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Harry & David: Private equity and pop-up stores

Published November 29, 2010 at 6:00 AM


"You have got to be able to generate superior returns through hands-on involvement in companies," says Wasserstein & Co. CEO Ellis Jones when asked why private equity firms are the right owners for Harry & David. The New York private equity firm led a buyout of the century-old Oregon fruit and gift seller in 2004 and in February hand-picked a new CEO in Steven Heyer. "There's absolutely no way in a public company format -- between public boards, outside directors, inside directors -- there's absolutely no way we could have executed what we did in the five months since Steve got there," says Jones. Heyer, who held executive positions at three public companies -- Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Coca-Cola Co. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. -- agrees. In this video interview shot at the the recent Yale School of Management 10th Annual Private Equity Conference, Heyer and Jones discuss the differences between public and private companies and describe working together to update Harry & David with innovations, such as 16 temporary "pop-up" stores in urban areas this holiday season. For more videos from the conference, visit The Deal Pipeline. (The Deal LLC is privately owned by private equity funds sponsored by Wasserstein & Co. LP.) - Mary Kathleen Flynn

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