CATALOG AGE has learned that New Hartford, CT-based Executive Greetings filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut on Dec. 29. The company mails 15 business forms, labels, and stationery catalogs, including Baldwin Cooke, HR Direct, and U.S. Diary.
In the bankruptcy filing, Executive Greetings listed $113.5 million in liabilities and $50 million-$100 million in assets. The company listed $88 million in sales for 2002.
Less than two weeks before the filing, on Dec. 18 North Mankato, MN-based conglomerate Taylor Corp. had signed a purchase agreement for $53 million for the assets in a Section 363 sale. Taylor is the “stalking horse” bidder in the auction: Other companies or investors can still outbid Taylor, but the initial bid must exceed Taylor’s by $1.825 million. Each subsequent bid must exceed the previous one by $500,000. Bids are due Feb. 16.
Taylor, which on Dec. 31 purchased the greeting-cards business from business forms marketer V.W. Eimicke Associates, also owns the Paper Direct and Current stationery titles. According to the CATALOG AGE 100, Taylor’s direct sales topped $250 million in 2002.
The bankruptcy caps off a traumatic year for Executive Greetings. Last January, CEO Joel Hughes resigned his post two weeks after the company cut 99 jobs at its New Hartford headquarters; its New Britain, CT, telemarketing center; and its Grand Prairie, TX, production plant.
“It is likely that this industry is still undergoing consolidation,” says Stephen F. Oakes, the former vice president of acquisitions and corporate development for Executive Greetings and now the managing director of New York-based investment bank Bentley Associates. “Taylor is establishing itself as one of the survivors. They have the capital and the courage to make these deals work.”