RI jewelry retailer Ross-Simons bought by Boston private equity firm

Business News

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — One of the most famous names in Rhode Island jewelry is under new ownership.

Ross-Simons, the gem retailer founded in Providence in 1952, was bought this month by Nonantum Capital Partners, a two-year-old private-equity firm based in Boston. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Darrell Ross, the longtime chairman of Ross-Simons and son of the company’s co-founder, indicated that he and Jim Speltz, its CEO since 2017, will remain part of the business going forward.

“We are proud to partner with Nonantum as they believe in our vision and will support us in the next stage of our company’s storied history,” Ross said in a statement.

The original Ross-Simons store in Providence. (credit: Ross-Simons)

Ross-Simons executives say its customer base has grown over the last five years as the company focused on reaching new shoppers, particularly among its core demographic of women who buy jewelry for themselves.

The company has made changes to deal with changing consumer behavior, notably reducing its brick-and-mortar store footprint by closing its Sidney Thomas store at Providence Place mall and consolidating its Rhode Island retail operations at its flagship Warwick store.

“While the U.S. continues to see strong overall growth in the jewelry industry, consumer spending has been steadily shifting from brick-and-mortar jewelry retailers to online retail,” Speltz said. “Ross-Simons derives its strength in direct-to-consumer from its long tenure in the catalog business.”

Nonantum is focused in part on transactions involving companies still owned by their founders, according to its website. Jon Biotti, Nonantum’s managing partner, said Ross and Speltz “will continue to serve as valuable owner-partners as we grow the brand.”

“We are excited to support the company’s evolution as it realizes its full potential as a preeminent industry leader in quality and customer service, and as a best-in-class employer,” Biotti said.

In the wake of the acquisition, Citizens Financial Group announced it was extending a new $30 million line of credit to Ross-Simons, a longtime client. Speltz said the bank finalized the loan in less than a month.

“We worked closely with the Ross-Simons and Nonantum Capital Partners teams and were able to provide an asset-based revolving line of credit that will offer the company more flexibility,” Keith Kelly, the Rhode Island president of Citizens, said in a statement.

Ross-Simons was advised on the transaction by the investment bank Consensus Advisors and the law firm Hinckley Allen, while Nonantum was advised by Goodwin Procter.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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