Thomas H. Lee Partners Completes 1-800 CONTACTS Acquisition, Names Bethers CEO

By

Brian Bethers.

DRAPER, Utah—1-800 CONTACTS announced on Feb . 3 that the acquisition of the company from WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP) by funds affiliated with Thomas H. Lee Partners, L.P., (THL), a leading private equity firm with extensive experience in the retail and consumer sectors, has been completed. The deal was first announced on Jan. 7, as VMail reported.

1-800 CONTACTS also announced that its founder and chief executive officer, Jonathan Coon, is retiring from his position at the company, and that current president, Brian Bethers, will succeed him as the 1-800 CONTACTS’ new CEO.

Jeff Swenson, managing director at THL, said, “We are excited to partner with Brian Bethers and the 1-800 CONTACTS management team to continue to grow the largest direct-to-consumer retailer of contact lenses with a model built on providing a superior customer experience and the broadest selection of contact lenses available at affordable prices.”

Coon said, “Ever since we founded this company 20 years ago, the key to our success has always been our amazing associates who have been relentless in providing world-class service to our customers. Brian is a tremendous leader who is committed to our team and customers and will utilize his extensive experience and industry knowledge to further grow this company in the years ahead.”

“Becoming an independent company again is indeed an exciting day for 1-800 CONTACTS,” stated Bethers. “With our strong customer base, leading distribution network and sourcing capabilities, and dedication to delivering exceptional customer service, we have never been in a better position to thrive and enhance our market leadership.”

Bethers continued, “On behalf of all of us at 1-800 CONTACTS, I want to thank Jonathan Coon for his vision in founding this company, his leadership in developing our culture, and his commitment to enhancing our technology platform and tools on which we will continue to build. I am honored to succeed him and I look forward to working with all of our talented employees as well as the team at THL to further grow and expand our market-leading brand.”

Joshua Nelson, managing director at THL, added, “THL has a long history of investing in great growth companies, and we believe that 1-800 CONTACTS has a number of exciting initiatives that will complement its leadership position in its core direct-to-consumer business.”

Bethers, 53, assumed the role of president of 1-800 Contacts in 2004. Previously, he had served as the company’s chief financial officer for one year. Before joining the company in 2003, Bethers served as CFO of TAC Worldwide, a privately held technology staffing company in Dedham, Mass. He previously served as CFO of SupplierMarket.com, Inc. and CFO of Host Marriott Services. Bethers attended Brigham Young University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy and a Master's Degree in Business Administration.