Follett Corporation has sold its higher education business, Follett Higher Education, as well as its corporate entity to a group of private investors led by Jefferson River Capital LLC (JRC). The sale of FHE, the company’s collegiate retail and Follett ACCESS business, completes the Follett family’s exit from the education business after nearly 150 years.

With the acquisition, JRC has overhauled the top management of the company. Emmanuel Kolady, senior v-p and head of stores for the eastern half of CVS Retail, was named CEO, and Ryan Petersen, formerly v-p of strategy and development at VitalSource Technologies, was appointed FHE’s new president. In making the appointments, JRC said Kolady's “omni channel background rooted in innovation and customer experiences will be invaluable in continuing the growth of this already strong company, while [Petersen}’s visionary work with inclusive access programs across higher education will accelerate the growth of Follett ACCESS and the company’s overall digital transformation.”

While at CVS, Kolady oversaw the company’s move into the Covid testing market and also led CVS’s supply chain function, including inventory planning and distribution, on an interim basis during disruptions caused by the pandemic. “The education industry has experienced much disruption over the past few years, and I envision Follett’s role to continue to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers and business partners to ensure academic success,” Kolady said in a statement.

Petersen cofounded Verba Software while in college, and the company was eventually sold to VitalSource. (VitalSource itself was acquired by Ingram Content Group and was sold to Francisco Partners last year). "Follett serves as the nexus for course materials for the higher education community and we are perfectly positioned to work with publishers, OER foundations, faculty, students, and institutions, to drive affordability, leveraging our digital and rental Follett ACCESS programs,” Petersen said in a statement.

FHE operates more than 1,100 physical and 1,750 e-commerce collegiate retail stores across North America selling course materials and merchandise. It was the last of the three businesses that had been owned by Follett Corp. Last August, Follett sold its Follett School Solutions group to Francisco Partners and in November sold Baker & Taylor to an investment group led by B&T CEO Aman Kochar.

FHE’s headquarters will remain in Westchester, Ill., and all remaining Follett corporate and FHE employees will transfer with the sale.

In a press release, the Follett family said that it had enjoyed being part of the education business, and that it will continue to stay involved in education through the Follett Educational Foundation.