High-end grocer primes online efforts

Dean & Deluca names a new president with Internet experience, and discloses a $20 million investment from venture capital firm Hummer Winblad.

Jeff Pelline Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Jeff Pelline is editor of CNET News.com. Jeff promises to buy a Toyota Prius once hybrid cars are allowed in the carpool lane with solo drivers.
Jeff Pelline
Dean & Deluca today became the latest high-end retailer to ramp up its e-commerce efforts, naming a new president with Internet experience, as well as disclosing a $20 million investment from venture capital firm Hummer Winblad.

The privately held food and kitchenware retailer named John Richards, formerly in charge of Starbucks' North American operations, as its president. Richards, 51, was responsible for retail, wholesale, e-commerce and marketing at Starbucks.

Hummer Winblad focuses on so-called Internet economy investments. The $20 million investment was made to "support (the retailer's) initiative to simultaneously expand its retail presence and e-commerce capabilities," according to a statement. Ann Winblad, a founding partner of the VC firm, will sit on Dean & Deluca's board.

"As established brands continue to converge with Internet services, we feel it is vital to expand our already successful, fully integrated 'clicks and mortar' approach to business," said Dean & Deluca chief executive Dane Neller.

Added Winblad: "Dean & Deluca offers the kind of opportunity we prize because of its innovative integration of the Internet into its strategy."

VC firms such as Hummer Winblad increasingly have turned to established businesses to help them expand on the Internet. One example: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers last year helped take Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia public.