American Crafts announced today that it has acquired We R Memory Keepers.
Family-owned We R Memory Keepers is based in Salt Lake City, Utah and is known in the industry for its albums, tools and Albums Made Easy pocket scrapbooking collections – all of which make it an attractive acquisition target for American Crafts. It has also been getting attention for products in the home decor and organization markets at recent shows. The company has a licensing deal with designer Teresa Collins to design Albums Made Easy products.
We R Memory Keepers has been having huge success with their “punch board” tools that create everything from flowers to envelopes, but they are also known for the Crop-A-Dile tools and the Sew Easy system. In September 2013, We R acquired Lifestyle Crafts, adding the QuicKutz and L Letterpress lines of tools to their line up at a time when letterpress is growing in popularity.
In addition to their tools, We R Memory Keepers has long been known for the quality of their faux leather 3 ring albums and for their page protectors. The company was actually the original producer of the Project Life page protectors before Project Life began producing the protectors on their own.
American Crafts has bought a growing list of companies since 2009 as the industry has consolidated during the scrapbooking downtrend. The company’s most recent acquisition was Bazzill Basics back in April, but they’ve also acquired Pink Paislee (and Heidi Swapp along with it), Crate Paper, Imaginisce, and Pebbles in the past five years. Project Life and Studio Calico were also been brought into the American Crafts family of brands through licensing and distribution deals.
We R Memory Keepers, which began life as a bookbinding business, was acquired from the Hiller family that has run it for 90 years. “We R wouldn’t join forces with anyone but American Crafts. Their character and quality standards are unmatched,” says Andew Hiller, president of We R Memory Keepers. “We R can’t wait to be part of the team.”
“For more than 90 years, Andrew, his family and team did a great job of building We R into a company that makes unique and creative products,” says Wayne Mitchell, CEO of American Crafts. “We look forward to decades more of success with the We R brand.”
“This is an exciting new chapter in the history of American Crafts and We R Memory Keepers,” says American Crafts president Sarah DeVoll. “We’re very happy to have We R join forces with AC – working together we will be able to provide a broader assortment of top-quality products, a stronger method for innovation, and more convenient one-stop shopping for our customers.”
For the immediate future We R Memory Keepers will continue to operate as an independent entity as always while integration of the two companies is planned and executed. The announcement stressed that We R Memory Keepers will continue to use the same suppliers for its leather albums and tools, continuing the quality that the company is known for on those items.
We R Memory Keepers is attractive to American Crafts for multiple reasons. We R’s industry-leading tool and album offerings enhance American Craft’s less than stellar portfolio in those areas. We R also has successful products in storage, an area into which American Crafts has not really ventured. American Crafts and We R both have major footprints in chain stores and this gives both brands access to each others’ real estate.
While the brands are very complementary in some areas, they are definitely competitive in others, and this will have to be dealt with as the company moves forward. One example of this are the pocket scrapbooking brands of Project Life and Albums Made Easy, which compete with each other. Both brands have serious power in the market segment. While Project Life popularized pocket scrapbooking, We R Memory Keepers has a long history with it as well, as the company produced pocket pages long before Project Life was founded. Albums Made Easy made a big splash at the 2014 CHA Mega Show, especially with its licensed kits by Teresa Collins and its 4″ sized “Insta” albums. A representative for American Crafts assured Scrapbook Update that the popular Albums Made Easy brand will be continuing.
The combining of these two brands, which were the remaining two large scrapbooking mega brands, leaves a competition vacuum at the top of the scrapbook industry. The industry, which 10 years ago had a half-dozen giant brands operating in it, now has American Crafts as the sole remaining mega entity, along with a plethora of mid and small sized companies.