School Specialty enters preschool, Canadian markets

Multititle educational products cataloger School Specialty is expanding the distribution of most of its catalogs beyond the kindergarten-12th grade market and into the daycare/preschool market in the U.S. In addition, School Specialty has started mailing those same titles in to the Canadian market for the first time.

School Specialty is finding names of U.S. preschools and childcare facilities through database providers Wilson Marketing and Market Data Retrieval (MDR), says the cataloger’s president/CEO, David Vander Zanden. Sax Arts & Crafts, Frey Scientific, Classroom Direct, and Sportime are among the catalogs being mailed to the new market segment.

In addition to offering 400 new proprietary products to the early-learning markets, School Specialty is offering them many of its products that are targeted toward kindergarten and first-grade levels. “A lot of preschools start with some of the same products that public schools use in kindergarten and first grade,” Vander Zanden says. “So we’re moving those products where there’s a crossover.”

As for the Canadian market, last month School Specialty mailed its Sax Arts & Crafts, Frey Scientific, Classroom Direct, and Sportime titles to the list of its December 2001 acquisition, Premier Agendas, a Langley, BC-based cataloger of planners and school agendas for students. Premier Agendas has a 70% market share, Vander Zanden says, so “it’s a good foundation to build upon.”

In other School Specialty news, the company reported a net loss of $8.5 million for its fiscal third quarter ended Jan. 25. That’s slightly less than the loss of $8.6 million it posted for the previous third quarter. At the same time, sales rose 6%, to $110.6 million from $104.0 million the previous third quarter.