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Archive for Friday, October 3, 2003

Hallmark Cards loses account to American Greetings

October 3, 2003

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— Hallmark Cards Inc. has lost its account to supply American Stores with greeting cards, giftware and partyware to Cleveland, Ohio-based American Greetings Inc.

American Stores, a 1,400-store chain, was bought by Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons Inc. in 1999.

How Hallmark lost the contract is unclear, although Albertsons had a deal with American Greetings for its other stores when it acquired American Stores. Financial information about the deal was not released.

American Greetings does not discuss details of contracts or how they were negotiated, spokesman David Poplar said Thursday.

Hallmark, whose contract with American Stores ran out in August, claims it never had a chance to negotiate a new one.

Hallmark spokeswoman Julie O'Dell also said the company learned after negotiations had started with an Albertsons team in late 2002 that a previous Albertsons management team in 1999 already had negotiated a contract for American Greetings to become its sole greeting card supplier when Hallmark's contract expired.

"We were really disappointed because I know we have met all the financial measures outlined in the contract and had a good relationship with them for over 30 years," O'Dell said.

However, Albertsons spokeswoman Karen Ramos said the company gave both American Greetings and Hallmark an opportunity to bid for the business. Ramos said she could not say when the decision was made within Albertsons.

"We approached both Hallmark and American Greetings and asked them to submit a proposal for providing us with greeting cards in all our stores," Ramos said. "American Greetings was the company selected out of that process."

Poplar said the deal was announced in December 2002 and what's happening now is the changeover of stores. American Greetings will incur some costs from that change but should start earning money soon, he said.

Hallmark operates a plant in Lawrence that manufactures a variety of greeting cards.

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