Bed Bath & Beyond Acquires Chef Central

Unclear if Chef Central still operates any stores
February 2, 2017David Gill

BedBathBeyond20174x2UNION, N.J.-Bed Bath & Beyond has made a deal to acquire Chef Central, the specialty retail operation owned by Ron Eisenberg, son of Bed Bath Co-Founder and Co-Chairman Warren Eisenberg.

The acquisition, which was finalized on Jan. 27, was purchased for $1 million in cash plus earn-out payments that could total as much as $1.25 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and involves the brand, the Chef Central website and certain intellectual property assets. The earn-out payments are contingent on the opening of up to 50 Chef Central freestanding stores and departments within Bed Bath stores, the filing said.

Ron Eisenberg will rejoin Bed Bath—where he had worked from 1984 to 1997 in a number of operational roles—in an executive capacity in charge of building Chef Central-branded stores and departments within Bed Bath stores.

Eisenberg opened Chef Central for business in 1999. At one time, the company operated two stores, one in Paramus, N.J., and the other in White Plains, N.Y. The stores offered cookware, cook’s tools, cutlery, small electrics, bakeware, tabletop products, gourmet food, barware, outdoor products and seasonal products. It also hosted cooking classes and other events. Describing itself as a “culinary superstore,” Chef Central catered “to both professional chefs and home cooks alike, offering a wide range of new and traditional kitchen products to fit your needs and your budget,” according to a statement on the company’s website.

Commenting on the acquisition, Seth Basham, senior vice president of equity research for Wedbush Securities, zeroed in on the classes which, as he said, helped Chef Central provide “experiential shopping opportunities for consumers.” Bed Bath “can leverage Chef Central’s know-how in offering cooking classes and contests to draw consumers to its stores,” Basham said. “Higher traffic and worthwhile, differentiated experiences, can improve customer loyalty and increase sales.”

The White Plains store closed at the beginning of 2016. In November of last year, Eisenberg said in an interview with NorthJersey.com that he would close the Paramus store at the beginning of this year, due to the rent for the location and “factors affecting all traditional retailers, such as Internet competition.” It was not determined as of press time whether the Paramus store had been closed, but as of today, the Chef Central website remain active.

This is the second acquisition by Bed Bath of a retail operation involving family members of the co-founders. In 2007, the specialty retailer purchased buybuy Baby, the retailer of infant and toddler products founded in 1996 by Richard and Jeffrey Feinstein, sons of Leonard Feinstein, Bed Bath’s other co-founder and co-chairman.

Bed Bath had not responded to HFN requests for comment at press time. Other analysts who cover the company had either not responded or declined to comment.

David GillDavid Gill | Contributing Editor

David Gill is a contributing editor to HFN.

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