Sources: Fayetteville holding company One Country headed for liquidation or sale

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 6,436 views 

Changes are brewing at Fayetteville-based holding company One Country (registered under the name Acumen Brands Inc.). One of the city’s largest employers, the e-commerce business could be headed toward liquidation multiple sources told Talk Business & Politics.

When reached Tuesday (Jan. 31), CEO Terry Turpin did not confirm the rumors, but did say there are “lots of moving parts” that confidentiality precluded him from offering an official comment. Turpin is one of the company’s co-founders with a strong history in startups and exits.

One source close to the company said the business could be closed by the end of the week. Another interested party said the company was perhaps looking at restructuring, or even being acquired by a potential buyer. One local business owner said he has been contacted by an employee of One Country looking for work, in light of what looks like pending liquidation.

Inside the company’s headquarters on Monday afternoon, a receptionist directed a reporter’s questions to a member of the firm’s executive leadership team. None were made available for comment. On Tuesday afternoon, One Country’s corporate website (corporate.onecountry.com) had been disabled.

It’s too early to know exactly what will happen to One Country, but it’s apparent there are changes imminent that will affect numerous jobs. Turpin said he will reveal those plans in the coming days.

One Country is a diversified lifestyle company and media destination for country music and entertainment markets. It operates a website for country music and lifestyle (onecountry.com), a digital retailer (countryoutfitter.com) and a branding unit developing products under the brands Redneck Riviera and Independent Boot Co.

The company was founded in January 2009 by a doctor (John James) and a lawyer (Turpin), University of Arkansas graduates who gave up those careers in favor of pursuing their love of entrepreneurship.

Together, they helped guide the company from five employees to approximately 230 in just five years, and garnered more than $10 million in funding from the likes of Dillard’s, Noro-Moseley Partners, Arkansas Risk Capital Matching Fund and BLH Venture Partners.

In 2013, the company received an $83 million investment provided by the New York firm General Atlantic, still the largest private equity investment within the state of Arkansas.

According to a filing last July with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, One Country’s most recent investment was for $5 million, which appears to have come from one person.

James, a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class in 2014, stepped down as CEO in September 2014, the same year he said the company’s revenue was on a path to hit nine figures by 2015. He remained on the board of directors up until last weekend.

Turpin, the chief operating officer, assumed the CEO role after James left the position, and the company transitioned from Acumen Brands to One Country.

UPDATE
John James offered the following comments to Talk Business & Politics on Tuesday afternoon:

“It’s with great sadness that I recently learned of the difficulties at Acumen Brands.  When I founded the company in 2009, I never would’ve imagined the rapid rise of the company nor the national attention our success would generate. I left shortly after selling a controlling interest in the company to a private equity firm in 2013, but have always had a fondness in my heart for the team.

“Along with others, I’m currently in negotiations to purchase the company. I hope the eventual buyer will return the company to greatness.  And I hope they do so in Arkansas.”