Burpee Holding Co. Files for Chapter 11
Nov 1, 2001 12:00 PM , Moira
Burpee Holding Co., the Warminster, PA-based holding company of seed
cataloger W. Atlee Burpee & Co., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection in a Philadelphia bankruptcy court Sept. 21. The filing “will
have zero impact on our catalog business,” says Burpee chairman George C.
Ball Jr., nor is the company exploring buyout options.
According to Ball, “discussions were becoming disputatious with our bank
lender regarding our acquisitions,” though he would not disclose
specifically which acquisitions. In January, Burpee had bought assets of
now-defunct pure-play Garden.com; in June 2000 it had acquired the
Heronswood Nursery catalog.
Burpee Holding Co.'s filing comes on the heels of similar filings from
gardening catalogers such as Foster & Gallagher (see page 8) and Etera.
“Big box” retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe's “are stealing market
share from every type of garden retailer and cataloger, because they've
begun to sell products that were once available only by catalog or in
specialty garden stores,” says Bruce Butterfield, research director for
the National Gardening Association in South Burlington, VT.
Butterfield also notes that the past year's exceptionally long and cold
winter delayed gardeners' purchases for spring planting. “By April, some
gardeners may have feared that it was too late to order by mail and wait
for the products, so they went to their local garden centers for what they
needed,” he says.
And the popularity of seeds — the mainstay of numerous catalogers,
including Burpee — is dwindling in favor of plants. In 1999, the most
recent year for which data are available, 35.1 million gardeners purchased
annual flower transplants, 28.7 million bought perennial flower
transplants, and 22.0 million purchased vegetable plants. Comparatively,
13.3 million gardeners bought annual flower seeds, 10.4 million bought
perennial flower seeds, and 15.7 million bought vegetable seeds.
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Burpee Files Chapter 11 -- Oct 9, 2001
Burpee Holding Company, Inc. filed for Chapter 11 protection with the U.S.
Bankruptcy Court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. George C. Ball Jr.,
chairman, commented, "This does not have any effect on our operating
subsidiaries. This is just a credit and financing issue on the holding