Donald Pliner has sold a majority stake in the American shoe design and distribution firm bearing his name, which he started in 1989. The new majority shareholder is Castanea Partners, a private equity firm from Massachusetts.

Pliner will stay on as creative director, while Castanea has appointed Noel Hord to be its president and chief executive. Hord's most recent accomplishment was to launch B. Makowsky footwear for Li & Fung. He is a former chief operating officer of Nine West Group.

The price of the deal was not released, but Castanea is known to typically invest $15 million to $75 million in similar deals. The company also controls BJ LLC, the entity in charge of Betsey Johnson retail stores.

Pliner has been looking for the right buyers for a while now. He told Footwear News that the last few years, without a CEO and with store closures, were the most difficult he had faced. He said that the added capital and human resources will allow Donald J. Pliner to be run “as a big business.”

Indeed, the company is already planning its expansion, including a flagship store to open in New York within a year, increased branding and advertising campaigns, and the growth of the internet site into a significant part of its business. The collection of Pliner's wife, Lisa Pliner, will also get more support.