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GTCR links up with Martha Stewart

A month after GTCR inked a deal to invest in the crafts sector, the firm has agreed to a tie-up with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia to launch a joint venture in the space.

In December, GTCR Golder Rauner inked a deal to buy scrapbooking retailer EK Success. In just one month’s time, the Chicago-based firm has already made huge strides in the crafts space by notching an agreement with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia to manufacture and market a line of products that carry the Martha Stewart brand.

GTCR Golder Rauner has linked up with Martha Stewart in a scrap-booking play.

The deal includes a licensing agreement, in addition to providing Martha Stewart Living an equity stake in the venture, the size of which depends on certain performance targets.

David Donnini, a principal at the firm, told PEO that the partnership with Martha Stewart Living started to materialise when the group first started looking at the crafts space. He added that the partnership could further expand into other areas that make sense, hinting that the firm could look at areas such as knitting and yarn or gardening equipment.

The two sides were brought together by Charles Koppelman, a board member at Martha Stewart Living, who had received backing from GTCR in 2003 to launch music publishing outfit CAK Music Holdings.

For Martha Stewart Living, the agreement gives the firm a quick entrance into the fast-growing scrapbooking marketplace. The crafts industry itself is a $33 billion market, and within that scrapbooking accounts for roughly $2.6 billion, and is quickly growing.

Private equity has already been proactive in targeting this trend. Advent International last summer acquired Peterson PartnersMaking Memories, which followed other deals in the space from FdG Associates (Colorbk Inc.) and JW Childs Associates (Esselte), among others.

“Scrapbooking has taken hold of every demographic, and we are thrilled to be partnering with the industry leader,” Robin Marino, the president of merchandising at Martha Stewart Living, said.

GTCR expects to close the EK acquisition in February. The first Martha Stewart Crafts products are expected to be rolled out in either the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of 2007.