Bendon Publishing has purchased San Francisco-based Artistic Studios, a marketer of premium children’s art sets, crafts, activity kits, and book-plus products sold through toy, stationery, and craft departments in the U.S. and abroad, with particular strength at wholesale clubs. It holds licenses with Disney, Hasbro, Sanrio, Nickelodeon, and MGA Entertainment.
“Our footprint with our retailers and licensing partners has increased incrementally with this acquisition,” says Ben Ferguson, CEO of Bendon, which is owned by Wicks Capital Partners IV. “It’s a great complement to our business. There is nearly zero overlap between what we do and what ASL does.” At $3 to $49, ASL’s products are generally higher priced than Bendon’s, and they are sold in different departments within many of the same retailers. Bendon has existing relationships, for different formats, with most of ASL’s licensing partners.
This is the second key acquisition for Bendon in the last year, following its purchase of competitor Dalmatian Press in August 2013. “In less than 24 months, we have quadrupled the revenue of the company, through nice organic growth as well as two significant acquisitions with Dalmatian Press and Artistic Studios,” Ferguson says.
ASL’s products will be fully integrated into Bendon’s offerings under the Bendon brand name. Its San Francisco headquarters will continue to operate as a division of Bendon, with most of the staff and management remaining intact, according to Ferguson. ASL CEO and owner Jerold Balzer will retire.
Bendon now has offices in San Francisco; at its headquarters in Ashland, Ohio; at the former Dalmatian headquarters in Franklin, Tenn.; and in Denver, where its design studio is located.