March 18, 2012

Maclaren's Holding Pattern

b2bmaclaren_baby.jpgStill trying to figure out what's going on with Maclaren's main website, Maclarenbaby.com, but DT commenter DD pointed out that the company's retailer website, B2BMaclaren.com, is still up and running and doing fine.

Which I thought was unusual, because even though the contact info on the site points to an email address from maclarenbaby.com [left], the domain name b2bmaclaren.com is registered to a Portsmouth, Rhode Island-based company called Garda LLC [below, right]

Which also happens to be the registered owner of Shopmaclarenbaby.com, which yes, kind of looked authentic, but one layer down, began to look a little sketchy, possibly like a retailer who'd scooped up all the random alternates to maclarenbaby.com that GoDaddy tries to sell you. But now we see Garda is connected to Maclaren. So it's legit.

But.

b2bmaclaren_garda_scr.jpgGarda's Portsmouth address is the site of Laser Performance, the sailboat company, and Ronson lighters, which are also owned by Maclaren owner Farzad Rastegar. Asking around, one person who's familiar with Rastegar's setup says Garda is the IT and HR operator for his companies.

And so maybe the fact that Garda LLC owns some other domain names, too, "at least 13," according to domaintools.com, is not that interesting or unexpected. Though the primary domains for Laser and Ronson are not on the list, so far, I've ID'd six:

ShopMaclarenbaby.com
B2BMaclaren.com
MaclarenServices.com
MaclarenSailing.com
Team-Maclaren.com
NettoCollection.com
Which, hah. Ouch.

What is interesting, though, is that except for b2bmaclaren.com, which was registered last summer, the other five were transferred to Garda just a couple of weeks ago, on the morning of February 27, 2012. With timestamps about ten minutes apart. So someone systematically transferred a string of domain names to Garda from...I guess I'll have to buy the domain history report for $99 to find out. Stay tuned.

And which I point out because it was 11:30 on the night of Feb. 26 that Daddy Types first reported that the company's main website and identity, maclarenbaby.com, was still owned by Maclaren USA, the supposedly defunct "third party" Rastegar had been stealthily distancing Maclaren from for over a year.

On the bright side, I guess that means Rastegar reads my blog. [C-A-L-L M-E.]

On the slightly comical side, that also means that right after that post went up, someone spirited a bunch of domain names away to Garda LLC. Which, as it turns out, had its registration and certificate of organization revoked by the State of Rhode Island, thereby deauthorizing its operation in the state. They failed to file the required annual reports for 2010.

Now technically, Garda Company LLC is a Delaware foreign corporation, and Delaware still considers the company to be in good standing. But the entire point of a limited liability corporation is, unsurprisingly, to limit the liability of its owner/shareholders, and to shield their assets from claims made against the company. It seems pretty obvious that a bunch of domain names were just transferred to Garda and away from some entity more directly associated with Maclaren, probably to take them out of reach of the bankruptcy court [or at least the company's creditors.]

But not maintaining the bare minimum requirements for corporate viability could make that whole effort moot. "Piercing the corporate veil" is literally the second thing they taught us on the first day of business school, right after "maximize shareholder value." And if Garda's status is in doubt, Maclaren USA's creditors could have a crack at whatever Maclaren-related assets exist, no matter which corporate entity Rastegar sticks them in.

It sure makes the disappearance of maclarenbaby.com all weekend more noteworthy. Unfortunately, it also makes Maclaren look like a corporate clown car, with an endless stream of shell companies and offshore holding companies pouring out. Not exactly a brand-positive.

3 Comments

Amazing how this story evolves.

I don't know if you can find this out, but I am curious to know if Maclaren did a similar sneaky re-shuffling a few years ago (pre recall)...

a few years ago, Garda used to also handled accounts receivable for Maclaren.

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