Ashford.com will spin off Guild.com

rewards, said on Monday that it will spin-off its art division, GUILD.com, as an independent company.

After the divestiture, the two companies will become strategic partners, sharing revenue from GUILD.com art sales on Ashford.com and cooperating on a variety of marketing activities, Ashford.com said in a statement. The spin-off will be effective July 31, 2001.

Each company will retain the assets it gained when Ashford acquired GUILD.com, a deal that was announced January 4. Additionally, Ashford will retain a minority equity interest in GUILD.com, and GUILD.com shareholders will continue to own Ashford stock, company officials said.

“We believe Ashford and GUILD.com have developed a strategic partnership that will have a positive impact for both companies,” said David Gow, CEO of Ashford.com. “Our new relationship will allow GUILD.com to work independently on growing its art business, while taking advantage of traffic from Ashford.com. It will also better position Ashford to reach profitability by the end of the year, by capturing revenue from GUILD.com without incurring ongoing costs.”

The spin-off is the latest component of Ashford.com’s attempt to achieve profitability by the fourth quarter of this year. In recent months, Ashford.com has grown its corporate gifts business, improved marketing efficiency, increased repeat customer purchases, narrowed its product assortment to focus on higher margin products, and significantly reduced operating costs. In addition, the company has recently broadened its reach to luxury goods customers through agreements with such well-known brands as eBay, Northwest Airlines World Perks, Sharper Image and MSN.

“We value our relationship with Ashford and look forward to working with the company on a number of marketing initiatives,” said Toni Sikes, the founder of GUILD.com., said in the statement “With Ashford’s support, we will regain our independence as a standalone company and focus on selling art through our website and catalog.”