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Martha Stewart, Crane team up

Thursday, March 26

DALTON — One week after eliminating 70 hourly and salaried jobs in its stationery division, Crane & Co. has entered into a partnership with Martha Stewart Omnimedia to create a full line of social stationery products. Stewart and her design team are expected to create a line of personalized invitation suites, which are different types of cards, that will be released beginning with a line of wedding stationery this spring.

Megan Kuntze, Crane's brand director, said last week's layoffs and wage cuts were done to keep the company profitable through 2009. Although the new line of wedding stationery will be released this spring, Crane isn't expected to experience the benefits of the partnership until the first quarter of 2010.

"A particular launch like this is going to be a very slow build to a successful business," Kuntze said. "It's not going to be overnight. There's a lot of moving parts and pieces to make this successful. It will only really begin to see the light of day in the first quarter of next year. In order to save 2009, it was imperative to make the difficult decision that we made.

"Could this turn things around?" she said. "It could be positive in making things go the other way."

The new stationery line will be available through Crane stationers that are equipped with the company's new "personalized design studio," which is a new ordering system, Kuntze said.

"That will be a learning curve for most of our retailers," she said, referring to the new ordering system. "It won't be brought to market in the traditional way."

Consumers will also be able to purchase the new stationery on line at www.crane.com, or through other select retailers.

This is the first time that Crane has partnered with Martha Stewart Omnimedia, a media and merchandising company that already sells products through licensing agreements with companies including Macy's, Kmart and Walmart.

But during Stewart's modeling days in the 1960s and 1970s, she was once featured in a Crane stationery advertising campaign, Kuntze said.

The new stationery products will extend Stewart's wedding franchise, which includes Martha Stewart Weddings Magazine, extensive online content, a variety of online planning tools, and wedding-related books.

"I am delighted to share the Martha Stewart Stationary Weddings Collection, crafted with master stationers from Crane & Co.," Stewart said in a written statement.

According to Kuntze, Martha Stewart "transformed the wedding industry," through her magazine, Martha Stewart Wedding, which she described as "the absolute bible for any bride."

"There was a time when wedding invitations were just white or ecru paper, everything was just every simple, black writing on a white type of card," Kuntze said. "With Martha Stewart there was a whole new look and feel for a wedding, from the right gown to the invitation."

To reach Tony Dobrowolski: TDobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com (413) 496-6224

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