SAVANNAH, Ga.–Paula Deen is planning a comeback with a new enterprise—Paula Deen Ventures—with financial backing from Najafi Media, an affiliate of Phoenix-based private investment firm Najafi Companies.
Najafi Media is a $2 billion content and consumer distribution company. Najafi Companies has also invested in such organizations as SkyMall and the Phoenix Suns.
Paula Deen Ventures includes Paula Deen Foods, Paula Deen Media, Paula Deen Restaurants, Paula Deen Cookware and Paula Deen Home.
Food industry veteran Steven Nanula has been appointed CEO of the new company.
“Paula’s deep involvement in developing and bringing great products to market demonstrates her high level of commitment and passion for her business,” Nanula said. “We are excited with the new enterprise to develop progressive business initiatives, as well as to strengthen existing partnerships that include Meyer Corporation, America’s largest cookware distributor; leading furniture manufacturer, Universal Furniture; and one of the nation’s leaders in natural poultry products, Springer Mountain Chickens.”
Last summer several companies, including The Food Network, J.C. Penney and QVC, ended their relationships with the celebrity chef in the wake of a controversy over racial slurs.
Universal Furniture CEO Jeff Sheffer said, “Paula Deen Home continues to be a very successful line of home furnishings for Universal Furniture and our retail partners. During the past year, we have experienced significant growth with the brand and look forward to continued success in our relationship with Paula Deen Enterprises as they enter into this exciting partnership with Najafi Companies.”