A majority stake in American Greetings (AG) has been sold by the company’s founding Weiss family to New York-based private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R), in a deal that was announced on Tuesday February 13. The deal comes approximately five years after the Weiss family took AG private in 2013.
CD&R acquired a 60% stake in Westlake-based AG – the parent company of British subsidiary, UK Greetings (UKG) – whilst the Weiss family retain a 40% stake in the business, which is the second-largest greetings card publisher in the world.
AG, which is number one supplier in the $6bn dollar US greetings card industry, has a turnover of around $1.8 billion and supplies more than 60,000 retail outlets. It holds a portfolio of 440 patents, over 2,500 copyrights, and 1,000 trademarks. Its brands alongside AG include: Papyrus, Recycled Paper Greetings, Gibson, and Carlton Cards.
UKG is covered by the deal but not the retail chain Clinton Cards, ownership of which will remain with the Weiss family. The news follows an announcement that UKG CEO Gary Rowley, will retire on March 1, with group sales and marketing director, James Conn, taking the helm of UKG going forward.
CD&R partner Ken Giuriceo commented: “American Greetings is a clear market leader with a strong portfolio of valuable brands. We are very pleased to partner with the Weiss family and American Greetings’ talented management team and to be aligned around a set of identified actions to strengthen the company’s competitive positioning and prospects for sustainable, long-term growth and profitability.”
AG was founded in 1906 by Weiss family ancestor, Jacob Sapirstein, and employs around 1,700 locally. The financial details of the deal with CD&R have not been disclosed but it is known that the current president and chief operating officer, John Beeder, will become CEO. Current joint CEOs, Zev Weiss and Jeffrey Weiss, “will participate on the board”, alongside current chairman, Morry Weiss.
David Scheible, an adviser to CD&R and former CEO of Graphic Packaging, will become chairman of AG, while CD&R partner, John Compton, formerly president of Pepsico, will also serve on the board and is expected to take an active part in running the business.
Patrice Molnar, American Greetings director of corporate communications, commented: “We anticipate business as usual. Current management of AG is expected to remain in place. And this transaction will not disrupt product, supply, or any other aspect of the business.”
Jeffrey Weiss said that CD&R has: “An outstanding track record of success and a strong reputation for trustworthiness and operational leadership and we look forward to working closely together and continuing to serve the interests of American Greetings’ customers, employees, and suppliers.”