By Allison Zisko
Last month’s acquisition of U.K.-based Creative Tops gives Lifetime Brands a foothold in the U.K. and Europe as well as additional private label and sourcing opportunities, according to Lifetime CEO Jeffrey Siegel.
The American tabletop and housewares giant had been relatively quiet on the acquisition front recently, but it decided to purchase Creative Tops, along with Hong Kong-based Creative Tops Far East Limited, which provides sourcing and other services for Creative Tops and its customers, mainly for its European distribution, Siegel said.
Creative Tops manufactures tableware, kitchenware and giftware and sells through multiple distribution channels, including department and specialty stores, supermarkets and garden centers in Europe, Australia, Africa and the Far East. It offers several licensed collections, including those from the Victoria and Albert Museum and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. It also produces private label goods for American retailers and in recent months had been working to establish its brand here in the U.S. Creative Tops and CTFE had combined net revenues of approximately $42.3 million in fiscal 2011, according to a statement.
Siegel plans to add many of Lifetime’s product lines to the Creative Tops mix, particularly the Mikasa brand. “They will be the prime vehicle for rolling out that brand to the U.K. and Europe,” he said. Creative Tops also grants Lifetime entree to the European trade show circuit; for the first time Lifetime will exhibit at Spring Fair International in Birmingham, England, and at the Ambiente fair in Frankfurt, Germany. Both shows take place in February. Stands at those shows will be branded either Creative Tops or Mikasa. They will be run by Creative Tops executives, who know the European business well, assisted by Mikasa executives, who know the product line well, according to Siegel. As previously reported, Lifetime plans to maintain the management team of Creative Tops under the leadership of Patricia Dawson.
In the private label arena, Creative Tops can utilize Lifetime’s design, sourcing and merchandising capabilities to debut new assortments of branded and private label tabletop and kitchenware programs. Creative Tops has done a great job with its private label business in supermarkets, Siegel said, a business he will continue. Creative Tops, with its large organization in Hong Kong and China, will also enhance Lifetime’s existing American private label business. Siegel credited the company for expertly coordinating patterns and mixing materials, such as porcelain and melamine, to create complete, harmonized collections.