Cooking.com To Step Up Product Development, Expand Operations

Epicurean e-tailer and community site Cooking.com has entered into a $7 million loan agreement with ORIX Venture Finance.

The Web world old-timer, which offers kitchen and houseware products across a network of six sites, plans to use the financing to expand its operations and develop more community content and private-label products.

"We are very excited about establishing a long-term relationship with ORIX, and believe the company will be the ideal financing partner to help us achieve our growth goals in 2008 and beyond," said Tracy Randall, founder and president of Cooking.com.

The retailer operates the retail Web sites Cooking.com, FoodNetworkStore.com, StarbucksStore.com, KitchenEtc.com, PillsburyStore.com and BettyCrockerStore.com.

Cooking.com controls inventory for each of its partner sites, including a mix of its own brands and those of its partners. As a result of its multi-site strategy, the company saw revenue rise 25% last year to $50 million at its flagship site Cooking.com alone.

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The retailer says it will use the financing to improve its community content--such as the discussion forum on Cooking.com, as well as to expand overall operations and support continued acceleration of its private-label product development, which will add to its current base of more than 90,000 products.

The DiBari Group acted as advisor for the company in connection with the transaction.

"We were delighted to have worked with the Cooking.com team in putting this financing together," said Rob Winkelmann, managing partner and CEO of DiBari, adding that the financing will "enable the company to accelerate growth and further its leadership position in the online cooking market."

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