess it was a release of some sort.

Now we will think of that moment when that “free shipping” spot airs on JTV, and feel a bit better, as nonsensical as that may seem.

Miss you Mama.

ShopHQ Sales Crater In First Quarter, Down 27%

June 17, 2020

ShopHQ’s net sales took a huge tumble in the fiscal first quarter.

Revenue in the quarter ended May 2 was $95.8 million, a 27% nosedive from $131.5 million in the same year-ago period, according to a 10-Q the home shopping network filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

ShopHQ saw a net loss of $6.8 million, which was an improvement over the $21 million loss it posted a year ago.

Jewelry and watch sales in the quarter dropped 23%, to $39.4 million from $51.4 million.

“The $12 million decrease in jewelry & watches was primarily due to reduced productivity (sales per on-air minute) from a declining customer file during the first quarter of fiscal 2020, primarily in jewelry,” according the the filing.

“The decrease was partially offset by increased airtime of 7% in the first quarter of fiscal 2020,” the filing said. “Jewelry & watches continues to be our most productive category. The shifts in airtime resulted from our continued merchandise strategy to increase higher contribution margin categories, such as jewelry & watches and beauty & wellness, and decrease our home and fashion & accessories categories, starting in the first quarter of fiscal 2019.”

This is also from the filing:

The Company experienced a decline in net sales and a decline in its active customer file during the first quarter of fiscal 2020, and fiscal years 2019, 2018 and 2017 and a corresponding decrease in the Company’s profitability.

The Company has taken or is taking the following steps to enhance its operations and liquidity position: entered into a private placement securities purchase agreement in which the Company received gross proceeds of $6.0 million during the first quarter of fiscal 2019; entered into a common stock and warrant purchase agreement with gross proceeds of $4.0 million to close in the first half of fiscal 2020; implemented a reduction in overhead costs totaling $22 million in expected annualized savings for the reductions made during fiscal 2019 and $16 million in expected annualized savings for the reductions made during the first quarter of fiscal 2020, primarily driven by a reduction in the Company’s work force; negotiated improved payment terms with the Company’s inventory vendors; planned a reduction in capital expenditures compared to prior years; renegotiating with the Company’s major cable and satellite distributors to reduce service costs and improve payment terms; and managing the Company’s inventory receipts in fiscal2020 to reduce inventory on hand.

The Company’s ability to fund operations and capital expenditures in the future will be dependent on its ability to generate cash flow from operations,maintain or improve margins, decrease the rate of decline in its sales and to use available funds from its PNC Credit Facility.

The Company’s ability to borrow funds is dependent on its ability to maintain an adequate borrowing base and its ability to meet its credit facility’s covenants. Accordingly, if the Company does not generate sufficient cash flow from operations to fund its working capital needs, planned capital expenditures and meet credit facility covenants, and its cash reserves are depleted, the Company may need to take further actions that are within the Company’s control, such as further reductions or delays in capital investments, additional reductions to the Company’s workforce, reducing or delaying strategic investments or other actions.

Additionally, the COVID-19 outbreak continues in both the U.S. and globally and is adversely affecting the economy, financial markets and has negatively impacted, and may continue to impact demand for our merchandise.

QVC Warns The Homeshoppingista To Stop Returning Items, Or Else!

June 15, 2020

Let’s see how public opinion falls on this issue.

We just got a letter, apparently our second warning is five years, from QVC warning that we are returning too many items. Truth be told, we have returned a lot of stuff — boots that don’t fit, bras that don’t fit, some makeup we don’t like, jewelry that doesn’t pass muster when we see it in person.

“Most recently, between 04/01/19 and 03/31/20, you returned 72% of your total purchases of 29 items, which continues to far exceed the typical return rate of our customers,” the letter says.

No doubt.

What the letter doesn’t say, and which gets our goat, is that we have purchased thousands of dollars of merchandise during the past few DECADES at the No. 1 home shopping channel. Not for nuthin’, as we say in Jersey, but we guess that money spent in the past doesn’t matter to QVC anymore.

The letter advises us that to ensure we are “delighted with each and every purchase,” watch on-air presentations, look at, check out customer reviews and check sizing charts. We do most of the above.

We already wrote about the letter on Facebook, and some snook commented to the effect that of course we are going to get kicked off QVC, with so many returns.

Baloney. We don’t buy food or makeup, use 90% of it up, and return it. Believe us, it’s usually pretty easy to get us to part with our money. We really want to keep those cute sandals that we got on sale, or as a TSV, but they just don’t fit.

We have to laugh when we hear QVC’s chippy hosts talk about the network’s wonderful 30-day return policy, but not the fact that you cannot dare return too many items.

“We want to continue to offer our customers the best value without introducing a more stringent return policy,” the letter says. “To do so, we need to ask you to please reduce the number of items you return immediately. If you’re unable to do this, we will unfortunately have to close your QVC customer account.”

Since we returned a pricey Jai cuff on Saturday, before we got QVC’s warning letter, we guess the odds of us getting cut off are pretty good.

Designer of HSN’s Roberto By RFM Jewelry Line Dies of Cancer At Age 48

June 5, 2020

With all the horrors going on right now, we have to report some more sad and bad news from the home shopping world. HSN jewelry vendor Roberto Faraone Mennella died Thursday at age 48 of cancer.

The name may not be immediately familiar to you, but Mennella was the partner of Amedeo Scognamiglio. Amedeo was perhaps best known on HSN for the gorgeous, and very reasonably priced cameo jewelry, he brought to the home shopping channel. His family had been involved in cameo making.

But Amedeo and Roberto, both Italians, also appeared on HSN selling a line of very beautifully designed, fluid sterling silver jewelry on the channel. That line was called Roberto by RFM.

Roberto was incredibly handsome, charming and obviously talented. Amedeo is very outgoing, gregarious and funny.

According to an obituary in WWD, the two men were former boyfriends and current business partners. We never knew this, but apparently they were featured in the show “Sex And The City” when stylist Patricia Field learned about them.

Jewelry Designer Roberto Faraone Mennella Dies at 48

The WWD obit also mentioned that the two designers sold their pieces on HSN in the United States and QVC Internationally.

So sorry to hear this news.

Jewelry Vendor Chuck Clemency To Exit ShopHQ For Shop LC

May 28, 2020

This is blockbuster news in the home shopping world: Jewelry vendor and Jersey guy Chuck Clemency is leaving ShopHQ, where he has been forever, for Shop LC!

We just got back from an evening walk and checked Facebook and saw a post from Clemency.

“When opportunity knocks … I answer,” he wrote. “And I want ALL of you to come along. The fastest-growing, most innovative and most importantly — JEWELRY FOCUSED-network — ShopLC will be my new home starting in July.”

Clemency said more specifics and updates will follow.

Well, now two of ShopHQ’s “Three Amigos” — jewelry vendors Clemency, Paul Deasy and Michael Valitutti — have exited that home shopping network, although we heard Deasy is supposedly on his way back to Minnesota.

We enjoy watching Clemency, but really haven’t been wowed by his collection much recently. But we did break down and purchase his diamond “smile” necklace, similar to a Tiffany’s “T” design, and think it is gorgeous.

Can’t say that we’ve watched Shop LC, but we will tune in to see what Clemency has to offer.

Getcha Invicta Face Mask Here!

May 20, 2020

Lord help us.

ShopHQ has been the home-shopping leader in hawking personal protection equipment, but we just saw they are now selling Invicta-branded face masks.

Yep, five of them for $39.

You’ve got to be quite a fan of those watches to pick those masks up. Or a sap.

We’re going to be looking for Timex or Swatch face masks.

QVC, HSN See 4% Drop In First-Quarter Revenue

May 7, 2020

Qurate Retail Inc., the parent of QVC and HSN, reported Wednesday that revenue for the two home shopping networks dipped 4% in the first quarter, sliding to $1.79 billion, versus the same year-ago period.

“We remain open for business thanks to the dedication and resilience of our 25,000 team members, and we are seeing encouraging increases in sales and new customers at the start of the second quarter,” Mike George, Qurate president and CEO, said in a canned statement.

“We experienced significant margin impact from COVID-19 in the first quarter and challenges remain, including a demand shift to lower-margin products and reduced productivity in our fulfillment centers,” he said. “We continue to assess what this new normal will be. At the same time, we have moved quickly to lean into favorable early second quarter trends, and we will continue to utilize our agile business model to adjust our consumer offerings.”

QxH, the unit that includes QVC and HSN, reported revenue declines in all categories in the first quarter. In mid-March, when COVID-19 awareness escalated in the U.S., QxH experienced accelerated declines in sales combined with a shift from higher-margin fashion products to lower-margin home products, Qurate said.

In late March, QxH began to see positive sales and new customer growth as it adjusted its merchandising, programming and marketing to meet customers’ changing needs.

Product margins were essentially flat in the quarter, reflecting gains through February, mostly offset by reductions in March due to COVID-19 related product mix shifts, according to Qurate.

Gross margins decreased primarily due to higher fulfillment (warehouse and freight) expenses driven by the network optimization initiatives, general freight rate increases and incremental costs related to COVID-19.

Here’s information that Qurate provided for its investors:

Qurate also detailed its responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

They were:

• Focused on the safety and financial well-being of team members. Qurate Retail shifted all team members who could work from home to do so temporarily; team members unable to work remote could choose to stay home with partial pay options; increased safety and sanitation protocols at fulfillment centers and live studios; established an Emergency Assistance Fund for one-time grants to team members most impacted by the pandemic; and offered alternative work arrangements where possible when team members must manage unexpected pressures.

• Closed retail stores to the public in March while broadcast studios and fulfillment centers remain open.

• Rapidly adjusted product offerings, merchandising, marketing, and on-air and online programming. Meaningfully improved sales and new customer growth trends across business segments beginning late March in response to changes.

• Incurred additional costs impacting margins, including appreciation and emergency pay for onsite team members (recently extended through May 31); relaxation of productivity requirements in fulfillment centers primarily driven by enforcing social distancing; enhanced sanitation protocols; and increased reserves for potentially higher bad debt rates and customer returns.

• Reduced planned spending, including an anticipated $30 million to $50 million reduction in capital spend in 2020; reduced discretionary expenses and hiring where possible.

• Supported several COVID-19 relief programs, including donating airtime for public service announcements; creating a Small Business Spotlight program across TV, streaming and digital commerce channels to benefit vendors and small retailers; supporting global PPE-making efforts of a community of more than one million artisans; donating to relief programs globally, including Meals on Wheels and No Kid Hungry in the US, the Red Cross in Germany, and the National Emergency Trust in the UK; and creating customer- and team-member matching opportunities.

ShopHQ Sees 4Q Sales Dive 22%, Lays Off 152 Employees

April 17, 2020

If you are a home shopping network, you don’t want to be ShopHQ. The company reported dismal fiscal-fourth quarter earnings this week, and dropped the ax on another raft of employees.

Revenue in the fourth quarter nosedived 22%, to $124 million, compared to the same year-ago period. What happened?

In a press release, ShopHQ said “half of this decline was expected and attributable to the company’s recent customer file decline.” We have no idea what that means.

There were also three one-time events that drove the dip, the network said.

They were:

* Scheduling conflicts in December with top two beauty brands,

* Reduction in consumer electronic products due to the largest CE vendors requiring “cash in advance” payment terms, and

* Reduction in watch revenue resulting from management’s strategy to reverse its five-plus year customer file decline by reducing the average selling price to capture more new customers.

The network also had an $18.4 million net loss in 4Q, versus a $10 million loss in that same quarter in the year-ago period.

In addition, one of our readers tipped us off that the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that ShopHQ had laid off 152 employees. That story made reference to our blog, as a source for the exit of host Laura Duffek.

On the plus side, ShopHQ said it had completed its acquisition of J.W. Hulme, “an iconic, 114-year-old American brand offering artisan-crafted accessories and apparel via e-commerce, catalogs and one flagship retail store in St. Paul, Minnesota.”

Iconic? We’ve never heard of it.

ShopHQ got a $4 million private cash infusion led by Eyal Lalo, Invicta’s CEO and vice chairman of the network’s parent company, iMedia. The watch company Invict has a huge stake in ShopHQ, which is why every time you turn on the channel you see its timepieces being hawked.

What did CEO Tim Peterman have to say?

First and foremost, in terms of the COVID-19 situation and these uncertain and stressful times, iMedia continues to be focused on taking every necessary step to keep its employees, vendors, customers, guests, and their families safe.

We are also focused on continuing to provide our customers with the products and services they love, and we feel very fortunate our company remains operational and relevant so we can continue to build value for our shareholders.

In terms of Q4 performance, from a ShopHQ revenue perspective, it was a mixed report card. We achieved significant viewership, customer file, and product assortment successes, but we also absorbed revenue pressure from three unplanned events. With that being said, I’m proud of how our teams reacted to reduce the probability of re-occurrence.

Financially, our turnaround continues In our first nine months since May 2019 when I rejoined as CEO, we materially reduced the company’s adjusted EBTIDA loss compared to the prior nine months.

Strategically, Q4 is when we really began to demonstrate our plan to grow our portfolio of engaging niche television networks, niche national advertisers and complementary media services. We launched Bulldog and our membership service, ShopHQ VIP. We acquired two important new businesses that will further accelerate our evolution into a profitable, growing interactive media company.

If you say so, Tim.

Dubrow $28.95 Hand Sanitizer Raises Ruckus At ShopHQ

April 17, 2020

ShopHQ made our favorite gossip column, the New York Post’s Page Six, this morning, as did vendors Heather Dubrow and her plastic surgeon hubby Terry.

Heather, a reality TV star from “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” and her husband, of the TV show “Botched,” sell the Consult Beauty line of products on the Minnesota-based home shopping network.

We hadn’t seen this, but had heard, that most recently the glamorous Left Coast couple was hawking their own brand of hand sanitizer for $28.95 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

That got them rammed on Twitter for alleged price-gouging, and Page Six picked up on the brouhaha.

The Dubrows defended their pricing and actions to Page Six. Terry said that prices have soared for the ingredients in the Consult hand sanitizer. Heather, in turn, said some of the proceeds of the sales, some $35,000, had gone to a food bank in Cali.

Not a good week for ShopHQ. But more on that shortly.