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Marquee Lands $10 Million to Spark Digital Growth at Maternity Brands

Brand management firm Marquee Brands has secured $10 million in new capital in the form of a secured credit facility as it seeks to expand the e-commerce capabilities of its two maternity apparel brands, Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the Pod.

The firm will use the credit facility for what it calls “general working capital purposes,” but more importantly, the liquidity will help the company further implement post-pandemic digital growth initiatives.

Second Avenue Capital Partners (SACP) is lending the credit facility.

“We appreciate the efforts from the team at Second Avenue Capital Partners and their comprehensive approach to not only understand our current business, but to bring forth a flexible strategy to support the investment in our future growth initiatives,” said Marla Ryan, brand executive vice president, Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in the Pod in a statement. “As we look to catapult forward in a post-pandemic world, and build upon our community connection with mothers, SACP was a natural choice for us based on their e-commerce and retail knowledge.”

The brands’ investment in a digital re-platform to improve the online experience was “already well underway” when the pandemic hit, Marquee said. The sister brands exited brick-and-mortar stores entirely upon the bankruptcy, liquidation and dissolution of then-parent Destination Maternity in 2020.

“These two maternity brands sit in a highly unique, niche market and possess an enviable e-commerce platform,” said Chris O’Connor, president of Second Avenue Capital Partners. “We knew we could provide them with a capital solution that would exceed their expectations. This facility will serve their business goals as they focus on developing a leading global marketplace and collaborate with strategic partners to achieve continued brand growth. It is an exciting time for companies in the e-commerce space, and we’re excited to play a role in supporting these category leaders’ continued success.”

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Marquee Brands says it typically targets brands with strong consumer awareness and long-term growth potential, but distressed also appears to be a major common denominator.

Similar to the Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in a Pod deals, Marquee acquired kitchenware retailer Sur La Table out of bankruptcy in August 2020. Prior to that, it reclaimed the licenses to BCBGMaxAzria and BCBGeneration from Centric Brands after the latter filed for bankruptcy.

Motherhood Maternity and A Pea in a Pod were bought out of the Destination Maternity umbrella in December 2019 bankruptcy auction after the larger maternity apparel retailer shuttered its stores.

Upon taking in these brands, Marquee makes it a point to expand each company’s reach across retail channels, geographies and product categories, with the goal to still preserve brand heritage and enhance the consumer experience. The company created its own Marquee-Direct platform in 2020 to bring all e-commerce scaling in-house and handle site design and development, merchandising, content creation and customer engagement for its brands.

Earlier this month, Marquee Brands launched Martha.com for its Martha Stewart line, which it acquired from Sequential Brands in April 2019.

At last year’s Sourcing Journal Sourcing Summit, in the wake of the Sur La Table acquisition, Marquee’s global senior vice president Peter Maule referred to the company’s strategies as “Marquee 2.0.”

“We’re able to take a brand that has an enormous database of customers, and we’re really thinking about how we harvest that consumer data, how we’re able to segment and capitalize on really speaking that shopper,” Maule said of the Sur La Table acquisition. “We really believe owning that customer data and speaking directly to the consumer is a big part of the future of our key brands, and it really was the catalyst to thinking differently about how we acquire companies both today and in the future.”

Marquee’s stable also includes U.K.-based men’s fashion brand Ben Sherman, watersports apparel and swimwear brand Body Glove, handcrafted footwear and leathers brand Bruno Magli, backpacks and travel accessories brand Dakine and the Emeril Lagasse cooking brand.

Marquee is owned by investment firm Neuberger Berman.

Marquee’s growth comes at a time when it appears one of its top competitors, Sequential Brands Group, is on thin ice and could be filing for bankruptcy in the near term. The brand management firm is intertwined in both a securities fraud investigation and a shareholder lawsuit, and saw its executive chairman resign in May.