By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Argus Camera was acquired on Monday, July 14 by Inverness-based Hartford Computer Group for an undisclosed sum.
Prior to the acquisition, Hartford had announced a bid of $2.7 million.
According to a statement released by Hartford, the acquisition is part of the company's broader strategy of acquiring cash-strapped companies with strong consumer brands. The Argus acquisition follows Hartford's 2002 purchase of VisionTek, a manufacturer of PC graphics card and USB drives.
"These are good companies with good products that simply came up short on cash in a very tough market," said Hartford president Tony Graffia, Jr.
According to Argus president William Pearson, Hartford will retain Argus as an independent division, and the 67-year old Argus brand and current product line will remain in place. Pearson will stay on as president of the newly created division. Some Argus personnel, principally in accounting and warehousing, will be let go, Pearson said.
Argus Camera enjoyed sales of $28 million in 2002 but labored under a reported $4.2 million in secured debt to Bank One and the loan company Sequel, in addition to $5 million in unsecured debt. According to the terms of the acquisition, Hartford does not assume the debt.
"This sale will help us to further capitalize our growth," Pearson said. "The business has doubled every and we are in need of working capital to improve inventory and go after more retailers."
Under the 11-year reign of Pearson, Argus transitioned from a 35mm film camera-based business to marketing lower-end digital imaging products.
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