Westchester, IL -- February 02, 2022. Follett Corporation today announced the sale of its corporate entity as well as Follett Higher Education (FHE), the company's collegiate retail and Follett ACCESS business, to a group of private investors led by Jefferson River Capital LLC. (JRC) a private investment company controlled by the James family.
"FHE has championed a crucial role in the collegiate retail experience across 1,100 campuses, supplying course material solutions and branded school spirit merchandise to customers"
Follett Higher Education, based in Westchester, Ill., is a longtime trusted leading collegiate retail partner to colleges and universities across North America providing students, faculty, parents, fans, and staff the course materials, learning tools and retail services needed to successfully support the academic, athletic, and collegiate journey.
"FHE has championed a crucial role in the collegiate retail experience across 1,100 campuses, supplying course material solutions and branded school spirit merchandise to customers," said Todd Litzsinger, CEO and Chairman of the Board, Follett Corporation. "On behalf of the Follett family and shareholders, I would like to thank all our employees, publishing partners, general merchandise vendors, institution partners and campus communities for the distinct privilege of shaping generations of students and institutions over the years. Our family-owned company has celebrated alongside our customers and is extremely proud of the successes we have achieved together. We are excited to hand off the baton to another group of families who believe as strongly as we do in supporting the post-secondary educational journey extending the Follett Higher Education legacy into the future."
"The James family and JRC are honored to be entrusted by the Follett family to continue the stewardship of this company and its important mission in higher education," said David Wittels, President at Jefferson River Capital. "The cost of higher education has been growing at far too fast a rate in the US and Canada over the past few decades; we are very supportive and appreciative of Follett's role in lowering the cost of course materials and in doing so have widespread impact on the affordability of higher education for students and families."
Follett also announced the appointment of Emmanuel Kolady, an extremely well-regarded retail operating executive, as Follett's Chief Executive Officer, and Ryan Petersen, formerly VP of Strategy and Development at VitalSource Technologies, as the new President of FHE. Emmanuel's omni channel background rooted in innovation and customer experiences will be invaluable in continuing the growth of this already strong company, while Ryan's visionary work with inclusive access programs across higher education will accelerate the growth of Follett ACCESS and the company's overall digital transformation.
Emmanuel Kolady previously served as SVP, Head of Stores for the eastern half of CVS Retail, with responsibilities for over 5000+ locations across the country. He was also the enterprise leader and chief architect in building the largest private sector Covid testing entity in United States along with playing a pivotal role in Covid vaccine rollout across United States. He also led the CVS supply chain function including inventory planning and distribution on an interim basis during the most challenging time for global supply chain network.
"The education industry has experienced much disruption over the past few years, and I envision Follett's role to continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers and business partners to ensure academic success," said Emmanuel Kolady, CEO of Follett Higher Education. "Follett's resilience has clearly proven its value to institutions, faculty and students and our commitment is to continue to innovate as the campus retailer, supporting higher education, online and in-store and meet students where they are".
Considered one of the thought leaders behind the inclusive access model, Ryan Petersen previously co-founded Verba Software initially as part of a student government project to help students get the best value in course materials, which eventually became a key strategic acquisition of VitalSource to enter the inclusive access market. "I've spent my entire professional career addressing the inequality of opportunity and learning outcomes from the cost of course materials, and I am ecstatic for our Follett team to take a quantum leap forward for affordability. Follett serves as the nexus for course materials for the higher education community and we are perfectly positioned to work with publishers, OER foundations, faculty, students, and institutions, to drive affordability, leveraging our digital and rental Follett ACCESS programs."
FHE will continue to operate from its home office in Westchester, and all remaining Follett corporate and FHE team members will transfer with the sale.
Terms of the deal were not announced. Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC served as sole financial advisor to Follett Corporation on the sale of the Follett corporate entity and FHE.
Over Follett's storied history, there is much to be proud of and celebrated. Follett has influenced and shaped the new and used textbook market, the publishing industry, public library services, retail and wholesale bookstore services, K-12 school and library solutions as well as collegiate retail and course material experiences on campuses. The Follett family and its Board of Directors have enjoyed being part of improving the world by inspiring learning and shaping education for the past 150 years and the Follett family will continue to drive education through advocacy with future projects. The next steps for the Follett Family legacy will be to enhance its effects with future family business education and the Follett Educational Foundation.
About Follett Higher Education
Follett Higher Education is a prominent and historic omni channel retailer and educational service provider supporting students, faculty, campus administration, alumni, and the surrounding community. Currently ranked #57 on Digital Commerce 360's 2021 Top 1000 list, with more than 1,100 physical and 1,750 eCommerce collegiate retail stores across North America. It is one of the world's largest sources of both physical and digital academic content from more than 6,000 publishers to millions of students. Known for its inclusive access program, Follett ACCESS, Follett is changing equitable access to course materials on more than 300 campuses and growing every day. At Follett Higher Education, we enable faculty to teach, students to learn, institutions to run and fans to celebrate.