Clinton Cards this morning suspended its shares on the Stock Exchange and is on the verge of collapse after its largest supplier American Greetings acquired the retailer’s debt from its banks last night. But who is American Greetings?

US greeting cards manufacturer and retailer American Greetings Corporation was founded in 1906 and has since become the world’s largest publicly owned, direct-to-retail greetings card and gifts company with annual revenue of approximately $1.6bn, according to the company website.

The group comprises brands such as American Greetings, Carlton Cards, Gibson, Recycled Paper Greetings and Papyrus.

It distributes its products through retailers worldwide, including Rite Aid and Target in the US. Although it is primary a manufacturer, it also has its own stores under the American Greetings and Carlton Cards brands in the US.

It also sells party goods and e-cards via third party websites such as

Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, the group’s latest financial figures showed a net income fall from $87m to $57.2m in the year to February 29, 2012.

American Greetings entered the UK market in the early 1980s, buying three UK greeting card companies, Rust Craft, Celebration Arts Group and Andrew Valentine, which later merged into Carlton Cards.

UK acquisitions continued in the 1990s and 2000s, resulting in the creation of UK Greetings group, the holding company for American Greeting in the UK.

The UK portfolio now also comprises brands such as Hanson White, Camden, Gibson Greetings, the Xpressions Gift Company, Special Editions, and last year, the company also acquired Watermark.

Under chief executive Gary Rowley, UK Greetings currently employs around 3,500 people and its core business remains the design, manufacture and sale of greeting cards through third party retail stores, such as Clinton Cards.

According to the company website, UK Greetings has the highest market share in greetings cards manufacturing in the UK. The most recent figures show its market share was 35% in 2007.

Internationally, American Greetings and UK Greetings produce cards in more than 20 languages, distributing them in more than 70 countries.