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CQ Issue 2 - Summer 2011


The magazine for everyone at Clintons

Store e r u t u f e of th e first four stores We visit th

. . . w o n k o t g n i t Get ok o r b le d id M e tt e n n A

With Love

What we say to our Valentine’s


The quarterly magazine for everyone at Clintons

we have made a final decision on all of the design aspects, I have no doubt our new look will support the vision we have for the future business. Once again, I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the project, their hard work has ensured we are well and truly on our way to becoming more of a loved brand.

What a hectic few months since issue one! We’ve had three busy seasons, a Royal Wedding that captivated the world and we have just reached a major milestone in our “story”. With so much having gone on over the last few months, there’s a lot to update you on and the CQ Team have covered it all. From a personal perspective, I am tremendously pleased to report that our four “Store of The Future” trial stores have all been fitted out and have been trading for a short while now. The feedback we’ve received so far has been great and once

We’ve stayed true to wanting to remain the market leader and last month launched our brand new website, with the largest offering of personalised cards and gifts online. I have spent hours navigating the site myself and could not be more impressed at how we have delivered our brand presence. As I’m sure you’ll be aware, we and many of our high street neighbours continue to trade in a difficult environment. With the economy as it is, it is vital that we offer unparalleled levels of service, create the best possible in-store experience and continue to showcase our product value and quality. I am confident that with your efforts in store and our evolving brand, marketing and digital strategies, we will

In this

issue... 3 A new home

8 Getting to know...

We look at our new web site

Annette Middlebrook

4 From Clintons...

9 Your Shout

Evolution of the Macho Man

What’s got our teams shouting

5 K Factor And the winner is...

6 Stores of the future We take a sneak peak at the first four stores


be in the best possible place when the economy improves. We are well in the midst of change and the business is heading in a new direction at great speed. For those of you who were at conference, you will have seen the “dancing man” video (if you haven’t, Google “dancing man sasquatch”!). The video shows one man frantically dancing on his own at a music festival in Canada. Having danced on his own for quite some time, another man see’s how much fun he’s having and joins in. Suddenly they’ve started a movement and more and more people can see what they’re doing and join in. I’ve been dancing on the hill for a while and am thrilled that so many of you have joined me. The amount of dancers will determine the success of our new initiatives, so if you haven’t joined us yet, we’re waiting.

Clinton Lewin Group Managing Director

The CQ Team

Sheema Amin HR

Claire Bates Marketing

Georgina Stephens HR

Ilkan Mehmet Operations

Steven Waitling Ecommerce

Ann Alderson Bought Ledger

10 Social Media The story so far

12 Boofle’s Adventures He’s in Glasgow and Disneyland Paris

Designed by Dan Cahill.

A New (page) Over the past year lots of things have changed here at Clintons. Our logo has had a facelift, we’ve launched Store of The Future and now our website. The brand new, better than ever is up and running and raking in the orders from our customers. We now have a modern, brand coloured, uncluttered homepage and a great new personalised section where not only can you personalise cards but also put your touch on a range of gifts. Our range of over 450 personalised cards are easy for customers to “make their own”, with a cover and inside message, some even have the ability to upload a photo to really add that personal touch our customers want. From Me to You cards to our very own designs there really is something for everyone from cute to humour and whatever the occasion.

In all the excitement of the new personalised range of cards and gifts on the website, it is important not to forget that we still carry the non-personalised stock you see in store. With ranges such as Boofle, Yankee candles and gift experiences we really do now have the ability to offer a great selection of products to our customers wherever they are in the world. Our new site allows us to launch new promotions and learn more about our customers which will make us more relevant in providing what they really want. With a live support section on the site, we can communicate with our customers in real time solving any issues they may have, guaranteeing the service that they have come to expect from Clintons.

We are keen to tie in our Facebook and Twitter pages with the website to make it a place that is so much more than buying cards, gift and wrap. We will be able to interact with our customers through newsletters, emails when they leave a basket abandoned, online polls and conversations through social media. The launch of our new website is an exciting time for the business and one that we hope will ensure we are known for having the best personalised products and website around. Have a look at the site and get a feel for it, because we will need your help in making sure our customers know what’s on offer. It really is something to be proud of and we hope to bring more exciting products to our customers in the months to come!

In addition to the cards we now have a huge range of gifts from mugs to mousemats and satchels to pencil cases. Customers can add a message and upload photos on some gifts which make the perfect addition to a personalised card.


From Clintons

with Love To mark the most romantic day of the year, we launched our busiest PR Campaign yet! Keeping with our ‘Little Things’ theme, we wanted to create a national campaign that inspired conversations around all the little messages and phrases people send or receive on Valentine’s. Kicking off the activity was the ‘Evolution of the Macho Man’ survey. From questioning 3,000 men, we discovered that 8 out of 10 males are comfortable displaying emotion and no longer hide their feelings. Our survey suggested Northerners were leading the way with 95% admitting they are at ease sharing feelings with their partner. Brighton came bottom, with over half admitting they still struggle. Given the stats, we thought we should help the men of Brighton and held a special ‘Men’s Personal Shopping Event’ at a Brighton store, with personal assistants on hand and a cool 15% discount. Our biggest piece of Valentines activity was a nationwide competition with Absolute Radio. This gave 20 people the

chance to place their special message in their local Clintons window and then have it read live on air on Valentine’s Day. We were overwhelmed with the amount of entries and it was very tough picking the winners. In the end there were a varied choice of winners including a marriage proposal, a message to a husband who is currently serving in Afghanistan and an amusing poem from a cheeky girlfriend. We also ran a fantastic Valentine’s Competition with the loveable Boofle and a prize of £5000 worth of holiday vouchers! From thousands of entries, lucky Mrs McCarthy from Rochdale was randomly selected as the winner. Of course, we congratulated her in style and held a special Boofle day at her local store. Mrs Mcarthy, Boofle and Store Manager Lynsey Todd even made it onto Rochadale Online!

Peter is Mr 2011 On Saturday 5th February, our Bluewater store hosted a calendar signing with kindest celebrity Peter Andre. Popstar and general heartthrob Peter attracted over 1,600 fans (some queued since 5am) making it the biggest signing event at Bluewater....ever! Just before the event, we ran a Facebook competition where Laura Parsons and her mum won the chance to meet the man himself. Not only did the event make the national and local press, but it was also all captured on film for his ITV2 show, which aired earlier this month.


Braehead’s In the last issue, we detailed the nine nominees for our K –Factor competition. Since then, the judging panel unanimously voted for three finalists. We are delighted to announce the winners of the K Factor as Alan Mc Fayden, The team at Carmarthen and Audrey Stokes. Each winner had their staffroom decorated with their creative direction and were visited by members of the Love Clintons project team to see them live in action. Alan McFayden (Braehead Glasgow) was visited by Annette Middlebrook and Brett Smith. Keeping on brand, Alan wanted the staffroom painted in Clintons colours! He even managed to create aubergine notice boards! Alan constantly strives to go the extra mile for his customers. For example, one day when he was covering another store

a customer came in with a box of invites she had previously bought. She asked if they still had any more of the same design. Alan was unsure of what was in the stock room and offered to stay late that night to look for the customer. He spent several hours looking but didn’t have any luck, so he chose six designs that might make good alternatives. The customer loved one of the alternatives and went on to buy several packs. The Team in Carmarthen 491 were visited by Elaine Roughley. It was pink, pink and more pink for their staffroom. They even had matching pink tea and coffee canisters. The team in Carmarthen are always looking at ways to please their customers. On one occasion when Boofle was in store, they arranged with one of their customers to give a birthday surprise to her daughter.

new staffro


On the day, the customer came in with her daughter to find Boofle waiting for her with a big bunch of balloons. The team took a picture of the two of them together, raced to have the picture developed, before popping it in a card signed from Boofle and the team. Needless to say the little girl was over the moon. Audrey Stokes (Weston Super Mare 569) was visited by Debbie Lewin and Liam McTaggart. Audrey went ultra modern with a red and white combo. Audrey delivers amazing customer service to all who visit the store in Weston Super Mare. She uses her personality to chat to and engage with her customers and always makes them feel valued. The Management team often receive calls from customers who have been served by Audrey to thank her for the time and attention she has given.

Another day at the office This year, the teams within the office (as well as all our stores) have been embracing our four new brand values in a number of different ways. As we are such a seasonal business, we created an Events Team to put together special seasonal activity and keep our focus on the values and what our business is all about. In February, to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we were family spirited in hosting a competition for ‘best dressed in red’ and were surprising in decorating our reception areas, as well as creating a “Lonely Hearts” quiz for departments to find the Directors’ fantasy celebrity valentine. We were also very responsible in the company of a very

special guest: The Love Monster, who visited all departments, spreading some love and helping raise a fantastic £184.47 for The British Heart Foundation. Following the success of this, we hosted a tea/coffee and cake party for Mother’s Day. We encouraged family spirit by asking members of staff to don their pinny’s, dust down the recipe book and bake a cake just like Mum used to make! And best of all there was a lovely prize for the most creative and yummy cake. We even gave out hot cross buns for Easter! It has been great to see all of the teams’ response to these so far and look forward to what the events team has planned next!


Store of the The Clintons Makeover In our last issue, we told you all about our Branded project and everything it included. Well, all of us are brimming with excitement because we’ve had a sneak peak at the first four Stores of the Future (SOTF)! If you haven’t been to Nottingham Listergate, Bristol Broadmead, St Albans or Uxbridge, you’re in for a surprise. A big part of our rebranding strategy is to make sure the customer experience is central to everything we do, and of course our stores are key to that. So we went out and specifically selected four stores to trial a combination of designs from our creative partners The Yard (you’ll remember them from the last issue). We looked at demographics, sales performance and location to make sure we had a good cross section to understand how performance related to the new concepts. We took everything apart and slowly put it back together again, with a few modern twists. So what do you get when your rock up to a Clintons SOTF? Well to start with, we’ve installed new curved shop fronts that proudly boast the logo “Clintons” with our signature orange of course. The stores have the street address in line with our commitment to building local relationships and of course our heritage is of great importance, so you’ll find the ever famous digits 1968 on the new fascia. From the minute you take in the results of the new visual merchandising guidelines for windows and step into the store to see clearer sight lines and helpful navigational signage, you know you’re in an altogether


very different Clintons. We’ve really tried to highlight the great product on offer and have created themed areas such as “Party Time” and “It’s a Wrap!” And the new gift fixtures have been a hit with both customers and staff. And talk about 21st Century! You can’t help but be intrigued by the new digital treats we have installed. Taking centre stage is an AR (Augmented Reality) kiosk, where customers can try our interactive greetings cards, allowing them to play games or dress up just by showing the card to a webcam. Later this year, we’ll make another digital addition with instore personalisation pods where you can create greeting card masterpieces. Even by the time you have taken a stroll around the store, noted the gorgeous new “Clintons Collection” range, spotted the member of staff in a brand new uniform and made an opinion on the new carpet (we’re trying several different designs across the four stores), there’s still more to see at the tills. An altogether less cluttered space with slick looking counters and our brand promise prominently displayed on the back wall.

future A fantastic start to our SOTF programme, we’re keeping a close eye on what our customers like and dislike, the results from these four stores really will support our future growth. So many people went above and beyond right from design stage to the grand openings last month and the results are absolute testament to what Clintons can achieve.

“ The experience

of evolving our brand has been an incredible journey. We have reviewed every aspect of our business and left no stone unturned... This major step-change to our brand will ensure we continue to be market leaders and the first place our customers think of for greeting cards and gifts


Clinton Lewin (Group MD)


Describe your job in five words. It’s all about the people! What job would you have done if you hadn’t become a retailer? I would have been a singer... if I could sing... which I cant! If you were a cartoon character, which one would you be and why? Lady Penelope – she’s a secret agent, stylish, arrives in a Rolls Royce, owns a private yacht and has a butler/chauffeur. Need I say more?! What’s your proudest moment? My daughters, everything and anything they do

Annette Middlebrook Group HR Director

What was the last thing you purchased? A posh frock for my nephew’s wedding

What song have you sung to this week? Tonight’s the kind of night (Noah and the Whale) If you could have any super power for a day, which one would it be and what would you do with it? The power to prevent child suffering Best invention? There are so many to choose from, but today I would say the internet, as I am constantly on it. If you could go back in time, where would you stop? The 1920’s. I adore the style How did you celebrate your last Birthday? With a glass or two of champagne, is there any other way?

Putting the K into Clintons By Andrew Worth

Launched at Conference 2010, the K Factor was our take on the X Factor, with the aim of finding people and teams who use kindness everyday to make our customers’ experience one to remember.

sharing our findings Store Managers and customer service guru’s. For those of you who were at one of our events you’ll know some of our findings didn’t make for easy viewing!

We had great response with nominations from the all over the UK. Making the final decision was hard, but nine great candidates who go the extra mile were shortlisted and from those three worthy winners chosen.

Even so we wanted the day to be fun, engaging and above all inspiring. I hope we didn’t disappoint! From our side, Vanessa and I were blown away by the honesty and enthusiasm of all those that took part. It was fantastic to meet so many people that are driven by making a difference. And at the end of six weeks the boot of my car was full of ideas from you, on how we can go on to become the kindest place on the high street.

But we didn’t stop there. In April this year Vanessa and I went on tour with the K Factor Road Show. Lasting six weeks and taking in nine venues around the UK, all stores were invited to the biggest event of its kind that Clintons had ever seen. Our objective was to look at why customer service is so important, find out what our customer service levels are really like and what our customers think about us, before


Vanessa and I would like to say that it was truly an amazing experience and something that I’m proud to have been a part of.


t u o sh

What’s got our teams shouting this issue? Thanks to everyone who sent in their stories and photos. It’s great to see you all having fun at work and creating such lovely atmospheres for your customers. If you didn’t make it to print this time, don’t give up! Don’t wait for the next reminder – you can send us your stories and photos anytime to

Myself and husband Kevin wanted to support his best friend Damon when his mother passed away last year from cancer. Her request was to stay at Marie Curie hospice which she did and Damon was so grateful he promised to pay them every penny back it cost to look after her there. Kevin & Damon have done sponsored runs, bike rides, poker nights, a dip in the north sea and a massive charity night. I organised a 3 hour charity spin with 30 people to raise money as well, but the biggest achievement was a 6 day sponsored trek through the Grand Canyon. We would like to say a very very special thank you to everyone at Clintons who donated sponsorship money. The grand total raised was £12,500 which was higher than we ever expected – thank you so much for all your support. Christine Crick – Regional Manager

We have both studied and passed our NVQ2. Mine was in Retail Operations and Nina’s in Customer Service. Nina has also passed her EDI Level 1 and 2 in adult literacy. I am currently Studying for my NVQ3 in Customer Service plus a technical certificate (apprenticeship) in customer service at level 3. Nina is currently considering which NVQ to do starting in September. Although it can be hard work (especially at seasonal times!) to fit the extra work in, it is also very rewarding.  This has all been done, at no extra cost to us, through Clintons working with First4skills. Both Nina and myself wanted to SHOUT about it and encourage everyone to have a go. Joanne Gardner, Assistant Manager Nina Stather, Trainee Manager Pontefract 295

Tracey Himsworth the manager of York 652 was fed up of Yankee Candles being stolen from her store. As much as the team tried, they were having no success at catching the culprits. So enough was enough, and the team decided to go undercover in store. Out came the glasses, the hats, the handbags and the overcoats. Within a day they had success and the culprit was caught red handed. In March, Tracey was in court when the thief was sentenced to 32 weeks prison - a great result! This is such a good example of a responsible team, I had to SHOUT about it!

I am very proud of Tracey and the team in York. Debra Wilson – Area Manger

With the Royal Wedding being such a massive global event, Debbie (Assistant Manager) and myself decided the day before the wedding to dress for work as wedding guests. We received a lot of comments on our efforts to get involved in such a special event and involving the local community in commemorating a special occasion. We helped to make work a little more fun for ourselves and our customers. Craig Connor Sales Assistant - Consett 270



the story so far Since we launched our Facebook and Twitter pages, we’ve not stopped with the fun! Do you know what we’ve been up to? Have you got involved yet?! We use Facebook and Twitter everyday to connect with 4500 of both our customers and our teams. It has become a vital tool in understanding and responding to what people think about our brand. Over the past few months, through FB we have celebrated unusual occasions like ‘National Speak Like a Pirate Day’, and created competitions such as ‘Tell us your favourite Pancake topping’ for Pancake Day and ‘Post your Irish Limerick’ for St Patricks Day. We’re





surprising competitions around less known occasions such as Bob Marley Day and Doughnut Day. We are also doing a lot more online during our seasons. Campaigns include competitions, daily polls, links with media and magazines, as well as handy tips and great product offers. Something you can always find on our FB page is the “Card of the Week”. We’ve been using this to highlight the huge range and fantastic quality of cards that we offer. We’re constantly developing new ways to interact with all you guys as well, so if you haven’t already, get involved on and

Licensed to Win This month saw the Greats Awards take place at the Lancaster Hotel in London. Organised by Progressive Gifts, it brings together the entire gift industry for an “Oscar” style celebration. We are delighted to report that this year, Clintons won the award for “Best Retailer of Licensed Gifts”. Up against names such as Debenhams, Argos and Boots, our ranges such as Me-To-You, Yankee and Boofle sealed the deal for us. Charles Bernstein (Head of Gifts), along with Sarah Hodges and Hannah Jolly (Buyers) took centre stage to accept the award. With trophy in hand, Charles commented: “I was absolutely over the moon and delighted that all the effort we have put into supporting the licensing industry has been recognised. We have always believed that we are a destination for licensed gifts and we will continue to support our suppliers as this is a growth part of the market for us and them, and a key strength to our business”


Letter of the Month

Other side of the counter I just want to say what a pleasure it is to have been dealt with by the wonderful young man (John) you have working in your Chesterfield branch, the one next to M&S. Both myself and my husband have shopped there and have been thoroughly helped by him on more than one occasion. It’s nice to know that in this day and age, there is still politeness, and common decency towards customers and elderly customers and the enthusiasm and willingness to help. He even takes the time to talk to us about our day. He is an asset to Clinton Cards. Every shop should have someone like him.

I am very pleased to highly commend the customer service of Clinton Cards, Oswestry. Since 2004, when I chose to live in the Oswestry area, I searched through all the available card shops in the town, and came across ‘Clinton Cards’. The range and diversity of quality cards immediately drew my attention. A member of the staff asked me if I needed some help and guided me through a selection that may was closer to my requirements for cards that I wanted to send to my families in England and Belgium. When the beautiful Deco range of cards became available, ‘I was over the moon’, because my families in Belgium had never seen the like before. The staff became so used to seeing me in their shop, browsing through the shelves; they could tell when I was sometimes perplexed because I was not able to find the cards that matched my thoughts for the recipients. I never came away from the shop without exactly what I wanted for my families; thanks to the expertise of that Clinton cards staff, nothing was beyond their abilities to be able to please this customer!

Mrs J

Mr F

Sharing what our customers have to say about us

That extra mile I have to thank your manager at the Pontefract West Yorkshire shop. This lady went the extra mile to make sure I had just the card for my daughters wedding next week. I have never been helped so much as I was by this lady. In fact not one of my friends can believe it. This lady deserves a big thank you. She is obviously a great asset to your business.

Mrs M

Flying the Flags I would like to commend Clintons on their St Georges Day policy, where one could purchase cards, flags, etc. I buy six cards every year for sending to family and friends and this year there was an extra selection in your store in the Pallasades in Birmingham. I am most grateful. Many thanks again. Well Done!

Mrs S

Last piece of the puzzle I am writing to you about a jigsaw I had given to me as a present, it is the Deco Collection of two ladies sitting down, blue and pink, drinking cocktails. When I put it together there was 3 pieces missing. I was very disappointed as I collect the deco range and I wanted to frame the jigsaw after completion. After enquiring through your head office on how I can get those 3 pieces, I received a lovely letter from Only4U who put together a box of goodies for me by way of an apology for the missing pieces. I therefore would like to thank you and Only4U very much. I am very grateful for the Jigsaw; the other items are a bonus to me. I was not expecting that at all. I will say Clinton Cards is one of my favourite shops.

Mrs G

Over the Moon

All part of the service

Just a matter of time I am writing to express my gratitude for one of your member of staffs help. Lisa who works at the Bootle store of Clinton Cards in Liverpool stayed well past her leaving time in order to ensure the balloons I had ordered for a party were ready and of a high standard. She had a cheery manner, was very polite and I just wanted to make sure that it was recognised. It would be much appreciated if she could be informed of how much her help was gratefully received!

Well done to all our team’s who’ve received a mention by our customers this time. It’s great to see how delivering a great Minted Customer Experience impacts on our customers and delights them so much they have to put pen to paper to let us know – we love it!

I just wanted to let someone at Head Office know how good your helium balloons are. My 3rd daughter was born on 12th February 2011 and just over 9 weeks later her “it’s a girl” balloon is still up on the ceiling. What fantastic value for money!

If you haven’t received a mention this time, really go out of your way to delight your customers – remember, they don’t ask for a lot. A simple welcome, offer of help and a friendly smile at the till is all it takes. We’re looking forward to seeing many more compliments come flooding in!

Mr P

The Customer Services Team

Mrs A

Up, Up and Away


Follow Boofle every issue to see where he has been and what he has been up to.

The nigh t starts w it Scottish h a lesson in Gaelic

This time Boofle is in… Glasgow and Disneyland Paris Since Christmas, Boofle has been all over. We’ve been inundated with invites from our teams. This time around, Boofle has had a hectic night out with the East Kilbride team and a short holiday to Disneyland Paris with Littlehampton Store Manager Michaela Park. On Sat 26th March, Boofle put his glad rags on to celebrate the milestone birthdays of team members Amy Keenan (18), Hilary Thomas (21) and Evelyn Doran (50). Seeing the bright lights of Glasgow, Boofle had a great time hitting the dance floor, relaxing with the team and having a “wee” cocktail or two.

an.... e ladies m girls th s y a lw A day h the Birth Boofle wit

After all the partying, Boofle needed a bit of rest, which he certainly had when he travelled First Class on Eurostar to Disneyland Paris with Michaela Park. They hit every ride and munched on the finest local cuisine. Do you think you can show Boofle a good time? Have something weird and wonderful for him to do or a far away place to show him? Send him an invite to Tell us what you have in store for him and make the next issue of Boofle’s lovely little adventures.

azy after

bit h It all got a

erella Unfortunately Cind e m ho ’t wasn

Boofle supports Race for Life Boofle also stopped in to visit his friends in Caernarfon. He supported Store Manager Ruth Edwards run the “Race for Life”. As well as raising lots of money for Breast Cancer Care Charity, Ruth did a fantastic job of completing the 5k course in a speedy 23 mins! Boofle and everyone at Clintons are extremely proud of Ruth and all of our people who take part in this fantastic event for such a good cause!


Boofle enjoys First Class Treatment


CQ Issue 2  
CQ Issue 2  

Clinton Cards 12 page quarterly magazine isuue 2 - Summer 2011