Trans World Entertainment CEO, Board Out as Company Switches Focus to E-commerce

Trans World Entertainment Corp. March 31 announced the departure of CEO Mike Feurer and four other board members as the former parent to home entertainment retail chain f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) switches focus to e-commerce facilitator eTailz.com. Feurer had been CEO and a director of the board since 2014.

Departing board members include chairman Michael Solow, Jeff Hastings (former head of DVD sales at Paramount), Rob Marks and Michael Nahl.

“Mike’s leadership was instrumental in the brand transformation and recent sale of our f.y.e. business and the financing of etailz,” Solow said in a statement. “In fact, it was Mike’s foresight regarding digital marketplace retailing that prompted the [TWEC] to reinvent itself with the purchase of etailz several years ago. The board thanks Mike for his contributions to the company and wish him the best in the future.”

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Mike Feurer

New York-based TWEC sold f.y.e. in January for $10 million, which included Second Spin used packaged-media stores. It acquired Spokane, Wash.-based etailz.com in 2016 for $75 million.

The latter bills itself as an online marketplace retail expert and software provider using proprietary data to help third-party digital marketplace retailing through Amazon, Jet, Walmart.com and eBay.

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Etailz.com has struggled since the acquisition. In the most-recent fiscal period, etailz lost $1.3 million on revenue of $28.6 million, which was down 35% from revenue of $44.2 million during the previous-year period. Through three fiscal quarters, revenue is down almost 30% at $98 million from $138 million. Operating loss has narrowed to $3.6 million from $9.8 million.

Regardless, TWEC secured an additional $30 million in financing for etailz from investors led by Alimco Financial Corp, together with the previously announced credit facility.

In connection with the financing, Tom Simpson and Jonathan Marcus join a reconstituted board. Simpson was co-founder and executive chairman of etailz up until TWEC’s acquisition in 2016, and currently serves as managing member of the Kick-Start funds.

Marcus is the CEO of Alimco and has over 30 years of experience as an investor, including numerous board roles. The financing will help etailz further develop its software and services offerings, supporting inventory expansion, and expanding into new marketplaces and geographies.

“Combined with our incredible team and partners and the exclusive focus of our board, etailz is well positioned to become the leader in marketplace software and services,” said Kunal Chopra, etailz CEO. Chopra joined etailz in August 2019 following previous experiences at Microsoft, Groupon and Amazon.

 

 

Trans World Entertainment Corp. Shareholders Approve Reverse-Stock Split, Add Paramount Home Entertainment’s Jeff Hastings to Board

Shareholders of Trans World Entertainment, parent to home entertainment retailer f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) and e-commerce middleman eTailz.com, have approved a 1-for-20 shares reverse stock split to satisfy Nasdaq’s $1-per-share minimum requirement.

The company’s stock, which closed July 1 at less than 27 cents per share, would be worth $5.36 per share following the maneuver.

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Separately, shareholders approved the appointment of Jeff Hastings, VP of sales and forecasting at Paramount Home Entertainment, to its board of directors.

Hastings joins the six-person board, which includes CEO Mike Feurer, Robert Marks, Michael Nahl, W. Michael Reickert and Michael Solow.

Hastings, who was put on the board nominee slate following pressure from TWEC shareholder Mark Higgins (son of late company founder Robert Higgins), previously informed the board that if elected, he could not begin his term on the board until September.

Trans World Entertainment Founder’s Son Pulls Board Slate Following Nomination of Paramount Home Entertainment’s Jeff Hastings

Mark Higgins, son of the late founder of Trans World Entertainment Corp. Robert Higgins, has withdrawn his slate of nominees to the board of directors.

The slate included Jeff Hastings, SVP, domestic sales, Paramount Home Entertainment, and Philip Knowles, former CEO of Trinity Home Entertainment and MVP Home Entertainment.

In a June 12 filing, Higgins withdrew his candidates for the June 27 shareholder meeting after TWEC — which operates the f.y.e. (For Your Entertainment) retail chain — formally added Hastings as a board nominee.

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Higgins, who owns 1.2% of TWEC outstanding shares, also said he would not vote any proxies received from shareholders.

With TWEC shares in danger of being delisted as investors weary of brick-and-mortar entertainment retail, Higgins sought to diversify the board with fresh faces from the home video industry.

 

Trans World Entertainment Corp. Founder’s Son Seeks Board Control

With shares of Trans World Entertainment Corp. (parent to home entertainment retailer f.y.e.) in danger of being delisted, fiscal profits plummeting into expanding losses, Mark Higgins, son of late founder Robert Higgins, wants to shake up the board of directors.

Mark Higgins

The younger Higgins, who owns 1.2% of the company’s shares, in a regulatory filing, submitted the names of four board nominees (including himself), for shareholders to vote on at the annual meeting on June 27.

Among the nominees, two home entertainment executives: Jeff Hastings, VP, sales planning and forecasting at Paramount Home Entertainment, and Philip Knowles, former CEO of Trinity Home Entertainment and MVP Home Entertainment.

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Higgins, who began working at Trans World Entertainment in 1981, served as chief merchandising officer for two years until the appointment of Mike Feurer as CEO in 2014.

Founder Robert Higgins, who died in 2017 at the age of 75, oversaw a retail operation that at its peak (2001) operated about 1,000 stores generating $1.4 billion in revenue.

TWEC currently operates about 200 f.y.e. stores, which generated an operating loss of $24.5 million on revenue of $231.2 million in the most-recent fiscal year.

Independent auditor KPMG disclosed the retailer’s primary source of liquidity involves borrowing under a revolving credit facility, and that “substantial doubt exists about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

“Shareholders have suffered from an extended period of stock price decline and poor operating results that I believe warrants an overhaul in the boardroom,” Higgins wrote. “Since early 2015, shareholders have suffered nearly a complete loss of value, experiencing total shareholder returns of negative (-90%) while the company’s market capitalization has declined by over $88 million.”

While TWEC has suffered due to changing consumer home entertainment habits and declining mall-based foot traffic, Higgins puts much of the blame on Feurer.

The CEO in 2016 pushed for the $75 million acquisition eTailz.com, an ecommerce middleman operating largely through Amazon. The Spokane, Wash.-based unit generated an operating loss of $62 million in the most-recent fiscal period.

“In fiscal 2017 alone, the company incurred losses of over ($42.5) million and had earnings-per-share of negative ($1.18); yet, for the same year, Feurer was awarded a bonus of $350,000 and an additional $260,890 of incentive compensation (not to mention $203,500 more in stock and option awards),” Higgins wrote.

“I believe the company has tremendous potential and a valuable and dedicated workforce of more than 2,200 employees that can thrive with the right board and management team in place. I believe that the nominees, if elected, will bring about changes that will benefit Trans World Entertainment and its shareholders.”