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In Profile: Ling Design
Adding Spice And Colour While Ling Design’s recent acquisition of certain assets and goodwill of Saffron Cards & Gifts may not have scored as the largest or most significant purchase in the publisher’s lifetime, it nonetheless serves as further proof that it is serious about growing its presence in the greeting card market. And it seems there’s more to come, with David Byk, ceo of Swan Mill Paper Company (which owns Ling), holding out the bait, telling PG “Yes, we always have our antennae out for new acquisitive opportunities!” Saffron is not an especially strongly flavoured spice, but it makes its presence felt through a richness of colour that seems impossible from such a small entity. Perhaps this is what Swan Mill is hoping from the card brand of the same name that it has just welcomed into its Ling greeting card portfolio. Certainly, while the acquisition is not crucial to Ling Design group’s profile, Saffron nonetheless adds another strand to the publisher’s reputation, slotting in to its increasingly impressive roster. “Through Ling, Talking Pictures, Rainbow, Velvet Olive, Penny
PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE
Kennedy and our recent millennial-aimed brand, The Curious Inksmith, we cover a lot of card retailers’ and card consumers’ needs,” explains David. “Saffron further bolsters our offer. It has strong international business, good distribution in nationals and attractive product ranges, such as those from The London Studio, which strengthens our position on the humour front”, elaborates David on Saffron’s appeal to the growing group. Above: David Byk’s first job with the company was as a sales rep in South Wales. He has been ceo for the last 18 years. Far left: Saffron Cards and Gifts is the 7th main brand within Ling Design and Penny Kennedy. Left: Ling’s diversification into Advent calendars was well received by retailers. Below: Ling’s Spring Fair stand.
This was an opportunistic purchase, which came about as a result of former owner, Paul Steele, making the decision to retire from the industry after 40 years. Saffron’s compact size - some 600 SKUs - made the takeover relatively quick and simple. In fact, the only big stumbling block was that the appalling weather conditions saw Paul Steele being stranded at his home, unable to sign the contract due to all electricity being cut off! “It delayed the deal by a day, but we soon got round,” said David.