Fine stationery company William Arthur, a unit of Hallmark Cards Inc., will be acquired by Crane & Co. for an undisclosed price.

William Arthur, based in Kennebunk, will continue to operate out of its headquarters for now. In the second half of 2013, business operations will be consolidated with Crane’s North Adams, Mass., facility with integrated sales, customer service and marketing.

William Arthur employs about 270 designers, artists, skilled craftspeople and customer service professionals. It is the second-largest employer in Kennebunk, behind Corning Inc.

“Clearly William Arthur closing in 8 months is a great loss in our community. 270 people is really 270 families. It’s a tremendous transition for this area to go through,” said Kennebunk town manager Barry Tibbetts.

William Arthur pays about $75,000 in annual real estate taxes in Kennebunk, Tibbetts said.

“The bigger loss is how this affects the families and how to absorb them into other businesses in the down economy,” Tibbetts said.

Crane said it will have 100 hourly manufacturing jobs available in its North Adams, Mass. facility. Those jobs will be offered to William Arthur employs who want to move. Those who choose not to relocate will be offered severance and outplacement assistance, Crane said.

The acquisition of William Arthur gives Crane access to the Vera Wang brand, as well. William Arthur forged a licensing partnership with Vera Wang in 2005.

The deal is expected to close on Nov. 30. Crane and Hallmark are both privately held companies.

“The acquisition of William Arthur reinforces Crane’s commitment to being a leader in the stationery market,” said Crane Chief Executive Stephen DeFalco.

Crane, a seventh-generation family-owned business, is based in Dalton, Mass. The company makes  fine stationery and has produced the paper for U.S. currency since 1879.

William Arthur was founded in Massachusetts in 1949 as Ten Bamboo Studio. It moved to Maine in 1987 when its then-owners changed the company’s name to William Arthur. It became a wholly owned subsidiary of Hallmark in 1997.


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