Sentinel and management acquire Met Merchandising Concepts in a

NEW YORK, December 27, 1997 - Sentinel Capital Partners and management of Met Merchandising Concepts today announced that they have acquired Met in a leveraged recapitalization transaction valued at $30 million. Met, located in Chicago, Illinois, designs and manufactures high quality fixtures, forms, and decorative and graphic displays for the upscale retail store industry. The recapitalization positions Met to pursue a growth strategy within the highly fragmented retail store fixtures industry. Sentinel originated and sponsored the transaction, and together with management, provided the equity financing.

Met has established a leading position in the visual merchandising industry. Met serves a diverse group of high quality department store, specialty store, and branded consumer product companies that operate vendor shops within retail stores. Met's leading edge design and product development expertise combined with its manufacturing, delivery and installation capabilities allow Met to offer one-stop solutions to its customers.

During the past several years, retailers and branded consumer companies have increasingly developed consistent identities to market and differentiate their products to remain competitive. This has resulted in the development and acceptance of the store-within-a-store or vendor-shop concept. Department stores have evolved into a series of separate brand environments with vendors heavily influencing the visual presentation of their merchandise. These changes have also led department stores to outsource more of the in-store design function to visual display companies such as Met. These industry dynamics favor companies like Met.