Majority shareholding in American Greetings sold to US investor, Clayton Dubilier & Rice

In what constitutes the biggest news in the global greeting card world for decades, the majority shareholding in American Greetings, the parent company of UK Greetings, has been sold to US investment company, Clayton Dubilier & Rice.

Untitled design (41)American Greetings, the second largest greeting card company in the world (with a turnover of $1.8 billion) was taken back into private ownership by the Weiss family in August 2013, having been quoted on the US stock exchange for many years previously. It has been run by chairman Morry Weiss, his two sons Jeff and Zev Weiss have been co-chief executives with John Beeder (who joined the company from Hallmark) as president and chief operating officer. The Weiss family is to retain a stake under the new ownership and remain as directors, but will no longer hold the reins.

The deal sees UK Greetings become part of the investment company,

However, Clintons, the UK retail chain that AG acquired in June 2012, is not included in the CD&R deal and ownership will remain with the Weiss family.

Eddie Shepherd, ceo of Clintons commented: “The Weiss family have been incredibly supportive owners of the business and it is fitting that on the eve of Valentine’s Day they are affirming their love for the brand.”

American Greetings' chairman Morry Weiss (far right) with his son Jeff Weiss, co-chief executive (far left), UKG's soon to retire chief executive Gary Rowley (second right) and incumbent ceo James Conn with PG's Jakki Brown at PG Live.
American Greetings’ chairman Morry Weiss (far right) with his son Jeff Weiss, co-chief executive (far left), UKG’s soon to retire chief executive Gary Rowley (second right) and incumbent ceo James Conn with PG’s Jakki Brown at PG Live.

This big news comes only a few weeks after it was announced that Gary Rowley, the long standing ceo of UKG is retiring on March 1, with James Conn, current group sales and marketing director being promoted to the role.

* Last Thursday (Feb 8) saw UKG win a significant Asda Supplier award. The card publisher received the Asda’s General Merchandise Supplier of the Year award for the successful delivery of the grocer’s new Celebrations department.

Above: A UKG celebration at the recent Asda Supplier Awards event (attended by 1,000 people). Left to right Claire Sawyer, James Conn, Jayne Myers and Julie Scott.
Above: A UKG celebration at the recent Asda Supplier Awards event (attended by 1,000 people). Left to right Claire Sawyer, James Conn, Jayne Myers and Julie Scott.

The conception and installation of the new card, wrap and party department involved over 1 million units of stock, plus re-fixturing nearly 600 stores and launching over 95% brand new designs.

The new look Celebrations card department in Asda.
The new look Celebrations card department in Asda.

 

*American Greetings was founded in 1906 in Cleveland by Jacob Sapirstein, a Polish immigrant who bought post cards from Germany and sold them to retailers. Jacob Sapirstein’s sons changed the family name to Stone in the 1940s. Morry Weiss, the current chairman, is the son-in-law of Irving Stone, one of Jacob Sapirstein’s sons.

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