Progressive Greetings December 2020

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December 2020

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From The Editor

ON THE CARDS We all knew we were in for a Christmas like no other, an emotional crescendo on the back of nine months of uncertainty on so many levels. While in no way belittling the lives that have been taken by this horrible virus, there are also the moments lost this year, as major events were cancelled; the business plans we’ve all torn up/rewritten/torn up/rewritten more times than we care to remember; the tears shed through frustration and worry; the physical exhaustion of having to keep going because giving up is simply not an option, and the reluctant acceptance that virtual meet-ups are the only alternative on offer to quench the yearning for human contact with our industry friends. Sunday 13 December 2020, was 30 years to the day of ‘Max Publishing’ being officially registered at Companies House. Although the first Progressive Greetings’ edition under Warren and my ownership was not until the February issue 1991, that Dec 13 date has always stuck in my mind, as I felt I was part owner of a ‘proper business’. The majority of the last year may have seen the pages being ripped out of any historic business text books, but what it hasn’t done is rip the heart out of this industry. In fact, that heart is beating louder than ever before, and I for one am feeling incredibly privileged to be a part of it. I tentatively sent some emails to retailers yesterday asking about trade in the last push to Christmas, worried that I was overstepping the mark on their time in a crucial period. I was overwhelmed by the response, by email and phone, busy retailers THE HOME OF MARKET LEADING TRADE MAGAZINES



Left: Jakki Brown on the first morning post Lockdown 2 on a Postmark, Lark and Oliver Bonas super shopping spree. Below: PG’s Warren Lomax and Jakki Brown presenting on the virtual Henries 2020 awards. Below right: With this issue, the Focus on Kids Cards 2020 special publication.

who made the time to share their experiences. The lovely Jo Barber of No.14 Ampthill sent me an email, timed 1.37am: ‘Sure, happy to answer your questions, I’ll get something over to you in the morning. Oh, it’s already the morning’. Meanwhile, superstars Marion and Mark Flaherty of Best Wishes in Garstang (who had been in their shop until 10pm to make it spick and span for the next day), rang me during a mercy mission to deliver a last minute order to an elderly vulnerable customer, while Postmark’s Mark Janson-Smith, made a call while en-route to deliver to 27 of his customers. Publishers meanwhile have been understanding of retailers’ plight (many offering extended terms, super quick turnarounds and a listening ear) and they have continued to develop absolutely GREE TING GIFT WRAP cracking ranges (and from what I’ve CARD S & BAGS seen, lots more in the pipeline for 2021). Trade suppliers too have had their challenges, yet they have pulled out all the stops for publishers as well as in their support of The Henries as we took the inevitable step to move it to a virtual event. The real point of this…it takes me a while sometimes, is to say a true, heartfelt thank you! to everyone who is part of this industry, for giving me something meaningful to write about, something to believe in, products which have inspired, people to have a connection with - that I look forward to really hugging in 2021. I am so gearing up for a mega Greeting Card Hug at PG Live in June. So, brace yourself! COMING SOON FROM tel: 01992 702900

Independent retailers contact Words ‘n’ Wishes on 01942 233201

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Max Publishing Ltd, United House, North Road, London N7 9DP Tel: 020 7700 6740 Fax: 020 7607 6411 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE



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What’s Inside?




7-25 News

37-58 The Henries 2020 Winners

All the latest happenings and developments in the trade.

The triumphant trophy recipients of this year’s Henries awards.

With this


26-27 59-61 Innovations

Over The Counter

Time Waits For No Man David Robertson, co-owner of JP Pozzi in Scotland on having ‘done his best’ in 2020, he is ready to embrace the new year.

Publishers’ new ranges and designs.

62-63 Retailer Focus


Penmark’s Reset


The debut of the new Henry & Co retail concept.

Cardies Really Are Weird PG columnist delves into why greeting card sending is so popular in some countries and not others.

65 Art Source


Jo Spicer is the ‘artist in focus’ this month.


Goodbye To All That Publishers share their industry wishes, give a sneak peek into their plans for 2021 as well as lessons they have learnt from the pandemic.

67-79 Sources of Supps’


34-35 Captured On Screen The Henries 2020 in screengrabs and pics.

Subscribe to Progressive Greetings from £60 (UK) to £90 (International). You can organise this quickly and easily online at our secure site: For assistance, please email maxsubscriptions@marketingreinforc or call 0207 700 6740.

Jakki Brown

Warren Lomax

Ian Hyder

Tracey Arnaud

Editor/Joint Owner

Joint Owner

Joint Owner

Sales Manager

Use your smartphone app to scan the QR code to visit our website.

Copyright© 2020. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this magazine was correct at the time of publication, the publishers cannot accept legal liability for any errors or omissions, nor can they accept responsibility for the standing of advertisers nor any organisation mentioned in the text. Views of contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers.

PG is the official magazine for the Greeting Card Association GCA: Amanda Fergusson 020 7619 9266 Email:



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NEWS Card Factory’s new boss


Card Factory has appointed Darcy Willson-Rymer as its chief executive officer. Darcy joins Card Factory (on March 8) from Costcutter Supermarkets, where he has served as ceo for the last eight years. Prior to this, Darcy was ceo of Clinton Cards from 2011 to 2012. Before joining Clinton Cards, he held a range of roles in international branded businesses, including managing director (UK & Ireland) of Starbucks Coffee Company; and senior roles at Yum Restaurants International, including operations director of KFC Great Britain; and director of operations and franchise, Europe, KFC and Pizza Hut. "As a long-standing admirer of Card Factory, I am thrilled to be able to lead the business through the next phase of its growth journey. Working with the team at Card Factory, my ambition is to unlock the true potential of the business by delivering its transformation strategy in the UK and internationally," said Darcy. Darcy’s appointment follows the departure of Karen Hubbard who left the retailer in late June.

The Last Push Not the Christmas anyone had hoped for It was always on course to be a Christmas like no other, but the Tier 4 restrictions, fear caused by the mutating virus as well as last minute supply issues meant that most card retailer’s tills did not jangle as much as had been hoped, but most gave it a damn good go for as long as they were able to trade. “We were actually heading for a record December, and had just secured a whole lot of additional stock and then Tier 4 restrictions came into force. We just felt gutted,” admitted Mark JansonSmith, managing director of the Londonbased Postmark group. “It is now the uncertainty of what will happen in the new year to contend with.” The Tier 4 restrictions saw 20 of Scribbler’s 37 shops being forced to close with only a few hours’ notice. “We had made massive deliveries into stores in readiness for the final push. It was the lack of warning which really hit,” said John Procter, co-founder of Scribbler. “Christmas trade had not been great - our London stores were down 50%-70% and our out of London ones were down 20%-40% so we really wanted those final five days trade, but bang, it was gone.” While Cardzone’s store spread saw only 32 of its 160 stores (slightly under 20%) being forced to close as a result of Tier 4 restrictions, Paul Taylor, managing director said that “the public’s understandable worry over the spread of the virus meant footfall generally was down, but we were there for every last sale”. Taking a philosophical approach, Paul added: “Yes, this has had a dampening effect on retail sales, but we are a lot better off than say the entertainment and hospitality sectors. Our hope is that the vaccine ‘roll out’ is quick and effective, for all our sakes.” It was not all bad, even for those who were forced to close prematurely, the lessons learned during previous lockdowns came good. As Adam de Wolff, co-owner of The Indigo Tree in Streatham and Crystal Palace said:

“Thank God we updated our website during the first lockdown. Obviously it doesn’t make up for significant lost shop sales but thankfully we don’t have much Christmas stock to store for next year! Customers have been shopping locally and we have been so incredibly grateful for their fantastic support” Jo Barber, owner of No. 14 Ampthill, Bedfordshire felt the same: “We’ve sold more Christmas cards this year than ever, despite being closed in November. On the Sunday, our first day closed after the Tier 4 restrictions, we sold over 300 Christmas cards from the website!” Meanwhile at Sainsbury’s, Above: Darcy Willson-Rymer joins Card Factory in demand definitely outstripped March as ceo. supply with the Tier 4 restrictions as well as the Publishers’ film-tastic clamour to stock up on thanks to retailers Christmas provisions Spreading some extra festive resulting in card racks cheer and engendering an being ransacked without uplifting feeling of solidarity, over enough time to get more 20 greeting card publishers starred in a video film in which stock in. they show their love and support “Still with three full trading for greeting card retailers - as well days to go, 80% of our showcasing a fine array of Christmas jumpers, baubles, Christmas cards had been sold. tinsel and Christmas trees galore! Our grandson/granddaughter The collaborative film was the brainchild of Gale cards had a 94% sell through, ‘to Astley, who was deputy editor of Progressive Greetings you both’ designs had a 90% sell for 17 years, and now heads up her own promo film through, ‘to my wife’ cards were company, Gale Astley Film. The greeting card cast who starred in the film 64% sold, with a lot of that stock include: Dean Morris (Dean Morris); Jo Wilson was in our convenience stores, (Dandelion Stationery); Sabina Kovacheva (Sabivo not the main supermarkets. We Designs); Mabel Forsyth (Pink Pig Cards); Kali managed to secure 120,000 Stileman (Kali Stileman); Laura and John Higgins units at the last minute, but that (Go La La); Jill White (Rocket68); Thea Musselwhite was no way enough,” admitted (Bold & Bright); Emma Ball and team (Emma Ball); Lorraine and Ian Bradley (Rush Design); Amanda Carly Pearson, senior buyer and Frank Mountain (Lola Design); Kate and Ella of Sainsbury’s. Top: Santa’s sleigh was full of hope for this year as card sending was embraced by the nation. (A design from UKG’s Special Editions Pick and Mix range). Above: No.14 Ampthill sold more Christmas cards than ever before. Right: The Indigo Tree was so glad it had invested in its website.

Stanley (Redback Cards); Nick Carey (Abacus Cards); Janna and Arianna Cossettini (Deckled Edge); Kathy Slatter and Erin Taylor and team (Stop the Clock Design); Sarah Hopkins (Holy Mackerel) and Wendy Jones-Blackett and team (Wendy Jones-Blackett), with Ulla Klopf (Pabuku) in Austria, and Dan and Freya Kane (Think of Me Designs) in California bringing some global greetings to the party. Above: Abacus’ md Nick Carey not only got dressed up, he also shared his super cute puppy on the film.



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PTH Daffy's Daily Cardgains Dec 2020_Layout 1 07/12/2020 15:35 Page 1

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s... all mercie od for sm ilty “Thank G n stop feeling gu ip...” ca bersh m e m at least I y gym t using m about no

“It’s Jame s on the p hon on zoom tororrow n e - he wants us to ight for a join him ‘Furlough Merlot’”

We are doing our best to bring you new cards - From artist Annie Tempest - Daffy’s Daily. A selection of daily observations through the eyes of the Tottering-By-Gently family characters.


e excercis aily outsid d e c n o is it?... larify - th pulsory is “just to c isn’t com

“ When this is all over, I am going to adopt an ‘antisocial distancing’ policy whereby I shall ignore people I find irritating”

“It’s just th at I find h aving two at once s glasses o tops me fw touching my face.. ine .”

Cello wrapped with a poppy red envelope, 150 x 150mm, unit quantity 6

Call us on 01423 876311 or email

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The Henries 2020 Award Winners Revealed The global greeting card community was out in force The winners of The Henries 2020 Greeting Card Awards were announced at a recent memorable awards event, which took place virtually and brought together 750+ members of the greeting card community, not just from all around the UK, but from all around the world. “What a fantastic night. It really did bring everyone all together for a shared evening that celebrated everything that is great about our industry - the fabulous people, the wonderful products, the strong relationships and the tenacious spirit which connects us all,” said warren Lomax, joint managing director of Max Publishing, which owns and organises The Henries. The award winners saw a multitude of greeting card publishers being recognised and rewarded for their creative excellence as well as for their outstanding service (see pages 37-58). The awards ceremony ended on an emotional high, with the Honorary Achievement Award being presented to Cath Tate, founder of Cath Tate Cards. “What I really wanted to do when I

started out 40 years ago, was to change the world - and cards seemed as good a place to start as any!” said Cath in her acceptance speech. Cath also paid tribute to her customers, her team as well as the support publishers give each other. As she said: “We all want to make sure the industry thrives”. The Henries’ Session Rooms, both pre and post awards ceremony were abuzz with greeting card publishers, retailers, overseas distributors, trade

Charitable efforts

suppliers, agents and artists making the most of the opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues, using the capabilities of the Hopin event platform to chat, congratulate and share the moment. The Henries ‘show’ included messages of support from a dozen leading overseas distributors and international publishers, but also as this was the 25th anniversary of The Henries, there were some special memories from industry stalwarts who have been to many Henries evenings. (See more on pages 34-35). The smooth-talking Henries Awards compere was Alan Dedicoat well known as the ‘Voice of the Balls’ from The National Lottery and announcer of Strictly Come Dancing, who joined with the whole industry in giving the Henries programme a ’10’ from him!

The Henries also contributed to over £11,000 being raised for The Light Fund, the industrywide charity as a result of a Silent Auction and prize draw. Those in the greeting card industry were among those to bid on lots in a silent auction and also buy prize draw tickets. Among the impressive array of items/experiences that were auctioned were tickets to the MTV European Music Awards, signed David Walliams books, holidays, signed sports shirts, signed calendars and many more. The Imaging Centre’s md Adam Short was successful in his bid for a signed Friday Night Dinner calendar while Smiffys’ director Dominique Peckett clinched a signed Andy Murray tennis racquet and a week’s holiday in Padstow.

Top: As a sponsor of The Henries, Adam Short, md of The Imaging Centre announced one of the awards by video. Above: Suttiki’s ceo Hannah Mungo (who started her career at Portico Designs) explained about the Silent Auction and Raffle at The Henries. Above left: Rosie Harrison, founder of Rosie Made A Thing with her two Henries 2020 trophies, one for Best Lockdown Range, the other for Best Humour Range for its Gin & Frolics range. Left: It was a hat trick for Woodmansterne, winning Best Cute Range (for Opal), Best Licensed Range (for Emma Bridgewater) and Silver in Best Service to the Independent, the trophy of which is held here by Adam Osborne (ops director) and Andy Paterson (sales director).

Global greetings Among the leading distributors of UK publishers who sent videos of their heartfelt support, shown during The Henries event were… US-based Alan and Vanessa Harnik of Notes & Queries and Susan January from Leanin’ Tree; popping in from Australia was McMillan’s Jenny Cummins, Bindi and John Simson (of Simson Cards) and Eulinid Stevenson of Henderson Greetings. Meanwhile from Japan, Hiroshi Kawamura and Kayoko Kubo of Toy Symphony shared their good wishes. A bit closer to home, Netherlands-based Peter Tijink of The Art Group; Stefan Hermann from Taurus-Kunstkarten in Germany; Olivier Draeger from Paris-based Draeger; Charlie Wallin from Pictura in Sweden and Furio Ceciliato from Origamo in Italy added their positive vibes. Right: Big Al aka Alan Harnik of Notes & Queries shared his good wishes from the USA.



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IC&G’s Planning Service Aim is to install 50 retail stock controls in 2021 IC&G has officially launched a fully-fledged planning and fixturing service for retailers. The Dorset-based publisher, which won the Gold award in The Henries 2020 Best Service to the Independent Retailer category, for the fifth year in succession, has been working towards offering a planning service for customers for the last few years. “When I joined the company three and half years ago, we put together a five year plan and expanding into offering a credible planning service was very much part of that,” revealed IC&G sales director Tony Roberts. “We have worked

on strengthening and broadening our product offer while maintaining the high levels of service which our customers have come to expect,” added Tony. Another clincher was when experienced greeting card planner, Jade Scholes joined the IC&G team earlier this year. Now with over 1,000 card designs in its portfolio, IC&G could feasibly fill a 40’ card display on its own, but Tony feels that the vast majority of the stock control plans

will see the publisher accounting for around 50% of the space with the other designs provided by other publishers of the retailers’ choosing. “We can obviously advise on the mix but are very happy to work with any publishers the retailer customers select,” says Tony. “Now more than ever retailers are seeing the benefits of controlling their stock. Having drawers rammed with cards is just wasting their money.” As well as the planning service, IC&G is also offering PoS, fixturing options and installation. While this month is the official launch of the service, the publisher has in fact already installed planned displays in 14 retailers’ stores over the last few months, providing fixtures too for 12 of them. Tony feels hopeful that IC&G will install stock control plans into 50 retailers over the course of next year. “It feels like we’re going from the top of the Championship and into the Premier League. It’s so exciting!” he says.

Museums & Galleries earns its stripes Museums & Galleries was among the winners of the prestigious Licensing Awards, which took place at a glittering virtual extravaganza in the middle of December. Museums & Galleries triumphed in the Best Paper Products and/or Stationery award category with its Tiger Who Came to Tea collection. Other finalists in that category were BBC Earth Calendar and Diary Range from Danilo Promotions; Emma Bridgewater Greeting Card Range from Woodmansterne Publications; Friends Collection from Danilo Promotions; Harry Potter Collection from Moleskine; Harry Potter Pop-Up Cards from Cardology; Mickey Mouse Disney Pride from Moonpig; Peter Rabbit Wrap and Gift Bags from UK Greetings and Trolls World Tour Colour Burst Collection from Pyramid International. Commenting on the award, Eddie Clarke, licensing manager of Museums and Galleries said: “We are thrilled to win this prestigious award, especially for Judith Kerr’s much-loved Tiger Who Came to Tea. It’s the first time with a licence that we took the bold step of launching with a full suite of stationery and expanded range of gift products, so it’s very gratifying to get such a great response. HarperCollins and their agents were super to work with, so the development of the products was a very easy, collaborative process. This award is the cherry on the cake!” Above: Museums & Galleries’ Tiger Who Came to Tea collection spans cards, stationery, giftwrappings and gifts. Top left: An example of what an IC&G replan could look like. Far left: Jade Scholes is handling all of the planning for IC&G, using Card Manager software. Left: Tony Roberts, IC&G’s sales director is looking forward to playing in the Premier League!

Paperchase’s mega sale and Joe Guest joins Cult Pens Paperchase pulled out the stops to drive customers back into its stores in the run up to Christmas, with what it described as ‘The unprecedented early, up to 50% off Christmas sale’. The sale, with the mega savings only available in its stores (not online), is running into 2021. As an extra incentive, anyone spending over £30 is receiving a free tote bag in a variety of designs. Commenting in mid December, Joe Guest, senior card buyer for Paperchase confirmed that the retailer’s Christmas trade on greeting cards and wrap had been “in line with our expectations”. He highlighted that the retailer did not have to “use any additional promotional levers on the cards and wrap areas this year.” This however was Joe’s last Christmas season with Paperchase as he left the retailer to join the online pen site Cult Pens as its head of buying on 16 December. “I will miss being part of the Paperchase team very much and wish them every success for the future,” Above: Joe Guest Joe told PG. Joe has 12 years’ buying experience of cards, pens and stationery - five years with Fenwick, has left Paperchase to join Cult Pens. three years with Fortnum & Mason, joining Paperchase almost four years ago, spending two and half years buying pens and desk accessories before taking on the senior card buying role little over a year ago. Cult Pens (, which was started in 2005 by husband and wife team Simon and Amanda Walker was acquired by WHSmith in 2018, though the founders remain with the business as directors. Cult Pens claims to offer ‘the planet's greatest selection of writing instruments’, stocking over 24,000 different products. every available refill, and we've stuck to that.’ Left: Paperchase went for it with its mega pre-Christmas sale.



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Scribbler x Sainsbury’s Scribbler cards in 280 Sainsbury’s stores In a significant collaboration between two retailers, Sainsbury’s has introduced Scribbler-branded greeting card displays into 280 of its stores. In addition to the dedicated ‘feature ends’ (which were installed by Boxing Day, which are to remain in place for the next six months), the grocer has introduced various other Scribbler card designs into its main greeting card displays. “This is an exciting collaboration for both us and Scribbler,” commented Carly Pearson, senior buyer of Sainsbury’s. “It gives Sainsbury’s greeting card offer a different handwriting, further building on our greeting card reputation by appealing to more consumers and answering more card sending needs.” The feature end displays, which will be clearly branded with Scribbler PoS will accommodate 50 of Scribbler’s own brand cards, a curated collection which has been developed by the retailer’s in-house studio, drawing on its own best sellers as well as insights from Sainsbury’s about its customer base. For Scribbler, the opportunity to work with Sainsbury’s is in line with the edgy retailer’s strategy, announced via PG Buzz in May, that it would be exploring the options of supplying a select number of other retailers on a wholesale basis in order to

Mind matters

expand the reach of its own brand cards way beyond its own physical stores and online presence. “I was really interested to read all about it on PG Buzz and so when the Scribbler team contacted me to discuss it further, I was all ears,” said Carly. From a Scribbler perspective the merit of the tie up with the major grocer has increased considerably in light of the spread of the pandemic. “It was an attractive proposition for us before, as it takes our brand and our own flavour of greeting card designs to many more people,” said Tom Procter, who is heading up Scribbler’s third-party collaborations. “However as the Covid situation has evolved it makes even more sense. Throughout all this the public have shown their love of greeting cards, seeing them as an invaluable way to communicate - analogue winning over digital having our breed of humour cards in Sainsbury’s means we can help to lighten the nation’s spirits.” Top: Sainsbury’s has introduced Scribbler displays into 280 stores. Above: Scribbler is venturing out of its own stores and into Sainsbury’s. Middle: Sainsbury’s senior buyer, Carly Pearson. Left: One of the Scribbler designs on sale in Sainsbury’s. Right: A Moonpig Mind Christmas design.

Moonpig teamed up with charity Mind on a range of Christmas cards. ‘This is not a normal Christmas, it’s okay not to be okay’ assured one exclusive Moonpig Mind card. The online retailer created a selection of 30 Christmas card designs, with 10% of the net sales from the designs going to support the charity.

Amscan assures retailers it’s ‘business as usual’ Endless LLP, a UK-based private equity investor has reached an agreement with Party City Holdco to acquire a substantial portion of its Amscan International balloon, partyware and dress-up business. Amscan International has been quick to reassure retailers and other business partners however that the change will not affect the company’s ‘day-to-day operations, support or product portfolio’. The management buy-out has been led by Amscan International’s existing management team of Gary Panons (ceo) and Joe Hennigan (cfo/coo). The transaction is expected to close by the end of this year 2020 The acquisition includes the Party City’s international wholesale, retail and e-commerce businesses in the UK, Europe, Australia and parts of Asia. In addition, the Everts latex balloon manufacturing plant is included in the transaction and a joint venture will be created between Amscan International and Party City for the product development, manufacturing and sourcing of costumes in Asia and Africa.

New leadership team at Clarion Events Following the recent departure of several members of Clarion Events’ Retail portfolio leadership team - which includes, managing director Neil Gaisford; Top Drawer’s show director Alejandra Campos; Harrogate Home & Gift’s show director Louise Morris, and show director of the January Furniture Show and Manchester Furniture Show Cleere Scamell - Clarion has announced a brand new line up of four senior appointments, and “an exciting new era for Retail at Clarion Events.” Daniel Nwaokolo (right) is expanding his role as managing director to encapsulate both Clarion’s Enthusiast and Retail portfolios. Having previously been event director for Spring and Autumn Fair and, most recently, show director for The Baby Show at Clarion Events, Zoe Bonser (below) has been appointed as portfolio director. Russell Rule, who, over a decade of multi-function event experience, has been appointed as the Retail portfolio’s gift events show manager, having previously held the position at Clarion Events’ consumer show, Spirit of Christmas. In addition, Abigail Quesnel has been appointed senior operations manager for the portfolio. The SS21 edition of Top Drawer will be held virtually, as Top Drawer On Demand, featuring five days of live content. The event will be taking place from January 2529, 2021.

Widdop’s new md Mark Wilson (right) has joined Widdop & Co as managing director. An extremely experienced MD, his career includes both managing and overseeing change in several family businesses, including Mamas and Papas, and, more recently, Plum Play. Stuart Illingworth, who has been MD for over 30 years, will take on the new role of chairman, and will continue to be significantly involved in the business, with Mark directly reporting to him. Andrew Illingworth will continue as sales director, and Stephen, Daniel and James Illingworth, who are all well established in product development, sales and IT respectively, will continue the family tradition at Widdop.

Left: Some Amscan products.



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PR Bonanza Media spread the love of card sending In what has been something of a ‘purple patch’ on the PR front for the greeting card sector, TV programmes, newspapers, radio stations and news sites have been awash with positive coverage about the sending of cards. “We have seen an unprecedented amount of press interest and the resultant media coverage has all been very positive,” Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA told PG. “What’s more, a lot of the coverage came in good time to encourage more Christmas card sending. Journalists contacted the GCA wanting some feelgood stories, and card sending is definitely one of those,” added Amanda. Among the PR highlights was the BBC 1’s A Very Country Christmas programme which starred card publisher Laura Stoddart as well as information from the GCA and Max Publishing’s Jakki Brown (who owns one of the first Christmas cards). Laura explained to journalist Angellica Bell that she had “sold Christmas cards every single week of the year, even through the summer” and also spoke the industry’s progress on the environmental footprint front. Christmas cards also featured extensively on an episode of BBC 1’s Britain’s Christmas Story, that was presented by Gareth Malone and Karen Gibson. As part of this, Karen visited the

Right: Laura Stoddart being interviewed on the BBC programme A Very Country Christmas.

Postal Museum to learn all about the origins of the Christmas card and how the tradition of card sending evolved, agreeing that Christmas cards influenced culture in that “they showed you how to do Christmas,” said the Postal Museum’s curator, Joanna Espin. Meanwhile, Amanda Fergusson’s discussions with iNews journalist, Susie Mesure, led to a sizeable article on the news site, entitled ‘Christmas card sales are booming during the Covid crisis as we send our love this year’ as well as a further piece giving more insights into the origins of Christmas cards and some cards from the last century showing how they reflect the trends and history of the time. In her Notebook column in the Mail On Sunday newspaper, Alexandra Shulman gave a big thumbs-up for Christmas card sending recently. With the headline of ‘A Proper Christmas Is Finally On The Cards’, the former editor of Vogue prophesised: ‘A bumper year for Christmas cards. Proper ones too, none of your digital nonsense. Sending a card is a small gesture but I reckon everyone will be particularly pleased to know they’ve been in your thoughts when they open that envelope.’ Above: BBC 1’s Britain’s Christmas Story, presented by Gareth Malone and Karen Gibson covered the enduring culture of card sending. Left: One of the early Christmas cards in the Postal Museum.

Archdeacon of Hackney praised greeting cards Like a gift from the gods on the morning of the greeting card shops reopening in England after Lockdown 2, the Venerable Liz Adekunle, Archdeacon of Hackney (right), delivered a moving tribute that was dedicated to the importance of sending Christmas cards in the BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day spot. Her message touched on the enduring culture of Christmas card sending saying that it is a “testimony to the changing tradition that card giving still exists, given that so much of how we communicate is through the use of email and social media. The tradition holds importance for many. A YouGov survey commissioned by Royal Mail has shown that 55% of people think that sending Christmas cards this year is more important than ever. For Christmas cards are not an immediate form of communication; they are a very special form. They are a reminder that someone is thinking about you and not just in that moment. As the biblical instruction says, it can be a form of giving without expecting anything in return. I feel energised when I send a card. It is my gift and in some ways it feels like I have achieved something. And once a card sits on a table or a window ledge, there is a timeless quality to the care given as you glance over. Many of us can’t get everyone a gift at Christmas, but a card is a gift.”



Festive Friday Christmas card kickstart The greeting card community helped to kickstart Christmas card sending by embracing the 2020 Festive Friday initiative. Publishers, retailers, trade suppliers, Royal Mail and Isle of Man Post were among those to participate in the GCA’s Festive Friday initiative at the end of November by writing and sending their Christmas cards, ensuring that the first wave of this year’s Christmas cards arrived just as Lockdown 2 eased in England. One avid supporter of Festive Friday was House of Cards. The retail group, co-owned by Miles Robinson and Nigel Williamson, really got behind the card sending activity - and posted 1,073 Christmas cards that were written by the HOC team to their friends and family, with the postage costs generously covered by the retailer. “Festive Friday is

Above: Emma Bryan (left) with the Royal Star & Garter activities and volunteers manager Raquel Pena Aristazabel who ran Festive Friday event at the Surbiton care home.

a brilliant GCA initiative. It definitely works in prompting the sending of Christmas cards, which were more warmly received than ever before,” commented Miles. Meanwhile even before she became president of the GCA, Rachel Hare, founder of Belly Button was a big fan of Festive Friday, but this year the publisher further widened its activities. Not only did the company send a handwritten Christmas card to all of its retail customers, but it made up 50 Christmas goodie bags of its products for The Christie Charitable Fund that were sold with donations going to the charity. Another publisher whose altruistic nature came to fore during the Festive Friday run up was Emma Bryan, namesake of Emma Bryan Designs. Emma donated a whole bunch of cards to help spread some festive cheer among veterans at the Royal Star & Garter care home in Surbiton. As Emma commented “My job as a greeting card designer has never felt more important than this year where connection has been so crucial during the lockdowns, so it gave me great pleasure to donate these greeting cards so that the residents of the Royal Star & Garter could enjoy writing to family and friends on Festive Friday.”

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Business Minister Paul Scully Acknowledges Card Retailers GCA’s ceo Amanda Fergusson speaks out at the IRC meeting A very high level meeting took place recently between Small Business and Retail Minister Paul Scully and a select delegation from the IRC (Independent Retailers Confederation), which included Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA. The meeting was convened to give the Minister a greater understanding of the impact of Covid-19 on retailers, to push for change on matters such as business rates, reinforce the importance of independent retailers and ways of

providing greater support as well as ensuring closer and clearer communication with the Government. “It was a very significant meeting, and I was encouraged not only by Paul Scully’s willingness to listen, but also his openness to ideas as to how things can be improved, be it through a review of Business Rates through to an equivalent ‘eat out to help out’ scheme for retailers,” said Amanda. Amanda was at the meeting with representatives from 13 other trade associations (which included Andrew Goodacre of BIRA, Meryl Halls of the Booksellers Association as well as Edward Woodall of the Association of Convenience Stores). After a brief introduction, it was agreed that Amanda should open the meeting, as the seasonal nature of our

industry has seen the retail lockdowns impact very significantly, seriously hampering sales of Mother’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day as well as Christmas cards. “I was able to demonstrate how Lockdown 2 has been particularly difficult for everyone and will be a real loss to our sector,” Amanda told PG. Paul Scully raised the subject of the online channel, which allowed Amanda to explain how the vast majority of greeting cards are bought in bricks and mortar stores. The Minister acknowledged what great lengths non-essential retailers had gone to ensure their stores were Covidsafe as well as the contribution they bring to communities. “He was very sympathetic to retailers’ pleas for an extension to the Business Rates holiday and was also open to suggestion as to how our Business Rates could be reviewed, accepting this as a matter of priority,” relayed Amanda. The meeting was hailed a good starting point for real discussion with a follow up scheduled to take place at the end of January. “I have met with the IRC every two weeks during this lockdown. The meeting with Paul Scully is just one of many examples of having a strength in numbers; of the GCA joining forces with like-minded associations and bodies to have our collective voice not only heard, but also to achieve progress that would have been highly unlikely acting alone,” said Amanda.

Liverpool FC scores above Sir Cliff Danilo’s 2021 official calendar chart showed something of a ‘Klop of the Pops’ this time around. Liverpool FC scored the number one position in the publisher’s ‘Top Ten’ list by calendar sales in 2020, reflecting the team’s winning year after securing the English league title for the first time in 31 years. Meanwhile, it was something of a ‘Cliff hanger’ for the second spot as Sir Cliff Richard, in the year he turned 80, moved up to number two in the chart - a sizeable jump (even for the super fit octogenarian) from number eight in the previous year. This follows the Peter Pan of Pop’s five decades of number one hits and 30 years in the top ten calendar chart, with Danilo having first produced the first Cliff calendar in 1985. The full top ten (with last year’s position in brackets) are: 1. Liverpool FC (1) 2. Sir Cliff Richard (8) 3. Manchester United (6) 4. Friends (4) 5. The Mandalorian (New Entry) 6. Tottenham Hotspur (New Entry) 7. Stranger Things (2) 8. Little Mix (10) 9. RHS (New Entry) 10. Kelly Brook (New Entry) On the entertainment brands front, Friends and The Mandalorian made it into the top five, while Stranger Things was at number seven (down from second spot in the prior year). Meanwhile, Danilo’s signing of the Royal Horticultural Society licence has proved a winner, making it into the list, in 9th position, in its inaugural year with the publisher. Top: The Liverpool FC officially licensed calendar took the number one slot again in the Danilo league table. Above left: Great that the views put forward by the GCA will be shared with other MPS. Above middle: Paul Scully, Small Business and Retail Minister was all ears to what the GCA’s Amanda Fergusson and her fellow IRC members had to say.

Crowning glory for card sending All throughout this pandemic greeting cards have more than proved their worth in being there for people helping them through the day to day strains as well as life events. In what was a major triumph as to just what a strong symbol of relationship bonding greeting cards really are, was the widespread coverage of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh (left) marking their 73rd wedding anniversary with the focus of the official photograph being a handmade card that had been made by their great-grandchildren, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s three offspring. The photograph was seen by millions, gracing the front pages of national newspapers and being featured on news channels galore. ‘For families separated by lockdown, it’s the little things that make such a difference’ was how the Daily Mail’s Royal editor Rebecca English began her article in the newspaper highlighting the poignancy of receiving a handmade card or gift.



A LITTLE KINDNESS GOES A LONG WAY, and right now we all need as much of it as we can get! That’s why Hallmark created State of Kind, our brand new card collection specifically designed to help people share strength, support, appreciation and positivity in all life’s moments, and connect through kindness every day.

You can shop the State of Kind range on our brand new website.

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GMB Goes Really Wild Over Card Good Morning Britain’s Politically Incorrect airplay sends sales soaring Love him or loathe him, the outspoken Piers Morgan knows how to attract attention - and he certainly has attracted attention to one particular greeting card, which resulted in an immediate uplift in its sales. In a prime 8am slot on a recent Good Morning Britain ITV breakfast programme, (which Piers co-hosts with Susanna Reid), as it was her 50th birthday, Susanna was keen to show the card she had received from her copresenter. It was a sound card from Really Wild Cards’ Politically Incorrect range (which is now distributed to indies by Second Nature), featuring a caricature of Piers Morgan as well as an accurate humorous impersonation of the larger than life character. Piers was incredibly enthusiastic as Susanna demonstrated the card on air. “You can actually buy these things. They’re fantastic,” he exclaimed. Piers loved it so much that he even made Susanna play the card again, this time going as far as to mimic the words: “So, you come on here. You have avoided all the questions. You won’t tell us how old you are. Why don’t you call it what it is it’s your birthday. Have a great day.”

Giving it her endorsement of how accurate the voice was, Susanna said: “That felt like being interviewed by you!” Susanna then went on to read out the message that Piers had written inside the card. ‘To Susanna TV Wife, the yin to the yang, pouty to shouty. Happy 50th’. As Chris Bryan, general manager of Second Nature (which has been distributing the range for a few months now) told PG: “It was a fantastic piece of PR. Whether you love him or loathe him, Piers couldn’t have done a better job for us if he’d tried!” Very soon after the programme aired, Chris confirmed that several retailers placed orders “It’s the retailers selling them online that have noticed it straight away. We had one online account who sold nine copies of the card on the morning the programme went out.” Top: Good Morning Britain’s Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid showing the Politically Incorrect card on the good morning programme. Above: The Piers Morgan, Politically Incorrect design.

Paperlink welcomes Clare Sturgess Paperlink has strengthened its senior management team with experienced industry exec Clare Sturgess having joined the company as creative director. Clare, who has worked in the greeting card and gift industry for 19 years, notably with UK Greetings and Watermark (the latter role involving product development for Paperchase and Clintons) said she is “absolutely thrilled” to have joined the Paperlink team. “I’ve always admired the product and I’m really looking forward to being part of the next phase of growth, developing the brands and pushing the boundaries,” Clare added. Clare’s joining coincides with the company founder Louise Tighe moving into the CEO role with Emma Young, who has worked at Paperlink for 24 years, becoming managing director. Emma was latterly operations director. In addition, Frankie Ellis is now taking on a multi-faceted role which Above: Clare Sturgess encompasses strategic development and creative development. brings a wealth of industry experience to her new role As creative director and new business strategist, Frankie will also be at Paperlink. running the Meraki division of the Paperlink group. “It is all about moving forward rather than standing still,” said Emma Young about the company’s strengthened structure. “I feel very honoured to now have the role as managing director of the company. Having worked here for 24 years I am very passionate about Paperlink. We are delighted to have Clare on board, her experience in greeting cards as well as retail knowledge make her a perfect addition to our team.”

Hallmark’s consumer engagement Hallmark has ramped up its consumer engagement, on a commercial as well as on the PR front. The publisher has recently gone live with a brand new ‘all singing all dancing’ consumer website (, stating that the “new venture marks a very important step on our journey to take our brand and product in the UK direct into the hands of our customers.” The brand new website, which is being actively promoted across all social media channels, launched with a curated range of Hallmark’s everyday and Christmas products, but the selection will continue to evolve over 2021 and beyond. As Kirstie Watson, Hallmark’s communication partner explained, the new website is “a clear statement of our

intentions to reach our consumers wherever they shop, online or in-store. The venture also brings benefits to our existing ‘B2B’ partnerships as the transformation enables us to support them.” As she added: “In this rapidly changing digital world - our range will expand to bring in exciting new categories, additional online websites and online marketplace ventures will open. Print-on-demand and personalisation will be added and we’ll explore the opportunity to embrace Omnichannel trading with features such as ‘Click & Collect’. Promoted on the website as well as elsewhere Hallmark partnered with Royal Mail in the run up to Christmas to add some festive cheer, by participating in the long running Letter to Santa initiative run by the UK’s postal operator. For 57 years, Royal Mail has been helping to make Christmas wishes come true by sending children’s letters to Father Christmas at the North Pole. In 2020 Hallmark played its part in helping Santa respond, by supplying 300,000 specially designed greeting cards which were used to send the replies. It is also promoted on its new consumer website under a separate tab. Top: The new website promotes specific ranges, such as the Cup Cycling range as well as allowing consumers to select by sending caption. Above: The special Hallmark card that was sent to up to 300,000 children this year from Santa.








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UKG’s Pick and Mix

Disappointment at stamp price rises

Royal Mail’s announcement last month that it is to increase the cost of a First Class stamp to 85p from the start of 2021, a Special Editions launches Charity multipack concept hefty rise of 9p, did not come as welcome UK Greetings’ Special Editions has just and a game changer for news to those in the greeting card industry, unveiled an innovative approach on the multipack cards which allows concerned that it will have a dampening charity Christmas card front for 2021. customers to curate their own effect on greeting card sending. The January 1 price rise for Second As its name suggests, Special special selection. I can’t wait Class is seen as more palatable, only Editions’ Pick and Mix concept allows to see it in stores,” increasing by 1p, taking the cost to 66p. consumers to select six of their she added. Affecting large cards and those over 5mm favourite Christmas card designs from The designs deep, cost of a Large First Class stamp the ten that are displayed in a specially feature a variety of will rise by 14p (12%) from £1.15 to designed shipper, to effectively curate design styles and £1.29 while the cost of a Large Second up their own ‘multipack’. They also subject matters spanning the Class stamp will increase by 8p (9%), take a ‘sweetie style’ paper bag which traditional festive scenes, fine from 88p to 96p. contains six envelopes (that is also art as well as contemporary The price rises accommodated in the FSDU). illustration and typography. come into effect less Seven charities are set to benefit The newly developed than nine months after from Pick and Mix with 10% of the shipper, that clearly the last increases, £4.00 RRP being divided between communicates which introduced on March 23, Above: From January 1 Samaritans, Alzheimer’s Society, charities will benefit from which saw the cost of a the cost of a First Class stamp is 85p. First Class stamp NSPCC, British Heart Foundation, the purchase as well as the increasing by 6p to 76p and the cost of a RSPCA/Scottish SPCA and Marie Curie. recyclability comes complete Second Class stamp rising by 4p to 65p. The environmental credentials have and fully stocked. Each shipper Justifying the January 1 2021 price also been carefully considered, with no contains 54 cards of each of the 10 increases, Royal Mail stresses that the UK plastic involved at all, everything being fully designs on the shipper (540 cards in stamp costs are “among the best value in recyclable, plus having been manufactured total). There will be 90 packs of six Europe”. The UK’s postal operator blames in the UK, it has minimal carbon footprint. envelopes (all in paper bags). the Covid-19 pandemic as the main reason for a sharp fall in letter volumes and “We’re so excited by this range. It’s Retailers will be able to order the Pick therefore Royal Mail revenues. showcasing the best of charity Christmas and Mix units from January 2021. Another concern is that the rumours of cards and sustainable Above: The plans to scrap a Saturday delivery in the UK shipper for the British design and Pick and Mix (taking it down to deliveries on the five days manufacture,” concept clearly of the working week) are looking more communicates commented Katie likely. This is based on Ofcom research how it works. Dilnot, business Left: Two of the findings which claim there would be no designs that will significant impact on consumers, plus a development manager be displayed in potential cost saving of £200 million a year. of Special Editions. the shipper. The UK Government is to consider “It’s a real hybrid Ofcom’s Review and what this means shopping opportunity for Royal Mail’s Universal Service Obligation. Royal Mail’s stockpile aversion tactics caused havoc Commenting on the recent The timing of Royal Mail’s Jan 1 stamp price increases had a knock-on announcement, Amanda Fergusson, negative effect on greeting card retailers’ stamp supplies in the run up to ceo of the GCA said: “It is obviously Christmas as it imposed ‘rationing’ to avoid stockpiling ahead of the price rise. very disappointing that Royal Mail finds As Sarah Henderson, co-owner of the 3 Wishes group (which itself having to impose these price comprises five card and gift shops in Dorset and Hampshire) told PG: “It rises, especially the big jump in costs was so frustrating. We really needed Royal Mail to lift restrictions on for a First Class stamp. I understand ordering stamps. We can't believe Royal Mail decided to increase prices in Royal Mail’s commercial requirements, January and restrict the quantity we could order in the run up to Christmas but I will continue to stress that our in order to stop anyone stockpiling!” industry needs to be able to rely on Sarah stressed to Royal Mail that “customers only wanted the stamps to an efficient postal service and send Christmas cards, sales of which are a core part of our business. We importantly maintains a one-pricegave assurances that we were not attempting to stockpile. We were told to goes-anywhere stamp cost.” email and request an increase on our £3,000 limit - we had used this within Following on from the GCA’s three days, but to no avail, even though we have had a trade account ever since we set up the business.” recent feedback to Royal Mail the As Sarah elaborated, the intransigence and lack of communication from Royal Mail added fret to trade association has been invited to consumers’ lives. “Our customers wanted to avoid queuing at the Post Office for long periods of time, and continue the dialogue. every other retailer had also sold out. We resorted to ordering them at retail price but because no-one else had “The greeting card industry has a any stock, £1,000 worth of stamps are selling in less than two days and that was with us restricting sales to strong symbiotic relationship with the two books of 12 per customer.” Royal Mail, we will continue to put forward our concerns and ideas for Above: Sarah and Paul Henderson, co-owners of 3 Wishes so wished that Royal Mail had relaxed their stamp supply rations to make it easier for their customers to post their Christmas cards. mutual benefit,” assured Amanda.



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Time Waits

For No Man Time is something that none of us can buy or control. Time is something that as a child we wish would go faster and as an adult we want to slow down. Time is a healer they say. Time has a wonderful way of showing us what matters… This year time has flown by for me. It seems like days ago that I was at Spring Fair and yet as I write this we are days away from Christmas. Some nine months of lockdowns, distancing, furlough and all kinds of other words that this time last year were simply unknown. With the vaccine now rolling out, there are hopes that life will return to where we can enjoy all the many things we used to take for granted. That said none of us will ever be the same. This last year has taken its toll on everyone, physically and mentally. The High Street, while benefitting from ‘shop local love and wishes’ still faces an uncertain future. Apart from my three day ‘holiday’ at the Spring Fair, due to us having a newsagents, I have been worked every single day of the year, being at the shop at around 6am every morning. In this time, I have had plenty of time to work, plan, plot, think and watch documentaries! I have really got to know my customers again. I have found new ways to work and taken part in so many Zooms and Teams meetings that I have lost count. I have donated masks and hand sanitiser to local groups and charities. We have delivered treat bundles and thank you cards to key workers. I have filled in so many forms for grants and helped as many other businesses and people as I could that the ink has run dry. In fact, this year could go down quite simply as the year I have tried my best. Mine is a story that will be repeated across the UK and indeed the world. That is all any of us could do. What we will all have to do in 2021 is move forward. Life hasn’t stopped, it has just changed and 26


in some ways I feel I have learnt more about myself, my friends and staff than ever before. Greeting cards were classed as nonessential of course and when it came to Covid-19 they perhaps were but in actual fact we have reminded time and time again that cards are still one of THE best ways to communicate. To tell someone we care, we love them, we miss them, we congratulate them, we are thinking of them and sadly, with so many people losing their lives, that we sympathise with them.

Above: The sands of time are trickling through…time waits for no man, not even David. Below: David Robertson (bottom right), participating in the Zoom Retail Panel which formed part of the recent GCA Conference and AGM. Bottom left: The newsagency part of the JP Pozzi group has continued to trade throughout all lockdowns. Bottom right: The second batch of Christmas cards that David’s Mum and business partner Lynda Robertson wrote to send to friends and family.

Cards are what so many of us build our business around. They are the items we sell every day and the thing that can change our stores’ selection quickly and for the smallest amount of money. They are usually our best margin giver and they are still the products I get most excited about. In short, cards matter now more than ever. We buy them from companies and people we care about. Card publishers are, on the whole, not faceless organisations they are run by real people who love what they do as much as we love buying them. The relationships forged under difficult circumstances can sometimes be the strongest and as one major publisher told me recently, the independents have supported the trade brilliantly paying as soon as they could during this time. So far, from what I have seen of the coming releases we will be blessed with many new designs, designers and perhaps companies. The time at home has perhaps boosted creativity and the output from people across music, art and design, making for an exciting year ahead. As is always the case the strong will survive and many of the companies (in other

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OVER THE COUNTER fields) that have struggled and were in trouble before Covid-19, will find it tough. While I feel very sad for the dedicated hard-working staff, but many of these companies are owned by multimillionaires whose own personal life and fortunes will not be affected by what happens to their businesses. Debenhams has been the scourge of the High Street and have destabilised pricing for a long time. Edinburgh Woollen Mill was dated and sold more shortbread than clothes. Arcadia went from the darling to the ugly sister. Complacency, lack of investment and poor management of costs comes at a price. The people I feel really truly sorry for are those that haven’t been able to trade or have been forced to trade under ever changing hostile conditions yet have paid their bills, their rent and kept a roof over their head and done what is right. I can look in the mirror and know that I have done everything I could possibly do to keep companies, my staff and even my customers informed. We have made hard choices, including redundancies and we keep pushing forward. I have called out companies that I feel have done things wrongly, but I have seen other companies try their best to support customers of all sizes through offering extended credit and a genuine care for those that buy from them. Often adversity results in bringing the best out of people and I set myself a simple goal when all this started to be truthful and protect everything at all costs. Many of you will have experienced The Henries with a virtual awards ceremony and then a fun social experience using the Hopin platform. In my opinion this was a huge improvement over the earlier online events and got a step closer to what these things are like. It should be fun, informative and full of people getting a little too happy and saying things they maybe shouldn’t! The Hopin platform The Henries was hosted on allows for different rooms that meant you could move via your webcam from place to place. This virtual flitting meant that we could speak to lots of

Left: The finalists in this year’s Best Lockdown range in The Henries. The winner was Rosie Made a Thing. Below: David’s dad Jim Robertson with him (left) and two nieces (right).

different people, getting the news and gossip from each. This system was invented by a Manchester Uni graduate Johnny Boufarhat after he had immune issues and became ‘allergic to the world’. He used this time pre Covid19 to develop a way of socialising that kept him safe and as video conferencing has exploded his timing could not have been better. His business recently raised a further £1.6 billion and is a rare double unicorn start up. In fact, even in this the most difficult of years there have been six unicorn start-ups in the UK - Gousto and Gymshark to name but two that have reached that status.

Right: A poster of James Dean from The Art Group.

The point? Quite simply we do invention well and our sector allows a large number of start-up card and gift businesses. Many people can fulfil their dreams with relatively low buy-ins and the opportunity for good success all be it in a crowded market is strong. So, there is room for optimism. For every business that goes there will be new people ready to realise their dream. This year has also been the year of the letter B. Boris, ‘bluster’ and now Brexit and we have to hope that it does not derail things further either supply wise or indeed in terms of encouraging those to start their own companies.

Looking back serves little purpose other than to be nostalgic and to learn from mistakes. I am already planning what I want to achieve for the next year and am frustrated at the many opportunities for sales I have missed this Christmas period. Every year we always have hot products or designs that work exceptionally well. For me Tracks’ Christmas packs have been a winner, along with the more expensive Peter Pauper boxed cards. We could have done with more of both. We have a certain scarf design from Zelly that has really flown and seen sentiment continue to sell, whether in cards or Joma bracelets. Games have been a hit and any type of homewares have sold as people want to improve their home environment. There is so much I wanted to do this year. There is so much I want to achieve in the future. Yet I look back with a sense of frustration, but an acceptance that I can’t change the past or predict the future. I can only do what I do now to make a difference and be ready to adapt to what is to come. The photos (see left) were found during lockdown by my Mum as she did what many others did and tidied drawers that had lain untouched for many years. They show my Dad as a young man doing his best James Dean look and a photo that I love with me and him. My Dad was 52 before he lived his dream of owning his own business and like Dean he enjoyed it not for the rewards but because he loved the work and the process. “The gratification comes in the doing, not in the results.” James Dean Like my Dad I enjoy the work, maybe a little too much. I sometimes forget though that there is more outside the world than numbers and cashflows. Perhaps you are the same. Perhaps we need to learn that work is not all encompassing and that we need to enjoy ourselves, even in difficult circumstances. “Dream as if you will live forever; Live as if you will die today.” James Dean As we enter 2021 please accept my best wishes for you and your family and thanks for the support, comments and criticisms. To contact David email: PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Cardies Really

Are Weird Why do we British love cards so much? To Cardsharp one of the great mysteries is why greeting card sending is so popular, not just in the UK where we lead the world in per capita sending, but in certain other selected nations? Despite serious efforts in so many other countries, greeting card sending remains a fringe activity. Was it just that Sir Henry Cole really made the UK the real heartland, publishing the first commercial Christmas cards in 1843? Perhaps, but finally, after many years of contemplation, Cardsharp thinks he has found the real answer.

Recently in lockdown, Cardsharp has been doing a spot of bedtime reading. In particular a new book by the Harvard anthropologist Joseph Henrich called ‘The Weirdest People in the World’ bi-lined ‘How the West became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous’. If you think that Cardsharp is looking for a cure for insomnia, think again! If not exactly a page turner, parts of it are fascinating, and it helped Cardsharp ascertain why certain nations embrace greeting card buying and sending and why others simply don’t. ‘W.E.I.R.D’ in this context, stands for ‘Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic.’ Author Joseph Henrich identifies one big theme in western civilization, namely individualism. He argues that this individualism makes westerners radically different to most other societies. Over centuries, individualism freed westerners from the restrictions of a social network, just based on families and tribes. We became more mobile, better at exchanging ideas and better at cooperating in organisations such as guilds - scientific and art societies - and nation states. These changes fuelled innovation and growth, propelling the



West to the technological ascendancy it enjoyed until recently. Unlike most people who have ever lived, WEIRD people tend to be highly individualistic, nonconformist, analytical and control-orientated. They focus on themselves, their attributes, accomplishments and aspirations over their relationships and social roles. Family structures, marriage practices and religious beliefs in the Middle Ages started to transform psychology in northern European populations. The Protestant reformation, with its emphasis on having a personal relationship with God, rather than through the hierarchy of the Pope and the Catholic church, by its very nature was individualistic. Protestantism generally encouraged free thinking, literacy and entrepreneurship, which helped drive the industrial revolution and more democratic forms of government in the UK and later the USA. Joseph Heinrich (JH) draws on leading research from anthropology, Above: People are strange, but UKers should be proud to be Wierdos! Left: The cover of Joseph Heinrich’s book - ‘The Weirdest People in the World’.

psychology, economics, and evolutionary biology that shaped the western mind and gave rise to free markets and competition, laying the foundations for the world we know today. It set Cardsharp thinking. JH claims the most ‘WEIRD’ nations are the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand, closely followed by the Netherlands, the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden Finland, Denmark) followed by Germany and Switzerland. Now, what have all these countries got in common? Well, the UK is the design hub of the global greeting card industry with the highest per capita send of cards. The UK is closely followed by the US on the greeting card count front, followed by Australia. And what are the only European countries that have any kind of greeting card sending culture? The ones Cardsharp previously mentioned - the Netherlands, the Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden Finland, Denmark) followed by Germany and Switzerland. In fact, Cardsharp reckons all these countries are probably responsible for 98% of global greeting card sales.

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Left: The world could be mapped out into ‘weirdos’ and ‘non-weirdos’. Below: Sir Henry Cole, who invented the first commercial Christmas card in 1843 really started something! Bottom: The stats that UKG shared at the recent GCA Conference and AGM.

Why is this? WEIRD’s emphasis is on individualism, with family groups being more dissipated. Without wishing to cause offence, Joseph Heinrich highlights how, in general, more ‘Catholic’ countries, Arab, Eastern and African societies are generally more close-knit, tribal or clannish whatever you want to call it, and extended clan groups tend to stick together physically and emotionally. People tend to identify with their immediate filial group. Marriages tend to be between these extended groups. Historically, unlike in WEIRD societies, marriage between cousins has historically been common and still is some societies. And unlike in the West, it is still common for a brother to marry his brother’s widow. In such close-knit tribal environments, social communication outside the ‘clan group’ is less, and because the clan sees each other so regularly, and in many cases are more geographically-concentrated, there is less need to interconnect through a greeting card. As many in the greeting card industry often spout, the very act of buying and sending a greeting card is all about the inter-relationship between sender and the recipient. The WEIRD individualistic sender wants to say something about himself/herself in the transaction as well as sending a message to the intended receiver. In non-WEIRD societies, people generally perceive themselves as part of a family unit. They would say, “I am a son, I am a brother” as opposed to “I am a creative” or “I am a salesman” as people tend to describe themselves in WEIRD societies.

WEIRD people don’t generally put such an exclusive emphasis on the family tribe. Of course, they care passionately about their families, but don’t define themselves by them. Apart from their family, they also put more emphasis on contacts from their professional activities, their cultural activities, their sporting endeavours and/or their regular acquaintances. So, it is natural that WEIRD people like to show their own identity and their relationships with their close acquaintances through greeting cards. It also means they are far more likely to have a wider group of contacts. Geography is also a factor in greeting card sending. WEIRD people tend to be more physically dispersed than other societies, which means that greeting cards help connect those many and diverse social relationships. WEIRD people also tend to be more literate and also more attuned to the visual arts. This comes from a highly developed left-hand side of the brain. By contrast nonWEIRD societies have a more welldeveloped right-hand side of the brain which means they are far better at recognising and remembering faces. This

again could be a contributory factor in greeting cards attraction to ‘WEIRDos’. To Cardsharp it also explains why all the developments in the digital world have not had a serious effect on greeting card sending in WEIRD societies, and why so many young people are picking up the greeting card bug. Indeed, UKG’s recent research revealed at the recent GCA AGM showed that Generation Z aged 18-24 had the highest level of engagement with card purchasing, despite having the highest level of internet usage. To Cardsharp, this points to a link. Social media‘s emphasis on oneself, inevitably leads to the younger generation’s desire to express themselves in as many individual ways possible. And what better way than doing that than through greeting cards. It also helps explain that however many times greeting card sending has been written off in the last 20 years because of a new innovations like text messaging, ecards emails or Zoom calls, it has held its ground. All of this bodes well for the future of our industry in Weird societies. The sense of isolation that the pandemic has imposed on us 2020 has further increased the desire by WEIRDos to send a message to significant others in their lives, in a way that reflects their own individuality. Because when Cardsharp thinks about it, that is what Sir Henry Cole, the ultimate Victorian philanthropist, was doing all those years ago when he sent all those Christmas cards to his friends and associates and then launched them commercially. Sir Henry was revealing himself as the ultimate personification of the UK being from at that time, the WEIRDest nation on the globe! Western tick; educated - tick; industrialised - tick; rich - tick and democratic (even then more so than any society in the world) - tick. And so many of us Brits, concludes Cardsharp, have been ‘greeting card weirdos’ ever since and proud of it!



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VIEWPOINTS Below: The door is opening on 2021’s opportunities...

Goodbye To All That Martin Powderly creative director of Pigment Productions:

So, the doors are closing on 2020 and opening up to a hopefully much brighter 2021. PG asked a selection of greeting card publishers what their wishes are for the industry, what lessons they have learned from the pandemic as well as a sneak peek into what they have planned on the business front for the coming year.

Wishes for the industry? “The return of customer meetings. And the return of FUN! The absence of FUN this year has reminded many of us just how much FUN we used to have!” Business plans for 2021? “We are very excited about 2021. This year we have become much more reflective about card shoppers. Before we publish a design, we challenge its relevance more than ever before. Diversity, Kindness, Joy, New Routines are among the themes we discuss and which are reflected across all our new lines. We have lots of big January releases, such as our blank Artisan Days and our reintroduction of Edward Monkton. All of our hit humour lines have been refreshed with increased relevance in the content and we are well underway with more major releases later in year, which we’ll unveil at PG Live.” Lessons from the pandemic? “We’ve co-owner and creative director of Wendy learnt that, as a team, we are capable of being Jones-Blackett: very focussed, very resilient and very creative in Wishes for the industry? “My biggest wish for the card finding ways around previously unthinkable industry is that shops get to stay open in 2021! Greeting challenges. Our adaptability has surprised us. I’m card sending and the value of a handwritten card has sure many others have had similar experiences. cemented itself comfortably alongside the valuable We have developed brand new innovative connection which social media gives us. People are missing digital presentation techniques and we’ve also seeing their friends and family, but they also like the face-tobrought back some traditional methods, such as face contact of going into a shop, having a browse and a chat to the owner. What an a full glossy catalogue, which we LOVE!” awful world it would be, long-term, if our only interaction with retail was via a screen!” Top: Martin Powderly. Business plans for 2021? “As a business our plan is to keep bringing out new and Above middle: One of the designs in Pigment’s new exciting designs and really establish ourselves as a British Artisan range. Below: Pigment has researched into how 2020 has brand in both printed and handmade - we use FSC board changed us. made in the Lake District and we have always had our cards printed and/or handmade in the UK. Our latest Rainbow Drops range uses a coated board which is 100% recycled yet can be cold foiled - a first!! We’re also eagerly awaiting the release of 'Everybody’s Talking About Jamie' at cinemas in February (fingers crossed they’re open) to see our Cloud Nine card on the big screen. I still can’t quite believe it!” Lessons from the pandemic? “The pandemic has taught me that I do really love my job and the industry very much. We completely restructured our business in the Autumn and moved to outsource our warehousing, which involved a 12-week, sociallydistanced project shipping all our stock down to Gloucestershire, two pallets at a time, just as Christmas orders started pouring in - and we got a new puppy. My goodness we were busy. The good news is that we are now better positioned for whatever 2021 throws at us. Bring it on!”

Wendy Jones-Blackett

Above: Steve Jones-Blackett with Flora, the puppy who joined the Jones-Blackett family in the summer. Right: As part of the launch activity for WJB’s Rainbow Drops range, people were asked to photograph a card in their home, which were then posted on social media. This was taken by Caroline Ranwell at Hugs and Kisses in Tettenhall. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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VIEWPOINTS Daniel Prince managing director of Danilo Wishes for the industry? “We couldn’t have imagined what 2020 held in store for us, but for 2021, my biggest wish is that we are able to resume to some form of normality. Being able to see people face-to-face again, whether that’s seeing all our friends and family together to celebrate the good times and commemorate the bad times, or meeting our business customers and partners at key calendar events such as PG Live, would be so great to get back to.” Business plans for 2021? “We have a lot of exciting plans for 2021. A large number of events and movies have been pushed back from 2020 to 2021, so we are looking forward to launching products which celebrate these. We have also taken on additional children’s, sports and humour licences, all of which will further strengthen our product portfolio. We have a deep commitment towards becoming more sustainable as a business and while we have made great progress this year, 2021 will see us take even more steps towards improving our practices - ranging from a focus on diversity through to addressing how we can make Danilo’s practices more environmentally-friendly.” Lessons from the pandemic? “I think on a personal level, this year has really taught me the importance of seeing family and friends, as well as taking care of our mental and physical health. From a business perspective, I have been really impressed at just how resilient the greeting card industry has proven to be, and how we’ve all pulled together during this very difficult time. It reminds me how lucky I am to be a part of such a fantastic industry.” Top left: Daniel Prince. Above: A Subbuteo card which shows how Danilo is trying to ensure there is diversity in its ranges. Left: A diagram of the key areas of focus for Danilo’s sustainable strategy. In less than three months, the publisher has planted over 15,000 trees as a result of its tie up with Ecologi.

Ged Mace managing director of The Art File Wishes for the industry? “My biggest wish for 2021 is that the public continues to support local independent retailers for evermore. Independents bring life, vibrancy, choice and personal Above: (Right-left) The Art File’s Ged, service to our high James and Karen Mace. streets. (Listen up Government and Councils!). My second wish for the year ahead is that the entire industry can come together (physically) at PG Live in June to celebrate greeting cards and their overwhelming importance to the world.” Business plans for 2021? “I am very optimistic about 2021 and as such The Art File has new releases planned throughout. These include card launches, new giftwrap stories and beautiful new stationery collections. We are forming new collaborations, introducing more new external designers and we have just recruited two new full time inhouse designers to join our established studio. To start with we have just published our new Spring /Summer 2021 Everyday brochure which features over 150 new card designs.” Lessons from the pandemic? “To be more appreciative of everything in life and also learn how to live in the moment.” Left: A design from The Art File’s new Fierce & Fabulous range which celebrates and recognises diversity.

Right: January 2021 sees Little Dog Laughed expand into cushions featuring some of its best selling dog and cat designs.

Gavin Smith managing director of Little Dog Laughed Wishes for the industry? “That we look after our own to ensure the smaller, independent publishers survive. The more established companies do what they do and do it very well, but it's the fresh talent coming through that keeps us all on our toes and is vital to maintaining our creative industry. We really hope that buyers and those running brokerage systems realise this and make room for the little guys.” Business plans for 2021? “To keep improving our online service, to support our trade customers any way we can, to turn our focus to products that have a stronger, more reliable supply chain and be prepared for anything, everything and nothing! Obviously, the cancellation of the trade shows quickly focused all our minds on how best to get our products in front of our existing and potentially new customers. Along with the usual channels, sample sets, brochures and agents, we set up a showroom at our HQ and have tried to up our game on the social media side with a lot of hard work and planning going into our product videos for our YouTube channel. We try to film them in such a way that the personality of our company comes across in the clips at the same time as giving the left: Gavin (right) and his customer the basic information they need. It's not easy, but does make for some great outtakes and a lot of giggles.” Far siblings Nathan and Anna in one of their little films. Lessons from the pandemic? “Versatility, creativity and loyalty can NEVER be overrated and that emotional Above: Little Dog Laughed is comfort eating and drinking greatly reduces your outfit options. Humour, kindness and carbs have been essential expanding its Garden Bird card collection with new ingredients to surviving 2020, two of which the greeting card industry thankfully has in abundance!” designs.



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VIEWPOINTS Linzi Russell-Watson director of ArtPress: Wishes for the industry? “It goes without saying that the biggest wish is that Covid is kept in abeyance and that everyone remains safe and can shake off all the stress and strain it has caused. The hope then is that all our lovely clients can fling open their doors, that our agents can take to the roads and the exhibition season comes out of hibernation. We can then meet up and discuss the bad old year that was 2020 and work Left: ArtPress’ Linzi Russell-Watson (right) with co-director Janie Markham. towards rebuilding all that is good in the land of cards for 2021.” Above: One of the new Brian Wildsmith Business plans for 2021? “We will continue to support all of our retailers, be it on the High Street or designs from ArtPress those that have a new online platform. Our first launch in the New Year is a range of eight cards by Brian Wildsmith, an internationally renowned illustrator and author. Everything in Wildsmith’s illustrations sings with vibrancy, colour and life and is totally pan generational in its appeal.” Lessons from the pandemic? “Mainly to go with the flow and adapt to each new situation as it comes. Covid has upturned all our normal work practises, so we have embraced the technical advances enabling us to work from home. Who knew, that we would be waving at the screen, saying, “you are on mute…YOU ARE ON MUTE”, and “oh no, you have dropped out”, “I can’t see you”, “you are frozen”, at regular intervals. Plus, if the dog has a fit of barking, or if your partner or child inadvertently wanders into shot, that is fine, we are all human! It has also been a time to appreciate how all the cogs in the wheel, from suppliers to retailers mesh together. We have been so lucky to have an incredible team of support and would like to thank everyone for all their hard work throughout this turbulent time…so here’s to 2021!”

Lucy Creed director of Poet & Painter: Wishes for the industry? “I think we're all hoping to regain a semblance of normality, for us as designers but also for all our brilliant stockists who have bravely weathered such a rollercoaster year. Creatively I feel very proud to be part of a thriving industry which is the global leader, so I hope that continues when arguably our national reputation is becoming patchy! I hope as an industry we can continue to push the envelope creatively (pardon the pun) and keep the role of the greeting card as an integral part of our culture.” Business plans for 2021? “We will continue not to follow trends and tread our own path. We have lots of new designs up our sleeves - featuring more of our inky drawings, and humour. We have created an innovative new paper-based product we are launching with our distributors in the US which we are aiming to launch at PG Live - watch this space!” Lessons from the pandemic? “We have realised the importance of community. From the challenge of our little Poet and Painter team being separated during the first Lockdown, to missing our greeting card family of buyers and fellow publishers at the big trade shows, we've realised how much these relationships keep us buoyed - roll on PG Live 2021, I think it will be the first show of 2021!” Above: Poet and Painter’s Lucy Creed (left) and Bryn Dineen with Nor’s Serge Summerling at PG Live. Above right: A cheers to 2021 from Poet and Painter.

Dean Morris founder of Dean Morris Cards: Wishes for the industry? “For city centres and high streets to be full of people buying cards again (and going out for meals and a cheeky pint afterwards too). I’m also finding myself missing trade shows - chatting to everyone at The Henries made me realise what a lovely bunch we all are and I can’t wait to do it in person again. Let’s hope PG Live is the wonderful welcome back we all want it to be.” Business plans for 2021? “Keeping my good relationship with all my wonderful customers, both trade and retail. My 2021 catalogue which I’m in the process of finishing is bursting with new products.” Lessons from the pandemic? “Don’t sweat the small stuff and be thankful for what you have as there are people a lot worse off than yourself.” Above: Like so many others, Dean Morris is really missing trade shows and seeing industry mates. Right: A positive message from a Dean Morris card.

Darren Cave commercial director of UK Greetings Wishes for the industry? “That retail remains open and our customers can trade safely and viably. That the upturn we’re seeing in consumer engagement continues post the pandemic. That working practices return to something like normal and we can all be together in person once again.” Business plans for 2021? “To make improvements to the UKG webshop to make the user journey as simple as possible. To enhance our service proposition, which will see us build on the early success of UKG’s independent brokered model. We will also continue our drive to operate more sustainably and reduce waste.” Lessons from the pandemic? “That we are all capable of adapting our ways of working (creatively) to ensure that business can thrive in the most difficult of circumstances. Plus, that field service and personal relationships remain incredibly important.” Above right: UKG’s Darren Cave. Left: Plans are underway to further improve UKG’s webshop.



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Inset PG’s Jakki Brown and Warren Lomax toasting not just the winners’ success, but sending good wishes to all at the California Dreamin’ themed awards event.

The Henries 2020 awards event took place on a digital platform, but the human warmth of the greeting card global community pulsated through, in the faces, voices and written messages from the 750+ members of the greeting card industry who attended the ‘big night in’. PG was fully logged on, lapping up the fun, applauding the winners and enjoying the true feeling of togetherness at this 25th anniversary Henries. Below: Among those who had sent their global greetings was an especially memorable one from Toy Symphony’s Hiroshi Kawamura and Kayoko Kubo from Japan.

Above: There was lots of chat and laughter from the Session Rooms both pre and post the awards ceremony, as the scene from the GCA Room testifies. Toasted Crumpet organised a ‘cocktail making’ masterclass in its room while Pigment staged some virtual horse racing. Left: All Henries sponsors got into the spirit of recording their winner’s announcement videos. As they were not privy to the specific winner, they had to record one for each finalist. Chris Sandwell of EBB went to town on his delivery. Right: Megan Claire’s Gill Purdie was among those to get into the California Dreamin’ theme, while others watched in their posh frocks or PJs.



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LOGGING ONTO THE HENRIES Right: The Emotional Rescue and Paper Salad gang watched the awards from the Royal Lancaster Hotel (where the real event usually takes place) having organised a socially-distanced banquet.

Inset: Bill Greeno (now of BG Consulting), as ever embraced The Henries. He played piano in various Session Rooms and showed off his pants in a special Henries’ memories video! Below: The Enveco teamsters (left-right) sales director John Jones, office manager Stacey Lee and head of its stationery division, Dhrumann Shah when announcing the winner of the Best Humour category highlighted how humour has seen us through the last few months which started with loo paper and pasta stockpiling!

Inset: Eulinid Stevenson, head honcho of Hendersons in Australia clinked glasses with everyone and paid tribute to UK publishers’ creativity.

Right: Not exactly the 25th anniversary celebration Jackie Collins had planned for Cherry Orchard, but she made the best of it watching with her team, both at the office and virtually. Seen here with financial director Oliver O’Kane just before The Henries started.

Below: Simon Elvin was among several leading publishers to share their memories of The Henries, especially as this was the 25th anniversary. He quipped how the original Henries trophy looked rather like it would be useful for pulling pints!

Left: Belinda and John Simson of Simson Cards in Melbourne tore themselves away from the 30 degree heat of the beach to send their warm wishes.

Inset: Windles’ Bruce Podmore’s sponsor’s video saw him de-robe from his factory overalls to reveal his full DJ. “Keep calm and carry on” was his message!



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This award was open all greeting card artists, illustrators, photographers or designers (employed by a publisher or freelance) aged 35 years or under on 1 August 2020.

Initial Reaction: “I'm completely surprised and overwhelmed and chuffed to pieces! It is a privilege just to have reached the finals alongside such amazing designers, but to have your name called as the winner is a feeling like no other. After such a challenging year, and at a time where I wasn’t feeling like a particularly promising designer, I’m totally over the moon and it’s the most special way to end 2020!” Louise Mulgrew, founder of Louise Mulgrew

Right: Louise Mulgrew has come so far in the first five years since starting her business and she is destined for a lot more success.

This ‘one off’ award was open to all greeting card collections (humorous and nonhumorous) that were launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020 that reflect lockdown times.

Initial Reaction: “I’m over the moon to win this special one-off Henry and to be able to celebrate virtually with some of my card buddies. The PG team did such a good job of getting us all together in spirit. And no need to search for my shoes and trophy at the end of the night!” Rosie Harrison, founder of Rosie Made A Thing

Right: This special ‘one off’ award was destined Rosie Harrison’s way, founder of Rosie Made A Thing.




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This award category was open to all art (fine art, contemporary and illustrative, but not photographic) greeting card ranges (or additions to) that have been launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Below: Louise had a double whammy, winning in two categories.

Initial Reaction: “Well, it’s absolutely silly to win in the Best Art Range category too! I was still reeling over the Young Designer announcement and had my Mum crying on the phone at the time and the whole thing was a happy blur. Huge congratulations to all the other nominees and winners and thank you for such a special night that I’ll remember forever.” Louise Mulgrew, founder of Louise Mulgrew


This award category was open to all greeting card ranges (or updates) sold via the wholesale distributor/cash & carry channel that have been launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.


Initial Reaction: “We were absolutely thrilled to win the award and what a fantastic way to celebrate Isabel’s Garden’s 18th birthday. I really enjoyed the event from the comfort of my sofa……first time I’ve been at the Henries in comfortable shoes! Here’s to 2021!!...’ Fiona Buszard, creative director of Simon Elvin

Above: Simon Elvin’s Claudine Rose with The Henries 2020 award for Isabel’s Garden, which she designs.



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This award category was open to all greeting card ranges that are published under licence (eg entertainment properties, brands or named artists) that have been launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Right: Woodie’s Lee Keeper is delighted that the EB licensed range clinched the first in a trio of Henries trophies this year for the publisher.


Initial Reaction: “On establishing links to the Emma Bridgewater brand, I fondly remember visiting (with our designer Hope Glass) EB’s Stoke HQ, and could see Woodmansterne shared so many qualities - craftspeople passionate about and valued for what they do, with a great sense of pride in what is delivered. Well done Hope, our creative and production people for making cards that are a much-loved part of Woodmansterne’s licensed portfolio. So very fabulous to have this dedication recognised at the world’s first virtual Henries awards event.” Lee Keeper, creative director of Woodmansterne


This award category was open to all humorous greeting card ranges that have been launched (or welcomed additions to) into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Right: The winning the Best Humour award made it a double hit for Rosie Harrison, founder of Rosie Made A Thing.

Initial Reaction: “So excited to win the award for for Best Humour Range against such tough competition! And brilliant to be able to share the actual moment with the team and the family. I told them I was funny!” Rosie Harrison, founder of Rosie Made A Thing PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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This award category was open all greeting card ranges aimed at children that have been launched (or welcomed additions to) into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Initial Reaction: “We are absolutely delighted to win Best Children's Range for the third time, amongst very tough competition too! The night was a great success even though we didn't know what to expect, nevertheless we can't wait to get back to celebrating with everyone next year!! Congratulations to all the other winners and thank you to all the judges for what must have been a difficult judging process under the circumstances.” Claire Williams and Karen Wilson, co-founders of Paper Salad

CATEGORY SPONSOR Right: Paper Salad’s co-owners Claire Williams (right) and Karen Wilson enjoying the moment of having won another Henries award.

This award category was open to all relations and/or occasions greeting card ranges (or welcomed additions to) that have been launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Below: Wendy Jones-Blackett, namesake and creative maestro of the company was delighted to win a Henries award.

Initial Reaction: “Fabulous to win and we’re completely over the moon! Congrats and thanks to you all for such a fun event, we really enjoyed that! It was surprisingly emotional watching all those messages (Jenny Cummins’ one left me with a lump in my throat) as we’re all ploughing on, working harder than ever and missing our industry peeps.” Wendy Jones-Blackett, co-founder and creative director of Wendy Jones-Blackett.




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This award category was open to all greeting card ranges (or welcomed additions to) aimed at male recipients that have been launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Initial Reaction: “What a great and exciting way to finish off a difficult year for the team! I am so pleased to win this particular Henries award. The Bleu range is a concept and idea I had about five years ago – it represents the core of what we love to do, reflect trends and offer something a bit different to retailers and consumers. So glad it won. Thanks everyone who voted for it!” Rachel Hare, founder and managing director of Belly Button Designs


Left: Rachel Hare, founder and managing director of Belly Button is very happy with the win!

This award category was open to all greeting card ranges which are either completely handmade or include a hand-finished element, that have been launched (or welcomed additions to) into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.


Left: Beth (centre front) and Matt Genower (behind her) with Team 5$ in Christmas jumper splendour with their trophy.

Initial Reaction: “21 years on from our first one and yet the nerves are just the same. This award really felt like a reward; a reward for the incredible work our staff has put in this crazy year. The bar bill was certainly much smaller than usual, but we all have more love and pride for this Henries trophy than perhaps any other we have won” Matt and Beth Genower, co-owners of Five Dollar Shake



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This award category was open to all photographic greeting card ranges that have been launched ranges (or additions to existing collections) into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Initial Reaction: “We are very happy to receive a Henries award for our Landscape Photographer of The Yea range, it’s a competition that we have been supporting for many years with our Camden brand. It celebrates both photography as an art form and the beautiful and diverse British landscapes. Tribute goes to all those artists who travel up and down the land, waiting patiently to capture the perfect moment. On behalf of UKG and Landscape Photographer of the year, we thank you for recognising our efforts.” Sandi Parisi, creative director of UK Greetings


Right: Sandi Parisi is delighted to receive the trophy which celebrates the stunning photographic range.


This award category was open to all traditional ‘words and sentiments’ greeting card ranges (or additions to existing collections) that have been launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Below: Cherry Orchard’s Jackie Collins (second right) with colleagues (left-right) Tracey Merriman, Kay Crawford and Holly Rowe.

Initial Reaction: “We were over the moon with excitement to have won our first ever Henries Award for Best Traditional Words & Sentiment Range. We are known for our words and sentiment so it has felt even more apt that we should win in this category. In a year that marked our 25th Anniversary it means so much to us. Team Cherry Orchard is also so proud to have moved on up to 6th place in Best Service to the Independent Retailer – it feels like a true reflection of how hard we work to achieve excellent customer care.” Jackie Collins, managing director and owner of Cherry Orchard Publishing PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


We are thrilled to win a Henries Award for Best Gift Wrap collection with our fabulous Paper Salad designs!

We have brand new ranges launching in January. Available to order now via our webshop or through your Sales Agent.

All of our products are available to order online. Go to to register.

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Below: Glick’s Becky Dobson was delighted to add to the company’s Henries’ trophy collection with this year’s award.

This award category was open to all giftwrapping ranges (either ranges of sheet wrap or collections of co-ordinated wrappings such as boxes, bags, ribbons etc) - or additions to existing collections -that have been launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.


Initial Reaction: “We were delighted to win The Henries award for Best Giftwrappings Collection. It was a complete surprise with some stiff competition in the category. Special thanks to Claire and Karen at Paper Salad for their constant innovation which makes working with them so much fun.” Becky Dobson, director of Glick

This award category was open to all contemporary ‘words and sentiments’ greeting card ranges (or additions to existing collections) that have been launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Initial Reaction: “2020 has been such an unusual year, and as a small business it’s been pretty tough at times. Getting through to The Henries finals was such wonderful news, and ‘walking away’ with a trophy was the icing on the cake. We are just so appreciative of the people who voted for us – thank you all so much. We are absolutely over the moon!” Jo Wilson, founder and creative maestro of Dandelion Stationery


Above right Jo Wilson with Ted, Dandelion’s head of security, very happy to have received the physical trophy.






Explore our bold, colourful and smile-inducing greeting cards including four AWARD-WINNING collections. Now with over 120 NEW designs available for 2021. Get in touch if you would like our latest catalogue, or to set up a trade account. | | 01553 636194 / 07875 481356


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This award category was open to all cute greeting card ranges that have been launched (or additions to existing collections) into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Right: Woodmansterne’s Ian Blake with Charlotte Mason, who designed the winning Opal range. Charlotte also reached the finals in the Best Young Designer or Artist award category.


Initial Reaction: 'We're absolutely delighted that Opal has won our very first ‘Cute’ Henries awards! Charlotte [Mason] really loved working on this range of quirky animals, so I'm over the moon that she has been recognised in the industry. Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for a great night in! What a fantastic end to 2020!” Ian Blake, creative director of Woodmansterne Publications

This award category was open to all greeting card ranges (or additions to existing collections) which demonstrate a current trend, be it in subject matter, terminology or production technique, that have been launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.


Inset: Rebecca and Mark were absolutely delighted with their win!

Initial Reaction: “We’re absolutely lost for words! To be firstly shortlisted for three categories and then to be crowned a winner for Best Contemporary Trend is just something that we didn’t expect at all. We’re so, so proud, especially given how hotly contested The Henries awards are. It is such a positive end to what has been a really challenging year in our industry and we’ve received lots of congratulatory messages, calls (and orders!) off the back of it too! To be part of The Henries is something so special and this award win is such a positive and significant chapter in Raspberry Blossom’s short history. Thank you to Jakki, Warren and the team for making The Henries a success - winning an award in your pyjamas is novel, but we’re looking forward to a real event next year!” Rebecca and Mark Green, owners of Raspberry Blossom PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


The GreATesT COLLeCTiOn OF GreeTinG CArDs in The WOrLD

“PG Live is just the best show and 2021 is going to be such a treat! If there’s one thing trading through 2020 has taught us it’s that you really can’t beat seeing friends and customers in person. That’s the number one reason why we’ll be at PG Live - we’ve been exhibiting there every year since it started and to have the chance to catch up with everyone again will just be so special. UK retailers, our international distributor friends and fellow publishers have all been sorely missed and to look forward and plan for a London show after all we’ve all been through is going to be the cherry on the cake!” Wendy JonesBlackett, Owner,

Wendy Jones-Blackett

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This award category was open to all single Christmas card ranges that have been launched (or additions to existing collections) into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Below: Jessica Hogarth with her ‘right hand woman’, her mum, Wendy Hogarth.


Initial Reaction: “I still can’t believe I won! So excited to get one of the coveted trophies, seven years after my first entry and nomination!” Jessica Hogarth, founder of Jessica Hogarth

This award category was open to all Christmas boxes or packs that have been launched (or additions to existing collections) into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Rifgt: The Art File’s co-founder Karen Mace with the company’s sales and marketing manager, James Mace, with another Henries trophy for their collection!

Initial Reaction: “Winning The Henries award for 'Best Christmas Box or Pack' again means everything to the whole Art File team as we work every week of the year on Christmas. To be recognised for our Luxury Boxes by so many professional buyers is such an accolade and counts even more as we were up against such amazing collections from fellow publishers in this category. Thank you to everyone who voted for The Art File!” Ged Mace, managing director of The Art File




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This award category was open to all Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter and Father’s Day greeting card ranges (or additions to existing collections) that have been launched into UK retail (bricks and mortar and/or online) between 10 July 2019 and 9 July 2020.

Initial Reaction: “We're delighted to have won Best Spring Seasons. Our team have been putting lots of working into our offering behind the scenes over the last couple of years and this is a great way to recognise their achievements. We've always struggled to find the perfect Father's Day card which was our motivation for making such a diverse, eclectic collection.” Mark Callaby and Jamie Mitchell, co-owners of Ohh Deer CATEGORY SPONSOR Left: Ohh Deer’s co-owners, Mark Callaby (right) and Jamie Mitchell.

This award category was open to all greeting card ranges that have stood the test of time, having been published for at least the last eight years. The range must currently be on sale in some shape or form. Ranges can only win a Henry Cole Classic award once and then will be added to the Henry Cole Classic ‘Hall of Fame’. Previous winners include: Bestie from Paperlink, The Bright Side from Really Good; Eric the Penguin from GBCC; Forever Friends from Hallmark; Giggles from UKG; Ink Press from The Art File; Me to You from Carte Blanche; Medici Cards Blue Label from GBCC; On The Ceiling from Emotional Rescue; Pizazz from Nigel Quiney Publications; Pop-Ups from Second Nature; Quentin Blake from Woodmansterne Publications and Rainbow from Ling Design.


Left: Emotional Rescue’s (left-right) Toni Cresswell, Jennie Rutter, David Greaves, Miranda Endres, Elaine Gibson and Brett Smith with their trophy.

Initial Reaction: “We were really pleased to have won an award, but even more pleased that the event took place! Thank you to everyone who participated at The Henries 2020 event and here’s to wishing the industry a great 2021! Have fun!” David Greaves, joint managing director of Emotional Rescue



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This award is wholly decided on as a result of nominations from independent retailers.

Left: A true gold moment for IC&G’s directors Simon (left) and Ian Wagstaff.

Initial Reaction: “Both Ian, myself and all the team feel humbled to receive this award. It’s been a very challenging year for everyone and we are so grateful to win the Gold trophy. All of our staff and agents have worked tirelessly to make sure our customers get the best service possible! So, thank you to our amazing customers and staff and let’s hope things will be brighter for everyone.” Simon and Ian Wagstaff, co-owners of IC&G

Initial Reaction: “I was absolutely delighted and very proud. This award has always been a big deal in our industry. Every day we’re wanting to properly look after our customers, so to be recognised in such a way is fantastic, particularly when you consider how challenging this year has been. Our team here will keep our focus on providing the best possible levels of service at all times and look to go one better next year. A big thanks and a virtual hug to all those that gave us their vote” Andy Paterson, sales director of Woodmansterne Publications

Right: Becci Leeman, independent customer care team leader of UK Greetings with the Bronze Service trophy.

Initial Reaction: “This is fantastic news! We pride ourselves on our creative talent and the service and support that we offer to each and every one of our customers. This nomination is a reflection of everything that is great about our business. Everyone should feel proud. This has been a tough and challenging year so it is great to receive such wonderful news.” Darren Cave, commercial director of UK Greetings


Left: Woodmansterne’s Andy Paterson (right) and Adam Osborne celebrate socially distanced, of course!





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This prestigious award is presented to an individual who has contributed greatly to the UK greeting card industry. The winner can come from the retailing, publishing, wholesaling or the supply side of the trade. Nominations are sought from the entire industry for this special award. Inset: Cath Tate with her much deserved Henries award. Left: The photomontage that Cath Tate designed at a night school class which was to launch the company.

Cath Tate gave a wonderful acceptance speech at the awards event… “I was absolutely bowled over

Here is an excerpt the citation PG editor Jakki Brown gave prior to the award recipient being announced…

at getting this award. I am quite overwhelmed as it was completely unexpected. When I think back to 40 years ago, what I really wanted to do when I started with was to change the world and I thought cards were as good a place to start as any. So, I sat down at my kitchen table and there I was cutting up old photographs and pasting them down, trying to work out what would make a good card or not, with my daughter Rosie, who was a baby then, crawling around on the floor near to me. I was absolutely green as grass. I knew nothing about the card business, nothing about business and to be quite honest I’ve spent the last 40 years learning by the seat of my pants! But it just goes to show that if you do have something that you feel is important, you just have to sit down at the kitchen table and just get on with it. You will make mistakes, sometimes terrible mistakes, but without those mistakes you’ll never get anywhere quite honestly. But I also want to recognise and thank all the support that I’ve had from other people because there is no project that is not a joint effort with other people. I want to recognise and thank the artists, the designers, my agents, my loyal staff, my daughter Rosie who is now running the business, but she’s not crawling around on the floor quite so much as she used to! I also want to thank my lovely customers - from the small independent shops all over the UK, the chains and our distributors have taken have taken our cards to all the far-flung corners of the world. You believed in what I was doing and took a chance on what I produced and that obviously has made the business. What I’ve learnt over the years and really appreciated is the support from the business itself; the industry. I really appreciate the way card publishers support each other as obviously we all want to make sure that the industry thrives, even in a dreadful year like this year. I feel very honoured to receive this award, thank you very much for giving it to me.”

“The Honorary Achievement award is a very special and personal accolade, which is ever more poignant in a year when we have come to really appreciate those who make our world - from close family members to our friends in the greeting card community. The person we honour tonight has been a part of my and many others’ greeting card worlds for as long as I can remember and has made it all the richer for knowing them. For almost four decades their independent spirit, spot on moral compass, willingness to take risks, unfailing sense of humour and innate people skills has seen them make their own mark in the greeting card industry - trailblazing countless greeting card concepts that have very much led rather than followed. It was back in the early 1980s, at a photomontage night school class that the teacher, impressed with the design our award recipient had created, that featured Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pinching someone’s purse from their handbag remarked that would make a decent greeting card. That was it, they were off. And a new and enduring greeting card publishing business was borne. In the early days, the ranges they created were best suited to the alternative bookshops, championing social issues and featuring the talents of underrepresented women cartoonists. The cards were popped into their bag and round the shops they’d go, selling their wares. Running the business initially from their kitchen table, they came up with some corking ideas – adding witty captions to retro knitting patterns for starters, as well as being an early pioneer in juxtaposing serious vintage photographs with an humorous message. And those ideas have just continued to flow. Now sharing the running of the business with their daughter, as well as developing their own ranges, they have collaborated with several contemporary illustrators, such as Veronica Dearly, Wotmalike’s Jo Burrows as well as a tie-up with horticulturist Charlotte Day. And remaining true to their roots, they have even managed to fit in co-writing a book recently that celebrates 250 years of female cartoonists, which saw them cajoled into appearing on Woman’s Hour. Well tonight it is one special woman’s time to put her natural self-deprecating Cath Tate, founder of Cath Tate Cards humour to one side and enjoy the limelight that she so deserves. You have been an inspiration to me, both as a woman and as an entrepreneur who has very much done things your way. It gives me great honour to announce that The Henries 2020 Honorary CATEGORY SPONSOR Achievement Award goes to Cath Tate, founder of Cath Tate Cards.”



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PG showcases a selection of new product launches

Colour blast Paper Award-winning publisher Alphablots has had lots of fun creating its latest Kids Cards range. The birthday card designs mix the precision of vector art with a fun approach to colour to create a playful animal world. The 105 x 150mm cards are printed on Callisto Bright White 350gsm board and supplied with matching coloured envelopes. They are sold naked as standard but bio wraps are available on request. Alphablots 07970 514445

Animal magic The Eco-friendly Card Co (Glebe Cottage) has added a whole bunch of designs to its popular Kate Andrew collection. The range combines Kate's distinctive artwork of animals and nature with simple phrases of affirmation, friendship and love. Printed on 300gsm 100% recycled board and supplied with white textured 100% recycled envelopes they are available either naked or in compostable bags. The range is featured in the publisher's new Art Cards brochure available to retailers free of charge upon request. Eco-friendly Card Company 01626 369269

Pop of positivity Cinnamon Aitch is pulling out all the stops to ensure 2021 begins with a pop of positivity by releasing a whopping array of greeting card gorgeousness across over 100 new designs. Its best-selling Margo range (featuring mischievous cats and quirky dogs) welcomes 21 new designs, while newness is also evident in its Geometrix and Armadillo collections. Amelia is a brand new range designed by Emily Hauck with her female take on the bestselling men's card range, Cobalt. Cinnamon Aitch 0121 773 6833

Hold-ing pattern Bearing the same name as Lagom’s Brighton store, HOLD is an array of 27 designs that are hand-embossed, finished with white or black foil and paired with a chic grey envelope. Designed by Kelly Hyatt, the range is suitable for all occasions. Measuring 109 x 155 mm, they are available with or without cello. Lagom Design 03331 230101

Winter warmers

A dog’s life

Jane Faires is known for her exquisite animal and bird cards. The Winter Scenes range includes a stag, pheasant, fox, badger, robin and squirrel, all from Jane's original paintings in some delightful landscapes. Printed on FSC board, the 150mm square cards, can be supplied either naked or individually cello wrapped . Jane Faires Art 01803 862123

Earlybird has teamed up with the brilliant artist Emma Jayne Designs to release Buddy and Betty. The range is named after the publisher’s cockapoo Buddy and his best friend Betty, a miniature schnauzer. The designs are a blast of colour, a celebration of nature as well as the funny and the fabulous. The cards are 160mm square and come with a recycled kraft fleck envelope. Earlybird 01227 765372 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE 59

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PG showcases a selection of new product launches

Boho Chic Crumble and Core’s Boho collection of individually boxed cards and earrings is bold, vibrant and very different from the publisher’s usual offering. The range covers birthdays, female relatives (mum, sister, daughter, friends), ages 18-50 as well as some blank designs, each adorned with sterling silver hoop earrings with a semi-precious turquoise stone. Crumble and Core 01825 841412

Taking a bow

Small is beautiful Laura Darrington has launched some brand new love captions into The Piccolo Collection. The perfectly designed small cards are enhanced by some subtle gold foiling. The cards can be supplied naked, or with a cello-bag, as requested. Laura Darrington 01162849660

Hello Bow is a brand new range of 24 designs from Stop the Clock Design. The contemporary collection features designs for many occasions, including birthday, wedding, get well, new baby and more. The cards are highlighted with foil and hand-finished with black and white stripy bows. All cards are 127x176mm in size, printed on 350gsm FSC approved board and come with deep teal envelopes. They can be supplied unwrapped or with the card and envelope held together with a KardKlasp sticker. Stop the Clock Design 01457 763335

Bountiful nature In addition to a mega Christmas launch, Paperlink has just released 87 new occasions and relations designs as well as four new everyday ranges. Two new humour launches join the line-up, Funny Farm (contemporary humour tapping into classic deliveries with a more modern feel) and Happy Hour (sassy and savvy female humour). Fields of Gold (pictured) spans 12 designs featuring beautiful elements of the British countryside, with delicate foil details while Cloud Nine includes cold foiled typography for birthday and open sends. Paperlink 0207 582 8244

Wrappers delight Fresh from its Henries win, Glick has launched a fantastic new Paper Salad rollwrap collection ready for delivery in January. They all feature neon print and come in 4metre lengths. The Happy Birthday and Just for You designs have matching tags and sticker packs. Gift bags, tissue papers and gift boxes also feature in the new range. Glick 01274 655980

Well im-pressed Boo-tanicals is Bexy Boo’s new handfinished range featuring picked and pressed flowers from founder Bex Hassett’s garden in Cheshire. This range is a limited edition, so when the flowers have gone, they will be gone until Spring 2021. Featuring pastel shades and simple illustrations, this collection of 15 cards certainly 'brings the outside in’. Each card is 15cm x 15cm, comes with a white hammered envelope, and all wrapping options are available. Bexy Boo 01565 8305467


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PG showcases a selection of new product launches

Wood if you could The newest editions to Daisycat’s Wooden Christmas range are some adorable snowglobes. Cute and fun, the collection includes several non-traditional Christmas themes too, such as Happy TRexmas and Merry Christmas to Ewe. Each card is hand-finished with a mini wooden embellishment, including handdecorated with washi tape or individually painted. Each card comes cellowrapped with a flecked Kraft envelope. Daisycat 07975949966

Blooming lovely

Rosa to the occasion

Sarah Kelleher has added a whopping 20 new designs to her Botanical Golds range take it to 32 designs in total. This range has something for all flower and plant lovers covering most major life events, including New Home, Get Well Soon, Sympathy, Wedding etc. The cards are 150x 150mm, printed onto FSC card and are topped off with stunning hot foiled gold script. All come with a brown ribbed envelope and a choice of recyclable cello or eco card clasp. Sarah Kelleher 07768 123957

A pot of gold? Sabivo Design has just launched Rainbow, a collection of 40 designs covering everyday, wedding and anniversary captions. The designs feature contemporary line drawing and delicate watercolour illustrations with on-trend hand-lettering, embellished with signature floral sequins and delicately handglittered. All cards are 145 mm square, come with brown kraft envelopes and recyclable cello bags. Sabivo Design 01858433716

With the success of Fiori Rosa, Rosanna Rossi has extended the range to cover an extensive range of birthday and occasions titles. The collection also delves into the male sector, covering relations and general birthday captions. The bold illustrations are highlighted with pops of vivid orange and zesty green inks and finished with high-gloss black varnish. The 150mm square cards are embossed and come with complementing blue envelopes. Rosanna Rossi 07900698522

A different Amazon Beauty with a message, the Endangered Rainforest from Sweet Design shines the spotlight on some of the wonderful animals which are under threat due to deforestation. The designs feature beautiful sunset wash backgrounds, botanical leaves and gorgeous illustrations by Sally Anson. Printed on 300gsm FSC board, the cards are accompanied by 100% recycled kraft envelopes, sold wrapped or un-wrapped with clasp sticker. Sweet Design 07880 732626

Wonders will never cease As well as its growing collection of 3D cards (including many top licences, from Wonder Woman to Harry Potter, Friends to the Big Bang theory), Cardology is launching a new, fully reversible packaging/envelope combination for its pop-up cards in January. The new format sees the packaging effectively becoming the envelope. Cardology 07710499970 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE 61

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Retailer Focus

Penmark’s Reset

Marking a significant step change for Penmark, the longestablished greeting card retail group, is Henry & Co, a brand new greeting card and gift retailing concept, the inaugural store of which debuted recently in Nottingham’s Victoria Centre shopping mall. Mark Rees, managing director of the Midlands-based group explains all about what he describes as a real “business reset”.

Lockdown has a lot to answer for, but one of the positives is a vibrant new greeting card and gift store concept which is going down a storm with the good people of Nottingham. The inspiration for Henry & Co, Penmark’s new ‘baby’, (which is set to be a blueprint for its other stores) largely came from the family time which Mark Rees, owner and managing director of the retail group, spent with his wife and their three children during lockdown. “As we all know 2020 has been a year like no other. The impact on every member of society and every business has been unparalleled. Life has changed in ways that no one could have thought possible,” states Mark. “As a family we were at home with three young children: Henry, Lucy and Alice. Home schooling was challenging, we were baking in abundance, and creating family shows became the norm! We discovered skills we never knew our children had, unearthing their fun, quirky ways, and their kindness and compassion for others.” As parents Mark and Katy looked at how best 62


they could protect the family from the coronavirus situation while at the same time give hope and reassurance that times would get better. “For our family it brought about a level of closeness that we couldn’t have imagined. We were able to realign our lives and rediscover that the little things in life made us happy. Being able to create memories together and show the children that having resilience through tough times is a great skill to have,” sums up Mark. While protecting the family was a top priority so indeed was future proofing the business. Buoyed by the positive reactions from customers and the store team after reopening post the first lockdown, brought it home to Mark that “our stores are at the heart of many local communities. What quickly Above left: Henry, Lucy and Alice Rees outside the first Henry & Co shop in Nottingham’s Victoria Centre which started trading in November. Above right: The greeting card display is supplied by UK Greeting under its new independent brokerage scheme. Below: The contemporary look and feel of Henry & Co.

became prevalent is that the words on and in a greeting card or the giving of a small gift gave our customers a tangible way to communicate with their family and friends. In a time where we couldn’t physically be there to hug or care for our nearest and dearest, there was a strengthened desire to show love and support to others. As well as a warm, fuzzy feeling, this gave us hope that there really is a role for our stores and confidence that what we do is important,” he added.

However, while Mark was determined not to lose the DNA of the Penmark heritage, he also recognised that there needed to be some changes; “to adapt our brand and stores to be part of the future of retail.” Penmark, which now comprises 11 card and gift shops and four Love Aroma home fragrancing shops, was started by Mark’s parents (Barry and Ann) in 1991. With them both now retired and the business now fully owned by Mark, he feels the time is right to put the next generations’ stamp on it, and Henry & Co is just that.

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Retailer Focus

together. Nothing can replace the joy and warmth of a hug, but we also know that cards and gifts are a wonderful way to show we care.” The gift selection in the new 1,000 sq ft store really champions independent brands “We wanted to move away from the big brands, the curated feel giving customers an extra reason to come to us,” explains Mark. The greeting card selection is also a real step change for the company. Up It is not just the new brand name which pays tribute to Mark and Katy’s children, but the whole contemporary, curated vibe of the Henry & Co store. “Teaming the enthusiasm and compassion of our children, with a desire to rebuild our business just seemed logical,” said Mark. Mark sums up Henry & Co as “a brand and shopping experience that delivers now and for years to come. At the forefront of our thinking is the essence of ‘Inspiring Togetherness’. We want to give a platform that brings people together through emotive cards and thoughtful gifts. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the value of being

Chips off the block? It certainly sounds like Mark won’t need to look far for his own succession plan, they are right under his nose! Nine-year old Henry has been busy flexing his creative flair and entrepreneurial skills to great aplomb and success. As well as drumming up a growing audience for his Chef Henry YouTube cooking ‘programmes’, young Henry also did a roaring trade with his own outdoor pop-up store that he ran on the Rees’ driveway in the summer so that his friends could

until now, Hallmark has been Penmark’s main greeting card supplier. However, Henry & Co is being supplied through a UK Greetings independent brokerage scheme, and includes designs from many other publishers (such as Wendy Jones-Blackett, Paper Salad, Lucilla Lavender and Nigel Quiney Publications), while IC&G and Second Nature are supplying direct. “I have been so impressed by UKG’s approach to planning, operations, fixturing and services. Its new independent brokerage option enables us to simplify things while also having the facility to introduce newness,” says Mark. Paying tribute to new fixturing approach from UKG, Mark said: “As soon as I saw it, I was smitten. I just knew it would work really well within the contemporary environment we were going for,” making reference to the look which boldly combines rustic ‘furniture’, scaffold pipe shelving and dramatic drop pendant lighting. While Mark accepts there will be tweaks to be made, the plan now is to roll out the Henry & Co concept into Penmark’s other stores on a gradual basis, with two or three refits definitely planned for 2021. “However experienced we all are are in business we have all learned so much this year. It feels exciting to be able to put these learnings into practice to make sure we are here for the long term,” summed up Mark. Top left: (Left-right) Mark Rees with his son Henry, wife Katy, daughters Lucy and Alice and mum Ann outside the new shop. Above: Contemporary lighting fixturing adds to the independent feel of the shop. Below: The gift selection features lots of independent brands.

safely buy their Father’s Day cards and gifts. The new Henry & Co store even includes some products that have received an official ‘rubber stamp’ from Henry, being displayed in the ‘Chosen by Henry’ section. Meanwhile, Henry’s sisters, six-year old Lucy and five-year old Alice, having talked at length about “Daddy’s shops”, have set up their own store selling pictures to family members for 5p each. Above: Mark explaining the economics of shopkeeping to his daughters Lucy and Alice. Left: Nine-year old Henry checks out the card rack.




The Lesser-Known Patron Saints



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A unique range of humorous “medieval” designs available to buy or license

21/12/2020 13:39

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Art Source

The Spice(r) Of Life

Jo Spicer is no stranger to the greeting card/giftwrappings world, having worked in-house with several leading publishers. However, since taking the plunge to go freelance, represented by The Bright Agency, it has given her a great sense of creative freedom to explore the blank canvas. Jo Spicer tells her story… “I am a freelance artist, based in Hertfordshire, working from my studio in St Albans for the past six years. Before becoming freelance, I spent many years working in-house for some well-known greetings/stationery companies, including International Greetings, Collage Designs and Piccadilly Greetings. Within my in-house career I worked initially as a designer, creating work for Christmas rollwrap, boxed cards and gift bags. I then moved onto greeting cards, designing all captions and occasions across different seasons for single greeting cards. I was also a studio manager for eight years; I moved to Suffolk and headed-up a team of designers and liaised with clients on their needs by creating briefs. This past experience has proved invaluable in my approach to working for myself now! I had the goal that I wanted to eventually work for myself, and to spend time to develop my art, as this is what makes me the happiest and fulfilled. I left in-house employment and moved to the world of freelance. I am represented by The Bright Agency, and having an agent has allowed me to concentrate on my artwork. I am able to paint most days and explore my style. Recently I have had two new ranges published by Noel Tatt Group; ‘Bryony’ and ‘Mandala’; and I have also had previous successful ranges with the publisher, including ‘Arabella’, ‘Blush’ and ‘Henna’. I have always loved to draw and paint, and I have a special interest in creating surface interest Top left: Jo Spicer loves the creative freedom being freelance allows. Above: The joy of gardening has come to the fore over the last nine months. Right: Jo favours a loose watercolours and inked styles. Far right: A contemporary approach to florals from Jo Spicer.


Above: One day Jo Spicer might be working on Christmas designs, the next she will be creating Easter designs. Left: Blooms of all shapes and hues inspire Jo.

by the use of paint, brush, pen and pattern. My chosen medium is watercolours and Dr. Ph Martin’s inks, and I combine this with line work and pattern created by brushes, nibs and pens. I always start off an idea with a pencil sketch. It is so important to me to keep that looseness and hand-drawn feel when I move to painting, as I like my work to feel hand created. I will then scan painted elements and usually collage them altogether digitally, and then decorate the artwork with any foils, finishes or extra detailing to enhance the art. I enjoy working on any type of caption or season; the variety enables me to explore new looks and range ideas, and never to get too stuck to one look. I enjoy the variety of being an artist as I can be working on Christmas designs one day and Easter ones the next. I love to paint florals mostly, any type of blooms excite me. I always paint in large scale as this creates much more room for the textures and marks of the brush and paint and can help with the looseness of the piece. I find pattern work to be incredibly inspirational, for example the classic William Morris, interior wallpaper designer Marthe Armitage, Designers Guild, fashion designers such as Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, and floral artist Helen Dealtry to name just a few. Watching skilled artists creating amazing art on their Instagram pages and on YouTube really inspires me and helps me to broaden and explore new ways of working, and to carry on learning, which we all need to do!”

If you are an artist, photographer or verse writer and would like to be considered to appear in Art Source, please contact PG’s Emma Cain on This is an editorial feature and as such is free of charge. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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