Universal Screen Arts, the parent company of the Art & Artifact, Signals, What on Earth, and Wireless gifts and decor catalogs, acquired books cataloger Bas Bleu. Terms of the deal, which closed Jan. 2, were not disclosed.
Founded 12 years ago by Eleanor Edmondson, Atlanta-based Bas Bleu mails about 5 million catalogs spread over five drops each year. Each issue features more than 200 titles, most of which are off-the-beaten-path books that rarely appear on best-seller lists and often aren’t available in mall stores.
Ken Ellingsen, president of Hudson, OH-based Universal Screen Arts, says that Edmondson and several other “key members” will remain with Bas Bleu, which has estimated sales of $12 million. Bas Bleu’s team will move to the Hudson offices during the first quarter.
Ellingsen says his company conducted a “fair amount of analysis, and we firmly believe this deal will be synergistic to our strategic plan. Bas Bleu is a company that has been very well run, and we think very highly of Eleanor and what she’s been able to accomplish.”
Fred Anderson, managing director of Anderson Direct, a South Orange, NJ-based consultancy and financial intermediary, which advised Bas Bleu during the transaction, echoes Ellingsen’s comments: He says Bas Bleu is a perfect “synergistic fit,” particularly with the Art & Artifact and Signals catalogs. “The demographics of the audiences are very, very similar.”
According to its data card, Bas Bleu has nearly 113,000 12-month buyers, 80% of whom are women, with an average age of 45 and an average household income of $65,000. Art & Artifact, which sells European and historically influenced decor and gifts, has nearly 43,000 12-month buyers, 80% of whom are women, with an average age of 46 and an average household income of $75,000. Signals, which sells a broader array of gifts, has nearly 434,000 12-month buyers, 72% of whom are women, with an average age of 46 and an average income of $62,000.
While Bas Bleu’s growth has been respectable, Anderson says, it was limited by facility constraints, such as its 10,000-sq.-ft. warehouse. Now, he says, Bas Bleu can be a part of Universal’s two-building shipping facility that encompasses 160,000 sq. ft. “All the physical constraints will be eliminated,” he says. “That alone will allow Bas Bleu to blossom.”