Rubbermaid Inc. plans to expand its child-product lineup by acquiring most of Century Products Co. of Macedonia, Ohio.
The Wooster, Ohio, firm said it will pay $77.5 million for Century's assets for its line of infant car seats, strollers and carriers. The Century business had sales of $115 million last year. Rubbermaid will not buy Century's Okla Homer Smith operation, a wooden crib and juvenile furniture maker.
Lorrie Paul Crum, Rubbermaid spokeswoman, said her firm plans to keep former Century plants running after the deal is completed in about 30 days. Century does injection molding in Macedonia and Canton, Ohio; foam assembly and craftwork in Piedras Negras, Mexico; and has a distribution facility in Twinsburg, Ohio.
``We plan to grow the business and we need the capacity,'' Crum said in a telephone interview.
Century's product line complements that of Rubbermaid subsidiary Graco Children's Products Inc., which will acquire the Century business. Graco, which Rubbermaid bought in 1996, makes infant swings, strollers, play yards, walkers and highchairs.
Crum said Rubbermaid is not assuming any big risk of potential safety-related lawsuits in buying the Century business from Wingate Partners of Dallas. Rubbermaid factors such concerns into its acquisition terms, she said. Her firm also has learned a great deal about infant safety since it began running Graco.
Century early this year paid $225,000 for not reporting defects promptly in its TravelLite strollers and Okla Homer Smith cribs. The company also has had several product recalls this decade.
James Connors will continue as president of the Century business. He said in a news release that the Century and Graco combination will give consumers better value. Century officials declined to comment beyond Connors' statement.