Buffett Toy Bet Expands to Dentists With SmileMakers Deal

Feb 21, 2014 2:03 pm ET

(Updates with Staples declining to comment in the last paragraph.)

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. agreed to buy SmileMakers from Staples Inc., adding a provider of toys to dentists, doctors and teachers.

SmileMakers will be acquired by Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire’s Oriental Trading Co. unit, which sells party and craft supplies, the business said today in a statement.

Buffett, 83, has been using smaller deals to expand Berkshire, the firm he’s built over more than four decades through takeovers and investments in stocks such as Coca-Cola Co. The company agreed to buy Oriental Trading in 2012, adding to retail operations that include jewelers and See’s Candies.

“SmileMakers’ unique assortment of products is a complementary addition,” Sam Taylor, the chief executive officer of Oriental Trading, said in the statement.

Taylor said Spartanburg, South Carolina-based SmileMakers will offer products from Oriental Trading. The target firm is credited with creating the “treasure box” concept to reward children for enduring dental procedures, according to the statement, which didn’t disclose terms. Oriental Trading said the deal is expected to be completed by the middle of April.

Mark Cautela, a spokesman for Staples, the Framingham, Massachusetts-based seller of office supplies, declined to comment.

--With assistance from Nick Turner in New York. Editors: Dan Kraut, Steven Crabill