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Independently audited, ABC circulation of 6,086

The impartial voice of the greetings card industry Nov/Dec 2016 Issue 03 Volume 18





15—17 January 2017 Olympia, London


GREETINGS& STATIONERY Surround yourself with the finest designs, expertly chosen to inspire your buying experience. Release your inner style scout and explore the exclusively curated world of Greetings & Stationery at Top Drawer.





contents the team


Tracey’s not one to judge - actually she is!


News People, Exhibition, Licensing, Supplier and General, it’s all here and there’s more online at


Meet The Newbies Windles Group have a fresh perspective in this focus on industry newcomers.


On The Line Chris Fox and Helen Pallen give their online insights for publishers and retailers.


Retail Advice

Guest columnnist Nat Hitchcock looks back as Ian Bradley takes over by looking forward.



Cover Story



Bestsellers & Trends


John Ryan Signs and symbols can show the way.


Spotlight & Gifts Spotlight A selection of this month’s latest releases.


Window On The World Taking our regular look at the face retailers present to the public.


Henries Awards Photo round-up of the winning ways at this year’s big ceremony.

Vicki Thomas spills the beans on how trends are forecast.


Services To The Greetings Industry


You can’t make or sell cards without help from other businesses.

Talk Of The Town Greetings retailers tell it like it is.

The Art File’s reflections on success.


On The Shop Front Philip Downer says don’t wait around.

Henri Davis considers trends and how retailers can ride out the current economic turbulance.


It’s All About Sales

Top Drawer Pre-Preview The curated show is back for S/S17.

Charity Cards

Editor Tracey Bearton Advertisement Manager Simon Davis 01442 289940 (direct)

Group Advertisement Manager Ryan Horwood Group Editor Mirella Anstey Publisher Mark Naish Production Director Paul Naish Managing Director Malcolm Naish Circulation Manager Robert Thomas

Keep in touch - follow us:

Helping others is nice, and the greetings industry show It’s not just about Christmas.



GCA AGM Report greetingstodaymag

A trio of great speakers made for an interesting annual general meeting.


Lema Publishing Ltd

Go to our website – – for all the up-to-date news and new product information plus our Facebook page carries more photographs from shows and events.


NEW ranges abound but there are many long-standing collections that are always hitting the hotspot and deserve recognition. In this Hotspot section Greetings Today features some of these each issue. HAVING launched in 2006, Wendy Jones-Blackett’s Quicksilver range is definitely a classic, with more than 900 foiled designs to date covering all occasions, and Tim Thacker of Card Collection in Bath agreed: “We’ve probably sold it since the first time it came out. I just think it’s a classy-looking card at a really good price, and they update it regularly, so we’ll definitely keep going with it.” @greetingstoday

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Telephone: 01442 289930

At the heart of retail Greetings Today is independently audited with an ABC circulation of 6,093 (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016) Subscription per annum: UK £60 (free for people in the greetings industry), Europe £80, ROTW £100 3

SEND THE RIGHT MESSAGE People take time choosing the right card, don’t they? So make your shop the only stop in the hunt for the perfect one. Come and explore the options at the UK’s largest, newest and most spectacular collection of greeting cards, gifts, stationery (and all things paper) at Spring Fair 2017.



leader Editor Tracey Bearton

UDGING by how busy everyone is at the moment – as we are here at Greetings Today – 2017 looks likely to be as interesting as the year we’re just finishing. ● Cartoons by James Whitworth T: 07872 013943 –


And “judging” is the operative word because I’ve been asked by the Giftware Association to join the panel for the upcoming 2017 Gift Of The Year competition. I’m honoured and delighted to have been asked, although I do have a bit of form in this field these days as I’m about to embark on my third year judging the National Calendar Awards, and back in the spring was allowed to take charge of the first greetings card prizes in the 40-year history of the British Craft Trade Fair – puffs chest out proudly! GOTY is the biggie though, a highly sought-after industry accolade with the winners revealed and made much of at Spring Fair – and it’s been interesting looking through the 22 categories to see which ones I should volunteer for covering in the initial online rounds. Obviously I’m going for the Cards, Wrap & Stationery category which has seen some brilliant product over the past few years and this year’s winners were the Showtime cards from Really Good which delighted a little oneyear-old I know when I gave her the letter G for her first birthday last month. Gracie loved making the lights flash so much I got hold of the rest of the letters for her name and got Santa’s elves to frame it all for her Christmas present – I thought it was a good way of turning a greeting into a gift but she’ll need some help pushing all the buttons at once! I’m really looking forward to seeing what great designs are out there for the coming year, and I’m also hoping to be involved in the initial judging for the Branded & Character, Craft & Homemade, EcoFriendly and Made In UK categories as there’s a lot of crossover with the greetings industry. So all you wonderful publishers need to get those entries in for Gift Of The Year – the closing date is Friday, November 25 – www.giftoftheyear.

And, before I forget, entries for the National Calendar Awards – – close on November 30 so get those in too, I’ve seen some great ones around at the shows, it would be brilliant to see them on the judging table in December! We have a particularly strong judging panel there this year with Greetings Today columnists Henri Davis and Calliope Gifts co-owner Philip Downer coming on board alongside White Mint’s joint founder Chris Dell to boost the retailer representation. Talking of our columnists, please join me in welcoming Midlands sales agent Ian Bradley as a permanent addition to the GT fold. Well-known in the industry – not least for his delightful floral shirts – he’s been a brilliant It’s All About Sales stand-in since Alina Clark went on maternity leave in April, and has now kindly agreed to continue in the role. Alina has decided to step down to concentrate on running her north-east agency while juggling being mum to gorgeous little Ruben, but we’ll definitely be staying in touch with occasional columns and her views on the industry. Which is the perfect lead in to this being the time of year when everyone is looking both backwards and forwards at once – in other words it’s bestsellers and trends time. Being out in the field gives agents like Alina a unique view of what’s actually happening and she told us: “I’m finding there’s a massive trend towards gender neutral and unisex designs both in cards and gifts. There seems to be a lot more texture effect on cards too and unicorns and dream-like images seem very strong.” For more on the subject, turn to our feature on page 16 – and if you don’t agree then you should have sent us in your views! If you do want to appear in the mag, check out our new 2017 features list, where we have made a few changes to better meet everyone’s needs. And do have a chat with the very lovely advertising manager Simon Davis about how we can help you reach your target audience. @greetingstoday

Send your views and submissions for the magazine to: Tel: 01442 289930

Want to appear in ? JANUARY FEATURES: Top Drawer Spring Preview (Jan 15-17) Scotland’s Trade Fair Spring (Jan 22-24) Christmas Cards & Wrap JANUARY COPY DATE – DECEMBER 1

FEBRUARY FEATURES: Paperworld Preview (Jan 28-31) Spring Fair Preview (Feb 5-9) FEBRUARY COPY DATE – DECEMBER 19

MARCH FEATURES: Calendars Wedding & Anniversary Humour Cards MARCH COPY DATE – FEBRUARY 2 3

in the news K2 Greetings closed down

editor joins GOTY panel GIFT Of The Year have a couple of new judges on board for the upcoming 2017 awards with both Greetings Today editor Tracey Bearton and Gifts Today editor Sally Norton being invited to join the panel. Organised by the Giftware Association, the organisation that has been supporting suppliers and retailers in the gift and home industry since 1947, the 22 categories will be judged by a panel of 30 retail buyers, trend experts and industry folk. They each choose around five categories that they’re best-placed to judge for the initial stages, where all entries are looked at online to shortlist those that go forward to the live judging day on January 12 where the whole panel get to vote. “Obviously I’m going for the Cards, Wrap & Stationery category,” Tracey, pictured top, said, “which has seen some brilliant product over the past few years. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what great designs are out there for the coming year, and I’m also hoping to be involved in the initial judging for the Branded & Character, Craft & Homemade, Eco-Friendly and Made In UK categories as there’s a lot of crossover with the greetings industry.” Tracey’s Lema Publishing colleague Sally added: “I can’t wait to see all the products and have the opportunity to celebrate all the creativity in the gift industry.” Shortlisted products will be announced on December 21 and samples need to be submitted for the live judging, after which the votes tallied will determine the winner and two finalists for each category, who will be revealed on Sunday, February 5, at the end of the opening day of Spring Fair at Birmingham’s NEC. You still have until Friday, November 25, to enter the competition – see

DIRECTORS Kurt Abbott and Katie Collins have closed the doors at K2 Greetings after almost 15 years and will be concentrating on their new in-store personalised gifts and cards venture Creation Express. With K2 having ceased to take orders in October, most of the staff at the company in Waterfold Business Park, Bury, will be moving over to the new firm based in the same premises, while the stock, goodwill and design bank has been sold to a leading industry figure. In a statement cousins Kurt and Katie, who set up the company in 2003 with £3,000 savings, said: “After a long period of careful consideration we have decided to close the doors at K2 Greetings, after almost 15 years designing and publishing greetings cards. “K2 will continue to collect all outstanding debts and wish to assure customers who have purchased our wonderful Christmas range. “Creation Express, which we launched over a year ago, has turned out to be a life-changing business, not just for us but for nearly all who have signed up for the concept. “We have received significant investment for Creation Express so we need to concentrate all our efforts in growing our existing franchisees businesses as well as developing new business and product development for the brand.”

T: 0161 762 0101 T: 0161 762 9309

It’s date night again!

Winding up for Windy City

ALL calendar and diary producers have the chance to make a date with a trophy as entries are open for the National Calendar Awards 2017. And it will be interesting to see who can beat the Warwick Rowers, whose annual naked calendar was this year’s star with a four-award haul for their efforts raising money for the university boat club and the Sport Allies charity. There are 16 categories to cover all forms of dated product plus the student section for new talent as well as the production excellence and special awards, which will be judged by a panel including Scribbler’s Henri Davis, retailers Philip Downer of Caliope and Chris Dell from White Mint; David Jones of Premier Beswick; independents Eddie Deacon, Paul Atterbury, Vanessa Kramer, and Jenny Jones; Kodak’s David McGuiness; Christopher LeonardMorgan, London Stationery Show; Becky Chilcott, Wynkyn De Worde Society; Greetings Today editor Tracey Bearton, and industry advisor Michael Rose from Rose Calendars. The entry form is available to from the NCA website and, following the closing date of November 30, the panel will gather for the judging day on December 7, with the presentation on January 25 at Stationers’ Hall in London.

PAPERCHASE CEO Timothy Melgund has said deals have been agreed for two sites in Chicago for the greetings and stationery specialists to open their first standalone US stores. The Sunday Telegraph newspaper reported on November 6 that with sales having grown by almost 12 per cent in the UK, the retailers are winding up to actively move into the American market, in addition to their cards being sold in Target and Staples. Timothy said deals had been agreed for the two sites in the Windy City, and he had a “conviction the brand will do well there, based on our previous experience of the market”. Paperchase were previously owned by failed US bookstore chain Borders, which sold the business for £20million to private equity firm Primary Capital before their 2009 collapse. Timothy played down expectations of a stock market flotation following a string of London listings being cancelled this year, saying “there’s no plans to change the capital structure at the moment”. The Paperchase boss added the greetings industry was in “robust health” with the market now valued at £1.7bn. “Despite the rampant growth of technology we are seeing great interest in traditional items like scrapbooks and there’s nothing more wonderful than receiving a card – I think people appreciate that even more,” he said.


Celebrating team effort FRIENDS, family, customers and suppliers were among those helping Blue Eyed Sun celebrate at yesterday’s ceremony to mark their Queen’s Award For Enterprise, with a presentation from the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex. And according to co-founder and MD Jeremy Corner, the most important people present at the hand-made specialists’ new home in Burgess Hill were all the members of their team. Having achieved the award, which they can use for five years, in recognition for their hard work growing internationally, Jeremy told the gathering on October 31: “The award shows what we believe and how far we have come. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to our team, we could never have come this far without you. It wouldn’t be the same without you, this is really your award.” The Queen’s Award For Enterprise In International Trade was conferred on April 21, Her Majesty’s 90th birthday, with Jeremy and wife and co-founder Jo attending a reception at Buckingham Palace in July.

T: 01273 823003

Get your Festive Friday toolkit CHRISTMAS is definitely coming – so the annual Festive Friday event is also on its way, and the new 2016 toolkit can be downloaded from the Greeting Card Association website. “It’s that special time of love and caring, family and community, the time when we reach out to spread good will and happiness,” said GCA CEO Sharon Little, “what better way to get this all started nice and early than by joining in

with Festive Friday 2016, the last Friday in November, the special day for everyone in the card industry and all lovers of cards to send their personal Christmas cards.” Remember to post photos on social media, tagging @GCAUK and @greetingstoday along with the #FestiveFriday hashtag, as well as emailing the images to tracey@ @greetingstoday

news in brief Nessa scores a hat-trick A TRIP to London paid off for Nessa where the chocolate Labrador was on hand to help her human Sean Austin lift the UK’s Most Dog-Friendly High Street Shop title for the third year running. After being announced as the winner at the ceremony held at the Kennel Club’s London HQ, Sean posted a picture of Nessa with the trophy to take back to Austin & Co in Worcester, adding: “Off to Ikea for a display cabinet!”

Double your money!

28 – 31. 1. 2017 Frankfurt am Main

INDEPENDENT gift and greetings firms are being actively encouraged to get involved with the Small Business Saturday UK campaign set for December 3. This will be the fourth year for the annual campaign that puts small businesses across the country in the national spotlight and retailers such as Mantons Cards’ Chris Beards are enthusiastic participants as getting involved last year saw the Isle Of Man store’s sales double on the day itself. To take part in the grassroots, not-for-profit campaign, go to and click Get Involved to send off for, or download and print, the free marketing pack.

High Street ‘alive and well’ DATA from LDC and BIRA shows that traditional independent shops opened slightly more outlets than were closed in the first half of 2016. Tracking this “sensitive barometer of business confidence” saw four more shops across the country, a reversal of the net decline of 194 stores in the first half of 2015 with one of the main drivers being the High Streets’ “dramatic improvement” showing net growth of 200 units.

More discounts on way A NEW dedicated Gift Pavilion is being launched at the 2017 London Stationery Show by the Giftware Association, who have also negotiated further stand space discounts at more trade fairs for members. As well as being eligible for the GA’s long-standing discounts on stand space at many of the best-known gift and home exhibitions, such as Spring & Autumn Fair, Scotland’s Trade Fair, British Craft Trade Fair and Giving & Living, the same perk will soon be available for members at The Baby Show, Asian Wedding, CHSI Stitches and the Furniture Show.

Girl power! AS THE only woman nominated among 10 finalists in her British Small Business Awards category, Bexy Boo founder Bex Hassett isn’t too disappointed that she didn’t lift the trophy. The black tie event at London’s Connaught Rooms on October 20 saw Bex and husband Jon make the trip south from their Cheshire base for the ceremony as one of the finalists picked from 600-plus entries in the Micro Business Of The Year section for companies who have demonstrated strong revenue growth and a product or service that stands above competitors.

Hello tomorrow. The visionary office.

The stationery trends.

Stationery defies technology THE UK stationery market is set to rise by £49.1million in the next five years, defying the ongoing rise of smartphone and tablet ownership, according to the latest figures from Verdict Retail. The report from the retail research and analysis group states this growth will be driven by the continuing trend of buying stationery as gifts, increased ranges from more companies like greetings publishers coming into the market, and design-led product and innovation.

Elvis is in the building ELVIS was a massive star when he was alive and almost 40 years since his death he is still huge so, when Danilo decided to pay tribute to the king, it needed to be big. And the enormous collage the team have made, using more than 1,000 Danilo calendars, diaries and greetings cards to reconstruct a section of the first-ever official Elvis Presley licensed calendar that they published back in 1979 fits the bill perfectly. You can see just how they did it as the company have the Elvis collage video on their social media channels.

Now we are three JONATHAN Maskell and the team at Giftwrap UK have added Liz & Pip and Heritage Art & Design to their portfolio making it a triple dose of design quality in greetings cards, wrap and packaging. As the exclusive UK distributors for the Swiss-based Stewo giftwrap and packaging brand, Sales Manager Jonathan has been looking to expand their offer and said: “It was design that brought Giftwrap UK and Liz & Pip together having introduced a gift-line collection of gift-wrap, bags, boxes, napkins and accessories within our new Stewo SS17 catalogue using their design.”

Card Factory in top 10

Do you always take the long view when making decisions? If so, make sure you book your online ticket for Paperworld 2017 now. You then benefit from our Business Matchmaking service and can forge new contacts and arrange appointments in advance of the world’s leading trade fair for paper, office supplies and stationery products. For a perfectly prepared trade fair visit: Tel. +44 (0) 14 83 48 39 83

CARD Factory are sixth in the rankings of fastest-growing retailers in Britain having opened 62 new units across the country in the past 12 months, while closing 19. According to research compiled by the Local Data Company, the greetings giants were leading the charge of the value retailers at joint sixth alongside One Stop convenience stores with both having a net openings total of 43, giving Card Factory a 5.16 per cent growth rate and taking their total estate to 801 units. @greetingstoday 7

licensing news

exhibition news PaperAwards return for spring THE PaperAwards are returning to the January edition of Top Drawer following their successful launch at the autumn show – with entries due from exhibitors by November 30, and the public to choose the winners. Sponsored by GF Smith again, the PaperAwards recognise and reward talent and innovation within the Greetings & Stationery industry, and the entry form is available to download on Held at London’s Olympia from 15-17 January, organisers Clarion Events present an exclusivelycurated pick of around 1,000 UK and international brands across the entire lifestyle landscape. The winners and finalists will have their products displayed right in the heart of the Greetings & Stationery sector, which sits within Gift, one of the four worlds at Top Drawer along with Home, Fashion and Craf. As the world’s largest edited show for this sector, the Spring/Summer 17 edition of Top Drawer’s Greetings

& Stationery attracts the very best UK and international greetings cards and stationery design-led brands. Wrap, Papercuts, Katie Leamon, The Art File, East End Prints, Think Of Me, Five Dollar Shake, Artebene, Lagome Design, Jo Clark Design, Jolly Awesome, Imagination Illustrated, Ohh Deer, Roger La Borde and Belly Button Designs are among the 150 companies who will be showcasing their new products at the show. Applications to enter the PaperAwards S/S17 are open to all Greetings & Stationery exhibitors for the three categories – Exciting Use Of Colour, Emotive Design and Engaging Print. Following the November 30 closing date a shortlist of brands will be determined by an expert judging panel then the final vote will be put to the industry and the winners announced just before the show opens You can now register online to attend the show at

BLE breaks all records

Trio of trends INNOVATIVE solutions and trailblazing lifestyle trends will be on show at Paperworld 2017 as a trio of style scenarios demonstrates the future of stationery, office accessories and writing materials. Organisers Messe Frankfurt are offering Suitable Solutions, Curious Funfair and Solid Grade to provide inspiration for product development and customer appeal at the January 28-21 show in Frankfurt. Having always combined commercial office supplies with stationery, writing materials, greetings cards and school requisites, they now have a new “the visionary office and the stationery trends” motto, refreshed hall layout and up-to-date approach to the Trend Show. For the visionary office, their designers have identified the flexible Suitable Solutions trend, with stationery trends covered under exuberant Curious Funfair and Solid Grade for home workspaces.

IT WAS all about coming of age this year at Brand Licensing Europe as the show’s record-breaking 18th outing surpassed all targets for organisers UBM. An eight per cent increase in gross square meterage at London’s Olympia made the show the largest yet, with attendees from 81 countries over October 11-13. The five per cent increase on 2015 saw visitor numbers at more than 7,500 (final figures subject to audit), including a 13 per cent increase in attendance from retailers. More than 80 famous faces made the character parade the biggest yet, and visitors such as the Pyramid International team (pictured) joined in, while the License This! final saw May The Thoughts Be With You announced as the winners, while the exposure as one of the four finalists saw plenty of interst in greetings firm I Like Birds. The new format educational sessions included roundtables hosted by the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association – with Danilo’s Licensing Director Trevor Jones one of the experts on tap – and a standing-room-only panel debate by Pink Key Consulting. Anna Knight, BLE Brand Director, said: “We couldn’t be happier with the success of this year’s show. The show remained busy and buzzing throughout with a record number of European licensing professionals in attendance. “We specifically set out to increase the number of retailers attending and have seen a significant jump this year with the help of our Retail Mentoring Programme, new and improved Retail Lounge and Retail Licensing Club launch.

exhibition round-up ● IF YOU’RE asked back, you must have done something right – and Greetings Today retail columnist Chris Fox (pictured) is very pleased to announce that he’ll be running one-to-one question sessions at Spring Fair.Following on from his Autumn Fair talk The Balancing Act: How To Promote Your Business Online While Running Your Shop, show organisers i2i Events have asked the Wishes Of Cudworth retailer back for the big spring event. With the show running from Sunday to Thursday, February 5-9, Chris will be in for the question and answer sessions on the second day, Monday, February 6. ● WITH the low pound making exporting cheaper, a new British-themed boutique tradeshow has been announced for the US offering American retail buyers, agents and distributors, import-ready UK-made or


designed brands and products. The two-day fair by organisers Upper Street Events is at the California Market Center in Los Angeles on March 13-14 and has been designed to give British brands a simple and affordable exhibition format to access and expand into the US market. ● TRADE fair organisers UBM have announced the inaugural Licensing Expo China is to run from July 18-20, 2017, at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai. Set to feature more than 100 brands and properties from China and overseas, the show is aimed at connecting connect the most influential entertainment, character, fashion, art and corporate brand owners and agents with consumer goods manufacturers, licensees and retailers from all product categories across Asia.

Stuart takes flight FOLLOWING their appearance as one of this year’s four License This! finalists, I Like Birds’ co-founder Stuart Cox has announced they have appointed JELC as their exclusive licensing agents. Jane Evans, MD of the global licensing group, was among the judges of the competition with the finals held at Brand Licensing Europe in October and says she was immediately struck by the commercial potential of the design work submitted by Stuart and his business partner Alison Blair. They take the simple concept of bird-themed greetings cards and gifts and distill it into something unique and beautiful – she liked it so much so she offered to put her branding and licensing expertise behind the pair’s work. Stuart said: “Thanks to License This! and Jane Evans we have the chance to bring something we love doing to a wider audience than we dreamed possible. I was just delighted to be there, it validates the product just by getting to the final. We’re amazed and delighted to have gained the support and guidance of a respected name like JELC. “It’s a little odd having a licensing agent – up to this point we haven't even used card agents – but I couldn't think of anyone better than Jane to take this forward.” Having already made an impact on the greeting cards and paperware market, artists and company cofounders Stuart and Alison decided to bring their ideas to a wider audience – which is how a small company based in Moray, Scotland, became a finalist in License This!, the annual BLE competition which offers new creative concepts the chance to break into the global licensing industry.

T: 07581 282820 T: 01225 819030

A model deal A DEAL with environmentalist, photographer and top model Helena Christensen is on the cards for Danish publishers Message Earth who are working for a more sustainable world. Set up in 2014 by Danish scientist Dr Susanne Borg, they plan to launch two collections a year, with the latest – Greetings By Helena Christensen – combining her photo-art with Message Earth’s green philosophy. Their eco-friendly cards, notebooks, posters and frames combine sustainability, messages and design, and Susanne said: “I think it’s fantastic that the mix of sustainability and design is so popular, the whole idea behind this company is to send a message of sustainability to the world, and a single greeting card is visible to more people than any other product.”

+ 45 3160 0066 @greetingstoday

supplier news Green dream pays off iPad system rolled out CARD Connection have announced the launch and roll-out of a new iPad application specifically developed for their UK network of 67 franchisees that enables them to run their entire franchised business on the move. In addition, the technology from the UK Greetings subsidiary includes functionality to help analyse sales, the ability to web order through the upgraded site as well as allowing franchisees like Andy Burchell (pictured) to back up all their data to the cloud internet storage.

T: 01252 892300

Upgrade for innovation JOHNSONS Printers have upgraded their finishing facilities because of the demand from greetings publishers who are looking for more innovation. The 190-year-old Nantwich, Cheshirebased firm have installed a Duplo DC-745 multifinisher and multi-functional inprinting unit for the Foliant Taurus laminator, following on from May’s press upgrade where the HP Indigo 5500 was replaced with a HP Indigo 7800.

T: 01270 625 207

TWO NEW programmes sealed the deal to make this year a green dream for Windles Group as their £5million investment in a purpose-built eco-factory and Loop-It in-house campaign earned the prestigious Print Week Environmental Printer Of the Year title. The win was revealed on October 17 at the movie-themed gala dinner at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel hosted by writer and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth, pictured presenting the award to Windles founder and MD Bruce Podmore. The judges considered that, while the building is a hi-tech nerve centre of light and motion sensors, latest glazing and insulation techniques, rapid-roll doors to keep in the heat and a biomass boiler, the Loop-It initiative includes colour-coded action panels strategically placed throughout the factory to show how simple changes to the working day can have a positive impact on sustainable print and production. “Yes the move to a new factory was impressive,” recalled the judges, “but it was everything around the building that

edged it for me – every impact was considered and acted on.” Greetings publishers made a good showing with Seth Woodmansterne pictured collecting the Social Stationery Printer Of The Year title they also won in 2015, The Sherwood Group were highly commended while Loxleys and Windles were the other two finalists. And in the Luxury Packing Printer Of The Year category, Offset Print & Packaging and MD Vince Brearey made the finals for the first time.

Innovative coaster cards score again THE innovative textile coaster gift cards scored a second prestigious print award as Crakel Cards owners Aurora Print collected the trophy from former football star Matt Le Tissier. One of five nominees in the Creative Use Of Substrates category in the Digital Printer Awards, the team were delighted to take the title at the November 10 ceremony at the Marriott in London’s Grosvenor Square. The judges said Aurora’s product showed “superb use of materials, giving extra value and quality to a personal message”. Having only set up Crakel in February as

the retail division of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based printers, they got off to a great start by picking up the Hybrid/Combination trophy in the Print Design & Marketing Awards in June. Crakel’s Lee Nelson received this second trophy from Matt and sponsor Antalis’ national sales manager, and said: “The calibre and quality of the other nominees was all leading edge – yet we managed to collect the accolade for our category which was absolutely fantastic.”

T: 0191 214 6474

Quality Bespoke Envelopes! From 5,000 quantity to many millions we can produce excellent quality envelopes for you. Plain, printed, coloured & textured finish. 100% recycled & FSC available. Please call us on 01274 581327 with your enquiry or email us on We will be delighted to help! @greetingstoday 9

meet the newbies NEW MEMBERS

Painting with needle and fabric

The latest publisher to join the Greeting Card Association include: Katie Phythian Design 35 Ollershaw Lane, Marston, Northwich, CW96ES Katie Phythian 07900 431825

HEIDI Meier creates colourful and quirky textile artworks which are reproduced as blank, any occasion greetings cards. “My sewing machine needle is my paintbrush and the fabrics – many of which are hand-dyed – are my paints,” said Heidi, “I’ve been creating my artworks since 2011 but decided to turn what was a fun hobby into a business earlier this year. “I love to make artworks which evoke memories or aspirations, or which bring a smile to someone’s face.” Heidi specialises in raw-edge applique and uses combinations of hand, freestyle machine and ribbon embroidery to create her designs. She is inspired by the natural world and there is also a subtle hint of nostalgia and humour in her work. She now has four collections which complement each other beautifully – British Countryside, Friendship & Fun, Animal Magic and Seaside Stories. Each card design is taken from an original embroidery and although they are often mistaken for paintings from afar, close up you can see the individual stitches. “The people who buy my cards are looking for that special something, appealing to lovers of art and craft, and those who want something beautiful with a quirky twist.” T: 01206 240933

Kaili’s Home & Gift Ltd PO Box 807, Harrogate, Yorkshire, HG1 9WL John Sr Zhou 01423 431430 All The Best Paul Hinton Hammond The Pattern Book Neil Baber 01392 495567 Just a Little Note 48 High Street, Clifford, Wetherby, Yorkshire, LS23 6HR Ian Morgan 01937 360219 or 07786 682381 Blume Editions Ltd Mia Tarney 020 8948 8726 or 07976 261238

Vroom for expansion WITH F1 star Jensen Button an advocate of the artwork being used for one of Janice Miller’s card ranges, there’s plenty of vroom for expansion, and she has a jewel of a female collection at Nu Aura too. Having started making jewellery as a hobby, Janice moved to Cairo just over a decade ago and spent two years taking courses before setting up her Nu Aura business, where she has now moved into greetings cards. With her Gift That Comes With A Card range of floral gemstone designs and vibrant sports designs, Janice has two distinctive 12-strong blank collections that she’s aiming to expand to include general greetings, thank you, and good luck. “There were many trips to buy gemstones in the incredible souk,” she said, “the Khan-al-Khalili. These experiences and my love of crystal healing led to the creation of gemstone jewellery with significance to the wearer. I wanted to combine this with greetings cards, and wonderful young Moscow artist Pacrovka created floral images for the 12 months of the year. These are vibrant, with explosive splats of paint which makes them beautiful but a bit zany too. “They’re marketed as A Gift That Comes With A Card to avoid the perception of a free, cheap pendant, which is far from the case – the RRP is £4.25. Envelopes are protective card with bubble lining for when a card is posted, and cello-wrapped. “Our other range of cards in the same vibrant art form uses my son’s amazing explosive oil work ( – Jensen Button had Paul’s portrait printed for his own Christmas card in 2015 so we thought we’d follow suit! “So far 12 of Paul’s images bring a bright refreshing change to male cards, most depict Formula 1 drivers, and 2017 will launch some images from his Roar exhibition of wild animals, and portraits of celebrities in sport, TV, movies and music, and we have a website created just for his cards.” Both blank 6x6in ranges are 320gsm quality digital print by The Imaging Centre, with the floral cards carrying gemstone info on the back and each is hand embellished with flitter and crystal dewdrop while the sports designs come cello-wrapped with a Ferrari red envelope.


Crashing into greetings A CAR crash turned into a light-bulb moment for graphic designer and photographer Amanda Davey who now produces cards and books through Tilia Publishing UK with husband Simon. She said: “Currently our cards are photographic covering subjects such as the South Downs National Park where we live as well as across the world, where we travel. “The mission is to showcase the world that we live in, in particular the natural world, interesting landscapes and history. We’re also interested in architecture and are photographing all of the churches in the South Downs National Park.” Amanda has worked for herself as a graphic designer and photographer, building on her training as a landscape architect, since 2004. She added: “Since 1983 we’ve designed our own Christmas cards and their reception has been increasingly positive as the designs have become more ambitious. The idea to make greeting cards came to us following being rammed by a bus while at traffic lights and reviewing our dreams in the time of recovering from whiplash.” T: 0871 226 2107 @greetingstoday



The internet is a wonderful tool but can be scary if you don’t know how to make the best use of it. In this new series of articles Chris Fox, from Wishes Of Cudworth, and Cherry Orchard Publishing’s Helen Pallen aim to pass on all the online tips they’ve learned so far to help independent retailers boost their bricks and mortar business in the digital age.

Is print dead? A

simple question searching for a simple answer – is print dead?

Just this year we’ve seen the Independent newspaper close down their hard copy operation and go online only, while the New Day newspaper lasted just two months after sales dropped to 30,000 copies. Still how are you reading this very article now? More than likely you’re holding the wonderful paper version of Greetings Today in your grubby mitts, although maybe I’ve misjudged you and you’re actually browsing the digital edition online on the equally great GT website. Last month I asked Julia Keeling, who owns Wishes Of Cudworth, if she’d read the latest issue online and her quick response was “no, I like to read the actual magazine when it comes to the shop”. Some people just have a hard time letting print go. They like to sit and relax, away from the glare of a computer screen and, of course, the main thing we sell is all about print. The internet plays a big role in how we promote ourselves at Wishes. Just last month alone we gained more than 400 plus new followers on our Facebook page. Not all will be become regular customers but, even if we get just a fraction of them into our shop, then it’s a victory for digital marketing. At Wishes we’ve also just relaunched our website, adding more information and features than ever before. However, here’s the twist – there’s still a place for more traditional, old school printed promotions. We’ve tried our fair share of printed marketing, starting with a leaflet run last Christmas around our village. Delivered by the postman – also called Chris – and I, we nearly lost a finger or two to snappy dogs in the process. Did they work? It’s honestly difficult to tell. In hindsight we should have included a voucher so we could have analysed the response. We continue to produce low print runs of promotional leaflets, usually at home on our laser printer. We have a Christmas preview coming up for which we’ve not only created a Facebook event but have printed leaflets to give customers in store too. The two work together, hand in hand. With digital marketing my own personal pet hate is the slightly sly extraction of your email address after making a purchase – when I visited a large department store recently, when paying, I was asked “Can I have your email so we can send you a receipt?” I laughed it off but some people would find this

incredibly off putting. It might even stop them visiting the shop in the future with concerns about privacy. I’d suggest a better solution would be to produce a “Thank You Card” that you slip in with their purchase. We have two variations at Wishes, the first is a simple card that says Thank You and suggests that if they were happy with the service to leave a review on our Facebook page or post a picture. The second is a loyalty card for our Village Candle range. Here customers are rewarded with a stamp for every medium or large candle they buy, and once their card is full they get a free candle. This not only encourages them to return time and again but also is kept in their purse/wallet as a little reminder of our store. It’s also important to feed back all your printed literature into your online platforms ensuring your website and social media take pride of place. The advantage of the loyalty card is that it’s the customer’s decision to visit you online. It’s a natural and friendly way of keeping in touch after they have left your shop. You’re not breaking the bond and trust you’ve created. We don’t do mail shots at Wishes, there’s no spam, just a gentle reminder that you can visit us online later – not that I’m saying email campaigns have no place in the industry, for trade suppliers they certainly do, it’s all about being aware of your target audience. We always try to be creative with our branding at Wishes. It may seem overly ambitious to think of your small independent shop as having a corporate brand but it does really help to promote yourself consistently. We buy blank brown bags that we hand screen-print ourselves with our logo and website. It works as a nice piece of advertising especially in this age of 5p bags. We have our own gift tags on our bath marbles and wax melts, all of course with our Facebook details running neatly around the bottom. Next up, our mini stickers are produced to tie in with various seasons and promotions. We’ve done Minions, Star Wars and Molly the Bunny stickers – a bit like you used to get at the dentist, we offer them to the kids with their parents’ consent. Customers love these little touches and it’s something that sticks in their mind after they’ve left. Plus, of course they have their card, bag and tags for reference later. All this may seem expensive which, if you just go to the nearest print shop and pay to print 10,000 leaflets, may be

I like to read the en actual magazine when it comes to the shop p

true. There are lots of cheap options online which are easy to use or why not strike a deal with a local printer? Back to the original question of “is print dead?” – well no, it’s just not the only way you should promote your business. Every print campaign should lead back to your online platforms. From the simple use of your website address or a “like us on Facebook” tag to the more involved sales funnel techniques of special offer codes to use on your online store. It’s not just leaflets and posters; it’s using your logo and social media on all your promotional material/packaging. It really seems print and the internet aren’t enemies after all, they’re actually the best of pals. They’ve got each other’s back and they are ready to team up to super-power your business to success. – Chris Fox

Retailer Chris(Reil Fox runs WishesT:Of07766 Cudworth with and partner Keeling nd has learnedare how to take advantage of thegreetings opportunities offered Neil Anthony (Reil Agencies, 736254) AlinaJulia Clark (T: 07906 792420) experienced independent industry by theagents internet social West media, and Cherry Orchard’s Helen Pallen looks at month the issue from a publishers’ viewpoint. sales in and the North and North East of England respectively. Each they share their experiences of life on the road.

12 @greetingstoday



When W trying to get noticed, it’s not alll about you u

’ greetings cards and retail packaging Tel: +44 (0)1622 795000 Email:

Death is exaggerated


T SEEMS reports of print’s death may have been greatly exaggerated.

Even in this digital age you’re probably going to find yourself picking and mixing your pixels and picas if you want to make the most of that old marketing rule of seven that says your customers won’t even begin to notice you until you’ve registered on their radar at least seven times. That could be anything from word of mouth, to a flyer, an advert or a Facebook post or email. And if we all love to buy, but none of us like being sold to, how do we get round it? And if only half of our advertising will work as is the general rule of thumb, how do we find out which half? Much of modern marketing methods can be compared to dating. If you walk into enough bars and speak to enough people in a loud enough voice about how great you are, that technique might work eventually. But if you’re introduced by a friend, you exchange a few Facebook chats, text and find out more about what you have in common, it’s more likely to succeed. It’s much the same in the business world when we’re looking for suitable partners. Internet searches are a good place to start browsing and our innate filters kick in, dismissing all that’s not relevant in a matter of seconds. As something grabs our attention, we research it more and that’s when the flyer or magazine advert might leap out as we’re already warming to the brand. Once we’re on board and purchasing we’re recommending the products and reviewing them which is how consumer insight builds up that good suppliers will tap into and use to refine and develop the product portfolio. So, as a supplier we too proudly use printed materials to promote our new products – which themselves are printed – spending our advertising budget on pages in glossy magazines, rather like we might dress up nicely to hang out at the right dinner parties knowing that the trusted friend will make the necessary introductions to catch the eye of suitable prospects. If we want to get noticed, we’re going to have to put in some effort and spend some hard cash. Once you’ve arrived at the dinner party, and the introductions have been made it’s up to you to take over and make interesting conversation that leaves the guests wanting to know more about you rather than just demanding a one-to-one date as your opening chat-up line. In the same way, simply asking for an email address at the end of a transaction can seem awkward. That’s a very personal piece of information which is not just going to be handed over. You need to establish a rapport before the customer will happily entrust you with that tidbit. Applying the rule of seven to the dating analogy, use those seven touchpoints just to say thank you now and again, and offer small invitations to re-engage rather than sell because, ironically, when you’re trying to get yourself noticed, it’s not all about you. – Helen Pallen @greetingstoday 13



Having had a great 2016, leading independent publishers The Art File were in a reflective mood during Greetings Today’s recent visit and they are also looking ahead to the new year where they plan to be equally successful.

● Family affair – James and Ged Mace

Customers C will be pleased with the breadth and depth o off our new offerr

● Great colla

boration – Le

ading Lady is

one of 14 ne w rang



● Winning range – Geronimo male collection


APID expansion over the past two years has seen The Art File grow to employ 18 people in the creative team, customer service, sales and marketing.

In addition to the company’s head office in the historic Lace Market district of Nottingham, the leading independent publishers also have a fourstrong dedicated team at their warehouse in Mansfield. Joint founder and MD Ged Mace and his Sales Coordinator son James were in a reflective mood as Greetings Today chatted to them about the highlights of 2016 – which saw their most successful PG Live show to date following a fantastic Spring Fair with their new-look stand. And the pair are even more excited about what’s to come in 2017 from this award-winning and innovative publishers, and were happy to spill the beans. The male-oriented Geronimo collection has definitely lived up to its promise both in terms of great sales in its first year and industry recognition – recently took home the award for the Best Male Range at this year’s prestigious Henries awards. The range features effective thermo-ink finishes that allow the collection to differentiate itself from others, making it really stand out on the shop floor. More than 10 new designs have been created as suitable additions to this award-winning collection, which are due for release in January 2017 (main image above). Alongside the new additions to the Geronimo collection, The Art File have been incredibly busy over the past four months, using a unique collaboration of their in-house design team working with a handpicked selection of fantastic freelance designers to deliver no fewer than 14 new everyday greetings card collections for release at the very start of the new year, including Leading Lady (pictured left). @greetingstoday

on success


Just their type ● On a roll – new wrap release meets retailers’ demands

Their growing ethos and reputation for creating completely new and unique styles and looks has most certainly been represented ed in these new collections – and they can’t wait to show them off. Alongside these new greetings collections, The Art File have bowed to the increasing demands from retailers and are launching a collection of beautiful everyday roll wrap for the first time at Top Drawer Spring and Christmas roll wrap for 2017 will be revealed at Spring Fair (pictured above right) Sara Miller is the London-based designer behind one of The Art File’s most successful collections of 2016 – and an award-winner in her own right

● Showing promise – latest Sara Miller designs

as she picked up the Most Promising Young Designer Or Artist title at this year’s Henries. Sara has once again used her eastern-inspired design flair to create a total of eight brand-new designs to be included into this fantastic licensed range (pictured above). Finally, commenting on the company plans for 2017, Ged said: “We’re very fortunate to be working with a group of very talented designers and we believe our customers will be pleased with the breadth and depth of our new offer for 2017 – these are exciting times for The Art File.”

T: 0115 850 7490 @greetingstoday

THE ART File are delighted to announce that from December 1 they will be publishing the collections from fellow-based Nottingham publishers Pocket Typewriter. Founded by brother and sister team Leckie Presley and Jack Carter, the family-run company have always been inspired to “make charmingly captivating cards so the postman will always have a job”. Their unique and recognisable design style has become an increasing favourite in the retail market over the past five years, which is sure to be a fitting addition to The Art File’s collection portfolio. Jack is joining The Art File in-house design team as a full-time designer at their Nottingham head office as well as working on developing the Pocket Typewriter brand, and he said: “I’m very happy to be joining The Art File team and over the moon that the Pocket Typewriter brand will continue to grow. I’m thrilled to be working with such a great company who have an exciting future.” The Art File’s MD Ged Mace said: “We’re thrilled with the addition – Jack and his sister Leckie have established a lovely brand identity over the past five years at Pocket Typewriter and this offers a complementary style to The Art File. “I’m sure our customers will be as equally over the moon as we are about these developments to our everevolving portfolio.” The company will be publishing the bestselling collections from Pocket Typewriter as well as brand new collections designed by Jack for 2017 which will be launched at Top Drawer Spring in January. 15



● Jess

ie Eck el Car d

● Vicki Thomas

It’s a gift The dark art of trend forecasting is a gift that every business wants to master. Vicki Thomas has been running the gift design consultancy Vicki Thomas Associates since 1985 so has more than 30 years’ experience researching bestsellers and forecasting trends. Here Vicki explains some of the processes.


RTISTS and designers are expected to be trendsetters – fashion designers need to make their name before they are followed. Most of the greetings card artists I know have their own graphic style and are keen to be known for the distinctive nature of their illustrations, they certainly don’t want to follow a trend. So, why do we spend time on trend and colour forecasting? How do we go about it – and why do we find it valuable to share e our findings? We specialise in designing gifts and creating things for events and occasions. Cards and gifts are designed specifically to be bought and then given away. If a purchaser keeps a card, it’s because it has a special meaning and value to them. When you go to buy a card or a gift you think about the person and what they’d like as you don’t want to buy something they already have so you often look for the new, something you know they won’t have. So what is new and novel? The retail buyer needs to make an educated guess about what purchasers will want in the next season. Designers have to come up with new designs 12 months, 18 months or even two years ahead of when they’ll be sold. The major retailers invest in their own data collection. They know their customers and market and they can also buy in guidance from forecasting organisations like WGSN (Worth Global Style Network). Buyers can become specialists themselves and they may know trends in their own sectors such as fashion or food. But, as creatives working with the printers and producers we have to have a much broader picture. Fashion and interiors both have a textile element and work to two seasons –spring/summer and autumn/ winter – launching new shapes, patterns and colours.

They work in turn with their suppliers looking for new dyes and finishes. Some gift manufacturers simply use the same textiles to make different products, such as cushions, cosmetic purses and ties but the speed of innovation isn’t the same for both markets. You may change where you store your clothes every, say, five years, but the selection of clothing hanging there changes annually, while gifts have different seasons that overlap with fashion cycles but are not the same. Holidays, to use the American term, may cover autumn occasions and Christmas. Spring occasions refers to a slightly different set of motifs and events in the UK. In Australia the seasons are reversed. Our trends focus on changes that will affect whether our designs’ will appeal to the manufacturer now, the retail buyer in six months, and the Christmas shopper six months after that – and then be opened with delight on Christmas Eve 2018. We monitor what is happening through both trade and popular consumer magazines, key trade shows and, increasingly, social media such as Pinterest and Instagram. As a design team we combine our insights bi-annually linked to the textile launches. We also look at what events are planned or going to happen, say, two years ahead. There will be films, anniversaries or innovations, which will generate interest. Brand Licensing Europe is a great show to see what new films and children’s characters will be coming out. It’s also an international event, which matters because we need to know if new ideas in one country will be picked up here. For us, the idea of individual cupcakes as gifts came from the US, possibly through the founding of the Magnolia Bakery in New York in 1996. Jessie Eckel is one of our team and she created a design featuring

We combine W our insights bi-annually linked to the textile e launches s


cupcakes in February 2005 which was licensed to Hotchpotch for cards and wrap. In turn it inspired two popular tabletop and gift collections for Debenhams and Creative Tops – we’ve not stopped creating baking-related images and products since. For us the fashion for owl images started with the first Harry Potter books – way before the films. They have remained popular, no longer being just a symbol of wisdom but also a messenger, a bird you could hug and a symbol of the British countryside. Owls featured strongly in our collections for 2017. For example, Clinton Banbury’s Parliament of Owls image fits with the hygge, or cosiness, trend from Denmark. Sometimes the greetings card companies and artists can take a lead, for example, Bang On the Door started a trend for fun illustrations of teenage girls and fashion accessories in the 1990s. Often images of people don’t sell well on cards but this type of image has remained popular. Currently they’re strong in the souvenir sector, where they appeal to visitors from the Far East. These days, trends are global and there are often cultural reasons why some images travel better than others. We use our trend research to inspire our own collections. We also use the info in conversation with clients. Not all buyers or manufacturers find it easy to express what they personally consider new and relevant. They may have seen something in the market but don’t want to copy so having a neutral set of images to discuss helps the briefing process. We often swap boards and ideas with clients as a trend board is a creative tool, we don’t publish them. They are our take on what’s happening and they help a visual conversation. Actually, they’d make a fascinating research project in semiotics. A formal analysis of the visual language of cards and gifts would be a valuable and fascinating for everyone involved in designing or selling cards. In the meantime we look and learn, then get inspired – and recommend you do the same.

T: 020 7511 5767 @greetingstoday


Something to marble at THIS year Abacus have done extremely well with their BBC licensed brands Springwatch and Countryfile. The brands complement one other and sit well on a display rack side by side, or together on one of their 56-pocket spinners. Whether town dwellers, city or country folk, it seems the UK population have a great love and affection for the British countryside and its wildlife. That, coupled with the authority of the BBC branding, has contributed to the success of these ranges. Creative Director Bev Cunningham said: “One of our best-selling cards this year has been a Countryfile card showing a cute Labrador puppy

sitting in front of some wellie boots – Labrador pups never go out of fashion! “Prosecco appears to be another obsession in this country, with all our cards that mention the P word selling well like this one from our Frank by Name range. “As for trends, I believe there will be a shift from modern calligraphy lettering to greater use of brush lettering styles as seen on this Thank you card from our Life & Soul range, paisley patterns will be in evidence on both cards and wrap and marbling will take over where the watercolour trend left off.” T: 01638 569050

The memories continue CHERRY Orchard’s Down Memory Lane range of cards and bone china mugs continues on its journey of success, building on the year’s earlier achievement of reaching the Gift of the Year finals. As the trend for nostalgia shows no sign of abating, the new designs for the 2017 range introduce some new captions with Born In The 60s and Born In The 70s being added to the range of mugs in male and female designs. And there are five fantastic new wedding anniversary designs covering 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th and 60th celebrations being added to the card range for a completely new and fresh twist to the very successful collection. T: 01684 295500

The colour of calendars THIS has been a really exciting year for Danilo with 2017 and beyond also looking to be very strong, as online marketing manager Claire Bates revealed. “Not only are we seeing many of our top brands such as Paw Patrol, Shopkins, My Little Pony, Secret Life of Pets and Minions continuing to perform very well,” Claire said, “we’re also delighted to see how our customers are reacting to our newer brands such as Ladybird Books For Grown Ups as well as our fantastic new Colouring In Calendars – adult colouring is a key trend. “It’s going to be interesting to see which title becomes the bestselling 2017 calendar this year! “Lead contenders include Star Wars – second year in a row perhaps – Great British Bake Off, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them, Justin Bieber, and Suicide Squad.


“Or maybe Kelly Brook or Cliff Richard, who are regular top 10 performers in the calendar chart, can climb their way to the top. It’s really pleasing to see niche titles such as Supernatural and Dr Strange doing so well. “And 2017/2018 promise to continue in the same positive theme with new ranges launching for various movies including Transformers, Despicable Me 3 and My Little Pony, as well as the return of one of our hottest calendars in recent years – watch this space! “We shall, of course, be showcasing numerous new licensed greeting cards ranges giving retailers and consumers alike even more choice of attractive, commercial and compelling Danilo product.” T: 01992 702900

A very successful cycle

AT DANDELION Stationery, they have a number of cycling-related cards which have been hugely popular in 2016 – no doubt helped by the GB team’s success at the Olympics in Brazil. Owner Jo Wilson said: “Cycling has become quite an obsession in the UK and, with the Tour Of Britain’s popularity growing, we hope the success of these cards continues!” T: 01332 864990 @greetingstoday


Buying into the buzz AT LAURA Sherratt Designs they always do particularly well with occasion cards as the founder herself explained: “Anniversaries, new baby and new home are always doing really well for us. “Our bestselling cards this year have been the Ditsy Daisy collection, closely followed by the Arty Krafty range. “For next year we’re already looking at following the trend of an abundance of glitter – we hope to add some sparkle and shine to our cards with cold foil, so watch this space. “We have also just released some patchwork-inspired designs for Father’s Day 2017, so we’re hoping that buyers continue to follow the buzz that the TV programme The Great British Sewing Bee created.” T: 01538 384566

Consistently high performers IT’S BEEN a good year at Museums & Galleries where the Matthew Williamson Everyday range has been a great success both in cards and stationery – Dragonflies and Leopards are the current bestsellers. From their Classics range, this Waterlilies image by Allan P Friedlander was an instant hit and remains popular while in M&G’s bestselling Alison’s Ark animal range by Alison Fennell, Giraffe Mum & Baby has been a consistently high performer. And from their festive ranges, this licensed Guess How Much I Love You image by Anita Jeram topped out in our Illustrated Christmas collection. T: 0116 230 4197

Finding the magic Springing out more monochrome ONE of Perkins & Morley’s bestsellers this year has been the Animal Ink range of cards and gifts where they’ve added half a dozen new images with more to follow. “Alongside British wildlife,” co-owner Jan Morley said, “we have introduced a small number of domestic animals and more exotic wildlife. They went so well at the autumn fairs that we’ll be extending that theme and adding images of domestic pets. “The double-fold Zig Zag range did

well for us at both Birmingham and Glasgow this autumn too and we’re starting to get positive feedback from our customers. “We see black and white continuing as a trend so we did a new Collective Noun range in monochrome with just one added colour. We’re very pleased with them and think they’ll do well at the spring shows. And in the pipeline is a humorous occasions range featuring dogs. T: 01539 564247 or 01626 888069 @greetingstoday

HAVING started the year with the launch of several new collections, Tracey Russell Design found that Animal Magic has been the most well received without doubt. Having continued throughout the year to be a big seller, it generated a second release of additional designs and a third release coming very soon bringing the total number of designs to 50. and they’re hoping it continues to be a huge success through 2017. Since The Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival in July where TRD had their second seasonal launch, the Rosie’s Cards collection has been at the forefront too. This gorgeous range of girly designs, with plenty of sparkle and shine, promises to capture the heart of anyone who is a stickler for handmade, cute cards. Again, due to the range’s success, further designs are going to be added to the collection for the new year. T: 0191 373 2497 19


OMG! Record-breaking sales!

FUN fact – the weight of all Gemma’s Emoji cards sold since launch to consumers is equal to the weight of six Fiat 500s, making them one of their four bestselling designs for the year, OMG! As a fabulous all-rounder, appealing to males and females of all ages, Emoji continues to go from strength to strength, and is flying off the shelves. Pusheen is the loveable feline made famous on Facebook Messenger who is capturing the hearts of buyers nationwide, and Gemma’s cute cards are selling through at an impressive rate – they’ve had record-breaking rates of sale so are now looking to expand the product range with some new SKUs. Peppa Pig consistently performs for Gemma year on year, appealing to both pre-school boys and girls with parents and relatives familiar with the brand and happy to buy into the fun and family-orientated world. Gemma continue to develop new product to keep their Peppa range fresh and exciting, and have some wonderful new SKUs launching in 2017 with updated styles for Peppa and new designs specifically created around George’s character for boys. Another continuing bestseller is Thomas & Friends, and Licensing Director Tim Rudd-Clarke explained: “Thomas has become a traditional boys’ property with universal appeal, the type of toy you can pass down, and I have no doubt I’ll be reading and playing with Thomas trains with my grandkids in the future. To me the key strength of Thomas is family, tradition and heritage.” In 2017 Gemma will be launching a new range of Thomas And Friends baby cards, including new baby, christening and naming day. This range follows the new Thomas infant style guides. On the predictions front, the new Trolls movie had a brilliant box office opening and the toys are featured on many hotlists for Christmas – with further products launching, including a standalone magazine, Trolls fever is set to continue and the DVD release in February will be backed by a huge marketing campaign from DreamWorks.

Gemma’s cards and wrap are selling exceptionally well, in fact, if an average male took one step for every Trolls card sold so far he’d take enough steps to climb Everest and come back down again! After the incredible buzz around the release of Pokemon Go, Gemma have seen fantastic rates of sale on their Pokemon cards and wrap. The app has excited older fans, and gained lots of new younger ones and they expect this to continue into 2017 with the launch of new toys and other products coming to market for the Christmas season. Following the successes of 2016, Gemma anticipate gaming and collectible brands to be big in 2017. Mario Run is due to launch on the Apple store in December and is expected to appeal to a whole new generation of gamers. Orders are already coming in thick and fast, so Gemma are increasing their stock holding across cards, wrap and party. Last but not least is Animal Jam, created in partnership with National Geographic, that’s a new signing for Gemma which fits in both the gaming and collectible categories. There’s the combination of a gaming app and huge online community, and also the new range of toys and blind bag collectibles. Gemma are already taking pre-orders for their cards and wrap launching in early 2017 featuring key characters. T: 01264 388407

Love is all around LOVE is all around at Cinnamon Aitch and certainly all around their most popular ranges where anniversary and wedding titles top their bestsellers list for 2016. Pared-down design, thoughtful hand finishing, and a harmonious neutral colour palette, make these cards from the Woodblock and Simply Tags ranges seem to hit just the right note for those very special dates. T: 0121 773 6833

Pop in to the home of cute AS THE home of cute, when asked about bestselling cards there’s one name that pops into the minds of those at UK Greetings – Boofle! Jill Alexander, UK Greetings’ Marketing Communications Manager, said: “Since he catapulted into the market in 2008, Boofle has captured the heart of consumers delivering phenomenal sales.” Boofle’s success in greetings comes from his ability to captivate both a male and female audience, with simple, cute, artwork and conversational, sweet and heartwarming words. He’s a character that UK Greetings continually support with refreshment and inclusion in a variety of price codes to ensure they not only maintain but further develop Boofle’s strength in the marketplace. Having sold in excess of 45 million cards to date, back in June Boofle was given a complete makeover, his brand-new look strikes the perfect blend between pretty


Put the mat out

colour palettes and delicate patterns and that ever-elusive aah factor. There are 64 brand new birthday and friendship designs using new formats, styles and imagery, plus some fabulous pop-up and lenticular designs. UKG have also taken classic designs that sell well and given it a trendier look, plus they’ve added some culturally-relevant content such as Boofle posing for a selfie on Instagram and touching on popular topics like the Great British Bake Off. T: 01924 465200

PYRAMID’S range of doormats is proving very popular, with new designs continuing to be brought to market. Made from 100 per cent coir with a rubber backing, Pyramid’s doormats support some of the biggest licences available, including Star Wars, Marvel, DC Comics, Friends, The Simpsons, Breaking Bad and Harry Potter – they make the perfect gift for any fan. With new licences and designs to be added to the line-up in 2017 the demand doesn’t look set to slow down. T: 0116 284 3640 @greetingstoday


The price is right I

’M WRITING thi this with ith my leg l stuck in the air having broken it out walking on a glorious autumn day – hopefully by the time you read it I’ll be a bit more mobile!

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At this time of year, while everyone continues to have birthdays, babies and weddings, the cards to celebrate these occasions are very much reduced to make space in-store for the vast array of Christmas cards. Having had a good look around before my big break, there are some great ones out there with some, I think, hinting at trends we’ll see in 2017. As well as design trends I believe we need to think about the impact of the economic uncertainty the Brexit discussions, legal challenges, and all that goes with it – plus the fallout from Donald Trump’s US Presidential victory – will have on card sending in the coming year. During the last recession we saw a real change in people’s card-sending and gift-giving habits. When money gets tighter and things get more uncertain we reach out to friends and family to remind them that we are there for each other whatever happens, even if we have less to spend, these types of changes may well be repeated in 2017 and beyond. Some of the trends we saw then that I expect to happen this time around were: ● Card sending should be relatively unaffected. Last time there were more cards bought, and many were more highly finished so driving up average spend. ● Cutbacks will come in again when marking an occasion for an acquaintance or work colleague. Where it might previously have been a card d and small gift, now this will be marked with only a card but it may be a nicer card or a more relevant one. ● Even when there are changes in our financial circumstances we still need to have a laugh so humour will be even more popular than normal. ● Mums with lots of cards to buy for children’s celebrations will again trade down to smaller or cheaper designs, shopping on the internet for packs or making the cards themselves.. ●Anything to do with children will be the last thing affected by changes in income. Everyone wants the children’s lives to be as unaffected as possible so celebrations such as birthdays and christenings and present giving will continue as normal. ● Likewise weddings, the final celebration for a child as they leave their family unit to go off and create their own. As buyers we need to bear these sorts of things in

Design trends aren’t the only things t to o be considere considered for the new year – Henri Davis looks at how retailers can ride out the economic uncertainty arising from Brexit and Donald Trump’s unexpected triumph.

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mind when planning our ranges in 2017 and beyond – the overarching point to remember is to make sure our ranges offer value for money. Even though most of the cards sold in the UK are produced here too it doesn’t mean we won’t be subject t price increases for the board, ink to a other components which may well and b being brought in from abroad so be p for in euros or dollars. paid Publishers are going to have to d decide whether to put their prices u – if they do retailers will need up t consider how they are going to to r respond. With the recent business r increases I’m sure most firms rate c can’t afford to absorb any cost price i increases and, in all honesty, if your c competitors are putting up their prices t there’s no reason not to do at least s some yourself. Having said that, the normal rules apply – make sure your pricing structure makes sense to a customer and they can see what they’re getting for the extra money, be it size, quality of board, foiling, embellishments, etc. But, if they can only appreciate the added features once they’ve taken it out of the cello-bag my hunch is customers will choose something that’s cheaper!

Think about T the impact of economic uncertainty over Brexit and Trump

Henri Davis is an independent retail advisor to businesses in the cards, gifts, stationery and heritage industries, combining 30 years of retail experience with her knowledge of trends and consumer motivation to analyse markets and identify new opportunities. Having worked at Habitat, Next, WH Smith and the National Trust, she now works with many small and medium-sized businesses, including multi-site retailers, national and international manufacturers and suppliers and is currently the first retailer chairman of the Giftware Association. @greetingstoday

Of course in reality no one knows what the impact of Brexit or Trump will be in 2017, 2018 or beyond, but most of us were in business in 2008 and we survived that so we should be able to trade through this successfully too. It’s difficult to make long-term plans but I believe we must treat Brexit in particular as any other business challenge, and understand it will bring both new opportunities and some problems. The key to success will be to take advantage of all opportunities while doing your best to minimise the risks just as we’ve always done. So let’s do that and make 2017 a great year for selling greetings cards! ● Pic 1 – Blue Eyed Sun have a new range of cards for January, here’s a sneak preview of one for Bake Off fans! ● Pic 2 – Animal imagery works so well for humour, this is from Berni Parker’s Animals Loving Life range launched in July. ● Pic 3 – Perkins & Morley’s new Zig Zag range is an innovative way of offering customers much more for a slight increase in price. ● Pic 4 – Wrendale’s mother and pup has humour as well as a cute ahh factor. ● Pic 5 – Bexy Boo’s Inky Doodles Mother’s Day range is a great fun example of adding design features to create an extra special card. ● Pic 6 – Eloise Hall launched her Africa range this summer, thank you cards are a good example of a caption likely to increase in sales. ● Pic 7 – Glebe Cottage’s fresh new Spring Occasions range includes images from Shirley Trevena. 21


new permanent columnist Ian Bradley and some of his customers reflect on 2016 as, with regular columnist Neil Anthony away this month, Nat Hitchcock steps in to look back over his first year as an independent sales agent.

Deck the shelves... …with unicorns and pineapples! It’s nearing the end of another 12 months in the card and gift industry. Each year brings different highlights, new challenges and exciting trends and this one has been no exception – what with the Queen’s 90th birthday, a colourful and successful Brazilian Olympics along with something called Brexit thrown in to try and catch us off guard. Ian Bradley asked some of his wonderful, hardworking retail customers “how’s 2016 been for you?”

Solutions, Market Harborough – owner Suzi & manager Kelly

Carlys, Knowle, Solihull – owner Di Hurdley

What have been the most popular trends for you this year? Along with unicorns, flamingoes and animals in general we’ve found that products with nicer clean lines have been coming to the forefront this year. If it’s cards then nice white or off-white board with simple yet gorgeous designs have been a winner for us. Looking at gifts then it’s the Katie Loxton effect of simple yet striking products in an array of colours. Have any publishers or products been a stand-out success? We’ve done particularly well with local publishers Marina B Designs. We have been selling her cards since she first started in 2012 and now Marina has more than 150 designs. What have been your highlights? The highlights have really been ongoing. Getting some great new products, making fabulous displays and selling fabulous things to our lovely customers. It’s always a fun-filled day here and we love it. Describe 2016 in three words – then tell us a bit more! Evolution, exciting, eclectic – 2016 has definitely been a busy one. We’ve made changes to the layout of the shop, introduced many new products and continually look for something different and exciting to offer. Which product ranges or categories perform well for you year after year? The most consistent product category other than greetings cards is our quality offering of smellies. This includes bath bombs and soaps, candles and room fragrances. So long as it’s quality and well packaged then we do very well with these products. What are your plans for 2017 and what are you looking forward to? Since this has been a great year for us at Solutions we’re looking forward to another fabulous year in 2017. We have plenty of ideas for new things and layout changes in the shop.

What have been the most popular trends for you this year? Flamingoes have definitely been a hit this year though I’m sure they won’t last into next year, so when they’re gone, they’re gone! Foxes have had another good year but only on gifts for us. Scrabble letters too both on cards and on gifts such as coasters and placemats. Have any publishers or products been a stand-out success? This year I’ve been really pleased with the new Sparkle range from Tracks along with the new ranges from Janie Wilson, Rush Design and the new Five Dollar Shake product. What have been your highlights? The highlight of the year so far has been the non-event that was Brexit – as yet it doesn’t seem to have an adverse effect for us here. Sales are up and customers don’t really talk about it that much. I know a few suppliers are starting to put prices up so we’ll have to see what next year brings. Customers still want to buy cards and gifts along with treats for themselves and their houses. Describe 2016 in three words – then tell us a bit more! Positive, proud, fit – this year I’ve really got under the skin of my shop and made changes in all sorts of areas to make sure I maximise the opportunities. It’s like the shop has had a personal trainer this year and is now fitter than ever! I’m really pleased and proud of how the shop looks and performs at the moment. Which product ranges or categories perform well for you year after year? Cards are always strong for Carlys and, as my wonderful agents know very well, “if it stops working then it’s time to move on”. I’m continually looking for new and exciting ranges. Scarves and candles do very well for us too. But they have to be quality and different from the ones you find on the internet. What are your plans for 2017 and what are you looking forward to? I always look forward to the next year since it brings new opportunities and hopefully plenty of exciting new products. The card publisher world always comes up with fabulous new product. And I’m hoping for more fresh products in the gift side of things and less copycat product.

Tutbury Present Company, Tutbury – owners Nicky & Claire What have been the most popular trends for you this year? Sentiments and words have been a big trend this year from small plaques to jewellery and prints. Cards that embrace modern ways of expressing emotions have also been popular. Animals, especially British wildlife like foxes, hedgehogs, hares and rabbits, have also done well on cards and stationery. Have any publishers or products been a standout success? We’ve done fantastically well with the Coulson Macleod Wise Words art prints, they make customers laugh and cry when they’re reading them. What have been your highlights? Mother’s Day was really good this year and we saw growth again in teachers’ gifts. We have a new

quarterly farmers’ market in the village too which has also meant new people discovering our shop. Describe 2016 in three words – then tell us a bit more! Challenging, inspiring, working – 2016 has been a great year with some fantastic product being launched from new and brands we already stock. It’s been all about seeking out products that can take our business forward. Which product ranges or categories perform well for you year after year? Greetings cards are the biggest category that we stock and we continue to keep developing our range so regular customers can always find something new to send. Scented candles, jewellery and also collectable teddy bears have shown growth year on year. What are your 2017 plans for 2017? We’ve just extended our shop so next year we’ll

be looking at new ideas to fill the space after Christmas is over! We’re looking forward to another productive year and finding the must-have gift of 2017.

Ian Bradley (Midland Card Agencies, T: 07905 597498) and Neil Anthony (Reil Agencies, T: 07766 736254) are experienced independent greetings industry sales agents in the Midlands and North West. Eash month they share their experiences of life of the road.

22 @greetingstoday


Marmalade Meringue, Hinkley – owners Trudy & Tilly What have been the most popular trends for you this year? Rose gold jewellery from Joma has been super popular for us and we’ve seen this copper trend throughout our other gifts too. We currently have some amazing copper-topped mushrooms which our customers are loving! Greys are also definitely in, from concrete lanterns to beautiful scarves. Have any publishers or products been a stand-out success? Hammond Gower have been amazing new publishers for us this year, their cards hit the mark every time no matter what occasion you’re after. We love how many ranges they do and they’re constantly bringing out new designs to keep our spinners fresh and exciting for our regulars. Another new find for us this year was Bath House, their cocktail collection consisting of lip balms, bath salts and soaps have been outstanding with, of course, the prosecco fragrance being the favourite! What have been your highlights? A huge highlight of our year has been reaching the finals in both The Greats and The Retas! It’s such an enormous honour and a thrill to be part of such wonderful celebrations within both the gifts and greetings industries. It gives us a real boost to be recognised with these awards and pushes us to continue to be one of the best – that’s the plan anyway! Describe 2016 in three words – then tell us a bit more! Exciting, successful, makeover – it’s been an amazing year, full of excitement with The Greats and The Retas, being VIPs at Coach House’s amazing Summer Show and most recently appearing on the BBC news because our High Street has been shortlisted as one of the best market towns in Britain in the Great British High Street competition! We’re still a growing business and we thank our lovely customers so much for their continued support. We’ve been open for five years now and thought it would be fab to give Marmalade Meringue a fancy new makeover, so we got the paint brushes out and, along with beautiful new stock, we think the shop has never looked better. Which product ranges or categories perform well for you year after year? Greetings cards sales continue to grow for us, as does our range. They sell themselves and we definitely wouldn’t do without them. We also have continually high sales in jewellery, scarves, candles, lanterns, photo frames and shoppers. What are your plans for 2017 and what are you looking forward to? Tilly and her hubby are expecting a baby! Due January 30, we’re all so excited for the arrival, as are all our amazing customers. As for Marmalade Meringue, we’ll keep doing what we do best and enjoying every second. As usual we always look forward to sourcing fab new suppliers and products to keep fresh and on trend. @greetingstoday

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Getting established as a sales agent takes time, effort, money, and big dollops of luck plus a helping hand, as guest columnist Nat Hitchcock explains.

Still learning I

T ONLY seems like yesterday I was trawling around Harrogate looking for principals to represent, but it’s been over a year and I’ve learned many lessons in that time.

● A Made Hand

Flamingo Fling is a range featuring, funnily enough, flamingoes, which do seem popular at the moment while Right On Cue is a men’s collection featuring coloured copper which is also trending at the moment. They’ve also launched anniversary cards for I made the mistake of taking anything I could at one to 20 years which are selling in remarkably well. the start and, although they were lovely cards and A Made Hand’s Top Drawer range literally flies made by lovely people, I hadn’t thought through my off the shelf, retailing at £2.99 and large square target audience. Lots of greetings card companies are cards at £4.99 which is value for money. Designs are aimed at boutique stores or small gift shops, whereas refreshed regularly and they put unusual and different my experience was with the large High Street stores, images on the captions. busy garden centres and stores with large footfall. The most rewarding part of my job is when I After 12 fabulous years running a sales force at persuade a customer to take in a new range and on Second Nature and then a year out for health reasons the next visit they tell me how well they’ve sold. I was desperate to get back into things. I had one customer who didn’t sell handmade It would have been far easier if I’d been a sales cards as he struggled with anything over a £2 price rep on the area I now cover as I would have had point. I presented A a customer base, whereas I’ve found people reluctant to deal Made Hand that his with a new salesperson they don’t partner adored so he know or trust. reluctantly ordered But, with persistence and £300-worth – six several visits cold calling, I’ve weeks later he’d sold managed to gain that muchout of the majority, needed trust, open accounts and while I was in and make friends with some the store every other wonderful people. My portfolio customer left with a has changed dramatically over the handmade card. Now past 12 months, so much so I’m he regularly places a now not reliant on just greetings large order. cards, selling Paper Island, Sometimes things Pyramid International and The are frustrating. I’ve Unique Gift Paper Company, I’m cold called on one almost a one-stop shop for smaller particular store stores as I carry a broad range of ● Handcrafted Card Company several times where products. the owner tells me On the giftwrap front, I really he’s happy with the struggled at first as I was unfamiliar publishers he has, with how it’s sold, but now I’m then adds trade is doing great with Unique, I’m getting quiet! Maybe if he regular orders and the sell-through refreshed his product is amazing. With the add-ons of things would pick up. bows, tissue paper ribbons and gift And one retailer boxes there really is some remarkable said she doesn’t like product. cold calling as she ● Buddy Fernandez Another company I’ve recently picks up new companies at trade added who have really surprised me are Buddy shows – not all my companies attend every trade Fernandez. Some of the cards are quite rude – show, and this retailer used to be a sales rep herself hmmm, maybe really rude! – so I thought I’d have a so should know better. limited audience. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There’s the customer who’s cancelled on me It’s a pleasure selling them. My retail customers for the last six visits (maybe she didn’t like my are in tears reading them, showing them to their aftershave), and those where you arrive after a customers and laughing is so infectious – I literally two-hour drive, carry your samples in, hand them a get home with stomach ache from having laughed so selection of cards and are then told “actually I don’t much, even though I’ve seen the jokes many times. think I need anything this time” or where you take People seem to be more open to offensive cards an order and they ask for it to be delivered in five now, although a few of my customers have a rude months’ time – I understand January delivery this box for over 18s. They also produce mugs, keyrings, time of year but not a September delivery from April. magnets and A5 notebooks that sell well. I spend many hours visiting new customers and I have two handmade card companies that I attempting to open new accounts. Ten years ago do extremely well with, A Made Hand and The you’d visit, if they liked your product they’d place Handcrafted Card Company. Both have extremely an order there and then. Nowadays I find you need to different looks and complement each other on the visit a store at least three times before you even get racks. an appointment. The Handcrafted Card Co regularly produce new looks and are really good at keeping up with trends, I’m fortunate enough to be opening maybe two or


● Showing faith – Nathan with Kim Lewis, the card buyer at Longacres in Surrey, who was his very first customer three accounts each month currently but I’m aware my customer base is nowhere near as large as it should be. I’d say I’m at about 30 per cent of where I want to be, however, having started from scratch just 12 months ago maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Speaking to other agents they’re surprised I’m cold calling at four o’clock on a Friday afternoon when I’m two hours from home, but I know I have to give 110 per cent if I’m to make it work, and I am passionate about a job I love. However the pros massively outweigh the cons and I can laugh about it later. The 4am starts aren’t so nice when I have a 7am ferry to catch for the Isle of Wight either but, when you get to some of the places I get to visit and see the stunning scenery around the New Forest and the Cotswolds it makes up for the trips to Luton and Slough – nothing against my lovely customers there, but the views just don’t compare! In terms of product carried, I’d say I’m 75 per cent happy with what I have. I do need a large verse company then I’m there and able to offer practically anything that’s required. I do receive many calls and samples from publishers, which is gratifying and, although some are truly wonderful they’re not suited to my customer base or conflict with what I already carry. I think we live in a social media world now so I have to keep up with the times and ensure my Facebook page is up to date. I’ll be opening a Twitter account soon and I’m working on a website with links to my principals’ websites. So a year in, I haven’t made much but I didn’t expect to. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge on the trials and tribulations of being an independent sales agent, and I’ve been extremely fortunate to gain some excellent agencies in such a short space of time, possibly due to my industry connections. I’m glad to be back in the greetings world, love meeting up with old friends at the trade shows and am blessed to have met some new friends along the journey. Things are certainly improving, this September sales were 10 times a year ago, but I do need to work on getting more customers so, if you’re between Northamptonshire and Hampshire, maybe I’ll be walking into your store with a few samples and a business card. Please be nice… – Nat Hitchcock Big Nat Agencies 07801 557555 @greetingstoday



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SERVICESTOTHEGREETINGSINDUSTRY ● Key suppliers – Simon Elvin are champions for the independents

Just champion The greetings industry may be about the designs and sentiment of the finished product, but an awful lot goes in to the industry before we get to that envelope-opening moment – there’s board, inks, printing, cello-bags, display stands and even licensing. And, of course, there’s the wholesale side where Simon Elvin Limited are one of the best-known names, and a champion for the independent retailer.


IMON Elvin have been key suppliers to independent retailers for very many years – as a brand, they almost singlehandedly introduced levels of quality, both in terms of design and production values that had hitherto seemed unattainable for the sector. More impressively, they have managed this without damaging the tremendous margin opportunities that the quality and depth of their cards, social stationery and party ranges offer retailers, all through the simple expedient of channelling its entire sales and distribution effort through the specialist wholesale sector. Having started back in 1978, Simon Elvin cards today have an almost iconic status for the variety and quality they bring from their Wooburn Green, Bucks base, not only to independent card shops, but every independent retailer with cards among their offerings. Simon Elvin himself has a clear vision on all this, saying: “When we began, the independent sector was almost entirely ignored by direct publishers, so we saw an opportunity to help the retailer and build our own business to continue helping them – a sort of virtuous circle. “With that decision taken, the wholesale route was very clearly the best supply option for retailers as far as we were concerned. It offers them the ability to make the design selections they want; to buy them in the quantities they choose, and whenever they need them. “As time has gone by, the pressure on independents, be they card shops, post offices or CTNs (confectionery, tobacco and news stores), has become ever more intense. “The rise of cheap High Street card outlets has also taken a heavy toll. So we keep redoubling our efforts to

give the better specialist wholesalers our support and provide great cards at great prices for them and the independent retailer. “On top of that, we continue to bring out complete new everyday ranges every couple of months, simply to ensure our retailers and their customers have fresh offerings of exciting new designs available to them. “There’s nothing worse for a retailer than having racks with displays that are hanging around for years – they don’t want that and their customers certainly don’t. c “The important thing, for all of us, u is that it seems to work, and we are a humbled by the fierce loyalty our o wholesale and retail friends continue to show to us.” c The UK wholesale trade now consists primarily of either n specialist cash and carries or s service-based salesmen calling on s individual accounts. Alongside Simon Elvin’s continuing support, the main advantage a wholesale distributor can offer is a vast range of products from a selection of suppliers. These products include greetings cards, gifts and stationery, with the massive and very welcome quality presence of Simon Elvin in all these areas, as well extremely competitive prices. And, as Simon himself noted, a welcome freedom of choice for the retailers using them. He reiterated that this is an important consideration, especially with the recent increase in the minimum wage – expected to rise again, and rise significantly, in the coming three years. It means more and more independent retailers will be finding their profits even further squeezed. Set against this, the wholesale sector clearly offers an opportunity to increase your margins, while still delivering a quality product, to help offset those rising overheads.

The wholesale route was very clearly the best supply option


T: 01628 526711

Displaying their wares THE SHOP & Display Equipment Association is Europe’s leading retail display trade organisation who publish the annual Retail Display Directory detailing their 100-plus membership and giving a comprehensive insight into the UK retail display industry. SDEA members offer thousands of shopfittings and display systems, props, visual merchandising aids, PoS, lighting and signage to show your greetings displays to their best advantage. And the association’s popular online resource,, has a comprehensive and intuitive keyword search facility. @greetingstoday


From thought to finish ESTABLISHED in 1991, The Imaging Centre are a family-run digital print company who specialise in greetings cards and operate under the proud motto Here For You From Thought To Finish. As Sales Manager and the founders’ son Adam Short explained: “We love greetings cards, in the last year we’ve printed nearly 10million of them for more than 800 different customers, making us one of the largest digital print distributers in the UK for the greetings card industry. “We work closely with all of our suppliers to ensure we’re offering the best and most up-to-date products and services available. With a team of 20-plus, we also have a lot of experience and can offer advice at all levels whether you’re a start up looking to enter the world of cards or an established publisher, we are happy to help. “We offer all types of special finishes including foil, flitter, emboss, deboss and die cutting – and we don’t just do cards. Other popular products available include notebooks, calendars, art prints and much more.” The Imaging Centre also offer a complete fulfilment service so they can print, finish, pack and dispatch your cards direct to retail, meaning easy stock management. Adam added: “Earlier this year we took this a stage further when we launched our exclusive web-to-print service IC Simplicity which enables our customers to use an online library featuring all of their designs and order direct. “This system then sends those designs straight to press leading to faster turnarounds and even more accuracy with orders. With minimums of just six of any one design this service means you can order what you want when you want it.”


Print it. Store it. Care for it.

T: 01622 871449 @greetingstoday 27


New level of service OPERATING from a state-of-the-art 93,000 sq ft manufacturing facility conveniently located in Kent, Offset Print & Packaging have more than four decades of expertise and are pioneers in quality print and packaging. They employ more than 60 dedicated staff across design, manufacturing, warehousing, account services and management departments to service customers across the UK and Europe. Designing and manufacturing high quality, bespoke printed cartons and greetings cards, MD Vince Brearey said: “We offer full in-house support across innovative structural design and state-of-the-art reprographics. This is complemented by the highest levels of quality and reliability throughout the entire production process. “We continue to redefine expectations through our superior levels of commitment in everything that we achieve.”

T: 01622 795000

The direction is clear for Carl and team DIRECTOR Carl Birks founded Clear Supplies Greetings earlier this year due to his passion for the greetings card industry and because he truly wanted to help all sizes of publishers with their business in any area they need. Product development, commercialisation and sourcing are among the services offered, as Clear Supplies’ partnerships give them access to the latest seven-colour B2 HP Indigo 10000 digital press, plus B1 sheet size and larger print runs on request. Working closely with key paper suppliers, they also offer UK handmade capabilities with a six-week turnaround on generic attachments. On top of their quality and cost-effective product solutions, Clear


Supplies provide free advice on the wider greetings card market and help new publishers set up correctly. Product specification, card sizes, board weight, finishes, packing and labeling requirements are all of the things Carl can help with, ensuring your designs meet the requirements of the ever increasing demands of the industry. Clear Supplies also work with key suppliers to the industry for retail, which also includes fixtures and POS – from a one-metre greetings card fixture for retailers or studio to a whole display for a show.

T: 0844 808 2465 @greetingstoday


17 years experience Digital & Litho Printing Solutions Foil, flitter, emboss and hand applied Competitive pricing FSC and SEDEX accredited Commercial advice Retail solutions (Fixtures & POS) Handmade UK solutions Packing and Rework We can help get your product to market!

● Licensed to thrill – Amanda and Tim

Passionate about licensing GEMMA International have been involved in licensing for more than 30 years, since Chairman Lindesay Rudd-Clarke founded the Hampshirebased business. Designing cards, wrap and partyware for some of the biggest brands in the world such as Thomas The Tank Engine, Peppa Pig, Mr Men and Disney, Gemma have forged a sterling reputation and are highly regarded by many as one of the go-to companies for licensed greetings. They pride themselves on a strong core of brands that have stood the test of time, as well continuing to innovate their portfolio with new, up and coming licences. Historically, their main focus has been on children’s brands, with influences from television, film and toy sectors but, in recent years, Gemma have expanded their portfolio to include brands from the digital and gaming sector, having noticed significant growth in this area. Managing Director Amanda Parkin said: “Gemma has a fantastic range of licences to offer customers, from our evergreens which include Peppa and Thomas, to the social media phenomenon of Pusheen, to the highly anticipated Trolls Movie, not forgetting Pokemon, and Emoji – the language of the digital generation. “We offer great service, innovation and choice across our greetings and partyware ranges, these really are exciting times for Gemma as we continue to bolster our portfolio to provide a huge variety of market-leading licenses to retailers.” Gemma’s Licensing Director Tim Rudd-Clarke, pictured with Amanda, is passionate about choosing new licences: “Our licensing team keep their ears to the ground and fingers on the pulse so we’re usually quite hot when it comes to knowing which new licences are coming through. “We’re well-known in the industry so quite often opportunities are presented to us before they hit the shows. “When it comes to making decisions, obviously the ground work has to be done to make sure the numbers work but, ultimately, we have to feel passionate about a brand. “After this much time in the industry, I know to trust my gut instinct and, if we get excited about a brand, then chances are, so will consumers.”

T: 01264 388400 @greetingstoday

After a soft launch 6 months ago, Clear Supplies Greetings founder Carl Birks said “We are now ready to offer our services to the wider market and we believe our unique offer brings a number of key elements all into one place. We can help everybody from start up to medium size publishers in all areas of your business from design, production, warehousing right through to fixture solutions”. If you want a fresh new approach for your business, please contact us today. 0844 8082465

Polypropylene & biodegradable bag specialists Over 40 years quality service to the trade Hotfoiling also available



T 01206 396209 E 29


Surefire success – the complete line up of 2016 Henries winners

Hooray for Henry The Art File & Imaging Centre

There was plenty of glitz and glamour at the Henries Awards where the winners collected their trophies amidst the fabulous Bollywood theme at London’s Lancaster Hotel. UK Greetings’ long-serving CEO Gary Rowley was presented with the Honorary Achievement Award, while the Henry Cole Classic trophy went to Ling Design for their Rainbow range, and IC&G picked up the Best Service To The Independent Retailer. More pictures are available on the Greetings Today Facebook page.

Henries Winners 2016 Honorary Achievement Award Gary Rowley, CEO, UK Greetings Most Promising Young Designer or Artist Sara Miller, creative director and founder at Sara Miller London

Wendy Jones-Blackett, House Of Cards & Really Good

Best Children’s Range Facematt Funimals, Brainbox Candy Best Christmas Counter Range Christmas Keepsakes, Rachel Ellen Designs

Cherry Orchard Davora

Brainbox Candy

Best Christmas Box or Pack Paloma, Belly Button Designs Best Traditional Words & Sentiments Range Gibson Core Line, UK Greetings Best Contemporary Words & Sentiments Range Words of Wisdom, Dandelion Stationery Best Contemporary Trend Range Tropicana, Second Nature Best Handmade or Hand-Finished Range Silver Leaf, Janie Wilson Best Photographic Range 1000 Words, U Studio


Dandelion Stationery

Best Humour Range Gin + Frolics, Rosie Made A Thing Best Art Range Landmarks, I Drew This Best Licensed Card Range Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Hallmark Best Gift Wrappings Range Neon Revolution, Glick

GF Sm Smith mith & guests

Best Male Range Geronimo, The Art File Best Wholesale Range Gold Female Contemporary, Hambledon Studios

I Drew This

Best Occasions & Relations Range Paper Diamonds Deluxe, Wendy Jones-Blackett Best Spring Seasons Range Love You More Valentine’s Day, Stop The Clock Design Best Cute Range Sausage Dog, Sooshichacha Henry Cole Classic Award Rainbow, Ling Design Best Service To The Independent Retailer Gold – International Cards & Gifts (IC&G) Silver – Noel Tatt Bronze – UK Greetings

30 www. www.greetingstoday

Blue Eyed Sun & Kali Stileman

Stop The Clock



Don’t wait around I T’S ALL change at JLP, where evolution rather than revolution is usually the order of the day.

The big supermarkets can be an issue for independents – but only if you let them. Phil Philip Downer looks at how small all retailers can be proactive in working around the big g boys instead of just waiting to see what happens.

Last year, Mark Price left Waitrose after eight years as MD, and now Andy Street has stepped down from John Lewis after nine years in charge. Both were JLP lifers, and both have now entered politics, leading one to hope that the British public might be never knowingly undersold down the river. In the meantime, I wonder what changes their successors – Rob Collins and Paula Nickolds – might make to a winning formula. Again, both are lifers, but they’ll want to make their own mark on their businesses. The John Lewis Partnership are huge players in our market sector, and they’ve built a powerful online presence to complement their growing store portfolio. Looking at the card and gift department in John Lewis’s Kingston branch, I wondered how many Calliope shops could I squeeze into that space – six, eight, 10? When you own the freeholds and have 120,000 sq ft to play with, the world’s your oyster. Comfortingly, there are relatively few John Lewis department stores, and they’re concentrated in the biggest city centres. (I’m personally not convinced by the At Home sheds, which seem poorly located and badly ranged. Something for Ms Nickolds to sort out.) But there are a great many Waitrose ● New bosses – Rob Collins and Paula Nickolds supermarkets, 350 at last count, and the likelihood is that if you’re selling cards in a efficiently as one of the big four if they get their way. moderately prosperous location, there’s one in your That lovely display of cut flowers and garden plants town. in the summer – do you think your Indeed, when we’re looking for new local florist welcomes that? Does Calliope locations, one of the first thingss your independent vintner hang out the we check is the presence of a Waitrose. bunting when a vast Waitrose wine b We assume their paid-for consumer department rolls into town? Of course research will pretty closely match not. Like any supermarket, Waitrose whatever we might have done if we had aspire to dominate every category they the budget so, if the demographics are trade in, a one-stop shop for the gingood enough for Waitrose, they’re good and-Jaguar set. enough for Calliope. This would be more manageable But, of course, Waitrose aren’t if the modern Waitrose store were a sweetly benign presence, nestling integrated into the town centre, but among the butchers, bakers and their current strategy tends to take cheesemakers of our historic market an “of the town centre but not in it” towns. policy – half a mile from the core, on p The Partnership today is as close as the inner ring road or the approach to many get to organised religion, and their the railway station, picking up all the commitment to employee ownership high-earning commuter traffic, and h and quality food creates a unique aura. offering parking that’s free, or cheaper than the council However – whisper it – Waitrose are really another demands for the car parks it controls. of the big supermarkets, and they’ll toast the town as

How many H Calliope shops could I squeeze att into that ? space?

Philip Downer Is MD of Calliope Gifts, owner of Front Of Store retail consultancy, an experienced public speaker and the former CEO of Borders bookstores. T: 01306 889914 @greetingstoday

You might think councillors are so grateful to Waitrose for coming to town and straightening out their dinner party plans that they assume the supermarket’s impact on other traders must be wholly benign. So, as Waitrose customers empty the six-foot high dumpbins of Christmas card packs, where does that leave the rest of us? As ever, checking on our own competitive advantages – which, location and parking charges aside, can still be significant. These might include price (Waitrose aren’t cheap), or environment (even a Waitrose supermarket is still a supermarket); selection (independents all have a much broader, more interesting, less homogenised range than any grocers), or service (Waitrose staff are very pleasant, but they aren’t on hand to discuss every choice with customers). Blow your own trumpet and remember that every new entrant to a market creates a new niche for someone else. In Dorking, the old family butcher closed after Waitrose came to town – then 12 months later, a new butcher arrived, offering what Waitrose couldn’t and, by all accounts, is trading well. In my previous life in big business, the saying was that a new boss was the same as a new job. A new supermarket will change your town, but it doesn’t mean you haven’t still got a job to do – assess the opportunity, and fill the new gaps for your customers. And enjoy the 61 varieties of olive oil… 31

Talk of the town The voice of the people who matter, greetings retailers tell it like it is.

Chris Dell, White Mint, Berkhamsted & St Albans, Herts

What’s the story behind your store? Opening a shop was a dream of my partner Paul Cheshire, I just like a challenge. So when we talked about it we decided to slowly start making things happen. We built a website ourselves, and went off to Spring Fair with an idea of what we wanted to do. We were sure we wanted to work in the contemporary gifts and interiors space. Most suppliers were very supportive considering I’d knocked up a logo myself and we didn’t even have business cards – the logo has been changed now! It was great having the website but it was just our starting point as we knew we wanted something bigger. Once we had enough stock we started doing a weekly market stall in our home town of Berkhamsted to see what the appetite was like for our style. People really liked us so, after six months, we decided to start looking for a shop on the High Street. We found one just a few weeks later and started the long process of getting it refitted. The shop was a massive success from day one as we made a conscious decision to not stock anything available in other places in town so people had a reason to keep coming back to us. After a year and a half my love of a challenge kicked back in and we started looking for a second site. I used to live in St Albans and thought we’d fit right in and here we are, we opened officially on October 29. So far so good, the reception has been great and other local small businesses have been very welcoming and supportive. Which is your top-selling design, publisher or genre? We seemed to have found a niche selling


simple style cards, Lagom being a favourite of ours, but I do love a naughty card too so it’s fun to hear a few giggles from our customers when they’re browsing. What trends are you seeing coming through for 2017? We’re looking at doing a very simple natural style for next year, lots of brass, marble and granite. We were very kitsch this year, so think it’s time to mix it up a bit. Looking back to when you started, is there anything you wish you’d known then? Yes, we had to learn that it’s impossible to do everything yourself and do it well. We now have lots of people that work with us to make us look good and stand out on the High Street and online as an interesting place to shop and visit.

Of all the publishers you stock, which card would you like to receive for your birthday? Would have to be from the Buddy Fernandez Card Company – funnily enough now based in Berkhamsted too. Their quotes are always spot on and hilarious! @greetingstoday


Helen Comer, Ten Green Bottles, Dawlish, Devon

What’s the story behind your store? The shop has been here for about 4½ years, it was owned by my friend and I helped her set it up as a gifts and greetings store – and when she sold it last year I bit her hand off to buy it! It’s always been called Ten Green Bottles because my friend has some cafes as well that are names after nursery rhymes too so it works and it’s quirky.

Kiah Garvey, supervisor, The Shetland Times Book Shop, Lerwick, Shetland

What’s the story behind your store? We’re the same company as the Shetland Times newspaper which was founded in 1872, and the shop has been going for over 70 years. We’re primarily a book shop, and the Shetland Times are publishers too so we carry all their books, and we also do cards – which is my thing – gifts, and toys. We’re diversifying into other things as you have to. The manager Karen Baxter, the other supervisor Rachel Clark and myself are the small team who look after the buying. I do the cards but Karen has the final say. Karen goes down to Birmingham for the shows, and we have reps visiting and also look and buy online. It is lovely here although the winters are harsh – which is an understatement – but we’ve just had a brilliant October. We’re quite near the Arctic Circle, a long way north which I think people don’t always appreciate. Which is your top-selling design, publisher or genre? We’re huge fans of Woodmansterne, we like all their staff, we love their Christmas collections and the Quentin Blake general kids’ cards sell very well. We work well with Ling, and we work with UK Greetings. We love Nigel Quiney, they are very good and their Christmas cards are beautiful. We also work with a lot of smaller publishers. Great British Card Company we adore, we just started using them last year, and Port And Lemon which are great fun and sell well here with their nautical themes. Another is I Drew This, we like her cards and we use Quire Publishing quite a lot too. We use Heart Of The Garden for our photographic ranges too. I’m always looking for new card suppliers because it’s quite competitive here and there are a number of greetings shops in close proximity. What trends are you seeing coming through for 2017? That’s a bit difficult as we’re still all about Christmas so we haven’t had chance to think about next year yet. Looking back to when you started, is there anything you wish you’d known then? I’ve been here for seven years but have lived in Shetland for 20 years when I moved up from Jersey although I’m from Hampshire originally. Working here was when I started being involved with greetings cards and I think it’s been a learning curve so I don’t think there’s anything. We used to use mainly the big suppliers – we still use a couple and they are very useful – now we have many more smaller publishers in and it’s a better feel. Also with the smaller independents, we’re independent too so we should support each other.

Which is your top-selling design, publisher or genre? At the moment it’s Zig Zag by Perkins & Morley – I’ve just about sold out of the first batch. Perkins & Morley cards are probably one of my best sellers overall, the Collective Nouns are very popular and I do have the spinner outside so that helps! Jill Perkins is local too – that’s me with her outside the shop – so people like that connection. She used to have all the stock at her house but they have just gone to warehousing so I can’t get her to drop by with last-minute orders any more, which isn’t so convenient! Their new peg hooks featuring the Animal Ink range are good too, and the Collective Nouns Tea Towel is as popular as ever. Sloths have also been good – I’ve not seen the Planet Earth programme piece on them yet, I’m going to watch it on iPlayer – and flamingoes are popular. We sell Jellycat too and they all go well. What trends are you seeing coming through for 2017? Owls and foxes have been around for a little while now, it seems to be moving more to safari animals like giraffes and elephants – but flamingoes will still be going. Being in Dawlish we’re always a season behind everyone else but we get there. It’s a lovely place though. Looking back to when you started, do you have any advice for yourself? Ooh that’s a hard question! Not putting spinners out when it’s windy – one blew over yesterday and broke a whole load of magnets. We’re near the sea and the wind does whistle down The Strand. Of all the publishers you stock, which card would you like to receive for your birthday? It’s got to be a Perkins & Morley’s Zig Zag one, I think my favourite is the owls, especially the little owls.

Of all the publishers you stock, which card would you like to receive for your birthday? Probably something from Woodmansterne, they do lots of nice animal cards – we’re suckers for a nice dog picture. And we all snigger over their humour ones all the time, especially the British Problems. @greetingstoday 33


You feel like you’ve got the joke

Say it with pencil shavings How do you let customers know what’s where in your store? John Ryan looks at the question, and how John Lewis have cracked it in their latest store.


OHN Lewis opened a large store in Leeds on October 20 – it’s been a while coming.

To be honest, it’s quite hard to see why Exeter should have had one of Middle England’s favourite emporiums when Leeds did not (although you can, of course, argue till you’re blue in the face that the Yorkshire city is quite a long way physically and spiritually from Middle England). It’s been worth the wait however and, unlike the Exeter outpost, this is a full-line affair spanning 170,000 sq ft over five floors. A big space therefore and one in which stationery – especially greetings cards – plays a fairly major role, located in a prominent space on the ground floor. But think about this for a moment. Each of the floors is roughly the same size, meaning that on the ground floor alone there is 34,000 sq ft in which to wander around and somewhere in there will be the greetings card offer. What the shopper is presented with is a consummate exercise in wayfinding – getting customers to where they need to be and, if

possible, getting them to pick up a few other things on the way to their destination. Sounds simple? Well possibly not. If greetings cards are sought, then a route has to be found through the likes of beauty, fashion accessories and the men’s department, among other things. The trick is providing appropriate guidance and it’s been noticed that words, despite the fact greetings cards are involved, may not be the best way of doing this. Instead, the visual merchandising powers-thatbe have opted for 3D graphics – something that can be deciphered, even by those who find seeing things at a distance problematical, more readily than letters of the alphabet, no matter how large the font size. In this instance, pencil shavings are the chosen means of disseminating the message, appropriate for the stationery department. These are large pencil shavings – if they’d actually come from sharpening a pencil of that equivalent size, then it would be reasonable to assume that a writing implement of

John Ryan is Stores Editor at Retail Week where he’s worked for more than a decade covering store design, visual merchandising and what makes things sell in-store. In a previous life he was a retail buyer. T: 07710 429926 twitter: @newstores


intercontinental ballistic missile proportions might have been involved! The shavings in question have been suspended from the ceiling and it’s quite hard to miss them if you’re anywhere in the near vicinity. This brings into sharp focus the matter of how you tell a customer about what you have. “Say it with flowers” used to be one of those straplines readily understood without recourse to verbiage and the same is more generally true of graphics that use symbols instead of words. It’s also a fact that many greetings cards are sold in environments where they have to compete with other categories for space and attention so it makes a lot of sense to offer a visual representation as most of the time words are likely to be visual white noise – looked at without interest or engagement. Using signs or symbols that are instantly read is a good way of telling shoppers about who and what you are and done well also happen to be fun. The same is true of windows where a graphic representation will probably win the day over words in almost any scheme, but it does require more than a little thought. John Lewis scores highly in Leeds and does so in a way that raises an inner smile – you feel like you’ve got the joke and now it’s time to buy the card. Worth thinking about if you need to shift a few more items… @greetingstoday

The Original Coaster Card Company. Tel 07921259652 Email


World’s largest edited collection revealed ADVENTURES IN GREETINGS & STATIONERY AT TOP DRAWER SPRING/SUMMER 17


Jessica Hogarth

S THE world’s largest edited show for this sector, the Spring/Summer 17 (S/S17) edition of Top Drawer’s Greetings & Stationery section is the style destination of choice for creative retailers embarking on an exploration of the most beautiful and distinctive stationery, wrap, greetings cards and more. Wrap, Papercuts, Katie Leamon, The Art File, East End Prints, Ohh Deer, Roger La Borde and Belly Button Designs are among the 150 brands showing from January 15-17 at Kensington Olympia in London. Following a hugely successful debut at Top Drawer’s recent A/W16 edition, PaperFest and the PaperAwards return. Sponsored by GF Smith, these initiatives recognise and reward talent and innovation within the Greetings & Stationery industry. Buyers are now invited to register for Top Drawer S/S17 and discover thousands of exclusive global brands across the four sectors, Home, Gift, Fashion and Craft.

Top Drawer 15-17 January at London Olympia Plewsy

Rocket 68

Too Wordy

36 @greetingstoday

A L’aise

Hole In My Pocket

Jolly Awesome

Lizzie Chancellor | Greetings & Stationery ZA44, 07913 921282

Too Wordy | Greetings & Stationery Y38 07920 462230

Rocket 68 | Greetings & Stationery ZA40 01935 822588

Plewsy | Greetings & Stationery ZB46 07725 530875

A L’aise | Greetings & Stationery Y66 07772 646221

Jessica Hogarth | Greetings & Stationery Y46 07786 906648

Jolly Awesome | Greetings & Stationery X49 Katie Leamon 07545 619918

Hole In My Pocket | Greetings & Stationery ZA49 07967 636869

Katie Leamon | Greetings & Stationery W42 07971 013028 Lizzie Chancellor @greetingstoday 37


Packing a punch Greetings cards can help change people’s lives, as The Art File’s donation of £80,000 to date from their charity collection proves. And they’re not the only ones who show their caring side – which is not just for Christmas!


“We have a local artist that has a small selection of charity cards printed from a painting she has done which she donates to a good cause. We’re planning on doing the same this year to keep that local connection.” Chris Dell, White Mint, Berkhamsted & St Albans, Herts “We do like charity cards and our customers look out for them. We do Ling, Great British Card Company and a few Woodmansterne. We have a package from Ling so they are our main suppliers and they’ve got much better over the years. They support a mix of charities.” Kiah Garvey, The Shetland Times Book Shop, Lerwick, Shetland


THE ART File are really packing a punch in the charity card stakes as the latest £27,000 cheque has taken their contributions to CLIC Sargent to around £80,000 thanks to their Christmas Charity Pack collection.

As this year’s festive sales began to ramp up, October 28 saw the presentation of the monies raised from the 2015 sales with The Art File’s joint founder Karen Mace (pictured above right) handing over the cheque to help change youngsters’ lives. Kate Lee, CEO of CLIC Sargent who have just gone through a rebranding with a new logo and message pledge that they will be fighting for Young Lives Vs Cancer and to limt the damage the disease causes beyond their health, tweeted “An incredible effort – thank you The Art File.” The Art File’s Sales Coordinator James Mace said: “We’ve been working with CLIC Sargent for over seven years now and we were absolutely delighted to give them this cheque to

continue supporting this special charity. “It was lovely to welcome Amy and Claire from the team to The Art File head office to talk about the support we give them, along with discussing exciting ideas and movements from the charity going into 2017 – 48 pence from each Christmas Charity Pack sale goes directly to them. “CLIC Sargent’s mission is to change what it means to be diagnosed with cancer when you’re young. They believe children and young people with cancer have the right to the best possible treatment, care, and support, throughout their cancer journey and beyond. They deserve the best possible chance to make the most of their lives once cancer treatment has ended. “We would like to take this opportunity to thank our fantastic customers for continuing to support this great cause through our Christmas Charity Packs. Lives are being changed because of you.” T: 0115 850 7490

Festive battle joined


HE humble charity Christmas card was the focus of a protest in London when members of the Mouth & Foot Painting Artists demonstrated in Trafalgar Square, urging people to back their festive campaign Don’t Text It, Post It.

The demonstration on November 2 coincided with the release of the MFPA’s first promotional short film Show You Care, Send A Card as they bid to prevent the tradition of sending physical Christmas cards being lost. With higher postal costs and a younger generation that has grown up using digial and social media for everyday communications, artists Tom Yendell. Andy Baker, Mojgan Safa, Leanne Beetham and Vanessa Haarhoff took to Trafalgar Square to demonstrate the importance of sending real Christmas cards. The MFPA’s 60-second video, created in collaboration with the MET Film School in London reminds the public of the joy found in this simple act. Formed in 1957, the MFPA partnership is part of AMFPA, an international self-help association of artists who paint without the use of their hands and reproduces their original work as unique greetings cards, calendars and a wide range of other products, which brings vital financial security. Tom, 54, an MFPA artist for 20 years, said: “Christmas cards not only represent a tradition spanning generations, but to us artists they represent so much more. The work we do as the MFPA enables us to earn an income from our art, as any other artist would. “Christmas is the most important time of the year for us and the sale of


Christmas cards every year is essential to our financial independence.” Speaking at the protest photographer Fenton Bailey added: “It’s a great pleasure to support this campaign and to work with a group of such empowering talented artists. “Whether hanging in a gallery or featured on a Christmas card, art should be supported and celebrated. Cards are an integral part of any Christmas and a tradition that should be saved.” @greetingstoday


Getting emotional The emotional aspect of the £1 £1.7billion 1 7billion greetings card business was a feature for all three of the keynote speakers at the GCA’s inspirational and informative 2016 AGM and conference.


TRIO of informative and inspirational speakers kept the audience interested and entertained at Greeting Card Association AGM and conference – as everyone did their best to avoid talking about the US elections.

The conversations that did surface tended to centre on the “the only good thing about a Trump win is that the dollar will crash which will be good for prices here” line, which seemed to be happening as the world woke to the news the following day that The Donald is indeed America’s President-elect. Around 140 GCA members and associate members attended the November 8 event at London’s One Whitehall Place, to hear neuroscientist Dr Lynda Shaw delve into the psyche of how sending and receiving greetings cards make people happier and improve dexterity, mental agility

shops. It’s a very significant part of our business.” In answer to a question from the floor, he pointed out that book prices are flexible across the country with much more discounting in their Middlesbrough outlet, for example, than in Hampstead, but both being successful. However, card prices are the same whatever local conditions demand “which makes no sense, so we need to work with greetings card suppliers”. Association President Ged Mace, MD of The Art File, had opened proceedings with a précis of the year’s events, including engaging with exhibition organisers Clarion Events and i2i Events, leading to strong promotion of Thinking Of You Week at the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival and Top Drawer Autumn, and the launch of the now sold-out new card publishers’ Debut area at Spring Fair for this coming February. He mentioned the GCA Market Report with slides showing “the UK public spent more on greetings cards than ever before, taking the market value up to an astonishing £1.7billion at retail.

● Speaking well – James, Lynda, Sharon and Giles

● Good news – Ged reveals £1.7bn sales

● Sales – with Paper Rose

● Attentive audience – delegates wait for the speakers

and hand-eye coordination, and illustrator and greetings card laureate Giles Andreae on his life as the creator of Purple Ronnie, Edward Monkton and Happy Jackson. Finally there was an excellent off-the-cuff speech from Waterstones CEO James Daunt about saving a national chain that looked set to go into administration by bringing in some of the values from his independent business Daunt Books and evolving their product base. Having said they have drawn up a Brexit strategy – “a pretty bleak prospective” – James added: “The foundations of business on the High Street have changed dramatically, people don’t come to buy things they need, they only come to your shops to enjoy themselves so you have to really engage with your customers. “For us it means abandoning tried and trusted practices of having the same shop up and down the country. We had to come up with a way of giving local communities the bookshop they really wanted. “When I arrived in 2011, book sales were approaching 95 per cent and we have had to evolve to replace declining book sales with other things. We now have around 18 per cent of sales coming from non-book items. With cards the strategy has been to move away from the planogram identikit offer. “Cards are an emotional thing, you go in to the shop and see the product and something emotional happens within you to choose the one that matters. If you have planogrammed it, you don’t achieve that emotional resonance. “At Daunt Books we sell cards, ranging from around three per cent of sales to eight per cent within our nine

“Retail values for single cards for 2015 v 2014 show a growth of over five per cent year on year. There are many other sectors which would absolutely love to be showing such a positive picture. “The retail values since 2011 clearly demonstrate that our industry has worked its way out of recession and continues to be vibrant, healthy and creative, the envy of the world.” The GCA business concluded with last year’s minutes approved while Brainbox Candy co-founder Mark Williams and Nigel Willcock, of Paper Rose, filled the two empty seats on the council. On the accounts front, treasurer Jeremy Corner, MD of Blue Eyed Sun, explained the year’s loss of around £6,000 was in part because new initiatives meant CEO Sharon Little needed paid-for part-time assistance, plus the GCA only sold one of their Market Reports – which members receive for free – as against four the previous year. He added: “We haven’t put prices up for 22 years so in order to protect our reserves we are going to have a very modest increase in prices to put us back on an even keel.” Following lunch, there was a series of group discussions with Great British Card Company’s Chris Houfe talking on brokerage, creative development from Rachel Hare of Belly Button Designs, sales with Paper Rose’s Nigel Willcock and Ged on strategy and business planning. More pictures are available on the Greetings Today Facebook page, and the full speeches are available on @greetingstoday

T: 020 7619 0396

● Brokerage – with Chris Houfe

● Creative development – with Rachel Hare

● Strategy and business planning – with Ged Mace 39

Product & services directory greetings card publishers & party product suppliers To advertise call Simon Davis on 01442 289930

Make every occasion count with greeting cards from Abacus Cards Limited, The Studio, Oaks Drive, Newmarket, Suffolk,CB8 7SX t: 01638 569050 f: 01638 569051 e: w:

Stunning ranges, fresh innovation, fun and fabulous cards covering Everyday, Occasions, Relations, Spring and Christmas. PO BOX 2161 The Boulevard Watford WD18 1BJ Tel: 01923 200633 Fax: 01923 200636

INDEPENDENTLY AUDITED & LARGEST CIRCULATION To find out how Greetings Today can help you just call 01442 289930 40 @greetingstoday

gifts spotlight

The latest st gift releases ases and dealss

● CHERRY Orchard’s Down Memory Lane range of cards and bone e china mugs goes from strength to strength as the latest designs forr 2017 are released. The bestselling Year You Were Born card range was extended at the start of 2016 with the introduction of this brand-new line of giftware,, where the mugs show both the age and the year of birth with relevant iconic styles. The latest release has 24 designs covering male and female milestone ages from 18 to 90 and the Year You Were Born as well as a two new introductions for 2017 showing Born In The Swinging 60s 70s.With branded display stands on offer, the and Born In The 70s. mugs are available in units of four and have ve a £6.99 RRP including a free gift box. inc

T: 01684 295500 500 www.cherryorchard

● THE IMPERIAL War Museum useum have unveiled a new partnership nership with W Widdop & Co to feature ure iconic imagery and memorable phrases imager Winston Churchill on a line of from W gift products. p The Words Of Winston t range will debut at UK retail shortly and includes notebooks, storage boxes, mugs, wall plaques, key in rings and cufflinks – plus Widdop & Co have also signed with the rin IWM to produce a range featuring images of the classic Spitfire, IW Lancaster and Vulcan military mugs, key rings and cufflinks, Lan featuring images of these c classic military aeroplanes. featu

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● KNOWN for celebrating everything British through her quirky handdrawn illustrations, award-winning gift and homeware designer Victoria Eggs has launched two new ranges Simply London and Christmas 2016. Simply London moves away from the Airfix London print that began her career and, instead, focusses on a more nostalgic and whimsical view of the capital’s landmarks, transport and, of course, the native wildlife – the pigeon. The designs are available on aprons, tea towels, oven mitts, mugs, bags, cards, gift wrap and coasters with prices starting from £1.95 retail. New for Victoria Eggs’ collection are the luxury Christmas crackers, RRP £35 retail, which are available in two popular designs – Festive Fun and London Bus. They are filled with a selection of premium quality wooden and metal gifts that you’ll actually want to keep, along with a tissue hat and joke insert. Also new and never done before are the Christmas napkins, RRP £29.95, available in the Festive Fun and Christmas Delights designs.

T: 020 7704 2840 @greetingstoday

● LESSER & Pavey present a perfect range for Mother’s Day or any other day you feel you need to share your love with it someone special. Licensed to Lesser & Pavey by Hearts Designs these products form part of the Mad Dots Collection which has been a huge success with its attractive gift packaging. All items are decorated with real 18ct gold and a sweet diamanté heart.

T: 01322 279225 41

print services


We specialise in providing high quality print for short to medium runs, incorporating multiple images. Go to our website for prices, alternatively call or email us for a bespoke quote.

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A selection of this month’s latest releases




● CHERRY Orchard have launched a fantastic Autumn Collection for 2016 presenting 46 brand-new designs across three price points, with 13 designs at code 125, 16 at Code 75 and 17 at Code 60. With many of these stunning new designs blending a fresh contemporary look with traditional styles, this collection will give displays a whole new look from the Cherry Orchard portfolio. Free brochures are available from customer services.

T: 01684 295500



01228 560526


BAGS from

Wrapid Producers of high clarity, high quality bags for over 30 years direct to the greeting card and stationery trade 01274 220 220

● ONCE Upon A Time and Zig Zag are the latest two children’s ranges from Caroline Gardner. A child’s imagination is the concept behind Once Upon A Time with each of the six 140x146mm cards, three girl and three boy designs, featuring a different bedtime story theme, from mermaids collecting shells, to knights in shining armour fighting dragons. Quirky pen drawings combine with bright bold colours to build whimsical make believe scenes completed by a foil and embossed finish plus red envelope. Zig Zag is the new fold-out children’s range of ages one to five, with carefully-created cards folding out into five sections, revealing a surprising and detailed scene inside. From a bus full of animals with party balloons to dinosaurs enjoying a great big birthday bash, every card depicts a different theme to suit each age with girls and boys’ options. These cards come in new fold out cello with the regular sized envelope 140 x146mm.

T: 020 8288 9696 ● NEW publisher Hannah Richards is a London-based illustrator and stationery designer with a collection of greetings cards and wrap from her work with paper collage and ink. Featuring unique contemporary abstract designs in bold bright colours inspired by simple shapes and happy accidents, the range is printed and packaged in England on FSC assured stock. @greetingstoday 43


A selection of this month’s latest releases

● MANCHESTER-based artist Meha Hindocha offers greetings cards and complementary gifts featuring her colourful works. Cityscapes, Penned Over and Chimera are the three Meha Art card ranges with matching coasters and mugs. Coasters start from £3.50 each, mugs from £10 and greeting cards are £2.50 each or six for £12. Wholesale prices are available, with minimum order requirements. ● TIGERLILY have a new Off To The Party range to tell everyone about plus new additions to their Confetti and Tribal Age collections. Cowboys & Indians, Toy Solider and The Little Flute Player are the three new Confetti characters which are all hand-crafted paper art and have a celebration theme. In addition they have ages seven, eight and nine in the Tribal Age birthday range of fun vibrant patterns and colours perfect for a little warrior’s birthday. Tigerlily are all Off To The Party with their latest paper art range, which is hand crafted in the UK on premium textured paper with lots of love and patience. This 150x150mm birthday range is full of fun and cheer, from magical air balloons to bouncing mums and roller skates.

● URBAN Collections is the new graffiti-inspired greetings card range from Courgette, who hail from Bristol – famous the world over for its street artists, most notably a certain Banksy. To complement the ever-popular Collections Of Collections format, which now stands at 125 designs, these six new cards continue the multiple images theme and are 135x135mm, supplied in cello bags with envelopes. Titles include Love, Anarchy and Peace and are available now.

T: 07835 893775

T: 0117 9091864

● STAR Editions have recently picked up greetings cards as part of their Roald Dahl licence and they are now live on their website. They have launched two ranges featuring the three classic tales The BFG, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and Matilda. First is a 6x4in colour collection showcasing the best of Quentin Blake’s imagery from the iconic Dahl books, while the second 6x6in range can be sent as a classic black and white take on the images, or can be coloured in by either the sender or the recipient. They are a fantastic addition to Star Editions’ existing Roald Dahl art and gift range which features products as diverse as art prints, cushions, enamel and bone china mugs.

T: 01449 721304


● POLITICS has got Dean Morris all fired up so he’s released two last-minute Christmas designs in his Fabulous range for anyone wanting to bring Brexit into their festive greetings. Of his Merry Fucking Brexit card Dean said: Want to wish Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage or Michael Gove a very personal Christmas. Well regardless of what side of the political divide you stand on here's the perfect card to send them. Maybe you can wrap Article 50 up in a big bow for them. Or maybe not.” And for We Wish You A Merry Brexit And A Rubbish New Year he added: “It hasn't even happened yet and Brexit is already encroaching into that most festive of occasions – Christmas. Shame all these carol singers were too young to vote, but they don't mind, they just want to wish you all what everyone (okay 48 per cent of the population) are thinking. Merry Brexit!”

T: 01902 560247

● TWO new ranges from Bluebell 33 see lashings of golf foil, glitter and retro pin badges to double delight their customers. There are fun happy cards for the selfie generation where the publishers suggest taking a picture with your Selfie card and hashtagging it to share on social media. All 136x170mm cards in the Selfie range have glitter and a matching badge and are wrapped with coloured envelopes. Bold, vibrant colours topped off with a splash of gold sparkle make up the new Tiffany Sky collection that Bluebell 33 are sure customers will love to frame the 136x170mm designs.

T: 01932 506406 @greetingstoday

Artists’ directory If you are an artist/cartoonist/illustrator/verse writer or image library and would like to be part of this feature please contact Simon Davis on 01442 289930 / for more details.

â—? DAPPER is a contemporary range of high-end male greetings cards from Saffon, with sophisticated bold graphics across 16 eye-catching 172x125mm designs which include open birthday and male relations. Saffron have also added 12 beautiful new birthday designs to their Tawny Rose range of elegant and feminine cards with beautifully illustrated florals throughout. Each 160x160mm design is finished with glitter and pretty coloured gems to add extra sparkle, and both ranges come cello-wrapped with a crisp white envelope.

T: 01932 888338 @greetingstoday 45


Window on Eyes are the windows to the soul, so they as the windows themselves reflect what’s to greetings and gift retailers about how

Jenny Boswell, Mad Expectations, Bexhill-on-Sea, West Sussex How often do you change your windows? It’s about every six weeks or so, it’s me that does it and I have to come up with the ideas. What’s in there now? Halloween, we have partyware, balloons, fancy dress and decorations. The only time we don’t have cards in the window is Halloween, for everything else, Christmas, weddings, everyday, birthdays etc, we always use cards. We don’t put anything in the window that we don’t sell, and everything we sell always goes in the window. We sell Smiffys fancy dress costumes and accessories which is great for inspiration Which has been your favourite or most talked about? I’ve worked here for 20 years this year, since my mum Diane Robson opened the shop, and her best friend Irene used to be a window dresser in London. She’s 75 now and she has taught me over the years how to do it. She retired about three years ago so now I do it all myself from what she taught me. Last Christmas we had a lot of compliments about the window display, and this is my first big Halloween one – I did a smaller one last year but I’m much happier with this one. I think last Christmas is my favourite so far. Where do you get inspiration from? I’m always playing and trying to change it to make it look

better because it’s telling a story really. I think about what I’m going to do and make sure I have everything I need. I plan what I’m going to do – there are lots of drawings around when I’m working on the new one. I look at the stock in the shop and the stock that’s coming it and the ideas seem to come into my head as I think what I can do with it, and it all comes together. Which publishers do you stock? Cherry Orchard are a very good one, and we have UK Greetings’ Carlton Cards, Noel Tatt, Jonny Javelin, Paperlink, Second Nature, Nigel Quiney, Grass Roots, Is It Art’s Blue Mountain Arts, Emotional Rescue – we don’t actually sell Halloween cards though, I’ve never been asked for them and never sent one myself!

Jayne Chapman, Spirals, Brightlingsea, Essex How often do you change your windows? Probably every month, but it depends on the seasons, of course, as to whether we stay with them a bit longer or take them down. I do them all myself though my husband Tony gets roped in to give me a hand as he’s retired now. Most of the time I try to think about it first but it does depend how busy we are as time then tends to run away from you and suddenly it’s time to change for the next season. What’s in there now? Halloween! I have a helium balloon skeleton and in there. We’re Cardgains members and the rep came round and took some photos of it to put up on Twitter! I do use balloons quite a lot, mainly because we sell them but they do show the season well and also show off our stock. On Tuesday I’ll be swapping it for a six-foot poppy that I put in for Remembrance Sunday – Tony will lift that in for me, it’s quite heavy! That will stay in until Remembrance Day, then I’ll take it out. I don’t put my Christmas windows just yet so it could be anything – whatever’s new that we’ll start to promote. Where do you get inspiration from? I was involved with making the poppy for a carnival float and when I stopped being involved with the carnival they were going to get rid of it. It’s made of chicken wire and papier maché and it seemed a shame to throw it away – and we have an enormous big window so it’s ideal. I have a garage that I keep it in. I must admit that as I get

nearer Christmas I do tend to go to garden centres to get some ideas because they put theirs out earlier that we do. I have a look and think how I can adapt ideas to fit my shop. We do have quite a big window that we put the displays in so it takes some thinking about. Which has been your favourite or most talked about? Either the poppy or my Christmas windows because I try to do themed ones. I’m on the school run so the children walk past and we try to make it cute for them. I’ve got some ideas for this year, again using a bit of an old carnival float! Which publishers do you stock? My bestsellers are Noel Tatt and Cherry Orchard, and probably Nigel Quiney. We also do well with Worlds ’n’ Wishes and IC&G, and I also do quite a lot of wholesale.


the world say – in retail it’s the other way around going on inside the store. Here we chat they present this face to the world.

Fenwick, Newcastle

Katie & Carole Kouzaris Skinny Whistle, Quorn, Loughborough How often do you change your windows? We change it seasonally, for Christmas, autumn, summer in June, and we have a spring/Mother’s Day one and a Valentine’s one. Once Mother’s Day is over it remains quite spring flowery, then we go into the summer season from about June until September. And then we have a nice clean autumn window and at the end of October we go in to Christmas. What’s in there now? At the moment it’s Christmas, it’s a very rustic festive window. We like natural things, rusticy, lots of wood and fir trees. Which has been your favourite or most talked about? Christmas is always one that is the most talked about by customers, and they also like our autumn window because it’s a complete change from what we had in there before. Last year we had a sycamore tree theme but we don’t repeat things so, although it’s obviously autumn with lots of wood, this year we had pale green and cream pumpkins, which we had dotted around the shop as well. Everyone thought we’d painted them ourselves and wanted to buy them but we’d bought them from a local farmer who grows them. This year’s autumn window had a lot of interest from customers. And we have Facebook to show customers what we’re stocking and it’s nice to show the people we buy from how we’re displaying their products.

Where do you get inspiration from? We keep everything very seasonal and it has to be a reflection of what’s in the shop. We like to think we’re reasonably artistic and it always reflects the season and the colours – although we don’t tend to do a lot of bright colours, it’s usually quite soft and neutral which is what the shop is known for, apart from Mother’s Day when there’s quite a lot of bright pinks. We do put greetings cards in, we dot them about for Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Easter to remind people that we have them as well. Everyone always forgets Valentine’s so it’s to hit them in the face! Which publishers do you stock? We have a very small shop so, at the moment, we do only Belly Button because of a lack of space and because they blend in well with everything we have in the shop currently. We’ve had Kate Guest and Ruth Jackson Pencil Shaving Cards in the past. Because we’re such a small shop and have a lot of regular customers, we have such few cards that when we’ve done them for a while we change it. With Belly Button we’ve been really successful with them, everyone loves them. At the moment we haven’t even got a card spinner, we just have a box that people look through – it’s all organised nicely. We love their Platinum range. We’re so restricted on space it’s not that we don’t like other ranges we just don’t have the room to carry too many at once.

WITH a larger budget and far larger area to fill than most stores, Fenwick’s in Newcastle have become known for their Christmas windows, and this year’s animated creation is no exception. The Magic Of Beatrix Potter was unveiled on November 4 by young patients from the Great North Children’s Hospital and has been inspired by the author and illustrator’s 150th anniversary. The most popular of Potter’s much-loved stories are depicted, including Peter Rabbit in the first scene, Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and the Tailor of Gloucester in the final showcase. Thomas Merrington, Head of Product Development and Brand Manager for Peter Rabbit at publishers Penguin Random House, consulted on the development and creative execution of the characters in the window of the Fenwick Group’s flagship store, founded in 1882. He said: “How fitting to see Beatrix Potter’s characters as the theme for this year’s Fenwick Christmas window. Two iconic and much loved brands that bring generations together to share special memories. What a fantastic privilege it is to bring Peter Rabbit and his friends to life in such a magical way in this 150th anniversary year of Beatrix Potter”. Fenwick Chairman Mark Fenwick added: “For the 45th anniversary of our Christmas windows, we are delighted to be able to showcase Beatrix Potter’s fabled characters.” The department store started the window tradition back in 1971 with the kids’ TV series Camberwick Green and have featured Rupert, Sooty, Aladdin, Alice In Wonderland, Peter Pan, Gulliver, The Snowman and Oliver Twist over the years among Christmas, Santa, nativity and fairytale scenes.

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Greetings Today  

JUDGING is the operative word for the November/December 2016 issue of Greetings Today as we’re talking about both the National Calendar Awar...

Greetings Today  

JUDGING is the operative word for the November/December 2016 issue of Greetings Today as we’re talking about both the National Calendar Awar...