Online antiques marketplace V&M has reduced its operations as of last week, and intends to relaunch after a financial and management restructuring, according to V&M investor and board member Michael Fortier. While most of the 22 employees were put on hiatus, the site remains live and is operated by a skeleton crew.
"A top priority for us is making sure our dealers are being taken care of," said Fortier, who is leading the restructuring. "Payments made to dealers are our top priority, which is why we're keeping the site live. With regards to employees, we told them, 'We're not able to pay you now, so if you choose to go, let us know how we can maintain contact with you.' With one or two exceptions, everyone has done that. My goal is to make sure everyone is treated fairly," he said.
V&M investor R. Adam Smith will no longer serve as CEO but will remain on the board, which is being reshuffled and will likely include two representatives from Deconet and three from V&M.
According to Fortier, a number funds have expressed an interest in investing further once the board establishes a new strategy and management team. The priority of the board is to implement a better technology and customer service function, and eventually hire a new CEO to develop and communicate the company's brand.
"My goal is to be very service oriented to the dealers, and to offer a better quality tech site than we have in the past. That's where I wish us to spend our time and money," said Fortier.
V&M was originally founded in 2006 by Bill Indursky and Chris Sansburry, and sold to the advertising and production support business EUE Screengems in 2008 as part of a group of acquisitions, just before the financial crisis. The buyer pulled back on its commitments and V&M continued to operate without investment capital for three more years. In 2011, V&M was sold to Circle Peak Capital, which is managed by Smith. In December 2012, V&M merged with Deconet, the Stockholm-based online antiques marketplace. The combined company failed to reach profitability and was forced to dramatically curtail operations.
While some employees are hopeful that V&M will be resurrected, Indursky and V&M's former SVP, Business Development, Vera Djonovic are teaming up to start their own business. They are currently raising money for a concept to sell vintage and modern antiques on television called Shop Late Night TV.