Small Signs of Growth at iMedia Brands
Photo via imediabrands.com

Small Signs of Growth at iMedia Brands

TV retailer also acquires “controlling interest” in TheCloseOut.com e-commerce site.
Photo via imediabrands.com

Most descriptions of Eden Prairie-based iMedia Brands Inc. include the adjective “troubled.”

The retailer, which sells products on cable and satellite TV, has struggled with declining sales, a history of net losses, CEO turnover, and several different corporate and brand names. It’s a distant third in its industry behind QVC and the Home Shopping Network, now both owned by the same parent company.

For its fiscal year 2019, iMedia posted revenue of $501.8 million, a steep 15.9 percent drop from 2018. At the same time, the company saw a net loss of $56.3 million for 2019. That means that the company was losing 11 cents for every dollar it took in.

But there are now some small but encouraging signals from iMedia.

On Tuesday it offered a preview of “select preliminary unaudited financial results” for its fourth quarter of 2020, which ended on January 30.

“Q4 net sales are expected to be at least $124.6 million, an increase of at least $1 million compared to the same prior-year period,” the company said of its preliminary fourth quarter results. While that would be a gain of less than 1 percent, it would be the first time since 2015 that the company has seen fourth quarter sales growth.

The company is also finding new customers.

According to the company’s statement, “Q4 new customers grew by approximately 12 percent compared the same prior-year period reversing a six-year negative growth rate trend.”

The company is also signaling positive cash flow and a notably smaller loss than it saw in 2019.

iMedia said that full year cash flow from operations should be $6 million for 2020, compared to a negative $6.2 million last year.

iMedia is expecting its full year net loss to be $13.5 million. While still in the red, it’s significantly better than the $56.3 million net loss posted in 2019.

A representative of iMedia could not be reached for additional comment. The company will officially report its fourth quarter and full year financial results in March.

At the same time, the company is looking to a new avenue to tap sales growth.

On February 5, the company contributed $3.5 million in inventory to acquire a “controlling interest” in TheCloseOut.com, an “online marketplace.” The company will also launch the “Closeout Deals” show on its network to drive growth in the new venture.

For many years, the company was known as ValueVision Media Inc. In late 2014, the company announced changing its name to EVINE Live. In 2019, the name changed again to iMedia Brands.

Current CEO Tim Peterman stepped into the top job in May 2019.

An activist investor group targeted what was then ValueVision in 2013 and 2014 and installed a new CEO, Mark Bozek, to save the day. Bozek lasted less than two years.

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