Bendon paints brighter future with upmarket deal

Juvenile products manufacturer Bendon, Inc., has entered the premium craft market following a recent acquisition that also creates the potential for expanded distribution.

Bendon acquired Artistic Studios, Ltd., (ASL) in a deal that broadens the company’s product portfolio. Ashland, Ohio-based Bendon is a leading designer and producer of children's coloring and activity products in the U.S. and its extensive portfolio of licensed products includes many of the world's most popular children's characters and brands. Artistic Studio is based in San Francisco and is best known as a manufacturer of premium children's activity products, art sets, and crafts in various retail channels in the U.S. and abroad. Artistic Studios products are primarily sold into toy and craft departments within larger retailers at higher price points than the majority of Bendon's current offerings.

"We have closely followed the ASL business over the past few years and have been impressed with its product portfolio and distribution footprint both domestically and abroad,” said Bendon CEO Ben Ferguson. “As we continue to grow, this acquisition provides a natural upmarket extension into the adjacent craft and activity segment. ASL's complementary products and distribution network immediately give us significant opportunities to expand our reach with new retailers and within new departments of existing retailers as well as to grow our international presence."

Daniel Black, managing partner at Bendon’s private equity owner Wicks, echoed those sentiments.

"The acquisition of ASL represents an exciting opportunity to expand Bendon's product offerings, distribution, scale, and geographic reach," Black said. “The Bendon team has done an excellent job securing industry-leading retail presence including a stronghold in the value segment of the market. Along with our purchase of Dalmatian in 2013, this acquisition firmly cements Bendon's position as a leader in the fragmented U.S. children's activity products sector and propels the company into its next phase of growth."

Wicks is a New York-based private equity firm that invests in selected segments of the information, education, and media industries.

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