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Leader

On The Cards The phrase ‘end of an era’ has been well used of late, whether in connection to the closure of the decade, the redefining of the Royal Family with Prince Harry and Meghan’s flit to Canada and of course the UK’s departure from the EU on January 31. However, closer to home I have had good reason to type it - or ‘end of an ear’ as my chubby fingers have inadvertently mis-spelt on one occasion! The surprise announcements from Simon and Janet Elvin and David Hicks that, in the case of the former, Ian Jackson (the md of Polytint) is staging an MBO of the Simon Elvin group, and in the latter that by the end of the summer Really Good and Soul, David’s two card and gift companies, will cease to be, really hit home to me how some things will change, some through choice, some through necessity. I am glad that both these decisions have been made out of choice rather than necessity. Despite now being 78 years old, Simon Elvin is still razor sharp and retains a passion for the business, card design especially, that few could match. It is also great that Simon and Janet are to remain as directors and will continue to run the wholesale company that bears their name for the next five years. However, wanting to ensure a legacy for the staff and customers for the group (which includes Nigel Quiney, Paper Rose, Glick and Polytint, as well as the wholesale publishing namesake), being able to hand the custodianship to Ian Jackson, someone who shares the same ethical stance of Simon and Janet as well as a shrewd business acumen (Polytint is sizeable in own brand cards), is a great solution all round. And with no outside investors involved, Ian will not be at the beck and call of private equity sharks. It was in the car park of Simon Elvin’s Wooburn Green HQ that Warren and I took the decision back in 1990 to stage a Management Buy Out of Progressive Greetings, and Simon has always been there for us right from the start giving us gems of advice and guidance. I hope Ian Jackson realises that his remit includes this too.

www.max-publishing.co.uk THE HOME OF MARKET LEADING TRADE MAGAZINES

EXHIBITIONS

@Prog_Greetings Left: PG’s Jakki Brown with Simon Elvin at The Henries in October at which he was presented with a special GCA Outstanding Contribution award. Middle: David Hicks (right) with Lisa Shoesmith and Bruce Podmore, md of Windles. Bottom: Specialist retailer Cardzone is still on its ambitious growth path. Directors (right) Jo Hancock, Paul Taylor (second right), James Taylor with PG’s Jakki Brown at their HQ (see pages 56-57).

David Hicks, what can you say about the industry’s best-loved and respective maverick? There really is only one David, and while the day to day running of Really Good and Soul has been down to the clever Lisa Shoesmith for several years, with David’s remit being very much on the product side, the businesses have his flavour. I respect David’s decision to close the businesses down over the next six months or so rather than the brands being sold off and living on as watered down versions of the their former selves. I have had the good fortune to have known David for 30 years, and over this time together, with our industry peers, we have enjoyed many memorable moments, both industry related as well as friendship based. (I did knock him out once in the Caribbean after some rather potent cocktails, but that’s another story!) As David has said publicly, now at the ripe age of 58 he has other interests, travelling and photography being top of the list, and wants to enjoy spending more time doing them while he is still fit and able. He does though promise to check in with his industry chums, no doubt wearing some ‘interesting’ garb from the latest countries he has visited. Change is inevitable and this coming year and decade will bring lots of interesting developments. There will be new ways of working, new card and wrap ranges, new production techniques, different publishers and retailers will be in ascendance to challenge the status quo. Yes there have been some seismic changes, but these are better than an end of an ‘ear’! Hear hear! PS. Myself, Warren, Gale, Tracey and the PG gang will be at Spring Fair. We have a stand (Hall 2 J75), do come and say hello. And if you are around towards the close of the show come and have a drink with us, the corks will be popping!

THE HOME OF MARKET LEADING TRADE AWARDS

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

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wavelength THE AWARD WINNING PHOTOGRAPHIC CARDS DESIGNED BY

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Contents

What’s Inside? With This Issue: FOCUS ON CALENDARS

19

33

59 56-57

81-103

Spring Fair Innovations

28-29

Cardzone’s Paul And James Taylor And Fellow Director Jo Hancock

Over The Counter With Retailer David Robertson

59-61

9-27

News

105-107

Blue Eyed Sun’s Jeremy Corner’s Journal 109-111

Cardsharp

PG Catches Up With Ben Dorney, Group Creative Director Of Mint

33-34

67-69

113-117

Alan Harnik, Founder Of US Card Distributor, Notes & Queries

Art Library Experts’ 2020 Trend Forecasts

30-31

State Of The Greeting Card Nation

What’s Hot?

118-131

36-39

Card Retailers’ Viewpoints On Christmas 2019

Classified

71-73

41-49

Ohh Deer’s Mark Callaby And Jamie Mitchell At Their Loughborough HQ

PG’s Retail Barometer Findings

74-75

51-55

Waterstones’ Senior Card Buyer, Hazel Walker

The Hurdles And Triumphs Of Card Agents In 2019

77-80

Indies Who Are Bucking The High Street Gloom

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

Tracey Arnaud

Jakki Brown

Warren Lomax

Gale Astley

Ian Hyder

Editor/Joint Owner

Joint Owner

Deputy Editor

Joint Owner

Sales Manager

jw@max-publishing.co.uk

warren@max-publishing.co.uk

galea@max-publishing.co.uk

ianh@max-publishing.co.uk

traceya@max-publishing.co.uk

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: gca@max-publishing.co.uk www.greetingcardassociation.org.uk PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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NEWS TOP STORY

Simon Elvin Group MBO Simon and Janet Elvin to continue as directors The Simon Elvin Group - which includes Paper Rose, Nigel Quiney Publications, giftwrapping company Glick, own brand supplier Polytint and wholesale card and wrap business, Simon Elvin Limited - has been acquired through an MBO by Paper Design Group, a newly formed holding company which has Ian Jackson at the helm as its chief executive. Ian, in addition to having been managing director of Polytint Cards (a company he ran with his father until it was acquired by Simon Elvin nine years ago), was appointed to the board of the Simon Elvin group in June 2018 as part of the succession plan for the business. Simon and Janet Elvin, who started the Simon Elvin wholesale card business back in 1977, are to continue to play an active role as directors of the Wooburn Green-based wholesale card company. Although now 78 years old, Simon has continued to ‘come to work’ every day, invariably joined by Janet. “When Ian came to me in the autumn to discuss the possibility of an MBO it made sense. While Janet and I want to keep working here for at least another five

Speed-dating date set The date has set for the next GCA Dragons Speed-dating event as Monday 16 March. The event, to be held at London’s Business Design Centre, will see publishers pitch individually to top retail buyers. The booking will open on February 18 and the participating buyers will be announced shortly.

years, we also wanted to ensure the future for our staff and customers,” Simon told PG. “Ian is absolutely the right successor to head up the business.” The intention is that it will be ‘business as usual’, with Paper Rose, Nigel Quiney, Glick, Polytint and Simon Elvin continuing to be run as separate businesses with their own respective senior management teams. Ian told PG that he felt “incredibly proud” that Paper Design Group had acquired the Simon Elvin Group. “This MBO thankfully enables Simon and Janet to continue to play an important role in the Simon Elvin business, which is critical to its ongoing success.” Paying tribute to Simon, Ian added that it “has been an absolute privilege to work alongside such a true gentleman and industry legend. His support and advice have been invaluable to me, and him remaining as managing director at Simon Elvin Ltd is a tremendous asset to the new Group, and our industry as a whole.” Above: Simon Elvin (left) and Ian Jackson. Left: (centre) Simon and Janet Elvin with some of the team at The Henries at which Simon was presented with a GCA Outstanding Contribution award.

PG has news for you PG magazine headlined on the BBC One programme, Have I Got News For You?, appearing as the ‘festive guest publication’ on the episode just before Christmas. “PG has arrived! - it has taken 29 years for the magazine to appear on the programme, but some things are worth waiting for!” stated Warren Lomax, coowner of Progressive Greetings since 1990, the same year that Have I Got News for You? was first screened. The episode, guest hosted by Charlie Brooker, saw team captains Paul Merton and Ian Hislop appearing alongside panelists Emma Barnett and Phil Wang. Having showcased the front covers of three Progressive Greetings’ issues and explaining the magazine’s greeting card focus, it was into the ‘Missing Words Round’. This featured a trio of quotes from PG with elements blanked out. Sparking Paul Merton into top form, he successfully filled in the gaps on ‘As greeting card enthusiast Maxine’s famous rhyme goes; Don’t be [blank] send a [blank]’. Without hesitation, the quick-witted comedian said ‘Don’t be hard, send a card’ quoting a mantra of Isle of Man post office’s Maxine Cannon. Above: Paul Merton (right) and Phil Wang on Have I Got News for You?

Sad Loss of Heather Marten Heather Marten, the super talented founder of card and stationery company English Graphics, has sadly passed away. The company however is to continue to trade, run by Heather’s husband Peter England. Heather, aged 58, died of pancreatic cancer which claimed her life in just five weeks after the diagnosis was made. Although English Graphics has only been trading as a greeting card and stationery company for five years, it was widely acclaimed, not only for the delightful designs, all of which are based on Heather’s artwork, but also the company’s

commitment to the environment. English Graphics has led the way in its adoption of biodegradable glitter, for example, with Heather initially using a cosmetic grade (despite its high cost) until the super sparkly version suitable for cards was developed. Heather’s husband Peter, who has been involved in the business right from the start, is fully committed to continuing English Graphics. “I would want to carry it on anyway, as Heather’s legacy, but I made a promise to her that I would,” Peter told PG. “I have been involved with the business right from the start, she even trusted me to stick some of the crystals on in the early days. Thankfully now we have a wonderful team of ‘Glitter Girls’ who do this much better than I ever did!” Peter also explains that there is a whole batch of at least 100 unpublished designs, which Heather has created. “We only release six new designs a year so have plenty of new artwork in the bank. English Graphics is Heather’s legacy, I feel honored to be able to carry the business on in her memory,” said Peter. Above: Heather Marten is sadly no longer with us, but her art lives with English Graphics’ continuation.

FOR THE LATEST NEWS VISIT PGBUZZ.net PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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NEWS TOP STORY

The Art File Fits Jigsaw Pieces British publishers pledge support to the new retail solution The Art File is putting the finishing touches to Jigsaw, a planning and facilitation alternative for retailers looking to stock leading British greeting card publishers’ designs. “This is most definitely not brokerage,” emphasises Ged Mace, managing director of The Art File, who is fronting the new service. “Jigsaw has been conceived in response to requests from both retailers and fellow publishers for an alternative way of bringing a potent mix of the best of British design to the consumer,” he adds. Some 15 leading greeting card publishers have pledged their support to the new venture, including Five Dollar Shake, Belly Button Design, Paper Salad, Rachel Ellen and of course The Art File, among others. Retailers have the opportunity of working with the Jigsaw planning team to curate a selection which works for them. Experienced industry exec, Mark Goshawk (who spent many years at UKG) has been working with Ged to set up Jigsaw since last summer. Ged and Mark foresee the Jigsaw option as likely to appeal especially to independent department stores, lifestyle stores and small groups of up to 10 stores for whom greeting cards are not their main product area, but are important nonetheless. As Ged says, “Jigsaw really can help to safeguard a strong greeting card presence in significant retailers, by championing the best of British design.” Elaborating, Ged says, “The danger is that if greeting cards are not the main

focus of a store that they could be replaced by a totally different product area. We believe by offering a great selection and an easy fulfillment solution for retailers, greeting cards will more than protect their space, they will act as a beacon for the store.” The stock for Jigsaw displays is to be dispatched from 2WL, the Mansfieldbased operation that looks after the fulfilment of The Art File’s products as well as those of other publishers. “We will receive weekly orders from the retailers, and publishers will then deliver into 2WL where they will be collated and dispatched. There is no need for a hefty stock-holding and publishers’ new designs can be fed in as and when to maintain a totally fresh offer,” assures Ged. As he points out: “It is all about being flexible and perpetuating greeting cards’ presence at retail, be it through ordering direct, being supplied by brokerage or by a planning solution, such as we are offering with Jigsaw.” Ged confirmed that three or four retailers are on the verge of committing to Jigsaw with more in the pipeline. Above: (right-left) The Art File’s Ged, Karen and James Mace on their stand at Top Drawer. Left: Experienced industry exec Mark Goshawk has been working on the Jigsaw project with Ged.

PG Live 2020 open for registration The build-up’s underway for Progressive Greetings Live 2020 as registration is now open for the dedicated greeting card show. Retail buyers, overseas distributors and licensees are invited to book their free tickets to the ‘greatest greeting card show’, which takes place on Tuesday 2 June and Wednesday 3 June at London’s Business Design Centre. Buyers have the option of registering for the show via the show’s dedicated website (www.progressivegreetingslive.com), through social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+) or by phone (+44 (0) 1635 297070). www.progressivegreetingslive.com Above: Registration is open - let’s jump for joy!

Belly Button’s unprecedented product investment Belly Button Designs is set to make 2020 a landmark year for the company, starting the celebrations for its milestone 25th anniversary year with a complete overhaul of its giftware arm. Representing its biggest ever investment in product, Belly Button Designs’ totally revamped giftware arm encompasses a change in its branding, product design and pricing across all of its 100+ giftwrappings, stationery, homewares and gift products. Seen for the first time altogether at Top Drawer, the revamped giftware arm, which was formerly known under the Bubble brand, is now aligned with Belly Button Designs’ greeting cards, though will remain a separate company. “When we launched Bubble three years ago we gave it a separate brand as we wanted to stress how serious we were about giftwrappings and giftware,” explains founder Rachel Hare. “What we are now doing is bringing the recognition and strength we’ve established with our cards to the relaunch of our giftware which will see brand new ranges, designs, styles and products at attractive prices,” she adds. The new giftware portfolio spans some 105 products, including 57 giftbags, 16 rollwraps, four flat wraps, 12 mugs and 16 notebooks (across three formats). Top: The new Bee collection from Belly Button has been hugely popular. Above: The Belly Button Designs’ logo now appears on its giftware as well as its cards.

PaperAwards winners Greeting card company Raspberry Blossom has certainly ‘blossomed’ in the latest Top Drawer PaperAwards, clinching wins in two of the four categories. The talented publisher, headed up by Rebecca Crouch, won the Emotive Design and Exciting Use Of Colour for two of its vibrant ranges. Type and Story won the Engaging Print award while Sleepy Bee Studio won the Best Stationery Design award. Commenting, Rebecca said: "We are over the moon about picking up two awards, especially when there are so many wonderful shortlisted finalists. It caps off a full on six months after the arrival of our little girl Ophelia Trixie.” Above: Raspberry Blossom’s Rebecca Crouch with another of her great creations, Ophelia Trixie, and the design which clinched the Exciting Use Of Colour award.

FOR THE LATEST NEWS VISIT PGBUZZ.net PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Our Christmas Collection follows on from our original everyday range, and consists of 20 beautiful cards, which offer shoppers a breadth of design styles, captions and colour palettes all in an easy-to-shop collection.

Call our customer service team on 0800 90 20 900 or ROI 012 480104, or your local area representative

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For more information, contact us on: UK: 0800 902 0900 ROI: 012 480 104 Email: customerqueriesUK@hallmark.com

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NEWS TOP STORY

Christmas Did Happen! Better than expected results for cardies While perhaps not a humdinger, Christmas trade for cardies was better than expected for many. Continuing a trend of the last few years, higher end captioned single cards performed well, while sales of boxed cards continued to dip for many, with the exception of charity cards. The wet weather in the run-up did dampen sales, but the fact that Christmas Day fell on a Wednesday provided a long weekend boost to trade in the final thrust. Cardzone revealed that its single Christmas card sales were up 4%, with its “tradition high coded cards” performing extremely strongly, while admitting its boxed card sales dipped 9%. Although Scribbler reported that card trade for the Christmas period was up 3%-5%, these were buoyed by an increase in everyday card sales, as its Christmas card sales were flat. John Procter, co-founder of the retail group, highlights that “a seismic shift in attitudes towards sustainability and global warming” will continue to impact buying habits. Home Counties retail group, House of Cards was “slightly up on last year on a store like-for-like basis, +1.4% for the five weeks to Christmas Eve, so we’re okay with that,” states Miles Robinson, co-owner. Nap pies

London-based mini group Postmark was “very happy” that it finished 3.5% up on its Christmas products, with singles showing an 8% increase. Paperchase’s senior buyer Joe Guest describes it as a “a good season” overall, that ended up in line with its expectations.” Rather at odds with others, its sales of boxed cards “exceeded expectations.” Blue Diamond garden centre group was, understandably cockahoop about its Christmas card sales, with singles up by almost 50% and boxed cards not far behind at 30%. (For more retailer revelations see Viewpoints pages 36-39).

Relief for US publishers as tariffs suspended US greeting card publishers manufacturing in China, as well as those who import cards from the UK (but are made in China), were mighty relieved that the 15% tariffs that were to be imposed on Chinese-produced greeting cards arriving into the US on December 15 were “suspended indefinitely”. “This is very good news indeed,” exclaimed George White, president of the US GCA and general manager of The CM Paula Company, which includes 3D card company Up With Paper, that relies on Chinese manufacturing. “The uncertainty was crippling. It was so concerning that the greeting card industry was potentially to be caught up in the political unrest between the US and China,” George told PG. Above: US president Donald Trump has cancelled the threatened tariffs being imposed on greeting cards manufactured from China.

Three Wise Women CasSerole

WINE

Top: Cardzone’s new shop in Derry was all geared up for Christmas. Above: Rosie Made A Thing cards were Christmas winners for many retailers.

Card Factory share price crash The City and the media have come down hard on Card Factory’s latest trading statement that included the Christmas period. News that the value specialist has failed to match likefor-like sales (for the 11 months to December 31) by just 0.6% saw almost 25% being slashed off its share price. Overall the retail group’s turnover was up by 3.6% (the year previous it was up 3.4%) with 47 new stores opening in the period. Despite the assurance that the UK’s largest specialist card retailer is still on course to report at least a £81 million profit figure at its year end, the media swooped on analysts at Peel Hunt’s unfairly describing the performance as “truly shocking”, urging shareholders to ‘throw your cards in’ and sell up. Respected analysts Investec however, is advising investors to buy into Card Factory, believing that the share price will pick up after April when a strategic review of the business will be completed by the management. Karen Hubbard, Card Factory's ceo, admits that the Christmas trading period was “challenging given the general election and weak consumer confidence, the impact of which can be seen in the footfall decline experienced in the period.” Above: Card Factory opened 47 new stores in the last 11 months. Right: Karen Hubbard, ceo of Card Factory said the election and weak consumer confidence impacted on its Christmas sales.

Real growth potential in Cath Tate’s Seeded range Cath Tate Cards is well-known for coming up with ‘blooming’ good ideas - and Seeded is most definitely one of those. The cards in this new collection, which debuted at Top Drawer, are fully plantable and will grow into bee-friendly wildflowers. The board the cards are printed on has been handmade in the UK incorporating non-GM native UK wildflower seeds. The designs feature delightful paintings by Charlotte Day, who worked for the Royal Horticultural Society before retraining as an illustrator at Chelsea School of Art. “These new designs fit well with our business ethos because they really are a completely green card!” states Rosie Tate, who together with her mum Cath runs the London-based card and gift company. Cath Tate Cards was ahead of the game with its eco-credentials, having long printed on 100% recycled paper and used recycled envelopes. Cath Tate Cards is showing at Spring Fair (stand 2E16). Top: Cath (right) and Rosie Tate of Cath Tate Cards. Above: Among the designs in Cath Tate Cards’ Seeded range.

FOR THE LATEST NEWS VISIT PGBUZZ.net PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Rush Design Full Page SF 2020.pdf

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USH DESIGN

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Magical Christmas A collection of Christmas cards to capture the warmth, fun and meaning of the season.

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Environmental considerations 2020 ranges

55%

of this year’s range can be recycled*

*subject to local recycling restrictions

CHRISTMAS COLLECTION

2020

We are delighted to be able to present the very latest Christmas collection from Special Editions. This is a magical collection of Christmas designs. Each design has been carefully selected for you. We’re proud to be able to offer this range in conjunction with some of the leading charities in the UK, supporting good causes both at Christmas and all year round. Every product donates 10% of the RRP directly to our charity partners, meaning with your help we are able to make a real difference to the lives of people and animals in the UK. We’d love to meet you in person so please give us a call on 01924 436361 or 01924 436337.

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2 2020 2 0220 2002 0 0

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NEWS Speaking out

TOP STORY

Really Good And Soul To Close David Hicks calls time after 33 years Really Good and Soul card and gift companies are preparing to close down by the end of the summer. Stating the reasons, David Hicks, owner of the two businesses explained: “I am 59 this year and have other things I like doing - notably travelling and photography - and want to be able to do these while I still can. I feel I am too young to say I am retiring, but it was never my intention to be the industry’s eldest statesman!” Having published well over 250 card ranges over the years - with Happy Hefalumps, Not Particularly Orange, Edward Monkton and Bright Side among the most notable - Really Good and Soul have made their mark on the industry’s card publishing history, as has David.

“I’m lucky enough to have enjoyed the highs of inventing new things on a regular basis, and made some great friends along the way,” said David. “It’s a fabulous industry and a wrench to leave it, and I’ve had some great times, but there are other things to do in life and now is the time.” The companies are having a ‘massive sale’ on all stock. They are exhibiting at Spring Fair. David, who started Really Good 33 years ago and Soul a decade years later, said that he has been mulling over the decision to close down the businesses for a few months. This was partly due to the changing trade conditions, but also prompted by his ‘right hand woman’, Lisa Shoesmith, general manager of the companies, suffering ill-health last year. Commenting, Lisa said: “I have had the most incredible journey with Really Good. When I joined back in 2002, I had no idea that along the way I would have so much involvement. David is ‘one of a kind’ and the opportunities, experiences, countries and people along the way have been fantastic.” Above: Really Good and Soul will cease to exist by the end of this summer. Left: (left-right) Lisa Shoesmith, David Hicks and Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA, at the recent Past Presidents Luncheon.

Tesco’s Chinese prison Christmas card scandal Making the front page of The Sunday Times, headlined on BBC News (among other media), and going right into the hearts of those in the greeting card industry, was the news that a six year old British girl found a chilling message from an inmate in a Chinese prison written inside a Tesco own brand charity Christmas card pack saying prisoners were being forced to pack the cards against their will. In what should have been a positive greeting card experience for six-year old Florence Widdicombe who was happily writing Christmas cards to her friends from her home in London’s Tooting, she stopped when she lifted the lid on a human rights injustice. Handwritten in capital letters was the message: ‘We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qingpu prison China. Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify a human rights organisation.’ The message urged making contact with Peter Humphrey, a British former journalist who had spent two years at the prison before being released in 2015. Tesco was very quick to respond to the situation, issuing a statement: ‘We abhor the use of prison labour and would never allow it in our supply chain. We were shocked by these allegations and immediately suspended the factory where these cards are produced and launched an investigation. We have also withdrawn these cards from sale whilst we investigate.’ Tesco has also stressed how it has a comprehensive auditing system in place and the supplier in question was independently audited as recently as the month previously and no evidence was found to suggest they had broken the rule banning the use of prison labour. The card in question was from the supermarket's own brand range of charity cards, which this year will see £300,000 donated to the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK. Above: The Sunday Times broke the story, written by Peter Humphrey, featuring Florence Widdicomb on the front cover with the card. The article carried through to page 3.

Picking up that primary school head teacher Jonathon Mason, head of Belton Lane Primary School in Grantham, Lincolnshire, had banned Christmas cards in the school on environmental grounds, in its coverage of the story, BBC East Midlands TV presenter Sarah Teale made a throw away remark about Christmas cards being “a waste of paper”. Not willing to let this go unchallenged, The Art File team took to Twitter saying how her comments had made them “sad” and how they would “love to prove to you that sending cards is special and worthwhile.” Even though the TV presenter responded by Twitter saying how she loves a ‘thoughtful card’, making the most of the moment, Ged Mace, managing director of the Nottingham-based card publisher, wrote to Sarah explaining more about the merits

of greeting card sending, the lengths the industry is going to on the environmental front as well as the huge amounts charities receive as a result of charity Christmas cards, with The Art File alone having donated £162,965 to charities. “Sending a card can help to combat loneliness, which is a heart-breaking issue rife in today’s society. Receiving a card gives you a fuzzy feeling knowing you’re in someone’s thoughts - and that’s what it all comes down to,” wrote Ged. Above: The Art File team in their Christmas jumpers.

GCA hits the airwaves Continuing an impressive programme of media interviews, the GCA’s ceo Amanda Fergusson appeared on 14 different radio stations in three days, all to talk about Christmas cards. Interviewed on the BBC Five Live Drive programme, presented by Tony Livesey and Chloe Tilley, Amanda was more than ready for Tony’s suggestion that “Christmas cards are a thing of the past.” Amanda explained how there has been a shift in buying patterns, with people “spending more on individual cards,” underpinning how they are a fantastic way of reinforcing relationships. Above: BBC Five Live’s presenters Tony Livesey and Chloe Tilley, who interviewed the GCA’s Amanda Fergusson live for their drive time programme on Christmas cards.

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GREETINGS CARDS AND CANDLES

Ooh la la

MiL kSh A k E ! PLUS – 24 brand new Macaroon designs for 2020.

Spring fair – Hall 2H17 EMAIL: enquiries@janiewilson.co.uk I www.janiewilson.co.uk I TEL:0113 256 6331

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NEWS New role for Dereck

TOP STORY

Cards’ New Home In Hall 2 Mary Berry is among those at Spring Fair Spring Fair, taking place at the NEC from February 2-6, will see a new layout, look and feel to the show. Split into two distinct sectors: Gifts (Piazza halls) and Home & Living (Atrium halls), the majority of greeting card exhibitors will be located for the first time in Hall 2. The new location for the revamped Summerhouse is Hall 20, located in between Living and Accents & Décor. Among the keynote speakers at the show will be Mary Berry, who will be appearing in the Inspiring Retail Stage (Hall 6) in conversation with Ashley Armstrong, retail editor for the Times, on Monday February 3 at 1pm. Mary will be talking about her life and how she has taken inspiration from her garden to create her own range of tableware in collaboration with Captivate Brands, and will also be visiting Captivate Brands’ stand in Hall 8. Making a return to the Inspiring Retail Stage will be Queen Of Shops Mary Portas, among the keynote speakers at Autumn Fair 2019, who will be taking to the stage at 2pm on Tuesday February 4.

BrownTrout has appointed Derek Shirley (right) as head of sales. Derek is known to many in the industry through his senior roles at Camden Graphics and Scandecor in the past. Derek has been working successfully with the BrownTrout team since January 2019 in a business development role.

On his High(lands) horse

Other keynote speakers at the show include Oliver Bonas, John Lewis, Selfridges and Harrods, as well as JML. “Our 2020 line-up is highly relevant for today’s challenges,” says Spring Fair’s portfolio director Charlie Cracknell. “It will help shape thinking, and we anticipate it to be our most exciting yet. We’re taking steps to embrace and indulge inspiring ideas from the industry’s most exciting innovators and disruptors. We want everyone to leave feeling invigorated, inspired and with a new mindset for the year ahead and beyond.” For the first time, Spring Fair has partnered with Modern Retail for the Good Retail Awards 2020, celebrating retailers that are making a positive impact. Six categories - including Sustainability Initiative, the Community Award and Digital Impact Award - will be presented on Tuesday February 4 at the show. Opening on February 1, Everyday (formerly Volume) is situated in Halls 9 and 10. Visit www.springfair.com

Up in the Scottish Highlands, retailer and PG columnist, David Robertson of JP Pozzi felt compelled to take issue with an article in his local Evening Express newspaper written by journalist Scott Begbie in which he disrespected Christmas card sending. David’s heckles were raised immediately when he read the headline: ‘Season’s gratings with useless cards’. The article dismissed any value in sending Christmas cards. “In this digital age where you measure your social worth by your social media followers, is anybody still fussed about cardboard robins on a string across the living room wall?’ The journalist did not reckon on receiving such a passionate reaction from David, in which he gave it to Mr Begbie with both barrels. Realising that he had been rather flippant in his column, David was invited to a ‘right to reply’, which resulted in the newspaper printing his letter, with the bold heading ‘Cards play vital role for so many’. In his letter, David highlighted how sending Christmas cards is a British tradition, which has great relevance today.

Above: Mary Berry will be speaking at Spring Fair. Left: Back by popular demand, Mary Portas will be a keynote speaker at the show.

Getting a GOTY James Ellis’ Paper Shakies cards, Wraptious’ Sophie Corrigan range, 1 Tree Cards’ Tree Wishes Festive Box and Wrendale Designs’ Christmas planner are among the product ranges to have reached the finals of the Gift of the Year 2020, the Giftware Association competition. The winners of all the 20 product categories, as well as the Judges’ Choice accolade, will be revealed on the Inspiring Retail Stage at Spring Fair on Sunday February 2 at the end of the day. To arrive at the finalists, some 41 judges (including retailers, media specialists and industry experts) carefully considered the shortlisted products at the judging event, held recently. The finalists in the Cards And Wrap category are: Decorasian: Pyramid Gift Boxes; From You To Me: Wow! You’re… Birthday Books; James Ellis: Paper Shakies and Wraptious: Sophie Corrigan for Wraptious. In the Stationery category, the finalists are: Busy Bee: Busy Life Planner; Hello Day: Sakana Daily Planner; Thinking Gifts: Pen Bookmark; Wild & Wolf and Yes Studio Stationery Collection. Meanwhile the Festive And Occasional has as finalists: 1 Tree Cards: Tree Planting Cards: Tree Wishes Festive Box; Talking Tables: BoHo Bride Activity Book; The Lagoon Group: Plasticine Christmas Advent Calendar and Wrendale Designs: Christmas Planner. For all finalists see: www.giftoftheyear.co.uk

Tatty’s festive countdown Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Funky Pigeon, Argos, Very, Clintons and Signature Gifts all featured in a 12 Days Of Tatty Christmas Countdown campaign instigated by Carte Blanche Group to promote the brand and support retail stockists of its cards, gifts and licensed products. Underpinning all this activity was a specially created animation, entitled 'Life Revolving' that centred on the key moments in a lifetime that matter, with Tatty Teddy always there for these special occasions. Spring Fair marks the official launch of a totally revamped Me to You gift collection from Carte Blanche (stand 2J40-K41). Above: Tatty Teddy made the most of the countdown to Christmas.

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NEWS TOP STORY

Wrendale Koala Raises £20,000+ Publisher supports WWF Australia Appeal Hannah Dale, founder and creative maestro of Wrendale Designs, put her art where her heart is to lead a charge to raise money for the WWF Australia Appeal to fund emergency care for injured wildlife in Australia caused by the ongoing bushfires. To raise the money, Hannah painted a brand new watercolour of a mother and baby koala that she is to give away through a draw, open to all those who make a donation, no matter how big or small through a dedicated JustGiving page. (www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ wrendale-designs)

In less than a week since the site opened, over £20,000 has been pledged for the charity cause. “Myself and everyone at Wrendale are just heartbroken to see the devastating effect the bushfires are having on lives, homes and animals in Australia,” said Hannah. “It’s such a dire situation. I spent time on a national park in Queensland during my zoology degree and so I just keep thinking about all the wildlife and rural communities we knew.” One donor will be picked at random to receive the original painting. Above: The beautiful artwork that Hannah created specially for the WWF Australia Appeal. Above left: Hannah Dale Right: Jenny Cummins (left) with Bexy Hassett of Bexy Boo at PG Live last June.

On the ground in Oz Jenny Cummins, managing director of Sydney-based McMillan Cards (which distributes Wrendale Designs as well as many other UK card publishers in Australia), is overwhelmed by the contact and generosity of her friends in the trade during the terrible time of the raging fires. “Hannah’s art is so beautiful as is she for expressing her feelings the way she has,” commented Jenny of the Wrendale initiative to raise funds for WWF. “The main thing for now is to give immediate assistance to those people who have been directly affected and especially to find and help the animals that have survived. And they need money.” While she says that McMillan has not been affected directly, the situation is, not surprisingly, having a knock-on effect on trade. “Some of us have lived through big fires. You never forget the deafening noise, the heat, the terrible smell afterwards, the fear of watching your house burn and the horror of seeing affected animals and birds, the bush all blackened and reduced to stark tree trunks which smoulder forever,” she shares. With the fires continuing to rage, on top of a terrible drought, this is not over yet. “I know we have a lot of support and understanding behind us. We thank everyone for their concern,” she adds.

Ram-Raiders smash into The Cats Whiskers “This was not quite the smashing Christmas we had in mind!” Chris Bryant, co-owner of The Cats Whiskers in Bishop Cleeve told PG, after the lovely card and gift shop he owns with his wife Tracey had its frontage destroyed in a reckless ram-raid. Chris and Tracey, who also own two other stores (Expressions in Swindon and Polkadot in Keynsham), had a rude awakening in the middle of the night on 19 December with the police informing them that two criminals had driven through the front of the shop and had made off with the safe. The police were quick on the scene and were able to track the getaway car (which had been stolen) and catch the criminals. Two men have been arrested in connection with the incident. “It was a redundant safe and was empty so all that damage was in vain,” said Chris. The shop was back up and trading in the early afternoon. “We were very much functioning on adrenaline, but our feeling was we couldn’t let those scumbags win,” Chris added. Above: Ram-raiders caused significant damage to The Cats Whiskers, Bishops Cleeve. Right: Chris and Tracey Bryant at Top Drawer.

Noel Tatt generates £1.7 million for 32 Help charities Noel Tatt Cards has confirmed that, as a result of its 2019 sales of its Help charity Christmas card range, it has now raised an astonishing £1.7 million for the 32 charities that form the umbrella organisation, Helpcards. Noel Tatt has been producing cards on Helpcards’ behalf since 2001. The 2020 range features 61 new designs, along with enhanced packaging adding to the appeal of the front and reverse of the pack. The new designs, as ever, reflect the changing buying tastes, with one trend being a return to more religious imagery. “We saw a marked increase in the religious designs, especially nativity scenes,” reveals the company’s sales manager Michael Griffiths. The Help range forms an important element of Noel Tatt’s broad Christmas offer, which for 2020 includes some significant changes on the packaging front to reflect environmental concerns. Noel Tatt estimates that it will save at least 2.5 tonnes of plastic waste by removing the acetate on its Traditional Christmas box selection. Noel Tatt will be showing its Christmas selection at Spring Fair (Stand 2G20). Top: Religious designs, especially nativity scenes, have proved popular for Help from Noel Tatt. Above: Noel Tatt has raised over £1.7 million for Helpcards since 2001.

Cardgains’ millionaires Cardgains buying group certainly made the most of its 30th anniversary year by marking the milestone through a packed programme of promotions, competitions, charity fundraising - and ending on a high, it announced some millionaire members! As a crescendo to its 30th anniversary, some 30 of the buying group’s members received Millionaire Awards, a trophy given to members who have accumulated sales of over £1million from stock ordered through Cardgains’ suppliers. As Chris Dyson, joint md of Cardgains, told PG: “2019 was another challenging retailing year, but it was great to see so many suppliers and members getting involved with our celebrations. It’s now all about this year with our theme of 2020 Vision”. Above: Cardgains’ theme for this year is 2020 Vision.

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OVER THE COUNTER

Pack In The

Pre-Packs! Independent card and gift retailer, David Robertson, co-owner of JP Pozzi in Scotland, bristles over the unfairness of business pre-pack administrations, also known as phoenix activity. As you read this the Spring Fair at Birmingham’s NEC will almost be upon us with the many new delights that I am hoping it will serve up. As always we will descend on the show’s halls with a touch of dread mixed with enthusiasm in the hope of finding the next winners from both the card and gift worlds. However, I’m writing this in the difficult period between Christmas and New Year; when the days merge together and you never really know when or what, or even if. This was traditionally the time in retail that two things happened. Firstly, you felt elated because the money had come in from Christmas and the business would be in a strong position, and secondly, you would get unwell, as you basically had pushed aside all the bugs and colds etc until you got to Christmas Eve, and with a massive sigh your body would give up. So far I have not been hit by either fully. Christmas was okay. It was on a par with previous years - we got our share and the customers came out to shop. I also, so far, have avoided any major illness, suffering instead from restless legs and an overactive brain. In fact, this seems to be worse than usual. My brain seems to be ticking over with the Christmas knowledge. Here are just a few of the thoughts whizzing round the grey matter… l Single Christmas card sales are still massive - boxed cards are not. l Gift dressings seem to be most at home in the bargain retailers. l Gifts are crucial but the price people are willing to spend is widening. 28

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l We, as retailers, invest in lines and get little longevity from them as they land in discount retailers quicker and quicker. l Gifts are either fun and quirky (around the £20 mark) or luxury. That middleground doesn’t seem to be there quite as it once was. l Customers are aware that they need to shop local but the price and easiness of online is still tempting. l We are all kind of selling the same thing not through choice but necessity. l Customers are liking ‘story’ products local brands, but this eschews margin. l The once mainstays of indie retail, such as Yankee, are gone as they literally are everywhere. l The feeling of relief that 2019 is over is one thing but what will 2020 bring? While clearing up the Christmas decorations and my house I found PG magazines from 2008 (my debut year as one of its columnists) right through to the current day. Flicking through my Spring Fair article from 2010, a lot of what I was writing Above: Phoenix activity from businesses is unfair on competing companies and suppliers. Left: Jellycat’s Amusable plush range has been a big hit. Featured is Silly Succulent Jade.

about then is still what we are discussing now… death of bricks and mortar retail, the rise of online shopping, and I had even joined a thing called Twitter which had been getting a lot of hype. In some ways this reassured me as here we are ten years on and, for the most part, the retailers that were in that magazine are still here and trading. It is definitely too early to tell what the new year will bring but one of my resolutions for 2020 was that I was going to be less grumpy, more positive and concentrate solely on my own challenges. Well that didn’t last long as early January 2020 brought further stories to annoy: l Hotel Chocolat stating that it wants its rents reduced inline with these companies doing CVA’s - I actually think that this is right. l Cafe Nero paying no Corporation Tax on over £2 billion of sales in the last decade due to losses elsewhere in the group. l The Daily Mirror has been highlighting many issues through its High Street Heroes stories and it has started 2020 with massive coverage. Now these are just the beginnings of what could shape up to be a very interesting


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OVER THE COUNTER start to the new year, and I truly believe that this year, more than ever before, will be a ‘numbers game’… and numbers mean everything in retail. I have spoken before about my naivety of numbers in the early days. When my folks first had a business ‘the numbers’ were not that important. Yes we had to maintain and protect a margin. Yes we had to make money, but the cost base was relatively low. The borrowing was not daunting and most of the costs, staff included, were manageable. It was a simple equation - ‘hard work + interesting stock = strong growing sales’ yet in these last few years things have changed. The equation now is similar to that of a nuclear reactor, as there are so many different parts to try and make the formula work that us smaller retailers are struggling.

It felt that every column I wrote last year was about the difficulties for retailers on the high street, and yet again, in early 2020, we are being hit by more scary numbers:16,000 stores closed in 2019 - 140,000 staff lost jobs with 170,000 predicted for 2020. Amazon, on the other hand, saw its worldwide sales rocket by 24% to £53 billion. Of course only a fraction of its tax is paid in this country. Now these numbers can be twisted, turned and spun a million ways. Our local paper went bankrupt a few weeks ago. It walked away from a considerable £seven figure debt yet was back up operating with the same directors and a new company the next day, ‘saving’ all the jobs. In last month’s PG, Cardsharp quite rightly took Clintons to task about its restructure. For me it is far more disappointing than that. Clintons went into administration in 2012, and at that point it rose like a phoenix with less stores, a new look and a new direction. The truth is that it really did not achieve any of this and the result was the business became untenable at the end of 2019. So billionaires become bankrupt with little or no real consequence to their personal

lives, wealth or reputation. Indeed, the bankruptcy is used almost as a type of baptism, where the business is cleansed of its debt and tricky issues before coming back in a much stronger position than it was before. It’s also unfair on competing businesses who have not undergone a pre-pack deal, or had the opportunity to do this, or, perhaps I should say, have been run correctly so there is no need to do it. Interestingly, nobody really says much. Who loses? The government, the landlords and a few publishers. Nobody is going to shed major tears for the first two, but card publishers will have to accept the loss and then choose if they will trade with the retailer again. In fact, one publisher told me that this would be the way forward, as when sales were strong it made good money. Is this what we have come to? Businesses that are run badly, that sign up to large rent deals, that choose the wrong stock, can simply walk away with little or no impact, going under one day and be back operating the next? The short answer is yes! Now the real questions are quite simple - did Clintons really want to sell or was this just part of the process to get to the point that it is at now? What about all the companies that had to pay the various costs associated with trying to buy it? What about Clintons’ competitors? Should this really bother me, as I don’t directly compete with a Clintons? Well, the answer is yes, it really does bother me. As does my local paper doing it. I don’t see many indies doing pre-pack deals. In fact, most business people I know Above left: Hotel Chocolat want its rents inline with companies doing CVA’s. Above right: Cards make the world a brighter place Joanne Wishart will be exhibiting at Spring Fair on stand Hall 2 Stand E70. Below: Clintons secured a pre-pack deal just before Christmas.

would be ashamed to think that they can’t pay their debts. In Clintons’ case however, the owners can and could have paid the debt but the decision was made not to keep throwing good money away. Yes, jobs were saved for now, and yes, no one wanted thousands made unemployed weeks before Christmas 2019, but if it had happened it would have been you and I who would have covered their redundancy through the tax we pay.

In short I feel Clintons, my local paper, and many others who do deals like this, stink. Will they be the last ones to do it? Of course not. So back to my own problems. You know, if I am totally honest my problems are not actually with greeting cards. I don’t actually go to Spring Fair to look for cards or to buy cards. (I will though if I see something I like). So, the first part of this column is wrong. Actually my frustration is not with cards but with gifts. Cards is still the part that I enjoy most. It is still the part with the most innovation. It is still the part where you can still really be different. It is the part where customers want to see and feel the product. Where you still get a thrill when a customer is surprised that you have a Son and Husband card, or something equally quirky. Cards are still the bit of the job that I actually really enjoy. So let’s forget about the difficult gifts, the mass copying and discounting, the lack of innovation and the frustration with retail chains taking the easy way out. Let’s all just concentrate on one thing, cards, and the retail world may seem a lot brighter - and I will be that little less grumpy! To contact David email: jppozzi@btconnect.com PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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CARDSHARP

More Questions

Than Answers

Well, Christmas has come and gone with mixed results, reflects Cardsharp. Going by the reports shared on PG Buzz, the majority of independent and multiple retailers reported decent Christmas card sales. Admittedly, expectations were not particularly high, and invariably those who suffered are less likely to shout it from the rooftops, but there was at least some jingle in the tills. Cardsharp turns his attentions to the early Christmas ‘present’ of the Clintons’ pre-pack as well as some ‘end of an era’ trade happenings. With footfall said to be disappointing everyone is dreading early year retail casualties, whether liquidations, administrations or CVAs. CVAs are considered by many to be the least worst option, but as Cardsharp notes, there have been 23 major retail CVAs since 2016 and 13 of those have subsequently failed. In fact, some commentators have claimed that CVAs and their ilk just help prolong the agony of ‘zombie’ companies. They argue, that the ‘creative destruction’, so beloved by the economist Schumpeter, is being blocked artificially by these methods and that they actually prevent a sharper fall in retail rents, which would allow hungry innovative players into the retail market as well as ease the financial burden of those trading in the climate of a lesser retail footfall. Which brings us back to last month’s topic, Clintons or Clinton Cards as it used to be known. Clintons of course did not

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undergo a CVA in the end, but instead a pre-pack administrative receivership. Cardsharp was hoping by the time he came to writing this month’s column he would be able to spread a little light on Clintons’ business failure and immediate resuscitation back in December. But invariably with Clintons there are more questions than

answers. Never has the word ‘opaque’ been more appropriate to a retail chain. One thing that puzzles Cardsharp was the timing of the Clintons’ administration back in December. Traditionally, multiple retailers go pop after Christmas. That is when cash levels are at their highest and stock levels at their lowest. And of course this is when the quarterly rent bill is due. Showing his age, going back to the 1990s, Athena went down the day after Boxing Day, as did Woolworths in 2008. HMV struggled on to January in 2013, while Toys R Us dragged it out until February in 2018. But Cardsharp cannot ever recall a retailer going into administrative receivership in December before Christmas. Cardsharp was also bemused to see, according to the Sunday Times, that the amount owed to unsecured creditors was only £9.5 million. Admittedly ‘only’ is no consolation if you are one of the poor unfortunates that are owed or have lost money, but in corporate terms it is Top: Cardsharp looks into his crystal ball to reveal Clintons’ (possible) future. (Photo by Gantas Vai iul nas from Pexels). Left: Clintons unusually under went a CVA just before Christmas.


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CARDSHARP pretty small beer. It would appear, if that amount was correct, that Clintons was pretty up to date with most suppliers - and for that matter their landlords, who presumably would have had their respective quarterly rent bills paid only six weeks earlier. Cardsharp can offer no definitive answers on all this, but his new year ruminations ponder whether, having failed to secure the 75% agreement necessary for a Creditors Voluntary Agreement (CVA), Clintons’ owners (the Weiss family) and management thought the least worst option in their efforts to get rid of the leases on unprofitable stores and renegotiate rents was to pursue this course, and by doing so in December, limited the amount of damage it would do financially to landlords and suppliers. This would mean that the amount of bad feeling coming from such an administration would be mitigated to some extent. The ‘new’ owners, Esquire, would be able to continue dealing with longestablished suppliers and renegotiate rents with landlords downwards, in line with the market, with less rancor had there been large debts left behind. All of which would indicate that it is Esquire’s intention to carry on, hoping that with a rationalisation of its retail base and lower rents it could start making a profit, or at least not a whacking £13 million loss! Certainly the cut in overheads, resulting from the closure of the old Loughton headquarters, will help on this front, and if its move to a more own brand strategy on card supply starts to bear fruit that will also contribute. If Cardsharp’s supposition is true, then the ‘beauty parade’ that Clintons held back in October to encourage potential buyers of

Left: Woolworths went into receivership just after Christmas 2008.

the chain to put their bids in was always a cosmetic exercise. The Clintons’ team must have known that no one was seriously going to pay over the odds for such a loss making retail chain, especially when the retail sector was in such a poor state. This, in Cardsharp’s view, may have just been the opening gambit in a process that led to the administrative receivership and phoenix-like pre-pack rise back from the ashes. And so the future of Clintons, Cardsharp suspects, and again this is all supposition, if all goes well (and that is a big call given the parlous state of bricks and mortar retailing), could well be back on the market sooner rather than later. With the Weiss family, having made hundreds of millions of $dollars from the sale of American Greetings and its British subsidiary UKG to private equity company Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) two years ago, one would suspect they would be only too keen to get this time-consuming, troublesome retailer into other hands.

In fact, Cardsharp recalls that it was initially somewhat surprising that the Weiss family did not sell Clintons to CD&R as part of the deal to sell their controlling interest in AG two years ago, especially as CD&R had a strong track record in UK retailing having taken a controlling stake in B&M Retail in 2012 (which they sold on at a pretty penny). Cardsharp wonders whether one reason Clintons was not part of the AG/CD&R deal in 2018 was that being so loss making the Clintons’ element would have depressed the amount the Weiss family would have received as it would have depressed the overall profit figure quite dramatically. So if Clintons does come onto the market again for a potential sale who would be the most likely buyers? Well, how about American Greetings again? With the ‘Augean Stables’ cleared out and Clintons no longer being loss making, acquiring it would guarantee a good level of distribution for UK Greetings, its UK subsidiary. This supply agreement is not something that would be guaranteed if it went elsewhere. It could also be good on paper for the Weiss family, who it must be remembered still own 40% of American Greetings (and therefore UKG too). Just a thought, but who knows? Cardsharp has not got a crystal ball? If this time next year this has happened Cardsharp could be considered a genius? But if not, then he remains a bit of an idiot!

Not so ‘Truly Shocking’ There have been so many major happenings in the greeting card industry this year already and we are not even out of January yet, reflected Cardsharp. Industry legend Simon Elvin’s decision to gradually sell his empire to Ian Jackson over the next five years, and then the shock decision of David Hicks to close his iconic company Really Good/Soul, after 33 years, are just two biggies already. The phrase ‘end of era’ is overused, but with these events, plus the business failures last year of both GBCC and Gemma, it does really make it seem that way. But with all this happening, Cardsharp was amused by perhaps the most hyperbolic business news headline ever in the London Evening Standard, ‘Card Factory dives on ‘Truly Shocking’ profit warning’. It turns out that, in what has been officially recorded as the worst year for retail sales since records began, Card Factory had had a tough Christmas, which is not exactly a revelation. Like-for like sales were 0.6% down! Hardly a disaster. Full year profits are expected to be around £81-83 million as opposed to the expected £87 million. Oh what Clintons, or many other retailers for that matter, would do for a profit figure that was a tenth of this. As ever, in city circles the position of Card Factory’s ceo, Karen Hubbard has been called into Above: Card Factory’s ceo, Karen Hubbard. question, especially as the share price plunged by 22% to 105p on the release of the figures. If she is forced out, Cardsharp’s advice to Clintons’ owners is to snap her up quickly!

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State Of The Nation

Below: 2020 is the Year of the Rat, an animal known for its resilience and quick thinking. Below left: Card Factory’s 1000+ stores helps to give greeting cards a high profile on the nation’s high streets. Bottom: After the choppy seas of 2019, here’s hoping for a calmer 2020.

The Industry Shipping Forecast As we enter 2020 the good ship ‘British Greeting Card Industry’ is very much still afloat, but with many feeling a bit queasy after a pretty traumatic 2019, having endured plenty of choppy waters. PG loosens its life jacket slightly to test the temperature and buoyancy of the water in the UK greeting card industry as we start a new decade. After what will go down as one of the most unsettling times in recent British history, with the queasiness affecting personal and business lives, including those in the UK greeting card trade, certainly high on the New Year wishlist is for a period of calm seas to settle the stomach and the nerves so that we can all get back to ‘normal’, whatever that might look like. What made 2019 so tricky in the greeting card world was that the choppy waters came from all directions. On the publishing side, the first quarter commenced with the liquidation of a well-respected and long-established traditional publisher, Grass Roots International (although the brand was subsequently acquired by Simon Elvin and lives on in Paper Rose).

More bad news followed in June, when an even larger and more iconic name, once licensing pioneers, Gemma International, went into liquidation as well. But here, even the brand could not be saved and the name, Gemma, will only be there, consigned to greeting card history. The pile of debt left behind was quite devastating considering the company’s turnover at the end. Then in the summer, something that had been predicted for years, actually happened. GBCC, a major publisher and broker for many garden centres went into administrative receivership, leaving a £4 million trail of debt, not only to printers and other trade suppliers, but to the many publishers who had participated in its Waterwells brokerage division. Swan Mill, the owner of Ling and Penny Kennedy, was well-poised to pick up the pieces, and buy it out of receivership, although that was of little short-term

consolation to all those left with a horrible debt. GBCC, however, continues under the new ownership, as does the Waterwells brokerage, and new relationships have been forged with the 25 or so publishers who are happy to recoup some of the losses and build sales under the new regime. Why after many years of no major publishing casualties were there three in 2019? Was there any common contributor to these failures? There is a saying that it’s only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked. It would seem that all three of these companies were heavily leveraged and had hitherto survived by playing one supplier off against another to get credit. A slight downturn in the market or the loss of a major customer, in Gemma’s case Toys R Us, and in GBCC’s Wyevale Garden Centres, must have nudged them closer to the edge. It can, quite rightly, be argued that one of the UK greeting card industry’s strengths is that it is a ‘bricks and mortar’ product. With only around 6% of the £1.7 billion of annual sales going through online channels the visibility and wide retail availability of greeting cards has been its protection. However, that does mean that if high street retailing suffers than it will have a knock-on effect, to some extent, on the greeting card market. If less people are out shopping, as was the case last year, it stands to reason there were less people out being reminded to buy cards.

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State Of The Nation

So a perfect sea storm of reduced footfall, an increase in the minimum wage and Brexit uncertainty, both in the spring and autumn, led to the capsizing of some ‘smaller boats’ (ie independent retailers) who either closed their doors or sold out. (At least the half dozen who sold to Cardzone in the last two months of 2019 - including Andrea Pinder’s Unit 7 shop in central Manchester and Kim Ralph’s Tidings store in Cirencester) - are continuing as card shops and so have a presence on their respective high streets. And of course the changes on retail also touched the ‘big boys’. This time last year there was considerable concern about Paperchase, but the upmarket multiple retailer of cards and stationery managed to engineer the most benign of Creditors Voluntary Agreements (CVA) where all suppliers were paid to terms and only a handful of its shops closed. This was topped off at the end of the year by Clintons. Given the huge losses that Clintons has accrued in the last few years, it was no surprise that some kind of ‘financial reconstruction‘ would eventually take place there. What was somewhat surprising was the timing in late November, and disappointingly it was a pre-pack deal to Esquire, (a new company owned by the former owners, the Weiss family). The dust has still not fully settled on this one in 2020, so a certain uneasiness continues on this front as to how many stores it will end up trading from. The UK greeting card sector is certainly in a more robust health than so many other sectors - the GCA UK Market Report confirmed that an astonishing £1.7 billion was spent on greeting cards in the last year and that the public’s engagement is at an all time high. Very encouragingly millennials are buying more cards than the previous generation and that there has been a slight shift between the sexes, with men upping their card buying. Moreover, the results of PG’s annual Retail Barometer into the trials and tribulations of indie card retailers makes encouraging reading (see pages 41-49). The broad reach of the industry, on both the retailer and publishing sides, means that there really is something for everyone. Sure, Card Factory has increased its market share, but then with 1000+ shops it has also given great prominence to greeting cards on many high streets and shopping centres, albeit with a value message. 34

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

Left: Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA on BBC Breakfast, one of the many interviews she gave at the end of last year to promote the sector. Below left: Cards say it the best! An Ohh Deer card from its Henries award-winning Twin Pines range. Bottom: This year may not be plain sailing, but it will hopefully be calmer than 2019.

Certainly the media interest in greeting cards has also never been stronger, with the GCA’s ceo Amanda Fergusson appearing on countless TV and radio programmes in the run up to Christmas especially. The fact that Christmas trading, a crucial season for cardies, was OK came as a huge relief, certainly adding cheer to the new year. So 2020 being the Year of the Rat in the Chinese Zodiac is certainly fitting. An animal with spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility and vitality, all of which are likely to be needed by those in the greeting card sector this year. That spirit is already showing itself with new alternatives coming to the fore. The tail end of last year saw the launch of Tailored Planning Solutions, a collaborative operation to supply retailers with a non-brokered planned display. This is nothing new, publishers such as Noel Tatt have been doing this for years, but the fact that experienced industry exec Chris Houfe is heading up the set-up backed by six major publishers (namely Abacus, IC&G, Mint/MGML, Paperlink, Pigment and Second Nature) has certainly piqued interest, especially as it ‘bagged’ a high profile installation with Newbank garden centre group within weeks of the soft launch. And now with the final touches being put to another

planning incarnation being masterminded by The Art File involving a number of publishers the choices for retailers is broadening. However, something that will continue to encompass all sides of the industry in 2020 is the whole question of sustainability. The last year has seen such a radical volte-face among so many, especially in regards to the whole issue of ‘naked’ cards. Incredible that, as of this month, 64% of all cards in the UK are now being sold unwrapped, double the number of a year ago. This is a great example of how the industry can and does work together to find solutions. Retailers and publishers who a year ago refused point blank to go cello-bag free, have now become naked evangelists, flaunting their passion for nudity! There is no doubt that the public’s changing attitudes to single-use plastic has been revolutionary and the industry’s response has been both swift, laudable and inventive. And it is not just on the issue of bags that the industry has had to move fast. Everything in the production supply line has been open to eco-scrutiny, with glitter and Christmas box packaging high on the agenda. It is still subject to such nonsense, with ‘Strictly’ star, Katya Jones, recently asking her fans to send her congratulatory emails rather than greeting cards to ‘Save the Environment’! How does she think the internet is powered, by a magic wand? There will be no magic wand for the UK greeting card industry in 2020, but it will continue to work its own breed of magic through doing something that no other product can do - provide tangible proof, in a personal and aesthetic way, to people that you care about them; keeping them afloat in the ocean of life.


A Stunning Collection of ‘ECO-Friendly’ Greeting Cards lovingly designed & made in the UK

Visit us at: Spring Fair 2020 Hall 2- Stand 2H60

www.intothegreenpublishing.com

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VIEWPOINTS

Below: A Noel Tatt Up With Paper design. Bottom right: Scribbler was up around 3%-5% on its Christmas trade.

Christmas trade is always vital for greeting card retail stockists but after such an unsettling year on so many fronts, Santa definitely needed to deliver. Thankfully (the wet weather and shifts in buying patterns aside), going by what retailers shared with PG, he did deliver in the main, meaning it was more ‘ho, ho ho’ than ‘no, no, no’.

John Procter

Joe Guest senior buyer (cards and wrap) for Paperchase: How did it go?: “Overall we had a good season, with sales coming through towards the end of our peak trading period.” Changing buying habits?: “Christmas trade was in line with our expectations overall. With Christmas Day falling on a Wednesday this year we did see a later peak in sales. We saw an interesting shift into Christmas boxed card sales compared with our packs; boxed card sales overall exceeded our expectations. As seen in previous years we saw our Christmas singles relations card sales spiking at the end of the season, we also saw the peak for Christmas packs last longer than in previous years.” Mitigating circumstances?: “There were a few mitigating factors this year the poor weather in Scotland impacting trade in those stores for a time. Also, we could see that customers were waiting for Black Friday offers to end before buying into Christmas product in a significant way. We reduced the number of promotions during our peak trade this year.” Star performers?: “Our selection of 3D and relations cards continued to perform well for us. Boxed Christmas cards were a surprising new entry into the top sellers this year with some options significantly outperforming.” Buying plans for Christmas 2020?: “All product categories are currently under review at this time to ensure we can continue to deliver growth within this category.” Above: Paperchase’s own brand 3D cards sold well for the multiple. Left: Joe Guest (far right) with Paperchase colleagues (centre) Daisy Enticott, assistant card buyer and Beth Flathers (assistant buyer for novelties).

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co-founder of Scribbler: How did it go?: “Overall, though the numbers are not quite finalised, we were up by around 35%. However, some of this was due to an uplift in our everyday card sales (which increased 5% over the Christmas period). Our Christmas singles sales were flat, Christmas pack sales were down 10%, giftwrappings were down 10%, while our gift sales were up by 10%. We reckon that the constant rain in December will have cost us between 5%-10% of sales as we were actually on course to have a very strong Christmas performance.” Changing buying habits?: “There has been a seismic shift in attitudes towards sustainability and global warming which are significant issues that we as an industry have to acknowledge. These attitudes will continue to impact sales, especially over the Christmas period. Our customers are increasingly aware of the damage caused, for example, by excessive


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VIEWPOINTS packaging, cello bags and plastic gifts from China that serve no purpose. They will simply vote with their feet as they are confronted daily on the news with the bush fires in Australia that are the result of three years of Above: John Procter urges the industry to fully drought devastating the embrace the move to country, floods in Jakarta and more sustainable options. even a solid month of rain in the UK. Add to this the not so subtle messages from the media who have been inferring that greetings via social media are ‘greener’. We need to take note and ensure that we try to offer sustainable products in 2020 by accelerating naked cards and reducing packaging in general. Challenging times, but our customers still love the humour and irreverence that we provide maybe it takes their minds off the bigger picture roll on Valentine’s Day!! The price of stamps doesn’t really help either!” Star performers?: “Our own brand products sold well as ever, as did higher priced singles and anything made of kraft paper.” Buying plans for Christmas 2020?: “We’ll probably reduce our Christmas card offer a little and Christmas packaging significantly.”

Paul Taylor managing director, and James Taylor, trading director, of Cardzone:

Angie Goosen category manager of greeting cards, giftwrap, books and gifting for Blue Diamond group of garden centres: “With this being my first Christmas at Blue Diamond, I have the sales data history from previous years, but not the hands-on trading experience, so putting my finger on customer buying patterns was tricky. Our card range, as well as all other paper products I manage, was well and enthusiastically received by our customer, with singles almost achieving a 50% increase on last year, with boxed cards closelly behind nearing a 30% increase. I took my learnings from the everyday card range, along with sales history and having ‘gotten into the minds’ of my customers, I delivered what I thought they would respond to best, especially within the humour and sentiment ranges. The staff in stores also did a phenomenal job of merchandising, using theatre and the use of multiple fixtures.” Star performers?: “Second Nature, Pigment and The Art File really stood out for us! And Flying Teaspoons - they were only in Trentham as they were area specific, but they absolutely flew out. Laura does a fantastic job.” Buying plans for Christmas 2020?: “I’ve Top: A small part of the Christmas card learnt some lessons in 2019 having been new to the display in Blue Diamond. Above: A cracking Christmas and two industry, so I have a clear shopping list for Christmas Retas awards all in a year for Angie 2020 and how I can better the customers’ overall experience, and therefore increase my sales. My main focus will be ensuring a much higher percentage of my product across categories is plasticfree/environmentally friendly and having has much recyclable SKUs as possible.”

How did it go?: “Overall a better than expected performance with footfall only 3% down over the six week period. Christmas singles performed very well for us across most stores, with sales up by 4%. Traditional high coded cards traded extremely well, with very strong sales in the last few days up to Christmas. Packaged product was not so good with our sales down by 9%, but charity cards are continuing to increase. Our sales of gift dressings were slightly down like-for-like partly due to some buying mistakes.” Changing buying habits?: “Shoppers were certainly buying into the special Christmas single titles.” Star performers?: “Traditional designs really come into their own for us at Christmas, with UKG, Jonny Javelin, IC&G, Hallmark and Carte Blanche performing well. On a less traditional front, Emotional Rescue’s sales were good too.” Buying plans for Christmas 2020?: “We realise we got some of our buying wrong in that we did not have enough choice on the charity front, something we will be addressing for 2020.” Above: Cardzone’s Paper Kisses store in Loughborough. Far left: Jonny Javelin cards sold very well for Cardzone. Left: Contemporary sentiment from Emotional Rescue.

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Miles Robinson and Nigel Williamson co-owners of House of Cards, group of six shops in the Home Counties: How did it go?: “We were slightly up on last year on a store like-for-like basis (+1.4% for the five weeks to Christmas Eve) so we’re okay with that. Card sales wise things look relatively positive. We saw an increase in charity cello packs, which is rather at odds with our feeling of a move to greater sustainability when it comes to cello bags!” Changing buying habits?: “I think the biggest driver this year was again moves to online as customer numbers were down. We also sense there was a conscious (or semi-conscious) move towards sustainability, which we saw effect selections of rollwrap and accessories.” Mitigating circumstances: “The wet weather had a slight dampening affect but not that significant for us I don’t think. The election didn’t seem to affect things either.” Star performers: “Our top selling single card was a Both of You design from Tracks, for the third year running! Winners for us, of which there were many, in no particular order (based on new sales or comparisons against last year) include: Woodmansterne, Lucilla Lavender, Second Nature, Tracks, Tache, Wrendale, Rosie Made A Thing, Cinnamon Aitch, Five Dollar Shake, Paper Salad, Redback and Wendy Jones-Blackett.” Buying plans for Christmas 2020?: “No plans to change our buying this year at HOC - just try to pick those winners and run with the trends.”

Mark Janson-Smith managing director of Postmark, four stores in London: How did it go?: “Despite all the doom and gloom and the noticeable struggle in retail we are delighted to say we managed to increase our sales, not by much and by some careful price increases, as well as making sure the shops remained different and fresh. But looking back we are very happy with what we achieved in our 15th year! The Christmas period got off to a slow and steady start but finished strongly. Our Christmas product sales finished 3.5% up while the stores as a whole finished 5%, so we managed to maximise customer spend while they were in store. We find that making sure we have a strong everyday offering out in the winter months really makes a difference. Our Christmas pack sales were nearly identical in volume and value as 2018, selling just 100 more packs this year than last. Singles continue to grow and we were 8.5% up on this category as customers continue to spend more on fewer cards. The election definitely helped to boost sales. This year has had a political cloud over it and I feel consumers needed this out of the way before they could really get in the Christmas mood. The weekend after the election result was our busiest ever.”

Above: Second Nature cards have sold well in House of Cards. Left: Part of the Christmas window display in House of Cards’ Wallingford store.

Jo Sorrell

I blo o dy love Christmas

Above: One of the distinctive designs from Rosie Made A Thing. Left: Woodmansterne’s packaged cards sold well for Postmark.

Below: Captioned cards from Nigel Quiney sold well for Cardies. Right: It was a doggie Christmas at Cardies.

owner of Cardies in Stevenage: How did it go?: “We had a great Christmas and ended up on par with last year. This was good news for us as we lost Waitrose in our High Street in October so we were unsure how this would affect trade for us.” Changing buying habits?: “We sold through our charity packs of Christmas cards very well but standard non-charity boxes didn’t fare as well. We were also asked for the first time for Daughter and Daughter-in-law and Son and Son-in-law captioned cards, which I’m sad to say we didn’t have. People’s expectations of choice in both captions and designs was much higher than it’s ever been. I heard a few comments on environmental issues and explained that we try to always use product that has been responsibly sourced.” Star performers?: “Captioned individual cards always sell well for us, especially Wife, Mum, Daughter and Son-in-law, Son and Daughter-in-law, Grandson, Granddaughter, Both of you, Friend and All of You. Our best selling cards came from Belly Button Designs, Nigel Quiney, Noel Tatt, Paperlink, Second Nature, Rosie Made A Thing and Wendy Jones-Blackett.” Buying plans for Christmas 2020?: “I will looking to improve on our environmentally-friendly products, plus will also be looking for an improvement on our choice of dog cards as this always a popular area for us. Our charity selection is another area that we will be looking to improve upon.” 38

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VIEWPOINTS Changing buying habits?: “We definitely saw a trend towards the environment and this will only continue to grow. The most noticeable being in giftwrapping. Our plain brown paper, which we had doubled in volume this year, sold out. Star performers?: “B Made A Thing was extremely strong again as the humour offering for Christmas is very limited. The Art File, as always, performed well in both packaged and singles. Other strong performers on the packaged front were Woodmansterne and Museums & Galleries. Our other top single performers included Jaz and Baz from Portfolio, Redback’s Shine and Cloud Nine, Alljoy with its Christmas decorations, and MoMA dominated our online sales.” Buying plans for Christmas 2020?: “We will be seeking new environmentally-friendly products for 2020, probably our biggest challenge for the coming year.” Above: Festive loveliness in a Postmark window.

Sarah Holmes owner of Pencil Me In, Elgin: How did it go?: “Overall we were 15% up on the previous year with a better margin. We went all in for singles this year, it is too difficult to compete with the supermarkets and the bigger chains on packs. We only had a few customers asking for them. I thought I had got the volume of cards right but alas in the last few days it was slim pickings and we could have sold a lot more!.” Changing buying habits?: “I felt Christmas spending started earlier for us and there was then a steady stream up to Christmas.” Mitigating circumstances?: “We were very fortunate that we had no bad weather spells this year.” Star performers?: “We sold out of ‘erm everything! We have stocked Jade Fisher every Christmas and her cards, being that little bit bigger than A6, with beautiful illustrations and representing good value always do really well,” Buying plans for Christmas 2020?: “More, more cards!” Below: Sarah Holmes outside Pencil Me In.

Sally Matson owner of Red Card of Petworth: How did it go?: “Our Christmas trade (single cards, packs of cards, Advent calendars, decorations and wrap and anything else Christmassy) was up 5% on the previous year. This was what I had forecast, so I was really pleased.” Changing buying habits?: “There is definitely a change in consumer buying patterns connected to environmental concerns, which I am hoping will be matched by publishers and gift suppliers with their launches this year. Our customers want giftwrap and cards that are 100% recyclable, and gifts that are practical and purposeful. People don’t want items that are plastic or wrapped in plastic anymore. This Christmas showed a definite increase in people enquiring about which wrap was recyclable, which crackers didn’t have “plastic rubbish” inside them, and which cards featured biodegradable glitter.” Mitigating circumstances?: “Our November trade was up 17% on 2018, which was partly due to our attendance at some very successful Christmas fairs, but also I think the unseasonably warm weather in October meant people didn’t really start their Christmas shopping until the colder weather arrived in November. I was surprised but thrilled by this huge increase. December trade was up 6% on last year. People were nervous about the election, but I don’t think the build up and result really impacted on our business.” Star performers?: “One of the highlights for me of our Christmas trade at Red Card was the fact that so many of our smaller suppliers produced really beautiful cards that displayed and sold brilliantly. Packs of cards from Laura Stoddart, Jen Rowland, Crumble & Core and Stephanie Davies all sold very well. There was a definite move towards small square cards in the Christmas singles buying, with Blue Eyed Sun, Katie Phythian, James Ellis and Crumble & Core being very popular. Really special single cards from Elena Deshmukh and Stephanie Davies also sold well, and in the large card market Wendy Jones-Blackett again flew out.” Buying plans for Christmas 2020?: “By Christmas 2020 the environmental issues will be at the forefront of the majority of our customers’ minds when buying and so will have an impact on my buying. I think there are real gaps in the market at the moment for these environmentally-friendly products and the focus for much of my purchasing this year will be in this direction.” Top: The Red Card festive shopfront, which was on a White Christmas theme. Above left: The lovely touch of Elena Deshmukh. Above right: Stephanie Davies’ designs sold well for Red Card.

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PG Retail Barometer

Climatic

Conditions From the blistering heatwave summer, the floods and torrential rain that followed and an oppressive cloud of uncertainty hanging low for the entire year, the climatic conditions, both literally and metaphorically, did not make 2019 an easy one for all businesses. Now that the fog has lifted, PG takes a weather check on how 2019 stacked up for indies by revealing the findings of the PG Retail Barometer, the belwether annual survey into the health and wealth of the independent greeting card retailer. The PG Retail Barometer is an annual survey of independent greeting card retailers. In a change from previous years, this latest survey includes both independent retailers who are Cardgains members (accounting for 1,000 rooftops) as well as those who are not a member of the buying group. All surveys were completed by December 15, 2019.

How’s Business Been?

31%

31%

38%

Average Spend Per Customer

4% 6% 14%

34%

42%

Business boons With almost a third (31%) of Barometer respondents revealing that business had improved for them over the previous year (and another 38% holding steady), 2019 was far from terrible for all indies. With 40% of respondents stating that they had been able to up the average spend in the Barometer’s league of business boons, a careful curating on the product front, plus investments in their store environments, including a cracking staff posse, had the courage to curate a fresh product mix to attract new customers and spread the love through promotions and on social media that put them in good stead. Right: One of Cardies in Stevenage’s community art events was to scatter remembrance poppies all around the town.

How has your business fared over the last year? PG looks back at the last eight year’s of PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer data. 2019 v 2018 31% Better 38% Same 31% Worse

2018 v 2017 Better 37% Same 31% Worse 32%

2017 v 2016 Better 38% Same 27% Worse 35%

2016 v 2015 Better 30% Same 38% Worse 32%

2015 v 2014 Better 52% Same 44% Worse 4%

2014 v 2013 Better 48% Same 32% Worse 20%

2013 v 2012 Better 27% Same 43% Worse 30%

2012 v 2011 Better 38% Same 35% Worse 27%

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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We are delighted to launch our New Christmas 2020 Counter & Boxed Range

Visit us at:

hAlL 2 - StAnD 2H60 A comprehensive range of Christmas Counter & Boxed Cards, offering superb Quality & Value

Also, look out for our latest additions to our award winning Everyday In-Stock Range with over 600 product lines. Visit our website for your local stocklist at: www.outofthebluestudios.co.uk 000_PG_February 2020.indd 1

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PG Retail Barometer

What main factor(s) had a positive effect on your business in the last year?

What effect did the ongoing Brexit situation have on your greeting card sales?

(Previous year’s position in brackets)

1st Broadening card selection (-)

1%

4%

2nd Broadening gift selection (2nd)

9%

3rd Improvements in shop displays (-) 18%

4th Staff (2nd) 5th Shop improvements (1st) 6th New customers (3rd) 7th Social media (4th) 8th Promotional activity (5th) 9th Increasing prices (7th)

68%

10th Local competition closing down (9th) 10th Winning an award (10th) 11th Improvements in service from suppliers (6th) 12th Website (8th)

Environmental watch

13th Collaborations with local businesses/groups (-)

Not surprisingly, concerns about the environment and playing their part in sustainability of the planet featured strongly for indies in the last year. Up massively on the year previously, over three quarters (76%) of respondents said environmental considerations had played a part in their business decisions, compared to 61% in 2018. At a consumer level, indies feel that concerns about the environment had played a part in the general public’s buying habits. While for 68% this change was ‘marginal’, for 15% is was considered to have ‘greatly’ impacted on that decision. While reducing the amount of plastic bags an indie card retailer offered came out tops on the eco improvements front, the reduction of the amount of cellowrapped cards came a very close second.

14th Decreasing prices (-) 14th Improvements in Point of Sale (-) 15th Pop-up shop/stall (-) 16th Engagement with business group (-)

The big downers The general UK retail economy, not helped by the heavy clouds of uncertainty over Brexit, drop in high street footfall that wasn’t helped by parking issues, competition (notably from supermarkets) as well as online activity, empty shop units and costs of the Minimum Wage, business rates and rental costs all made it into the premier league of factors that had a negative effect on an indie’s business last year. Left: Available parking for customers is one of the factors having a detrimental effect on retailers.

What main factor(s) have had a detrimental effect on your business this year?

What steps did your business take in 2019 on the environmental front? 1st Reduction in plastic bags 2nd Reduction in cellowrapped cards 3rd Introduction of paper bags 4th More vigilant recycling 5th Expansion of eco-products stocked 6th Reduction of cards with glitter 7th Increase in cards in compostable bags

(Previous year’s position in brackets)

8th Persuade staff to be more sustainable

1st The UK retail economy (1st)

9th Introduction of ‘bags for life’ 10th Change of energy provider 10th Removal of cellowrapped cards

2nd Parking issues (4th) 3rd Expansion of cards in supermarkets (2nd) 4th Consumer lethargy/uncertainty (-) 5th Competition from multiples (3rd) 6th Brexit decision (6th) 6th Online activity (7th)

To what extent do you think environmental concerns have impacted on card buying over the last year? Greatly 15%

7th Empty shop units in the vicinity (-) 8th Expansion of value/discount retailers (5th)

Marginally 68%

9th Minimum Wage (8th) 10th Charity shops selling greeting cards (9th) 11th Business rates (6th)

Not at all 17%

12th Rent review (10th) 13th Print on demand cards (-) 14th Banks closing in the vicinity (-)

Continued on page 45 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Celebrate WITH

A

Gorgeous

BRAND NEW

FEMALE RANGE

1 4 B E A U T I F U L LY I L L U S T R AT E D C A R D S F I N I S H E D W I T H I N T R I C AT E F O I L I N G A N D E M B O S S E D D E TA I L S

P R O U D LY D E S I G N E D A N D M A N U FA C T U R E D I N T H E U K

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PG Retail Barometer

Going for promotion

Business predictions for 2020

Indies certainly flexed their marketing mettle last year, with more respondents than ever undertaking some kind of promotional activity. Over three quarters (76%) of respondents embraced the potential of marketing, many experimenting with a number of different promotional mechanisms. This year it was head to head between loyalty building initiatives and social media action coming out equal tops, but ‘keeping it real’ through creating customer events jumped up into second place. Charity fundraising initiatives as well as collaborations with other businesses were also on the up in the last year.

Now that the election is out of the way, independent card retailers are feeling more settled about the coming year, with 44% aiming to grow their business this year - though most of these (38%) are realistic that this growth will not be significant. On the downside, 19% are bracing themselves for a drop in business, but this is an improvement on a year ago when a third were anticipating coping with a decline. Looking further ahead to the next 10 years, encouragingly while 44% of respondents feel positive about the role of the independent card retailer, disturbingly almost a third (30%) hold the view that the future of the independent card shop is weak or very weak.

Top Ten Promotional Mechanisms Over The Last Year

Expectations for your business for 2020?

(Previous year’s positions shown in brackets)

1%

1st Loyalty cards/loyalty initiatives (2nd) 1st Social media (1st)

4%

2nd Customer events and competitions (4th) 3rd In-store ‘money off’/discount promotions (3rd)

18%

4th Charity fundraising (=7th) 5th Collaboration with other businesses (9th) 5th Press advertising (=7th) 38%

6th Free gift promotions (5th) 7th Leaflets (6th) 8th Gift voucher scheme (=8th) 9th Radio advertising (10th)

39% Remain About The Same

10th Public relations (PR) (-) What local organisations was your business involved with in the last year? 1st Local retailer group 2nd Charities 3rd Schools 4th Chamber of Commerce 5th Federation of Small Businesses 5th Just a Card Campaign 6th GCA

Is the price right? Only 10% of indies would like cards’ retail prices to increase, but the vast majority would like them to remain at 2019 levels, with only 8% would like to see prices decrease. As for the real price ‘pressure points’, continuing the trend of last year, indies are most fearful of breaking through the £2.99 barrier, with £3.99, £4.99, £2.25 and £2.45 being the next most sensitive prices.

In the coming year would you like to see the Recommended Retail Prices (RRPs) of counter cards? 10% Go Up 82% Remain As Now 8% Come Down

Above: A wide variety of greeting cards at Red Card, Petworth.

How do you view the future of the independent card shop in the next 10 years?

7%

8%

23%

36%

26%

Threats and opportunities When it comes to threats to an indies’ greeting card business, continuing a pattern of the last few years’ findings it is supermarkets that top the poll with 69% of respondents fearing their enviable footfall, copius free parking as well as improvements in their greeting card selection and display. Despite the fact that Card Factory has continued to expand, it is as though indies have learned to co-exist. While 41% of Continued on page 47

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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PG Retail Barometer

respondents do view this major player as a threat, only 12% describe the retailer as a ‘serious threat’. Moonpig (and other print-on-demand operators) are viewed by 29% of indies as a threat to their business, 12% more than they would deem Paperchase a thorn in their side, with Clintons hardly featuring on this front.

How do you view the supermarkets’ expansion on the greeting card front?

17% 31%

How do you currently view Clintons? 1% Serious Threat 5% Threat 85% Neutral 9% Bonus

Dictionary definitions ‘Challenging’ and ‘Diverse’ scored equally when asked what word indies feel best describes the UK greeting card industry today, though ‘Difficult’ was not that far behind these two descriptors. l The top five POSITIVE descriptors Buoyant, Diverse, Resilient, Stable, Vibrant l The top five NEUTRAL descriptors Challenging, Competitive, Flat, Static, Steady l The top five NEGATIVE descriptors Difficult, Fading, Fragile, Harder, Weakening

Sourcing matters

52%

How do you currently view Card Factory? 12% Serious Threat 29% Threat 56% Neutral 3% Bonus

How do you view Moonpig, Funky Pigeon, Thortful and other print-on-demand operators? 4% Serious Threat 25% Threat 71% Neutral 0% Bonus

Keep it real seems to be the message from indies as far as sourcing is concerned. Underlining the importance of seeing products in the flesh, exhibitions are deemed as the best way to source products, followed by relationships with the agents and reps. Keen to make the most of their agility on the product front, 29% of respondents (up 3% on the previous year) are looking to increase their number of suppliers this year. Meanwhile, publishers looking to save money by not producing catalogues or marketing material do so at their peril, as 95% of respondents see these marketing tools as ‘very important’ or ‘important’. There has been a slight dip in the last year in interest from indies considering moving to be supplied via brokerage, with 11% giving it the thumbs up as an option and other 18% saying they would consider it. In last year’s Barometer, 13% said they would consider it and another 28% were undecided. The issue of geographical exclusivity of supply continues to divide opinion, while 47% still see it as an issue, even more than the previous year, the remaining 53% say they do not see it as an issue.

How do you view seeing catalogues and actual card samples?

Do you feel the increased price of stamps affects your card sales?

Very Important 3%

16% 36%

54% 43%

48%

How do you currently view Paperchase?

As far as the number of suppliers from whom you order, do you expect to…

0% Serious Threat 17% Threat 78% Neutral 5% Bonus

29% Increase the number 61% Remain about the same 10% Decrease the number

Continued on page 49

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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How Do You Source Products?

Which card categories have you seen sales grow in your shop(s) in the last year?

1st From exhibitions

(Previous year’s position shown in brackets)

2nd From agents and reps

1st

3rd From Progressive Greetings

2nd Relations and occasions (4th)

4th Looking in other shops 5th From catalogues and leaflets received 6th Cards sent to you 7th From the internet 8th Word of mouth 9th From publishers’ website 10th Feedback from customers

How have service levels from suppliers been over the last year? 7% 22% 56% 12% 3%

Humour (1st)

Improved Significantly Improved Slightly Remained The Same Decreased Slightly Decreased Significantly

3rd

Contemporary trend (8th)

4th

Handmade or Hand-Finished (3rd)

5th

Art (8th)

6th

Traditional words & sentiment (5th)

7th

Christmas card singles (2nd)

8th

Mother’s Day (6th)

9th 9th 9th 10th

Easter (6th) Father’s Day (-) Photographic (10th) Children’s (-)

11th Christmas packs or boxes (-) 12th Male (9th) 12th Licensed (-)

If you place orders online, what percentage?

On the slide

42% 28% 16% 14%

It was a case of ‘love labours lost’ for Valentine’s Day in 2019 as the first Spring Season once again topped the list as card categories that suffered a dip, with Father’s Day and Christmas boxes seeing a dent.

Under 10% Around 25% Around 50% 75% And Above

Do you see your online ordering as likely to increase in the coming year?

Which card categories have you seen sales decline in your shop(s) in the last year? (Previous year’s position shown in brackets)

Not Sure Decrease

1st Valentine’s Day (1st) 2nd Father’s Day (3rd)

3% 7%

3rd Christmas card boxes (3rd) 4th Mother’s Day (5th) 34%

5th Licensed (4th) 6th Easter (6th) 7th Photographic (8th) 8th Cute (2nd)

56%

Growth indicators It is a long held view that humour tends to flourish in the face of adversity and this is reflected once again in the Barometer findings, with humorous cards topping the greeting card charts for indies as being the card category that showed the largest growth over the last year compared to the year previous. Back up in the second slot after a dip last year was relations and occasions, the backbone of many a good card retailer, reflecting the upsurge in availability of double captioned designs as well as more design-led publishers expanding in this direction.

8th Handmade or Hand-Finished (10th) 9th Traditional words and sentiments (9th) 10th Christmas singles (-)

What is your feeling about the number of Christmas cards people sent in 2019? More than previous year

7% Same as previous year

30%

63% Fewer than previous year

Above: Humour cards are flourishing according to retailers - a design from the ever-popular Rosie Made A Thing.

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Agents’ Revelations

Running

Rings Round With interest already building for the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo this summer, the sporting flavour this year will be high with athletes from all over the globe honing their skills to compete across the 33 different sports. PG ‘tracks’ down some of the industry’s own team of ‘medal winners’, independent sales agents, whose respective and multifarious talents see them overcoming hurdles and delivering glory for the companies they represent and their retail customers.

Stephen Dickson Training ground: Scotland Your kitbag: “Abacus Cards, Doudou et Compagnie, D&X London Jewellery, IC&G, Mint Publishing, Quotable, Peppermint Grove Australia and Village Candle. Although my wife Gillian does most of the giftware I do have a handful of customers that I deal with for gifts too.” Olympic event: “Life as an agent is like a multi-eventer. There’s the sprint for seasonal, January to March for Christmas sales and July to September for Spring Seasons. It also needs full speed ahead to do the returns. Then there’s the marathon on everyday sales, looking for consistency month by month similar to that of a mile-bymile time in the marathon. Customers are your correct nutrition in the race. If you have the right customers you should make the finish line! There are the hurdles. You need to be ever-ready to jump over obstacles such as rising costs, the affects of the internet on high street sales, competitors’ products etc.

And gymnastics. You are constantly spinning faster and faster trying to meet the needs of customers and suppliers. Let’s not forget the pole vault. Being an agent relies on the strength and flexibility of your product to get you over the bar. And finally, there’s the high jump. Just like sales targets you are always hoping to increase a little at a time to try and beat your previous record.” The hurdles: “2019 was a very tough year. It didn’t help that I broke my leg in April playing football and was off the road for three months. Thankfully most of my suppliers and customers were understanding and we managed to get through it and I ended the year marginally up on 2018. I found that I was fighting hard for every sale,

Top: The Olympic rings are off to Tokyo this summer. Above: Stephen Dickson having just finished the Dublin marathon. Below: Agents overcome many hurdles.

trying new avenues and working longer hours than ever before. This is exactly the same for the vast majority of retailers I’ve spoken to. They are having to strive to give the best retail experience and product range possible to entice the customers through the door. All that against a challenging climate on the high street, Brexit and the political unrest having been a constant pain.” The high jump: “High points in 2019 were few and far between. However Christmas sales seem to have been very strong giving the year a jubilant finish!” 2020 training plan: “I sense 2020 will be another very tough year, I’m under no illusion. Hopefully we can get over the political problems and the high street can settle a little, but we will still be fighting the constant problem of the internet. However, like every athlete, with the proper preparation and dedication/hard work I’m sure we can make it a ‘personal best’ and come out with the gold.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Agents’ Revelations

Rosie Trow

Doug Kilby Training ground: London, Essex and East Anglia Your kitbag: “I represent Eco Chic bags, Hammond Gower, Portfolio, Quotables, Smiling Faces, Stop the Clock and Unique Paper.” Olympic event: “I would say the marathon best describes being an agent in today’s climate. It is a long race that lasts the whole year. Just as in a marathon you have to pace yourself accepting that there are busy periods when you have to maximise sales and appointments and quieter times, like in December when you have no choice but to slow down and use this time to reflect on past achievements and think how to move forward with new companies and products. You need to stop for plenty of drink breaks to re-hydrate, mostly at service stations. I’m not sure the vest and running shorts would look good going into appointments with retailers though!” The hurdles: “My customers had a tough year in 2019 generally, what with Brexit, rents and rates going up etc.” High jumps: “The products just seem to get better and better. Companies really are pulling out the stops - plenty of ‘personal bests’ performances.” 2020 training plan: “My ‘training schedule’ for 2020 is to try and maintain what business I did in 2019 and to keep my loyal customers up to date with the best innovative products. Like all dedicated ‘athletes’ it will be about working hard and keeping up the pace.” Medal scorers: “I think eco will be bigger than ever this year and the companies I represent are following suit with lots more biodegradable and ecofriendly products being launched at the start of this year.” Above: Doug Kilby (front centre) in cycling mode! Left: Doug is looking to put in lots of ‘training’ on the retail ‘track’.

Training ground: South West Your kitbag: “Glick, IC&G, Jellycat, Museums & Galleries, Paper Rose, Paper Salad, Redback, Real & Exciting, Transomnia and Wrendale.” Olympic event: “The closest this South West country bumpkin will come to the Olympics is the logo on my Audi! However, I think life as an agent is like a pentathlon, as it requires lots of different sporting skills. You need to keep to the right side of the tracks, keeping up a speed that ensures you dodge parking tickets from the ‘charming’ traffic wardens. The area I cover is not a ‘hop, skip and a jump’ between customers, so appointments are a crucial part of my day, however if there were trophies for time keeping I wouldn’t have many!!” The hurdles: “2019 was a year of chasing your tail from a customer point of view. The high street has no track record anymore as just when things look like they are changing the media throws in a ‘discus’ curve ball, and people tend to feed on the insecurity of bad news. If there were no newspapers, TV or radio we would all continue to run our own race and might not worry about things we individually can’t change.” 2020 training plan: “In my world the high street will continue and I believe will swim back to where it began. Maybe towns will be smaller but they will have a lot more individuality. I am a believer that independents are a very strong contender for 2020, and although they are individual businesses, collectively they are most card publisher’s biggest and most valued ‘spectators’ in the ‘greeting card Olympics’.” Top: The ‘rings’ on Rosie Trow’s car. Above: Rosie Trow in her Yeovil Town supporter kit!

Brendan Cahill Training ground: Wales and Gloucestershire Your kitbag: “My main principals are Woodmansterne, Tracks, Alex Clark, Words ‘n’ Wishes and Glick. I don’t carry all these across Wales and Gloucestershire, but wish I did!” Olympic event: “Straight away, I thought of the one and only Daley Thompson (not showing my age at Above: Brendan Cahill with mother and all!!) and his prowess at the decathlon. daughter team Debs and Jess Came of Consisting of 10 track and field events Paperweight in Roath, Cardiff. over two consecutive days, with the winner, determined by the combined performance in all. We as agents come across all hurdles (excuse the pun) every day, from the moment we leave our house to set out for our first appointment... be it running late because of the weather conditions, or the customer having to rearrange the appointment at short notice, or all manner of other obstacles. Just as Daley Thompson would not just turn up to run the 400 metres and then just go and throw the discus, so as an agent,

Continued on page 55

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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(t) 0116 230 4197 • (e) sales@mint-publishing.co.uk • (w) www.mint-publishing.co.uk

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Agents’ Revelations

especially at this time of the year, a lot of hard work, preparation and organisation needs to happen before I walk into the appointment. I need to check how much Christmas product was sold in last year, make sure I have all new Christmas samples prepared to show them, plus know what’s new for this year. Added to this I have to be ready to present the new everyday product.” High jumps: “2019 was the best year for me personally since I became an agent six years ago. I am truly privileged to represent the best principals in the industry. At the Glick Christmas meeting in early December I found out that I had won the joint Salesperson of the Year for 2019 award. I was well chuffed - a lovely spa weekend away with my lovely wife to look forward to. And, at the Woodmansterne Christmas launch, because of all the hard work of the Woodmansterne reps and agents, Paul Woodmansterne announced that he is taking us all to New York for a long weekend. Wow, I didn’t want 2019 to end!” The Hurdles: “I always try to be very positive, but the low points for me and I would guess for all of us out on the road, is the closing of our independent shops. This obviously has a knock-on effect on our sales, but it is not just that, as we also lose the friendship with those customers we have formed a relationship with over the years.” 2020 training plan: “I personally think 2020 is going to be a good year. Whether you were for or against the B word, it’s finally been sorted and we can all move forward. The new products launched for 2020 by all of my principals are the best ever, which I think is so important as a major factor for being a successful agent is representing companies who continue to produce new products regularly through the year, of which I am very fortunate to have in abundance.” Above: Preparation is everything for an agent, just as it was for Daley Thompson in his Olympic Decathlon winning days.

Robin Sellers Training ground: East Anglia “Just like my post Christmas stomach, it's the bit that sticks out!” Your kitbag: “Wendy JonesBlackett, Rosie Made A Thing, Janie Wilson, Artebene, James Ellis, Life Charms and Swole Panda.” Olympic event: “I'm sure most agents see our lovely job as a marathon not a sprint because we spend a great deal of time, even years, with some customers, building respect and trust with each other. The sprinters who go for the quick sale usually fall before the finish line.” The hurdles: “2019 was very tough, but ultimately it was a reasonable year made up of very busy periods when the seasons happened and lots of new product was released, followed by very quiet periods in between. It was April when I think most of us fell flat on our face - my worst month ever!” High jumps: “Without doubt the high point for me was January, it was one of my best ever! Most customers had a better than expected Christmas sales period so were very positive in their buying.” 2020 training plan: “With the highly toxic ‘B’ word now history I was feeling very positive for 2020. However I have just had an email from a lovely and valued customer to say she is closing. I feel 2020 will be similar to 2019 but with a little growth. As always it will be all about good product, displays and service. I'll keep smiling and knocking on doors.” Top: Robin Sellers, good surname for an agent! Above: January was the ‘high jump’ for Robin last year.

Jo Bannister and Joanna McFarlane Training ground: London and Middlesex. Your kitbag: “We work for The Art File, Glick, Meri Meri, Think Of Me, Paper Salad, Brainbox Candy, Bexy Boo, Eloise Hall, Louise Mulgrew and Sally Scaffardi.” Olympic event: “I think we’d probably be Olympic rowers in the double scull. We have good timing, are keen on a strong start then keeping smooth and sleek down the course. We are always pulling hard for our various companies and retail customers.” High jumps: “Still being here, out on the road!” The hurdles: “Sadly saying goodbye to Patrick and Caroline as Two’s Company by Mulhouse hang up their boots for retirement.” Above: Joanna McFarlane with Brent Milburn of New Frames at last year’s PG Live. Left: Jo and Joanna would make great rowers.

Corinne Forbes Training ground: Scotland, covered with three sub-agents. Your kitbag: “We represent Belly Button, Five Dollar Shake, Janie Wilson, Paper Salad, Molly Mae, Stop the Clock, Think Of Me and Hearts Designs.” Olympic event: “I think the 4 x 400m relay best represents us. We start the year with new products and card ranges then start selling Christmas 2020, more new product mid year then Spring Seasons in the last quarter. Running all the time but always planning ahead for the next season!” High jumps: “Fantastic new product always ‘being served’ by publishers, and amazing customer loyalty.” The hurdles: “Long standing customers choosing to ‘give up the game’ as the bricks and mortar retail environment continues to be squeezed by online shopping.” 2020 training plan: “On quiet days customers always tell me that at the end of the day they are so surprised by how much of their takings are made up by card sales. Cards are what get their customers through the door. Long may this continue!” Above: Corinne Forbes (left) with Denise Laird of Spirito, Glasgow.


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Retailer Face To Face

In The

Zone

This time last year James Taylor, trading director of Cardzone, had two wishes for the Nottinghamshire-based specialist card retail group. The first was for a replacement map for his father (and md of the business) Paul Taylor’s office wall (and one that this time included Northern Ireland and Eire, an area of expansion for the retailer). The second was to be able to populate it with more marker pins to reflect the company’s progress as it edges closer to its goal of trading from 200+ stores. PG pinned down Paul, James and fellow director Jo Hancock to find out what they have mapped out for the coming year. “Well, we have the new map, and have a fair few additional pins in there. All we now need to do is find time to fix it on the wall properly!” states James Taylor, who joined Cardzone four years ago and is now its trading director. With an estate of 135 varied stores located the length and breadth of the UK and in the Republic of Ireland, a lean management team, a spate of acquisitions to bed in while maximising the all important Christmas sales, understandably hanging a picture in Cardzone’s HQ has not been a top priority. “We were really pleased that our Christmas trading ended up better than expected, especially on single cards which out-performed footfall,” says managing director Paul Taylor of the retailer group’s 4% like-for-like increase in single Christmas card sales against a 3.5% decline in footfall. “We didn't get everything right though, our boxed cards selection and gift dressings

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PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

could have been better. Both areas we are addressing for 2020,” admits Paul honestly. The strengthening of its buying and management team, plus investment in a showroom (to be installed within its Hexgreave Hall headquarters near Newark) will facilitate these improvements. Well-respected industry executive, Mark Goshawk, (who worked for UKG for many years) came on board six months ago on a consultancy basis to assist in the Spring

Above: (left-right) Cardzone’s managing director Paul Taylor, director Jo Hancock and trading director James Taylor outside the company’s HQ, Hexgreave Hall in Nottinghamshire. Left: Not only was James keen to source a new map for his dad’s office wall, this time one which included Northern Ireland and Eire, but also another box of pins to show the retailer’s expansion, as well as have some in reserve. Below: The upmarket Paper Kisses concept debuted in a couple of Cardzone’s Scottish stores. The last year has seen its Southwell store as well as Royal Wotton Bassett be converted to this look. Below left: Acquiring established and successful independent card retail businesses, such as Tidings in Cirencester, is likely to continue to be a route of growth for Cardzone.

Seasons and Christmas ‘number crunching’, while Kim Baker, one the retailer’s area managers, is moving across into the buying department to assist James on the gift buying, merchandising and display aspects. “Having a proper showroom and Kim’s skills will be invaluable in enabling us to better plan and streamline our gift displays,” believes James. “And it will also make the stock control planning for the greeting card displays easier too,” quips Jo Hancock, a vital cog in the Cardzone operation, having worked alongside Paul since he started the business and who is a director and shareholder. “We have always had a lean and mean management structure,” says Paul. “While we will remain very hands on and agile in making quick decisions, we recognise that we are now of a size when we need to put some more blocks in place as we gear up for growth,” he adds. While having long been seen as a ‘serious’ mainstream greeting card specialist


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Retailer Face To Face

retailer who’s in it for the long-haul, it was two years ago that Paul stated the ambitious goal to double the size of the business within three years, taking it to a retail chain of 200+ stores. While this is still very much the aim, Paul is happy to extend the timespan it will take to get there. Rather at odds with the more usual ‘one brand’ strategy retailers adopt, the Cardzone group operates not only under various brands, but also pitches at different markets. This of course widens the options for growth opportunities. “Of our 135 stores, while the majority are mid market specialist card shops with a traditional customer base, around a dozen are what we see as premium, some of which trade under our upmarket Paper Kisses brand. Then 15 are value shops; 20 are outlet stores; eight are candle shops. And adding to the mix, roughly a quarter of our

shops include Thorntons,” sums up James. The last few years has seen a considerable broadening of Cardzone’s geographical reach, including a move into Scotland (where it now has seven stores, five premium and two outlet stores as part of its take over of Hallmark’s factory outlets) and Northern Ireland and Eire (where it now trades from 16 stores, two new ones opening just before Christmas).

Enveloping the issue

Above: The Card Centre store in Newry was the second new store to open in Northern Ireland by Cardzone. Below left: A quarter of the stores in the Cardzone estate includes a Thorntons section. Below right: The company’s Derry store in Northern Ireland, which opened towards the end of last year.

“We are keen to grow more in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, though we will wait until there is more clarity post Brexit before we revisit more openings in Eire,” says Paul. “We have a great management team over in Northern Ireland and a warehouse set up so we have the capacity to expand there,” he adds. While some of the growth will be organic, indeed two of the recent store openings in Northern Ireland’s Derry and Newry were empty units and a new factory outlet store is opening imminently in York, Paul, James and Jo feel that the most likely expansion will come from acquiring existing greeting card retail businesses. Building on its acquisitions of Scottish based mini-group, Card & Gift/Something Special, of four shops in Scotland, as well as the Cardland shops based in Ireland, within two months last autumn Cardzone brought six strong previously independentowned stores into its fold. It aquired Andrea and David Pinder’s Unit 7 store in early

“The next few years will see more ground being gained on the sustainable front within the industry and we as retailers will be falling in line with this,” acknowledges Paul Taylor. Having started in the industry on the card publishing side, with part of what became UKG, Paul remembers the days when virtually all DTR cards were sold unwrapped. “Now as retailers we are being led by what the publishers are doing which we are happy with,” he says. There is one area that Cardzone is not happy with, something that is set to becomes even more of an issue if all publishers go naked – that is the huge number of different card sizes which means an equal number of different envelope sizes. “It would make everyone’s life so much easier if there was some consensus on the size front, on planning as well as if envelopes go astray when they are unwrapped. I really believe that there is no need for any more than a dozen different sizes,” suggests Paul. As Jo adds, “If there were only this number of size options then you could have some spare envelopes by the till so it would not waste time trying to find one that fits the card for the customer.”

November, followed hot on the heels of its take over of Tidings in Cirencester (formerly owned by Kim Ralph); Just So in Malvern (formerly owned by Jane Knowles); Occasions in Nailsea (formerly owned by Peter Waring); Occasions in Oadby (formerly owned by Gerald Ingrams) and The Card Shop in Porchester (formerly owned by Jane Chandler). As James explains, the addition of these stores “not only strengthens our presence in the numbers of stores, but also adds depth to our store types.” As he elaborates, “The acquisition of Tidings and Unit 7, for example, gives us several more stores aimed at the more premium end.” While there are seven key publishers who anchor the main planned display in the core Cardzone stores, James explains that the product selection is much broader in the premium stores. “Our Paper Kisses store concept includes designs from 17 different publishers, but through our acquisitions this inevitably will expand so as to meet existing customers’ expectations,” says James. He acknowledges that “you cannot underestimate the strength of a strong independent and we have learned so much by working with them previous to and after the acquisitions.” With possible more acquisitions of indies in the pipeline, Paul, James and Jo are

hopeful that they can grow the group by another 25 stores this year. “What is good is that we are able to offer an ideal and fair sale opportunity for many independents who are perhaps looking to retire or are struggling in the current retail climate,” says Paul. “Retailing is not easy, but as our Christmas singles sales prove the public still see real merit in sending special cards to the people they care about. And long may that continue,” says Paul. So, if the store expansion goes to plan this year, that pin box will be out with regularity - hopefully though there will be time to affix that map to the wall! PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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In Conversation With... Mint

A Fresher Well-known for aiding wellbeing and pricking up the senses, mint always scores highly in the herb world. Its merits are now to be echoed in the greeting card industry with Mint Publishing’s fresh new branding, reflecting an anewed focus on humour, to make its official debut at Spring Fair. PG catches up with Ben Dorney, now group creative director of the Mint Group (which encompasses Mint Publishing, Museums & Galleries and Real & Exciting Designs) for a taster of the new Mint-y flavour. Quietly, but surely, the Mint Group (owned by husband and wife team Debbie and Alan Williams) has earned itself a sizable presence in the greeting card industry. Its three companies - Mint Publishing, Museums & Galleries and Real & Exciting Design (RED) - have a wide reach with little overlap. While Mint Publishing, best known for its Knit & Purl gentle humour range, has been seen as a mainstream crowd pleaser, Museums & Galleries (which came into the fold in 2013) has continued to build its reputation as a leading home of licensed art cards, stationery and gifts. RED, which was acquired in 2014, adds to the sparkle with its ever evolving elixir of high-end trend ranges created by the super talented Sarah Curedale. While the last few years has seen Museums & Galleries rather hogging the limelight, justifiably given the impressive roll call of licensing signings and expanded product portfolio, now it’s Mint’s turn to be centre stage. It was after all where it all started back in 2006 when Debbie, an

accountant by profession, acquired a card company (Vanilla) out of receivership that was rechristened Mint Publishing. The Spring Fair marks the official launch of not just fresh new branding for the company, but a redefined focus for the company that has humour right at its heart.

Above left: The new branding reflects Mint Publishing’s anewed humour focus. Above: Debbie Williams, who co-owns the Mint Group with her husband Alan, still creates the knitted characters on the ongoing Knit & Purl range. Bottom: Ben Dorney (right), who is now group creative director covering both Mint and Museums & Galleries, with the group’s licensing manager Eddie Clarke and Dame Zandra Rhodes at PG Live last June which saw the launch of the licensed range from M&G. Below left: Last year saw the start of Mint’s licensing agreement for greeting cards and some stationery based on the ‘Be a…’ brand that have proved so popular on books by Sarah Ford.

Having headed up the creative direction of Museums & Galleries for the last 10 years, Ben Dorney, recently promoted to group creative director, was delighted to broaden his role to include Mint and take on the challenge to redefine it as a brand as well as instigate a fresh approach to the ranges it publishes. “Alan and Debbie have made such a success of M&G since taking it over in 2013, but it was after all Mint's success that bought the company. Mint Publishing has some very well-known ranges - Knit & Purl in particular - but as with any business you need to keep moving forward,” says Ben. “And with so many good publishers competing for retailers' shelf space, it’s important to have a really clear offer. We felt it was time to redefine Mint's offer for the future, and I’m delighted to be a part of that process.” It all began in earnest last summer. “We started with the Mint brand itself. This is the core, and the point from which all actions - and product springs,” explains Ben. “While Mint has had such success, we wanted to really clarify what it stands for; what we offer to PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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In Conversation With... Mint

retailers that they can’t get elsewhere. It's been a really interesting and rewarding process involving people from across the business. And by doing it, it’s re-energised everyone and we are able to create a much clearer offer; one that goes right back to the core of Mint as a family-friendly humour brand,” reveals Ben. The new Mint branding, with the logo including an exclamation mark in place of the ‘i’, reflects the company’s humorous positioning. “The big statement is the rebrand of Mint Publishing. It’s the next step in our journey and a first step in a new direction,” believes Ben. While Mint has historically used creative consultants with rich industry experience, notably Jan Taylor (who developed the ranges Cool Britannia, Gardenia, Sweet Tweets, among others), the decision to bring all creativity fully in-house coincides with the imminent move into a much larger HQ premises in Corby, which will accommodate a brand new Mint studio. The growing M&G studio is to remain in Frome, Somerset, with Ben dividing his time between the two locations. Spring Fair sees the launch of two brand new ranges from Mint that are being kept under wraps until the show itself. Both created by the inhouse team, Ben reveals that they are the fruits of “an open process of ‘no holds barred’ creativity!” And there are plenty more where these came from. “We have around 30 or so concepts in development, plus we are open to licensing opportunities. The main thing is we’re working to a strategy, underpinned by the new brand focus,” he reinforces. “Our main objective is to show our customers that we have a refreshed energy and purpose.” These two launches will join new additions to Knit & Purl (the characters featured are knitted by company co-owner Debbie Williams!) as well as licensed collections Be a… (based on the books by Sarah) Ford illustrated by Anita Mangan, and Mimi (based on the cartoons by Denise Dorrance that appear in the Mail on Sunday). As Ben enthuses: “We have some amazing ideas developing in the Mint Studio both homegrown and involving licensing - so what we are offering at Spring Fair is the thin end of a big creative wedge.” Sounds like we’re in for a stronger minty taste!

Group activities

Although relishing the opportunity of re-energising the Mint portfolio, Ben Dorney says his Museums & Galleries “hat” is never far away, working closely with the group’s “licensing maestro” Eddie Clarke, he’s also there as a sounding board for Sarah Curedale on Real & Exciting, as he says “she is the creative heart of that company and does not need any help from me to come up with her beautiful designs. She is a force of nature!” Among the new products launching at Spring Fair from Museums & Galleries is a range featuring Alphabets by E.M. Dinkel - a mid-century artist who was a contemporary of Eric Ravilious. While notelets will feature his quirky and colourful hand-drawn Alphabets, some typographic designs also feature on gifts and stationery, notebooks and gift packaging. Gracing the front cover of the new M&G catalogue is Wild Press, the work of Helen Ahpornsiri, an East Sussex artist, using only real flowers, petals, stems and leaves. Her book, A Year In The Wild, has been translated into 15 languages, and she has also undertaken commissions for cult fashion brand Anthropologie. Also new is MinaLima Classics, a range of blank cards which includes Miraphora Mina’s and Eduardo Lima’s reinterpretations of classic fairy tales. Plus, The Illustrators range is also welcoming Judith Kerr’s iconic illustrations from her book The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Originally published in 1968, the book has sold 5 million copies to date. M&G is also launching a range of stationery and gifts to accompany the cards. Top right: The creative direction of the Real & Exciting Design (RED) part of the group continues to be driven by the talented Sarah Curedale. Above right: As well as appearing in the product portfolio, Wild Press, the work of Helen Ahpornsiri (made using only real flowers, petals, stems and leaves) features on the front cover of the Museums & Galleries’ latest catalogue. Left: The Tiger Who Came To Tea, based on the illustrations from the classic Judith Kerr children’s book, is among the latest licensing signings to join Museums & Galleries’ The Illustrators range. Below left: Among the latest ‘characters’ to be knitted into Mint’s Knit & Purl collection is a lemon, a stick insect and a dolphin.

Question time PG put Ben Dorney, group creative director of Mint Group on the spot with a trio of questions… l With the Mint Group being one of the most sizeable/influential players in the industry how does it feel to be a creative leader?: “Er… well I still feel like an industry outsider with lots to learn! But I’m one part of a very experienced and skilled team, both in Frome and Corby, at all levels of the business. I rely as much as possible on their experience where I feel I am short. The creative magic is often the things you weren’t expecting or initially thinking of. Somebody else’s input or twist, barriers, or a chance mistake - that if you are open-minded enough can give you something really fresh. I feel all three studios - Mint, M&G and RED - will be respected as sources of quality, original, fresh ideas, albeit with their own distinct takes on how that becomes product!” l Who and what are your personal creative inspirations?: “I would say anything that is not to do with greeting cards! That sounds glib, I know, but if you’re looking inside the industry for inspiration you can only really expect one outcome, and that’s not originality. So maybe the three G’s: graffiti, galleries, Google - are good places to start. To some degree everything has been done before, so it’s just a case of trying to find a new angle and going with it. Riou Baxter (Mint’s sales consultant) has a great phrase: “My gut feeling is…” which is a great short-hand way of saying ‘my overall feeling combined with lots of experience and other information’. I like that. Go with your gut, even if you can’t describe exactly why something is leading you there.” l How do you feel the creative demands for greeting cards have changed in your time in the trade?: “From the last decade that I have been involved, it seems that digital and social media has actually been the life-saver rather than the death of paper products. It’s forced people to adapt of course, and be more creative, quirkier, fresher - which is at the core of what Mint is going to offer. The speed of modern communication has allowed a huge diversity of messaging, creative styles and ideas to flourish all at the same, so that’s a real opportunity for a creative image-led industry.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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International Perspective

Home Across

The Pond

Spotting some special handmade paper in Madagascar back in the ‘70s planted a seed that germinated some years later into Notes & Queries, the Baltimore-based greeting card distributor, which has been ‘home’ to over 100 different UK publishers looking to crack America. As the company celebrates its 40th anniversary, Alan Harnik, founder of the company, shares his personal ‘notes’ and ‘queries’ on what the last four decades have dished up on the card front from both sides of the Atlantic. It's hard to imagine life before cards, as over half my life I have been ‘counting cards’. But there was one time, and in that life I worked in community action programs to fight poverty in urban neighbourhoods. In 1970, when I married my wife Gillian (we celebrate 50 years of marriage this year!) I wanted to be a social anthropologist. Gillian was finishing a PhD in Anthropology, and I was completing a Masters on route to a PhD. We went to Madagascar and lived there in a remote area on the northwest coast for almost three years, with our daughter Vanessa being born a year into our stay. It was in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, where I first saw some handmade paper called ‘papier Antaimoro’. I always wanted to be my own boss, set my own hours and guide my own destiny. In 1979 I decided to realise that dream. I returned to Madagascar on my own and started importing Malagasy handmade paper. I began as a retailer, selling my wares from a pushcart in a new outdoor market in Boston, called Faneuil Hall Marketplace, very similar to the market in London’s Covent Garden. In addition to importing greeting cards, stationery and floral prints from Madagascar, I began to develop relationships with

handmade paper artists from the States, Canada and France. Based on the success of sales from the pushcart, I expanded into wholesale - first by selling directly to retailers, going door-to-door, then by exhibiting at trade fairs and then employing sales agents. In late 1984 or early 1985, Bruce Johnson, an old school friend of mine living in London, sent me a catalogue of design-

Above left: Notes & Queries has been home to over 100 UK publishers over the years. Among the 31 publishers in its current portfolio are Belly Button Designs, The Art File, Paper Salad, Museums & Galleries and Rachel Ellen. Above: Alan selling from his small pushcart at Boston's Faneuil Hall Marketplace in May 1982. Below: Alan putting the finishing touches to the Notes & Queries stand at the 1990 National Stationery Show in New York.

orientated paper and gift products at London's Design Centre. Several companies stood out: Birch & Birch Ink, Roger la Borde and But Is It Art? I just loved their cards, so using my old portable Remington typewriter (which put holes in the paper whenever I used a full stop) I wrote to all three companies. I was fortunate that each effectively responded, “we’ll take a chance on you as the distributor of our product in the US”, and the rest is history. For 40 years now Notes & Queries has been the leading importer of designorientated greeting cards and paper goods into the US. My inspiration has always been creativity in the graphic arts: composition, line and tone, surfaces and depths, inventive finishes, imaginative colours, unexpected subjects, beautiful materials… in endlessly wonderful combinations. I see greeting cards as an art form and I have always looked for companies that share my focus on outstanding creativity and design. In addition to the aforementioned trio, other early trading partners from the UK included PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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International Perspective

Apricot Designs, Stop Press, Two Bad Mice, Robot Designs, Gallery Five, Goose Street, Caroline Gardner, Earthworks and Lip International. In our 40-year history we have been ‘home’ to over 100 UK companies looking to sell in the US. I do feel proud of pushing the envelope to bring the best in imported design into the American market. There have been many low points and challenges, arguably the biggest was when we lost three key accounts - Pier One, Barnes and Noble and The Nature Company - all within a 90 day period as they each changed direction on their stocking strategies. This meant we saw a third of our total turnover disappear, while the inventory sat on the shelf. Working through this challenge was one of our finest moments. I called all my trading partners to tell them of the problem and with very few exceptions, all of our publishing partners worked with us to deal with the situation. I came up with a

repayment plan for outstanding invoices, spoke to them regularly and none of my publishing partners lost a single penny. To my mind, that's what leadership is about: confronting the challenges head-on and sharing the successes.

The US and UK markets today Today I see the US greeting card market as being fractionalised. We have the traditional market and we have the millennials market. The designs and publishers that try to capture these markets are different. For example, the new ‘millennial publishers’ are showing and displaying their products in a completely different, almost gallery-like, way. They also prefer a C6 format, whereas the long-dominant 5” x 7” is still the size of choice for the ‘traditionals’. Millennials want text and imagery that strike an emotive chord, no matter what the occasion. And they are not afraid of paying more. They want to share and celebrate their

Left: Alan and his daughter Vanessa, who has been involved in the company for the last 24 years, at the 2010 National Stationery Show. Vanessa wears a Bright Side apron from Really Good with the message ‘Warning: Artiste at Work’. Below left: Alan Harnik at PG Live with Riou Baxter of Why Management, which represents Museums & Galleries. Below: Alljoy 3D cards, which Notes & Queries distributes, on display in Weathered Treasures, one of the many quirky independent stores the company supplies throughout America.

experiences with their peers. Traditional card buyers certainly look for expressive cards, but they still like designs tailored to specific occasions. Birthday cards account for 60% of the occasions market in the US, but Get Well, Anniversary, Sympathy, Thank You and Congratulations cards, for example, continue to sell well here too. Traditional consumers are still going to bricks and mortar shops, though exclusive card and gift stores are now being replaced by speciality shops with smaller assortments of greeting cards. The two major exceptions in the US are the Papyrus and Paper Source store groups. As in the UK, food stores, including gourmet-food shops, are now critical retail venues for the sale of greeting cards. In the US, we have also seen a real resurgence in independent booksellers that carry massive amounts of greeting cards to support their customers. As in the US, I feel the UK greeting card market is at a crossroads. I sense independent, dedicated card and gift stores are struggling to keep their doors open on the High Street. With rising rents and aging owners, many independent shops have closed their doors. Even so, focused stores like Paperchase, Scribbler, Oliver Bonas, and on the independent front, Postmark, continue to impress, as their respective successes are based on their curated collections. As in the US, there is a renaissance of new publishers entering the UK marketplace with new designs, new finishes, on new kinds of papers that take ink in new and unexpected ways. Will UK publishers continue to be Notes & Queries' focus in 2020? The resounding answer is YES! Our emphasis has, and will always be, with UK publishers,

though over the years we have been lucky enough to add other European publishers, like Quire (originally from the Netherlands and now Germany), Alljoy Design from Ireland and Turnowsky, one of the leading paper design companies in Israel. The UK has always been our home for finding great innovative designs and will remain our home in the future.

Looking to the future My life at Notes & Queries has had its ups and downs, but it's been very generous to me. I have learned a great deal about relationships and partnerships and developed precious friendships, which I hope to keep. It's been quite a journey, which now continues with the transition of my daughter Vanessa to the leadership of our company. I really believe the future of the greeting card industries, in both the US and UK markets, are safe as long as memories

are created and stored in paper form. These days, so many people rely on emails and texts to communicate in their everyday lives. Yet there is something very cold and distant about electronic communications. This is in stark contrast to the warmth of opening an envelope and looking at a card chosen for you. There is an irreplaceable intimacy in this exchange. The staying power of cards and letters relates to how they can be held and connect us to the people we love and cherish so much. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Publisher Up Close

New York, Paris... Loughborough If Ohh Deer didn’t already have a load of cool things around the place of its HQ in Loughborough it could have a funky neon sign that reads ‘Not afraid to try stuff’ as this seems to have been the motto adopted by co-owners Mark Callaby and Jamie Mitchell since they started the company coming up for ten years ago. And what’s even more impressive is that the unique approach they have taken with their business, be it in the collaborations with artists they forge, the distribution of their products and company esprit de corps they have fostered, has earned them respect and success. PG caught up with the ‘Deer boys’ in Loughborough before they jetted off to trade shows in New York and Paris. “When we first started Ohh Deer we were definitely ‘faking it to make it’. Now, nine years on, we do have some idea of what we are doing, but that is not to say we will follow the same path as others,” sums up Mark Callaby, managing director of Ohh Deer, the card, gift, retailing and online hybrid he started with his partner Jamie Mitchell, the creative driver of the business. There is certainly no ‘faking’ in the 200+ page brochure the company has just produced fanfaring its latest clutch of

collaborations with the 100 artists it currently works, or even the batch of orders it took at Top Drawer from leading indies and designled multiples. “I can’t quite believe that in November it will be 10 years since we started the company. We should be a bit more grown up now, shouldn’t we?!” says Jamie with a cheeky laugh. In actual fact he says that the

Above: Mark Callaby (right) and Jamie Mitchell, the cofounders and owners of Ohh Deer. Left: The front cover of Ohh Deer’s new catalogue features artwork from US-based Badger & Burke. Below: A Gemma Correll classic. In addition to a large card selection Ohh Deer also offers mugs, coasters, wrap, notepads, enamel pins and art prints of her designs. Bottom: The Ohh Deer shop. Located on the ground floor of its HQ, it sells other companies’ products as well as its own.

focus of the last year or so has been to streamline its offer on the product front, refocusing on greeting cards, focusing much more on humour. As Mark admits in his foreword of the new company brochure, its Twin Pines range winning The Henries 2019 award for Best Humour Range last October, “was the perfect recognition for establishing ourselves as a front runner of humour-based greeting cards.” Being ‘streamlined’ however does not mean suddenly conforming to the norm. While ‘the upstairs’ of Ohh Deer’s Loughborough home (interestingly the building’s former life includes being the very first ever Dunelm store), the ground floor is divided into a retail shop (selling Ohh Deer merchandise as well as other card, gift and homewares brands), the fulfillment for its own consumer-facing online operation, as well as the warehouse for its retail customers, both in the UK and overseas. While it is the trade side of the company that is the main focus, and accounts for 70% of turnover, Mark and Jamie still believe that its B2C side brings benefits over and above the sales it generates. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Publisher Up Close

“I really do not think our products would sell so well for our retail customers if we hadn’t the experience of the direct link with the public through our own online side. It means we can gauge reactions to a new idea or artist almost immediately, which then gives us more confidence when we are selling new ranges to our retail customers,” explains Mark. In fact it was its online activity which resulted in The Henries awardwinning Twin Pines range. “We run a card competition once a year which we open out to the public to vote on,” explains Jamie, and designer Cat Ings’ textbased quirky witticisms won. It also has reactions to its Instagram posts to thank for Ohh Deer’s launch of its photographic range Say Cheese. “We often put out imagery on Instagram and we’re amazed by the number of ‘likes’ they receive, so we launched a range,” says Jamie, with Scout, one of their two Dachshunds, even appearing on a few of the designs. While Gemma Correll is historically the best-known artist to feature in Ohh Deer’s portfolio, and it is still hugely popular, she is far from lonely. In addition to ranges generated by the talented Ohh Deer studio team (and the new Hobbyist collection was

Left: The company offers card spinners, as well as stands to show its giftwrap, art prints and enamel pins. Right and below: Fin and Scout, Mark and Jamie’s dogs. Scout appears in the Say Cheese range.

created by Jamie’s own fair hands), the multitude of other artists and designers hail from far and wide. Mark and Jamie do not let the fact that a designer might already be publishing their own cards stand in the way of a new collaboration. The tie-up with Hello Lucky, a revered publisher of letterpress cards in the States, a case in point. “We loved the cards,

Right: The Pin Pals (including an enamel pin) and (featured) You’ve Earned It (including a cloth patch) ranges have proved popular. Far right: A ‘sign of the times’ design by Max Ellis from the I Am Not An Artist range.

Tree-ing is believing

Deeply engrained in the company culture at Ohh Deer is its social and environmental responsibility. “Last year we took massive steps to reduce our single-use plastic, removing all plastic from our greeting cards (the cello bag and plastic glitter),” states Mark, who, as a recently joined member of the GCA Council, is fully behind the whole industry’s push to become more sustainable. The paper and cardboard Ohh Deer uses are always either FSC approved or 100% recycled. Taking this a stage further, the company has also invested in a cardboard shredder so that it can re-use the mailer boxes by turning them into packing material for the orders sent out. A continued partnership with the Tree Aid charity has seen Ohh Deer fund the planting of thousands and thousands of trees in Africa. “We’ve also worked with three amazing charity partners over the last year - The Butterfly Foundation, The Marine Conservation Society and the Blurt Foundation,” reveals Jamie. This year the company’s good work continues with two additional collaborations, namely with “Switchboard LGBT+ and the M.E. Association, two amazing charities that we hold dear to our hearts,” says Mark. Above: Thousands of trees have been planted in Africa thanks to Ohh Deer’s charitable funds.

but importing them into the UK would make them cost prohibitive so we talked to the Hello Lucky team about us producing them under licence in the UK. It has worked really well for both of us,” says Mark. In a similar vein, among the latest brands to join the Ohh Deer stable from a left of field direction are The Social Type and Badger & Burke, both already active in the American market. In fact Badger & Burke has the ultimate kudos of having its artwork gracing the front cover of the new Ohh Deer brochure. There is however, two way traffic across the Atlantic as both Jamie and Mark, shunning the normal practice of working through distributors, deal direct with US retailers, exhibiting at both the New York Now show at the start of the year and Atlanta’s AmericasMart later in July. Added to this, on the back of a successful showing at the classy Maison&Objet show in Paris last September, the boys were back waving the Ohh Deer flag at this year’s January show. “It might not be the normal way of doing it, but why not? We get to go to New York twice a year and now Paris, and do a lot of business in the process,” admits Mark. “Before we showed at Maison last September we were told, ‘Europeans don't really do greeting cards’. It was the most leads we ever got at any show hence the reason we’re going back!” he adds. The Ohh Deer stand at PG Live in June will mark something of another departure for the company as it will be there that it will be unveiling its first high profile licensing brand collaboration with Cath Kidston. “Will that mean we are properly grown-up then?!” questions Mark. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Retailer Face To Face

Walker

The Talker

Hazel Walker admits she has upped her reading habit since she joined Waterstones last March as senior buyer The Power by Naomi Alderman ranking high in her recommendations - but she also reveals that the bookshop chain’s greeting card sales have increased significantly too, and there is more to come. PG met up with Hazel to find out more about ‘the storyline’ planned for this year.

would make a good plotline for a novel. Well-respected Paperchase greeting card buyer is just about to take off on a threemonth travel sabbatical to South America with her husband, when, out of the blue, she receives a dream job opportunity that is just too good to turn down. Happily for Hazel, Waterstones was prepared to wait a few months for her to return from an amazing trip before she got stuck into the new role of heading up the buying for the card, wrap, calendars and diaries products. “I admit it has been something of a whirlwind and not anything I had planned. I loved my time at Paperchase, and all the people there who had been part of my life for a total of ten years, but the chance to really make a difference at Waterstones, and

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hopefully turn it into a destination for cards, is such an exciting proposition,” explains Hazel. Since Hazel joined the book retailer last March, its card sales have increased almost 10%, with double digit growth on Christmas cards as part of this. Waterstones’ calendar sales too have nudged ahead. While Hazel is buoyed by this growth, as she sees it: “We’ve only just started! There is hopefully a lot more to come.” The move away from being supplied via brokerage in 2015 set Waterstones on the right path, Hazel feels, enabling it to curate the right offer for its customers. “It is challenging as we have 282 stores in the group which vary considerably in size as well as in the demographics of their respective customer base,” explains Hazel.

Above: Hazel joined Waterstones in March last year as senior buyer. Below left: The Jermyn Street entrance of Waterstones’ flagship store in London’s Piccadilly leads straight into the greeting card and stationery department. Bottom: Blank and art cards account for around 35% of Waterstones’ total sales across the 282 store estate.

The London Piccadilly flagship store (where Hazel and the buying team are based) encompasses a sizeable card department that offers over 1,500 different greeting card designs. It is effectively a ‘store within a store’ welcoming customers as they enter from the Jermyn Street entrance, with calendars, stationery and gifts all around and a café on a mezzanine. But other Waterstones stores do not have this luxury. For greeting card purposes, each Waterstones store falls into one of ten different types, the largest of which will offer around 1,000 different card designs while the smallest have a condensed selection in one display bay (less than 100 designs). But there are then permutations within these, as the design selection differs store to store. “We accommodate not only the demographics of the customer base, but also reflect the local flavour with around a fifth of the designs in each store being pertinent to the area, be it in subject matter, artist or text,”


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elaborates Hazel. “We feel we could further improve on this and are making it a big project for this year, especially as some publishers cater for different regions, but we may currently only stock them in one area of the country.” The retailer deals with 100 different card publishers at any one time, from leading brands through to tiny regional makers. Always a big fan of “newness”, Hazel is keen that logistical challenges should not get in the way of a fresh selection. “If we see a range we really like at say PG Live, then we can make sure it is in store within a matter of weeks. You cannot afford to sit back,” believes Hazel. Art and blank cards account for around 35% of Waterstones’ card sales, according to Hazel, with Museums & Galleries, Woodmansterne and The Art File being core suppliers within this. “Our adult birthday selection generates 15% of sales and humour around the same, both areas we very much see as opportunities to increase.” Children’s, photographic and occasions account for the remainder. “While we have just refreshed our occasions selection as this is only a small part of our offer due to space. For the same reason we don't stock captioned relations cards. You have to know your what you can do well,” explains Hazel. “We can’t offer all the titles, but I still believe that we can become a destination; known for having a great card selection. We have started our journey, but there is a lot more to come.”

This ‘journey’ also extends to its commitment to the environment. “Right now 20% of our cards are sold unwrapped. In the next six months I see this increasing to 50%. Plus all our cards are printed on FSC or recycled stock,” stresses Hazel. She also believes that a card retailer’s responsibility on the environmental front continues right through the product’s life cycle, something that extends to designs supplied on SOR.

Up close and personal Hazel shares some of her inner most thoughts… What are your guilty pleasures?: “A decent red Malbec, strong cheese and Instagram. On the latter I am forever scrolling. I freely admit I take a long time to get a perfect snap.” Tell us something few know about you?: “I cannot sing. I would love to, but I really believe I am tone deaf.” A magic carpet awaits, where do you want to go?: “Everywhere! Places I would most like to go back to would be Cartagena in Colombia and Lake Como in Italy. As for somewhere I have never been to, then Tel Aviv is high on the list.” If you had a magic wand, what would you use it for?: “To teleport so I could go and see friends for a chat and a cup of tea whenever I wanted. On the industry front, I would use it to find a perfect solution to making the sector more sustainable.”

Above: Over the last year the greeting card sales in Waterstones have increased 5%-10%. Above left: Book-related designs, such as this one from UKG’s Camden Graphics’ New Yorker collection, not surprisingly, do well for Waterstones. Left: Museums & Galleries is a top supplier for Waterstones. The BBC Earth range, with its inventive approach to ‘nakedness’, sell well for the multiple.

“We are definitely being more cautious on our ordering quantities, irrespective of SOR agreements as it is our responsibility not to generate unnecessary waste,” believes Hazel. “For Valentine’s Day for example, we include nonspecific designs that can then go into the everyday selection after the event,” highlights Hazel. Waterstones also has eight promotional stores, in price sensitive areas, that it uses to clear out old stock at £1 each, to avoid them going to waste. Just as Waterstones’ environmental commitment comes right from the top so does its belief in greeting cards being important to its retail offer. As James Daunt, ceo of Waterstones (and owner of Daunt Books) reinforced when he spoke at the GCA AGM a few years ago, books and cards go hand in hand, literally. “Buying a card is a very personal purchase, as is buying a book. Customers coming into a Waterstones store are invariably in browsing mood, which is similar to choosing a card,” suggests Hazel. She feels that the renaissance in the tangible, including the greater appreciation of vinyl records and real books, also encompasses cards and stationery. “There was so much negativity last year that I feel people saw greater merit in the simpler things. Sending a card or buying a book doesn’t cost much, but brings real pleasure in the good times and the bad,” Hazel says sagely. “It is our job to make sure we have the best cards and books on offer to see that trend continues.”

If you were not a retail card buyer, what would you like to be when you ‘grow-up’?: “I love art and food, so I would be a part-time interior designer and part-time top chef.” Who would be your dream dinner party guests?: “Anthony Bourdain, as I share his love of food and travel, and Graham Norton, as he would be great for celebrity gossip.” If you were an animal, what would you be?: “A cat. I’m independent, you’ll know when I’m hungry and I like a nap.” Has working for Waterstones changed your reading habits and what book would you most recommend?: “Working here has made me read more. One standout for me is The Power by Naomi Alderman, a dystopian novel in which women are the dominant gender.” Above: The Power by Naomi Alderman is the book that Hazel would most recommend reading right now.

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Indie Retailing Spotlight

Defying the current pressures and cost struggles of running a bricks and mortar store, some savvy card and gift indies are determined to buck the gloomy retailing trend and grow their retail business by investing in either their shop’s expansion, shop refurbishment, moving to a larger premises or, really kicking up their hooves, opening another store or two. A pack of rodeo-riding card retailers reveal the trigger (no horse pun intended), and upshot of their recent business decision.

A greater retailing ‘paddock’ Tim Gould, partner of Objectables, Folkestone, Kent: Saddling up: “We have just moved to a new, bigger shop on the same street. In fact, we wanted a larger shop almost as soon as we opened our first shop, it was really small and very much taken on a “well, let’s see if this works” basis, and it did. There was no real office space in the previous shop, and this was not great for running our publishing arm out of, so that was also a push for getting a larger premises.” Fetlock first: “We have done really well in the Old High Street in Folkestone, Kent, gathering some fantastic customers and winning a Retas Award for Best Newcomer South in 2019, but we are really aware of how lucky we are to be on a street which is so supported by the town’s regeneration charitable organisation, Creative Folkestone and the council, which don’t impose rates on small creative businesses in the street. As such, our overheads and costs are really low compared to other areas, which has helped develop a really vibrant and unique shopping street.” Racing post: “Our move has enabled us to double our card offering and triple our gifts, and this in turn gave us a record breaking first month. This successful move has encouraged us to start moving forward with future expansion ideas but they are in the very early stages so I won’t talk about them now incase it doesn’t happen and we look like idiots.”

Above: Some indies are bucking the current gloomy retailing landscape.

The Indigo Tree grows new branches Six years exactly to the day since their first Indigo Tree card and gift shop opened in Streatham, South London, on November 10 2019 owners Adam and Harriet de Wolff ‘branched out’ with a new shop, in Crystal Palace. “We didn’t do any pre-publicity prior to the opening as we were not sure that the shop would be ready in time, but we are absolutely delighted by the response from our new customers - and the sales! We took more, without any fanfare in our first weekend than our established shop in Streatham,” said a very happy Adam. Harriet and Adam worked until 4am on the Saturday morning of the new store’s opening to get the shop ready and stocked, but they both agree it was well worth it. “We were rather adrenaline powered that first day, buoyed up by the lovely comments from customers,” added Adam. Below: The Indigo Tree’s second branch opened for business last November.

Above: Objectables in Folkestone in its new bigger home. Left: The move to a larger premises has allowed Objectables to double its offering. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Indie Retailing Spotlight

Galloping at opportunities Penny Bailey, partner of Bailey’s Cards and Gifts, Southport and Crosby:

With so much doom and gloom surrounding the retail scene, with all the shop closures and CVAs, Harriet accepts that they are somewhat bucking the trend. “We have been planning to expand for a while, as we believe that the consumer will respond positively to something different. People still have birthdays and babies in good times and tough ones. Admittedly, we had expected the Brexit situation to have been concluded by the time we opened in Crystal Palace, but we believe as long as you offer a product choice that inspires customers, at the right price, then they will spend.” The de Wolffs are already on the lookout for a third store. “We would like to stay within South London, but having more than one store offers us economies of scale on buying and product selection,” adds Adam. The new store, located a few miles from its older ‘sibling’ features the same branded look, contemporary rustic shopfittings and carefully curated mix of cards and gifts. Among its best selling card brands are Wendy Jones-Blackett, Rosie Made A Thing, Dandelion Stationery and Stripey Cat Cards. Above: Harriet and Adam de Wolff in their new Crystal Palace shop the day of the opening.

Saddling up: “We opened our second greeting card and gift shop just over seven months ago. We found premises twice the size of our original store and so could accommodate a Thornton’s franchise in addition to our usual offering. The expansion wasn’t planned. We tend not to force things but try to take opportunities when they come our way. The right premises in the right location came to our attention and it grew from there.” Fetlock first: “It helps that we already have a successful store and receive very positive comments from our customers. Simon (my husband) is an experienced retailer and has expanded other parts of our business over the years so that really does help with all the decision making. The relationship we have with Hallmark, as one of its Gold Crownies, makes a difference to us too. Its support and encouragement have enabled our confidence, in this sector, to grow.” Racing post: “We are delighted with the look of the store and the lovely comments we are getting from our customers on our product offering and friendly team. We traded our first Christmas in the new store and the results and signs are very encouraging. We are currently planning our third store, which is due to open early next year. Again, not planned, but an opportunity we couldn’t miss!” Top: Bailey’s new Crosby store is gaining lovely customer comments. Above: The frontage of Bailey’s Crosby, a Gold Crown store. Right: Cards, gifts, fashion, homewares or even self-treats, there’s a great selection of product at Bailey’s.

Stabling new gifts and homewares Nicky Stephenson and Claire Jarvis, partners of The Tutbury Present Company, Tutbury, Staffordshire: Saddling up: “We completed our shop extension in September and now have an extra space for our card and giftwrap. It was a pretty big job as the area was previously a storeroom, but turning the space into a retail space just made sense to make the best of the square footage we have.” Fetlock first: “We feel it’s very important, especially in these uncertain times, to come up with new ideas and keep challenging ourselves going forward. Our aim for the extension was to increase our selection of gifts, including a new range of homewares, without compromising on space for our greeting cards.

Left: Nicky and Claire (left) spending their Retas Golden Ticket with Anna Nelson of Rosanna Rossi at PG Live. Above: The extension allowed Nicola and Claire to expand their range of gifts and homewares. Continued on page 80 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Racing post: “The result has been a great new area that’s ideal for customers to browse our card selection. Our customers have reacted really positively, they love seeing how we are expanding and it always opens up conversations in the shop. We are always moving the shop around to enrich the customer experience and to ensure they always spot something new. Next year, we are looking at further renovations like a new floor, changing some of the furniture in store and we are also looking into the possibly of a new pop-up location. With traditional retail getting more challenging it’s important that we look at different opportunities to expand our brand going forward.”

‘Tack’-ling the storage room Nigel Hamilton-Evans, partner of Boroughbridge Post Office, Boroughbridge: Saddling up: “We trialled our ‘Personal Christmas Card Shopper Experience’ in 2018, with two ‘Card Gurus’ that can help complete your card list. It's a bit like going to a high-end shop and getting that personal special touch, but for cards. A map of where to find your special cards is available if the Gurus are not available.” Fetlock first: “We also developed our ‘Giggle Room’ last year, of humour cards, which used to be just a storage room. That room has resulted in a 19%-27% increase on sales each month. The room also now has specialist boxed cards, individual cards, luxury giftwrapping, tags and high-end tissue. It has given me the space to keep a very good selection of general birthday cards, which would normally be in drawers and boxed out the back. I really wish I had seen the potential of a room that was used for storage 17 years ago!” Racing post: “Since winning a Retas Award last July, our customers have been spreading the news. The retail trend, for many years, has moved to online shopping, but also to ‘experience shopping’ where the buying is part of the enjoyment. Entertain, enthuse and show both product knowledge and a passion for your product and you will gain customer confidence and loyalty.” Above right: Nigel in the shop’s Giggle Room, which was once a storeroom. Above left: Full of fabulous cards, Boroughbridge Post Office’s transformed storeroom has resulted in a big increase in sales. Below: Boroughbridge Post Office.

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Left: The Tutbury Present Company storeroom has been transformed into an extra space for giftwrap and more cards! Below: Gold Crownie Laura Houlston (right) with Hallmark’s area sales manager Sue Strong at The Retas last July. Below left: Paper Kisses in Prestatyn is a brand new Gold Crown store. Bottom right: Laura’s West Kirby Cards shop was in the finals for The Retas 2019 in the Newcomer - North category.

Laura’s new jewel in the crown Laura Houlston had a good job in a office, but felt she “needed a new challenge” so, in May 2017, she bought West Kirby Cards, an existing Gold Crown store and set about putting her stamp on it, reaching the finals of The Retas 2019 in the Best Newcomer - North category as testament to her success. She now has the ‘card bug’ and has recently opened her second Gold Crown store, in Prestatyn in North Wales. “Retail has always been in my family as my parents, grandparents and auntie and uncle have all owned a post office previously,” explains Laura. She deemed the location of West Kirby Cards was far enough from family in North Wales, but close enough to be able to travel back to and, added to that, gave her a new area to explore. With an urge to expand, the beginning of last year Laura started looking for another shop, this time in her home area of North Wales. “I started looking at empty properties and came across one in Prestatyn which seemed too good an opportunity to miss, especially as the competition was only one big chain. The shop had been empty for around two years, but the fixtures and fittings were still in good condition. The feedback I had about the shop was positive as all I kept hearing was that Prestatyn needed a decent card shop again,” explains Laura. So, with the support of Hallmark it now has, with Paper Kisses opening its doors last July, contributing to clinching Laura a prestigious Outstanding New Gold Crown Retailer Award in September. “The feedback for the new store has all been very encouraging and it’s definitely proving worthwhile!” shares Laura.


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A selection of new products that will be on show at Spring Fair (February 2-6, Birmingham NEC)

Under The African Sun Pink Pig Cards has added 10 new designs to its popular Dusk range. The striking palette of inky blues, vivid hot pinks and glowing amber sunsets in the new African animals collection are sure to make an impact in 2020. All the cards are 150mm x 150mm, cello packed in 6’s, together with a beautiful pewter grey envelope which offsets the beautiful colours perfectly. Also available as naked cards. Pink Pig Cards 0779 5574548 www.pinkpigcards.co.uk Spring Fair: 2D61

Look East Kimono is a new range of occasions cards by Rocket68. The collection of 40 cards was inspired by Rocket68’s illustrator Jill White’s recent visit to stunning Japan. The designs depict watercolours of exquisite vivid illustrations of floral and Japanese decorative elements. They have contemporary gold type covering many occasions and also available with no type and gold accents. Rocket68 07903 603229 www.rocket68.com Spring Fair: 2B35

Words Of Love Sarah Kelleher has a shiny new wordy range. Kindness Counts is made up of 18 cards, all stunning bright florals with foil, and each with gentle kind words of love, hope and wellbeing. All the cards are C6 size, printed onto FSC board, and they come with brown ribbed envelopes with an option to go cellofree with a card clasp. Sarah Kelleher 07768 123956 www.sarahkelleher.co.uk Spring Fair: 2C71

Animal Magic Safari Party from Louise Mulgrew is an animal birthday range with 12 designs so far, and is the first of Louise’s cards with gold foil details. Each card comes with a brown kraft envelope, and this range, along with all new collections going forward, will be supplied naked with a Louise Mulgrew branded clasp. Louise Mulgrew 07706 285920 www.louisemulgrew.com Spring Fair: 2B60

The Hot 100 Lola Design is launching a number of new ranges for 2020 equating to over 100 new designs. These include So Safari, a playful range of 12 open/birthday cards featuring cute animals. There’s also the Hola Neon range, a selection of over 30 new designs featuring bright spot neon colours and embossed spot UV finishes. All cards are available either naked or wrapped according to retailer needs, and come supplied with a contrasting FSC grey envelope. Lola Design 01904 675514 www.loladesignltd.com Spring Fair: 2E61

An Extra Dimension Hotchpotch has added another dimension to its popular Popcorn range - unfold and popup the die-cut cards to bring them to life. A slice of cake, a purrrrfect rainbow cat, a roarsome dinosaur and a bottle of bubbly will all stand proud on the shelf or mantlepiece. These designs are printed in England and are all hand assembled in the UK. Hotchpotch 01243 792600 www.hotchpotchlondon.com Spring Fair: 2J40-K41 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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A selection of new products that will be on show at Spring Fair (February 2-6, Birmingham NEC)

Dinosaur On The Loose Among the 12 designs in Deckled Edge’s Eureka blank art card collection is a wild and bright illustration of a dinosaur devouring cupcake. Suitable for birthday celebrations of any age or gender, the cards in this collection measure 124mm x 178mm, come on FSC 350gsm board and are accompanied by a sparkly metallic blue envelope. Deckled Edge 0800 771 0771 www.decklededge.co.uk Spring Fair: 2D21

Hanging Around London Bound Jessica Hogarth has added eight new Londoncentric designs to her popular gold-foiled Christmas collection. The cards feature illustrations of London inspired scenes and are enhanced with a lovely gold foil finish. The cards are available singly and in packs. They measure 120mm x 170mm and are printed on beautiful FSC-accredited matte board and come with a red envelope. Jessica Hogarth 07786906648 www.jessicahogarth.com Spring Fair: 2D11

Wrendale Designs’ new collection of eight relations Christmas cards feature a beautiful hanging decoration that can be removed from the card to hang on a tree. The wintry snowy background and silver foiling give the cards a luxurious feel that is perfect for Christmas. Each card measures 170mm x 138mm and is printed on sustainably sourced textured board. Wrendale Designs 01652 680253 www.wrendaledesigns.co.uk Spring Fair: 2J10-K11

Jazz It Up Jazz from Two Little Monkeys is a brand new design-led collection of greeting cards. There are over 40 stunning new birthday, birthday age and birthday relations cards within the range that will appeal to a wide customer base. The 155mm square cards are printed on beautiful white textured board, individually cellowrapped and come with a high quality brown kraft envelope. Two Little Monkeys 0191 488 3333 www.twolittlemonkeysltd.co.uk Spring Fair: 2D17

Are You Well?

Blow it up

For 2020, Roger la Borde presents the new Wellness collection. Wellness is about supporting friends, loved ones … and ourselves! The range is illustrated by Kendra Binney, who creates lush, tranquil and richly textured landscapes that are soothing to the eye and the spirit. The cards are printed on velvety board and feature uplifting – but not twee – messages in gorgeous gold-foiled type. There are six cards in the collection. Roger la Borde 0207 328 0491 www.rogerlaborde.com Spring Fair: 2J52

Helium is a striking new range of age cards from White Cotton Cards, covering ages from 1-100, in pink, blue and silver, as well as relations such as son, daughter, granddaughter and grandson. These cards are bright, beautiful and finished with glitter and gems. Perfect to send to all ages and as a bonus will match the helium balloon too! White Cotton Cards 07909 911229 www.whitecottoncards.co.uk Spring Fair: 2B16 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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A selection of new products that will be on show at Spring Fair (February 2-6, Birmingham NEC)

Earthy Goodness The Sketch collection from Dandelion Stationery consists of 15 designs covering birthday and occasions, printed in the UK onto luxury FSC board produced from 100% recycled post-industrial waste. The board is naturally imperfect, with the waste fibres being visible within the board, adding a unique quality to the design. Cards can be supplied cellowrapped or plastic-free. Dandelion Stationery 01332 695359 www.dandelionstationery.co.uk Spring Fair: 2E32

Age Isn’t Just A Number Woodcut is a striking new typographical male age range inspired by urban trends from Abacus Cards. Featuring a printed natural wood effect the designs are diecut to reveal bold, colourful, contemporary graphic numbers printed in colour on the inside of the cards. Spanning milestone ages 18 through to 90, the range also includes designs for 65 and 75. Printed on smooth board and presented in a standard 5” x 7” format with die-cut rounded corner, the cards are accompanied by quality white cartridge envelopes. Abacus Cards 01638 569050 www.abacuscards.co.uk Spring Fair: 2G70-H71

In A Dream Brand new for 2020 from Five Dollar Shake comes Dream Garden. A collection of 38 watercolour illustrations following the fashion trend for all things soft, floral and romantic, using biodegradable glitter and hand-finished using genuine Swarovski crystals. Five Dollar Shake 01424 434062 www.fivedollarshake.com Spring Fair: 2H02

The Right Words Piano En Vogue is a brand new range of contemporary greeting cards with gold foil from Hammond Gower. There are currently in excess of 80 designs to the range, covering birthday, relations birthday, ages, friendship and occasions captions. The cards are 5.5” x 5.5” and come cellowrapped with a black and white patterned envelope. Hammond Gower 01949 839898 www.hammondgower.co.uk Spring Fair: 2J45

Have Pride Introducing Pride from Really Good, that blasts out with fabulous colours and positivity for all occasions. There are eight designs (in the new size of 101mm x 171mm) in the range, printed on recycled board, that come unwrapped with white envelopes. Really Good 01235 537888 www.reallygood.uk.com Spring Fair: 4F40

Laugh Out Loud Objectables’ Karebrokee range has been redesigned and relaunched with new designs added to for 2020 now covering loads of occasions and relations. The cards come with blue envelopes, either cellowrapped or clasped as desired. Objectables 01303 255287 www.objectables.co.uk Spring Fair: 2D73 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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A selection of new products that will be on show at Spring Fair (February 2-6, Birmingham NEC)

Simple Pleasures ArtPress is very happy to welcome Repeat Repeat to its circle of artists. Repeat Repeat is a design duo who work primarily in bone china tableware and its Happiness range extols the simple pleasures in life, from a walk in the countryside to being beside the seaside. A retro layout and colour palette complete the look. This collection consists of eight card designs (170mm x 120mm), which come individually wrapped with an accompanying china white envelope. ArtPress Publishing 020 7231 2923 www.art-press.co.uk Spring Fair: 2E40

Something For Everyone IC&G is introducing more additions to its high quality Code 250 range. Each design features beautiful artwork from its most popular ranges, is hand-finished with stunning embellishments and completed with a heartfelt verse for those really special sends. There is definitely something to suit every recipient. International Cards & Gifts 01202 897494 ww.icgcards.com Spring Fair: 2G71

Turning Japanese Ukiyo is a collection of cards inspired by Japanese Mokuhanga style printing from The Proper Mail Co, featuring gold fluted foiling. The woodblock effect is enhanced in these designs by the single use of the antique blue and the highlights of gold foil The use of metallic in Ukiyo prints determined another level of wealth and were reserved only for the Samurai estate. The Proper Mail Co 0330 99 99 121 www.propermail.co.uk Spring Fair: 2F16-G17

Man’s Best Friend Meg Hawkins’ unique style of watercolour reflects the movement and energy of the subjects she paints. A Pooches’ Life is the new range, with 22 designs, covering birthday, sympathy, anniversary, Easter and Christmas. Designs are 150mm x 150mm, all made with stunning quality card and printed in the UK and come with kraft envelopes. Meg Hawkins Art 07811672460 www.meghawkins.com Spring Fair: 3G50 (part of the Tilnar Art stand)

A Sloth’s Life New trends featured in Qualatex’s latest collection include the Sweet Sloth Microfoil shape along with matching Let’s Party Toucan and Sloth, a magical fairy collection and new birthday designs, including trendy gold and rose-gold ombre, metallic dots, retro neon glow and out-of-thisworld galaxy themed balloons. The release also features two stylish new Bubble Balloons, the Baby Boy Blue and Baby Girl Pink confetti dots – perfect for welcoming new additions Pioneer Europe 01279 501 090 www.qualatexeurope.com Spring Fair: 5G80-H81

What Did You Say? One of five new ranges from Ohh Deer, the Define This range adds hilarious definitions to familiar and foreign words alike. It’s the perfect everyday range, encompassing all the unusual things that happen to us throughout our lives. The 10 designs each feature a word or phrase, its pronunciation and accompanying witticism. Printed onto FSC board, each card includes a recycled envelope and come Kard Klasped. Ohh Deer 01549649279 ohhdeer.com Spring Fair: 2D13, 2H16 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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A selection of new products that will be on show at Spring Fair (February 2-6, Birmingham NEC)

Happy Days Louise Tiler Designs is excited to introduce several new ranges at Spring Fair 2020, including Paw Prints and Apricot, containing more of Louise's awardwinning animal illustrations and elegant birthday designs respectively. In addition, Louise Tiler will be launching 20 beautiful new birthday designs to add to the popular 2019 collections, containing meaningful sentiment and beautiful holographic foils. All cards are 120mm by 170mm and are available cellowrapped or naked. Louise Tiler Designs 01535 957878 www.louisetiler.co.uk Spring Fair: 2F17

Monster Mash Starting 2020 with a bang, Laura Darrington Design is happy to launch its newest kids range, The Artbox Collection, featuring a die-cut top edge, coloured envelope and cold foil finish as standard. The range features 38 funky fresh designs perfect for all little monsters. All orders can now be packed either naked or cello-bagged. Laura Darrington Design 0116 2849660 lauradarrington.com Spring Fair: 2B53

Twit Twoo Flame Tree’s gorgeous foiled greeting cards range has welcomed lots of new additions, including the Winking Owl from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Vol. 5 (pictured). This design, which dates back to 1920, matches one of Flame Tree’s most popular foiled journals, and is printed in FSC paper, sized 170mm x 125mm, with biodegradable ‘cello’ bags. Flame Tree Publishing flametreepublishing.com 0845 4020422 Spring Fair: 2J16

Thinking Of You Reflective Thoughts is a brand new range of C75 and C125 cards to complement Out of the Blue Studios’ everyday range. These sentimental eight page verse cards have tip-ons and are manufactured on premium board, with flitter and foil finishes, available in many captions. Out of the Blue Studios Limited 07795 957995 www.outofthebluestudios.co.uk Spring Fair: 2H60

Botanical Beauty Floral Notes by Bex Parkin is among Portfolio’s latest ranges. Exploring the joy of nature using a richly coloured and decorative style, the designs are printed on environmentally-friendly board using cold foil and embossing. There are 18 beautiful cards sized 146mm x 170mm, which can be either wrapped, clasped or naked with a white envelope. Portfolio 020 8960 3051 www.portfoliocards.com Spring Fair: 2F01

Get Set, Glow! Redback’s new Glow range is all set to light up your life. These 15 high impact greeting cards feature contemporary phrases designed as stunning neon lights. With their striking colours and the addition of some impressive glow in the dark thermography, don’t miss these at Spring Fair. Redback Cards 01752 830482 www.redbackcards.com Spring Fair: 2E45 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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A selection of new products that will be on show at Spring Fair (February 2-6, Birmingham NEC)

Celebrity Watch In addition to launching two brand new ranges, Tache will be showcasing a new extension of its funky, fun and much-loved Famous Faces range. These handmade brightly coloured humorous cards will certainly stand out on the shelf with their big three dimensional heads and quirky captions. Meet the likes of David Attenborough, Elton John, Cardi B and Putin at Spring Fair! Tache 01202 691435 www.tache.co.uk Spring Fair: 2F17

Art For Art’s Sake Life Of Chester Jemma Banks Design’s new Chester range is based on the hilarious and cute poses of Jemma’s pet dog, Chester. Designs feature a wide range of occasions, from birthdays to congratulations. Measuring 7” x 5”, the cards come with a grey or mustard envelope. Jemma Banks Design 07747033129 www.jemmabanksdesign.com Spring Fair: 2E68

Kapelki Art is launching more eyecatching designs into its popular collections: The Magic of Dreams, Friends from Tales and Bouquets. Beautiful and unusual new cards add to the already loved selection and speak to art lovers. The cards can be supplied in all the popular choices: cellowrapped, biodegradable ‘cello-ed’ or naked. Kapelki Art 0761778144 www.kapelkiart.com Spring Fair: 2F65

Boujee On Down Clare Maddicott Publications’ new female range Boujee has been created in collaboration with talented artist Sarah Long. The designs feature a bold, contemporary palette with a striking surface pattern: embossing and lavish gold hot foil finish accentuate the bright, refreshing, colour palette. All the greeting card designs feature simple front birthdayrelated captions and all are left blank inside for the sender’s own message Clare Maddicott Publications 01638 569050 www.maddicott.com Spring Fair: 2G70-H71

Feeling Fruity? Little Note To The Wise Penguin Ink’s Little Notes range now has new Easter cards. They are letterpress printed on 100% recycled card stock in bright fun colours with kraft recycled envelopes and are C7 in size. Available naked and in glassine note packs. Penguin Ink 07525 497122 www.penguinink.co.uk Spring Fair: 2E62

Soul has brought together sentiment with vintage style with its new everyday range Pineapple Sky. The collection is debuting with six designs (137mm x 137mm in size). They are printed on recycled board and come unwrapped with recycled envelopes. Soul UK 01235 537816 www.souluk.com Spring Fair: 4F40 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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A selection of new products that will be on show at Spring Fair (February 2-6, Birmingham NEC)

All That Sparkles Laura Sherratt is launching Golden Aura, a new foiled range. The collection comprises 12cm and 15cm square designs printed onto a beautiful textured board. All have hot foiled text printed on to the front, and come hand-finished with sparkly gems to complement the gold foil font. The range covers occasions and all feature Laura's signature small scale illustrations and simple style. The cards come complete with a white envelope. Laura Sherratt Designs 01538 384566 www.laurasherrattdesigns.co.uk Spring Fair: 2E81

Feathered Friends

Worldly Wise Evergreen is the latest range from Wendy Jones-Blackett. Debuting with 40 designs, the cards are hand-finished in the publisher’s Leeds studio using its own homemade plant-based glue and biodegradable flitter. This is all explained on the back of the card with the signoff ‘A little piece of gorgeousness that didn't cost the planet.’ The cards come packaged with a card clasp. Wendy Jones-Blackett 0113 28888468 www.wendyjonesblackett.co.uk Spring Fair: 2F21

From 1790 Cards comes a new range of 16 designs called Splash Down. This is a bit of a play on words as these designs are watercolours of birds. Designed by Dave Gledhill - who joined 1790 Cards in 2019 all the cards are 150mm square, are printed on 300gsm FSC matt board and presented with a grey FSC envelope and are either cellowrapped or naked. 1790 Cards 01904 448130 www.1790cards.co.uk Spring Fair: 2C32

Jumping Through Hoops Paper Salad is launching a gorgeous brand new children’s range exclusively at Spring Fair called Hoopla. The range includes 32 beautiful, bright designs in a new size of 170mm x 120mm. Each greeting card is full of neon colours, lovely foil and are heavily embossed – and are also paired with a new coloured envelope. Paper Salad 0161 427 0001 www.papersalad.co.uk Spring Fair: 2H10

Hot Flushes Going where few others have gone before, Berni Parker Designs has augmented its popular Ladies Who Love Life range with a capsule collection of eight designs that cover the menopause. The range, which now spans 200 designs, depicts ladies having fun and loving their lives, all featuring original artwork created by Berni. The cards are 150mm square, come with a white envelope and are individually cellowrapped. Berni Parker Designs 01299 406098 www.berniparkerdesign.com Spring Fair: 2A12

It’s Magic Cardology, in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, is launching its first clutch of official Harry Potter pop-up cards. The cards are based on fan-favourites symbols, places and objects from the Wizarding World, including the Golden Snitch, Hogwarts Castle and the Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia. They’re the first cards to feature Cardology’s revolutionary, environmentally-friendly re-usable packaging that can be transformed into an envelope that looks like it is direct from Hogwarts, before being easily recycled. Cardology 07710499970 www.cardology.co.uk Spring Fair: 2D12 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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A selection of new products that will be on show at Spring Fair (February 2-6, Birmingham NEC)

2020 Visoni Coinciding with the launch of the new Le Mans '66 film starring Matt Damon, Clanna Cards has taken over the distribution of the Visoni range of over 150 greeting cards and 80 posters, which includes licensed collections from Le Mans 24 Hours, British Airways and P&O Cruises. There are also many glamorous international travel cards and posters including covers from New York's Saturday Evening Post, Harper's Bazaar, The Bystander and The Tatler magazines. Clanna Cards is also publishing new occasions cards and expanding its licenced Brooklands Museum range. Clanna Cards 01242 575574 www.clannacards.co.uk Spring Fair: 2D45

Whimsy-A-Plenty Well-known for her whimsical paintings of cats, North-East artist Lisa Marie Robinson’s work is to feature on a brand new card range from Tomcat Cards launching at Spring Fair. Additionally, the publisher has introduced new designs into its popular Fiendishly Furry Felines range by Tamsin Lord, and Vicky Mount's best selling Call of the Wild range. Tomcat Cards 01207 775987 www.tomcat.cards Spring Fair: 2C41

A Taste Of The Exotic Ling Design has announced a huge selection of exciting new product launches. Among these is a licensed collection with trend-driven design group Creative Lab Amsterdam. The 12 new greeting cards in this collection come with a distinctly tropical theme featuring exotic plants and animals, finished with foil and a luxury board for a really impactful finish. This comes hot on the heels of the matching gift packaging from sister company Penny Kennedy. Ling Design www.lingdesign.co.uk 01892 838574 Spring Fair: 2H30-J31

Pop-Up Delights There are over 15 new designs joining 2 To Tango’s pop-up card ranges, including cats, meadows, gardens and bees. The artwork is colourful and contemporary and the paper mechanics are of a high quality. All new designs for 2020, as well as reprinted ones, will be packed in clear, biodegradable bags. Packs of six cards for the trade will no longer be packed in a plastic bag but banded with plain unprinted card strips. 2 To Tango 020 89969972 www.2-to-tango.com Spring Fair: 2B13

La Vie Est Bella Cherry Orchard’s beautiful new range Bella comprises 28 open female designs, all square in format with foil finishes. Female relations designs across three price points will be launched at Spring Fair. Cherry Orchard 01648 295500 www.cherryorchardpublishing.co.uk Spring Fair: 2H48

Moonlight Beams Simple Pleasures is a delightfully frivolous new range of 13 designs from Moongazer Cards. From a superhero mouse to a woodland tea party, the designs includes illustrated front and back. The cards, 16cm square in size, are printed in the UK on FSC certified textured board and each is accompanied by a brown ‘eco’ envelope. The range is available cellowrapped or ‘naked’ with a sticker to hold the envelope in place. Moongazer Cards 077454 81411 www.moongazercards.com Spring Fair: 2B52 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Feb 2020 Issue New Releases Full Page.pdf

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27 NEW designs in Code 75 and Code 150 Top main relations

18 x c75 titles 12 x c60 titles Coloured foil captions Emboss & flitter finish Colour versed insert

9 New code 75 New Month of the Year Foil / Flitter finish Colour inserts

10 New code 65 titles New Baby / 1st Birthday Foil / Embossed / Flitter Colour inserts

Tel: 01423 563740 096_PG_February 2020.indd 1

info@jonnyjavelin.co.uk

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A selection of new products that will be on show at Spring Fair (February 2-6, Birmingham NEC)

Pack It In The Curious Inksmith has introduced a selection of new wallet packs for Christmas 2020. Building on the success of the publisher’s Christmas singles card range launched for 2019, these stylish contemporary packs offer eight cards in two unique designs, each on a luxury board finished with striking foil and accompanied by kraft envelopes. The Curious Inksmith 01892 838574 www.lingdesign.co.uk/the-curious-inksmith Spring Fair: 2H30-J31

Way With Words All of the designs in BGC’s new Words of Love collection have full colour 8-page inserts featuring meaningful, bespoke sentiment. The 77 designs, covering a wide variety of captions, are embellished with foil and glitter or emboss finishes. Available in Code 75 and Code 90, each card comes with a coordinating envelope. The full range will be available in all branches of Budget from March 2020. BGC Wholesale 0161 871 4452 www.budget-greetingcards.com Spring Fair: 2G80

Striking Back In a galaxy far, far away, the empire of Papagrazi is having its own ‘Strike Back’ moment with a series of 80s-inspired collections. One of the seven new ranges (spanning 80+ designs) is Bottoms Up (pictured), which comprises 12 fun cocktail designs to celebrate a variety of occasions. Papagrazi 07775 833065 www.papagrazi.com Spring Fair: 2B40

Your Number’s Up Highlighting that milestone occasion for all to see with big, bright numbers and witty contemporary editorial, UKG’s Neon Ages collection stands out from the crowd. Other new launches on show will be Neon Lustre, which combines pops of neon colour with finishes and attachments including tassels and shakers, while Funnily Enough is a humour range for those who laugh in the face of getting older. UK Greetings 01924 436384 www.ukgreetings.co.uk Spring Fair: 2G70-H71

Art Of The Matter Among the treats in The Eco-friendly Card Co’s Art Cards 2020 collection are many new artists’ collections of cards and notecards. Among the new designs is a selection from best-selling printmaker Manda Beeching (pictured). All products in the new collection are printed on 100% recycled board and come packed with recycled envelopes (either in compostable bags or nested). The Eco-friendly Card Co 01626 369269 www.ecofriendly.cards Spring Fair: 2B71

By Tove Two new and very different styles of Moomin greeting cards are being launched by Hype. There is a drawn collection of Tove Jansson’s beautiful artwork as well as a range based on images from the new TV series Moominvalley, due to appear on our screens in the spring. There are now over 80 card designs in this range, in different styles and sizes, plus wraps and 20 button badges to complement them. Hype Associates 0151 702 7788 www.hypa.com Spring Fair: 2D53 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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A selection of new products that will be on show at Spring Fair (February 2-6, Birmingham NEC)

Colourful Details Each intricate illustration in Rachel Ellen Designs’ vibrant new Lumo range is printed with up to four special neon Pantone colours and finished with sparkling gold foil. There are 12 open Birthday designs in this bright and eye-catching range. Each design is 149mm x 149mm in size and come with a neon pink envelope. The cards can be supplied cellowrapped or 'naked'. Rachel Ellen Designs 0115 9700321 www.rachelellen.co.uk Spring Fair: 2K14-L15

Wave Of Happiness

Working Splat Out

Colour me Happy is a new collection from Cath Tate Cards which spans 16 hilarious designs that feature bold and embossed text over a colourful pastel wash background. The range takes a funny look at the pitfalls of (trying to be) a grown up, ageing (dis)gracefully, the joys (and exasperations!) of parenthood and celebrating friendship. Each card comes with a powder blue envelope. Cath Tate Cards 0208 671 2166 www.cathtatecards.com Spring Fair: 2E16

Due to popular demand, Marina B has introduced more designs to its popular Lucy Locket collection. This quirky range, which includes foiled ‘splatters’, now comprises over 35 designs, covering all occasions. The cards, printed on 350gsm luxury board come with the option to be supplied naked or cellowrapped. Marina B 01858 434462 www.marinab.co.uk Spring Fair: 2E17

Calm Down Among the raft of new launches from The Art File is Tranquility, a majestic collection inspired by the huge growing interest in mindfulness and mental wellbeing. The hand-painted artwork that has both Indian and Japanese influences, instils peace and serenity. Flashes of gold foiling add extra glister to this gorgeous collection. The collection is complemented with pastel blue envelopes. The Art File 0115 850 7490 www.theartfile.com Spring Fair: 2L01

Blooming Great

Follow The Thread

Rosanna Rossi’s new collection Fiori Rosa comprises 60 vibrant birthday, occasions and Mother's Day designs which are hand-painted in the brand’s signature style. Alongside this new range, fresh designs join the Kirra and Kirra Mini collections, with a touch of the exotic featuring tigers and pretty pink flamingos in the former and some new occasions covered in the latter. Rosanna Rossi 07900 698522 www.rosanna-rossi.co.uk Spring Fair: 2D32

The ever-versatile artist Sarah Boddy has created new range Unravelled for Peartree Heybridge. There are 12 male designs and 12 animal ones in the collection. The 150mm cards, which feature the Windles’ Colourise raised print effect, each come with a gunpowder grey envelope. Peartree Heybridge 01423 876311 www.peartreeheybridge.co.uk Spring Fair: 3L10-M11 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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BEXY BOO at the See you Spr ing

bexyboo.co.uk

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Play On Words Colour Text is a new range of 12 bright colourful and funny simple text cards from Hole In My Pocket. The collection covers all manner of occasions with modern twists on popular sayings and proverbs. These C5 sized cards come with a brown kraft envelope that are available cellowrapped or naked. Hole In My Pocket 0796763689 www.holeinmypocket.com/shop

The Bee’s Knees Just Words

The new Buzz Words range from Yoojoo is a card and gift in one. Each card comes with a 47mm square stainless steel clip-on bookmark with a choice of eight bee-themed captions. The 125mm square ivory coloured cards come with matching envelopes and sit flat in the post, so no need for Large Letter stamps. Available cellowrapped or in new eco glassine bags. Yoojoo 01274 621419 www.yoojoo.co.uk

YesNoMaybe is another bold new range from the typographic enthusiasts at Icon. The wordy range of 26 blank cards comes in three bright colourways in a 5” x 7” format, using exquisite materials and primarily features titles for the major occasions and relations, with a few general birthday cards as well. Supplied naked or wrapped to suit each customer. Icon 01242 679800 www.icon-art.com

Manly Approach The Old English Company is bringing out a brand new range specifically aimed at the male market. With 12 different designs currently in the range, the Copper Collection is inspired by the great outdoors and therefore the colour palette combines earthy, deep, rich tones paired with copper foils for a luxurious feel. Old English Company 01780 763 368 www.oldenglishcompany.com

Cheeky Mutts Jane Faires Art is known for its exquisite cards of animals, birds and flowers. In its new range of dog cards, a cheeky Jack Russell and a loveable Basset are two of the nine different breeds featured, all with character and personality. Jane's cards are taken from her original artwork and are printed on FSC board, 150mm square. Jane Faires Art 01803 862123 www.janefairesart.com

Feeling Sentimental Second Nature has launched over 250 brand new card designs across a number of ranges. Words To Cherish is a significant new offering of sentiment based cards at a new size. Featuring diverse art styles from cute to contemporary and traditional, each design perfectly complements its caption. Second Nature 0208 960 0212 www.secondnature.co.uk PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Doodling Dogs From Doodleicious comes a new collection called Doodleicious Dogs which, as its name suggests, all depict canines. There are eight designs, all hand-drawn and coloured with watercolour pencils. The cards are 150mm x 150mm in format and come with a brown kraft envelope. They can be supplied cellowrapped or naked. Doodleicious Art 07734034039 www.doodleicious.co.uk

Into The Fold

Positive Thinking

For something special this Valentine’s Day Hallmark’s innovative new Paper Wonder keepsake cards could be the answer. With long-lasting display ability, these beautiful pop-up creations will keep the love flowing long after Valentine’s Day is over. This is a range of 11 cards including diaramas, wonderfolds and mini wonderfolds, with a mix of character cards, text, florals and traditional scenes spanning three price brackets. All cards include an envelope and small detachable card for personalisation. Hallmark 0800 90 20 900 www.hallmark.co.uk

Positive thoughts and support are at the heart of the newest range of 12 designs from Emma Bryan. The #Kindness Rules cards are designed to be sent to let someone know that you are thinking of them. The 120mm x 170mm cards featuring Emma’s soft colour palette and favourite florals are printed in the UK on beautiful uncoated board and supplied with a ribbed kraft envelope. Emma Bryan 07889 598606 www.emmabryan.co.uk

Pen Poised You've Got Pen On Your Face has been busy creating lots of new designs. There are some cracking additions to the popular 'stuff I've drawn' collection, while the new Flower Power range also includes six Spring Seasons designs. All cards are 110mm x 150mm in size and come with a brown kraft envelope, supplied naked if preferred. You've Got Pen On Your Face 07958555900 www.frankienicholas.com

Baby Love Shining A Light Pabuku’s new stylish Spotlight collection spans 24 designs featuring some wonderfully unconventional creatures covering a variety of occasions. A distinctive colour palette combine with strong illustrations and vintage style lettering. The cards, which measure 120mm x 169mm, come with a neon orange envelope, packed in compostable cellos. Pabuku (distributed in the UK and Ireland by Northlight) 01235 820528 www.northlightdesign.co.uk

Out of the Box Cards has developed a new collection of baby cards that welcomes little ones to the world. Each design comes in three varieties to represent some of the diversity of babies out there, enabling the arrivals to be celebrated without resorting to the usual old pink or blue. Designed by in-house designer Daisy Mojave Holland, the cards are 10cm x 15cm or 15cm x 15cm and can be supplied naked or wrapped in compostable film. Out of the Box Cards 07887506498 www.outofthebox.cards PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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LICENSED CARDS & POSTERS

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01242 575574 clannacards.co.uk

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JEREMY’S JOURNAL Business blogging by publisher Jeremy Corner of Blue Eyed Sun.

1,000 True Fans Jeremy Corner, owner of greeting card publisher Blue Eyed Sun and distributor of BambooCup and Bioloco, on the secret to successful marketing. It can seem quite daunting marketing a small business in retail or publishing can’t it? With so many ways to market your products, where do you even start? According to Kevin Kelly’s viral essay, ‘1,000 True Fans’, “success” does not need to be complicated. Simply start by making 1,000 people very, very happy.

You don’t need millions To be a successful creator (be that a card retailer, card publisher or any other business), you don’t need millions of dollars, customers, clients or fans. To make a living you just need 1,000 true fans. These are people who will buy anything you produce. If you have roughly this number of super fans then you can have a decent income. To do this you need two criteria. First, you need to create enough each year that you can earn, on average, £100 profit per true fan. For some endeavours this is easier to do than for others. What makes this work well is that is easier (and cheaper) to sell to existing fans than to find new fans. Secondly, you must have a direct relationship with your fans. If they pay you directly and you can keep the full £100 profit from each true fan then you will earn £100,000 per year. This would put you in

Above: Kevin Kelly’s viral essay states that marketing needn’t be complicated. Left: Successful marketing is about make 1,000 of your business’ or product's True Fans very happy - a design from Icon’s Curious World range. Below: Size isn’t everything; start small and focused when gaining fans.

the 97th percentile for annual UK income. To match the median annual UK income, you only need £29 profit per 1,000 true fans per year. Building 1,000 true fans is an achievable goal. This is more realistic than aiming for millions of fans and the goal itself opens up distinct possibilities in a massive array of niches. One way to get to this number is to add one true fan per day for three years and you’re there.

day’s labour from them. Pleasing your true fans is much more pleasurable than trying to appease the masses. Super fans tend to value and appreciate your uniqueness and authenticity. Not every fan will be a super fan. For each true fan you may have 2-3 regular fans. Like layers of an onion, you will have an inner circle that is surrounded by further layers of fans and customers. The processes that you develop to please your true fans will nurture peripheral fans too. Even though they don’t purchase as often, they may still add another 50% in profits to your business.

From small acorns A day’s wages Of course the number 1,000 is not absolute. To be your own boss and match the UK median annual income, you could have 500 fans each generating you £58 profit a year - achievable as a retailer. Alternatively, you could be a card publisher chasing £290 profit per customer with 100 true fan retailers each year to generate the same income. Another way to measure the support of true fans is to see if you can please them enough to earn the value of one

Everything big starts small and focused. While the 1,000 true fans make a key point of suggesting that size isn’t everything, this approach is also how you create best sellers that can lead to break out hits. Being laser-focused helps to build the loyal fan bases that leverage your work onto bigger things. Starting the other way (with size in mind) means that you may compromise by trying to please everyone and ultimately pleasing nobody. Not only do your loyal fan base tell you what works, they are also pretty vocal about what doesn’t, PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Botani ue

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

VISIT US AT THE

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t: 01947 601604

SPRING FAIR

CARDMORE w: cardmore.co.uk

e: info@cardmore.co.uk

2-6 FEBRUARY 2020

HALL 2 B72

01242 575574 clannacards.co.uk

Berni Parker Celebrating 10 years of beautiful greeting cards, stationery and giftware from original artwork

signs

28 new de

new including a collection, Menopause onery Men, Stati and 4 Gin Glasses!

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Tel: +44 (0)1299 406098 Email: sales@berniparkerdesigns.com www.berniparkerdesigns.com

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JEREMY’S JOURNAL which can be helpful for staying on track with your niche vision. Remember that size isn’t everything. Do you really want to be running a large company? It’s not always fun and can become an all-consuming task master that runs your life instead of you running it. Small, niche and profitable can be more enjoyable for most.

Repeat custom One of the key points to remember from the 1,000 true fans essay is that these fans are more likely to buy anything you produce. There are three key ways to grow your sales and true fans help with all of them. First, is

grow more fans (eg by referrals). Second, is sell more to those fans (by increasing price or volume). The third is to sell to them more often (by releasing more products or broadening/refreshing your selection in store). Mariah Carey super-fan Jeffrey Ingold has spent over £8,000 on the singer’s music in his life-time. He even owns multiple versions of the same albums. He buys everything and he raves about her music to others. Not everyone will be a Jeffrey, but it just shows how it can happen.

Your marketing force Focus on your true fans because they will also tend to be the primary driving force of recommendations, referrals and marketing. Their enthusiasm tends to increase the patronage of regular fans. To be really effective with your marketing you need to maintain close relationships with these true fans. Harder for a bricks and mortar

business, but if you are a publisher or retailer with an online trading platform, it pays to have a good CRM or database of who they are, what they like and how they like to buy. Having a direct relationship with true fans wasn’t always possible. The internet and software systems make this all much easier and more efficient. It also means less fans are needed to maintain the same levels of profit. Technology now also helps total sales of lower selling obscure items to rival sales of best sellers. Called ‘the long tail’ by TED talk founder Chris Anderson, this effect can really benefit your bottom line. For example, Blue Eyed Sun has hundreds of older designs on our website that continue to generate ongoing sales, despite newer ranges dominating orders from our sales agents who tend to favour the new. With the right website and emailing campaigns some customers can end up buying more from you directly, with higher average orders and more often, than they do with agents or other marketing approaches.

Discoverable niches Before the internet obscure items were much harder to track down. Remember ‘Fly Fishing’ by JR Hartley? Now you don’t even need the Yellow Pages. Search engines help us to find almost anything, no matter where you are. Got something that only one in a million will like? No problem. There are still 7,500 people on the planet that will still like it. You just need to have them find you. With social media and the internet it has never been easier to draw them to you and to keep them close. The good news is that big corporations aren’t interested in these niches and are not set up to service them. You can be. One way to build your audience is through crowd funding. With over 2,000 different

Left: Odds on, there will be a number of people on the planet who will like your brand - a design from Louise Tiler. Below left: Jeffry Ingold is a super-fan of Mariah Carey. Bottom: The internet has opened doors to new ways of marketing - a card from Pigment's Hey Girl range.

such platforms now available, raising money through crowd funding campaigns is within all of our grasps. A friend of mine does over £1million a year in online training courses and he still tests new projects with kickstarter campaigns to build his core fan base before launching.

Building your base Cultivating your fan base can be time consuming and hard work. Like business building, it’s not for everyone. Some should just create and others should market and sell. That’s why publishers and retailers exist and work so well as routes to market for some designers and creatives. They can add value to the equation. On social media, micro-influencers who have built small bases of 1,000+ true fans can be a great way off getting your business out there and growing your own fan base. It can also work well for the influencer by adding value to their loyal followers. We have done several successful BambooCup promotions with such influencers who have boosted our sales, given their fans a fun competition with prizes and increased goodwill with the influencer and their true fans: A win-win for all. You can combine your 1,000 true fans with other approaches, like licensing and distribution deals. For example, Doodle Girl has a loyal fan base online and the brand benefits from our extensive greeting card distribution by licensing its designs with Blue Eyed Sun on cards. The right partnerships can increase the size of your fan base. The ultimate goal is build this base into one of genuine and true appreciation. You don’t have to have millions of followers, just an achievable number of true fans that you delight with your work. That’s the secret to successful marketing. Jeremy is speaking on the Inspiring Retail stage at Spring Fair on Sunday 2 February at 13:30 at Spring Fair on ‘How can you become a sustainable retailer?’ Read more on Jeremy’s blog at www.blueeyedsun.co.uk/blog PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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PG asked a selection of card retailers for their ‘hot’ card sellers. Irene Mackenzie, owner of Paper Moon, Glasgow A small shop in a city with a passing shoppers and loyal locals customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range

Comments

Cute

Pigment

Love Unlimited

Humour

Pigment

Photographic

Icon

Art

Museums & Galleries

Etched, Fleet Street, Animal Antics Every Picture and Life Is Sweet Matthew Williamson

Contemporary

The Curious Inksmith (Ling) Words ‘n’ Wishes

General

Me&McQ

Top Of The World Cards Champagne Bug Art bone china mugs

The collection has quite a lot of ‘To a Friend’ captions, which is a popular send in this area. The humour isn’t too rude and yet still very amusing. A lovely photograph complemented with sentiment make a good mix. Some people know of the designer Matthew Williamson, but even if they don't they like the bright contemporary cards. Appealing to younger customers, the range has a number of occasions, birthday and ‘just because’ sends. The designs go down well because of the sentiment verse; Glasgow people like their verses! Above: Gorgeous 3D cards from Me&McQ. Gorgeous 3D designs - such as a birdcage, ice-cream van, coral reef that are very intricate. At £3.99 retail, they are very affordable for a hand-finished card. I sell the cards as well so the special looking mugs complement them, which, just like the card designs, also have gold coloured finishes.

Traditional Handmade/ Hand-Finished

Second Nature East West

Ancillary

Across The Board

Debbie Belton and Linda Tait, owners of Other Letters, Leigh On Sea, Essex A medium shop in a seaside town with a tourists and loyal locals customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range

Comments

Everyday

Noi Publishing

Across The Board

Cute

Scout Editions

Mini Cards

Humour

Mean Mail

General

Contemporary

The Completist

General

Katie Leamon

From Cup To Card

Handmade/ Hand-Finished Children’s Giftwrap

Type & Story

General

Dickie Bird Sadler Jones

General General

Ancillary

Coco Chocolatier

Chocolate bars

Quirky colourful illustrated cards with a totally unique and recognisable style. Always a best seller, great value, and the ‘nudie lady’ ones are particular favourites. Mini cards with original illustrations of everyday items that you might not expect on a greeting card. Each design has a story behind it. Beautiful print quality. The original and best ‘brutal message’ cards. Our bestsellers are 'The First Divorce Is Always The Hardest' and 'Are You Sure We’re Related?’. An amazing mix of a brave use of colour and pattern with a good range of sentiments. The card and envelope is made from disposable coffee cups and are 100% recyclable. In a simple palette of four contemporary colours. It was our first range to be ‘naked’. Beautiful cards with unusual sentiments and striking illustrations. Using a hot foil press, each card is foiled hand done by Niccy, the owner. Bright, fun cards with an amazing use of colourful imaginative subjects. Beautiful quality with original patterns and colours. When we posted a picture of this wrap it went viral - everybody loves it. Premium totally delicious chocolate bars with packaging designed by independent artists. Original flavours include Haggis Spice. Our best selling is Salted Caramel.

Above right: Scout Editions’ Squirrel Mini Card. Right: Brave with colour and pattern, The Completist.

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Ros Jones, owner of Celtic Company, Welshpool A medium shop in a town with destination shoppers and loyal locals customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range

Comments

Everyday

IC&G

Year You Were Born

Humour

Paperlink

Funny Farm

Photographic

Abacus

Across The Board

Contemporary

Paperlink

Emerald

Pigment

Fuzzy Duck

Lily Flame

Candles

Wild Olive

Bath Melts

Joma Mala Leather

Jewellery Purses

The range has come in with new and fresh designs for 2020. These are consistent sellers with vibrant looks and interesting content. Perennially funny with some cracking new humour titles which have gone down well. Abacus continues to have real strength with its photography ranges. The beautiful Emerald range is one of our best sellers. We absolutely love Pigment's Fuzzy Duck range (eg 'I don't have much money but - if I did - I'd buy a big pub where we all could live') and they are selling through speedily. With our pick-up lines for under a £tenner, Lily Flame continues to be a firm favourite whose prices have remained competitive. Our new love is Wild Olive - anything they do is popular but the bath melts in egg boxes are the best sellers. A lovely, ethical company too. For under £20 gifts it would be Joma bracelets all the way or purses by Mala Leather.

Right: A Fuzzy Duck design from Pigment.

Ancillary

Becky Abbiss, owner of With Love, Oakwood, Leeds A medium shop in a city suburb with destination shoppers and loyal locals customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range

Comments

Everyday

Blue Eyed Sun

Across The Board

Humour

Rosie Made A Thing

Gin & Frolics

Art

Mark Sofilas Art

General

Contemporary

Paper Salad

Jumbo Jamboree Age Cards

Handmade/ Hand-Finished

Elspeth Thomson

Contemporary and embroidered cards

Children’s

Angela Faulkner

Shiny & Bright

Giftwrap

Kali Stileman

Flatwrap

Belly Button and Glick

Rollwrap and Bags

Oli Olsen

Metalmorphose Keyrings Local Dialect gift range

There are so many gorgeous ranges it’s hard to choose my favourite. The publisher is very strong on anniversary and wedding cards. A great observational humour range, we really struggle to keep these in stock. It’s absolutely hilarious and on point and customers buy 3-4 cards at a time. I'd be rich if I could charge for reading/laughing rights in our humour section! Mark is an artist who specialises in landscape style oil paintings, which he then prints onto cards. Our customers love the bright and colourful aspect of his work, plus the local images. A great mid-size range of cards (180mm square). The designs are bright and vibrant with lovely foiling. They're a great price for a larger card and the retail price seems to suit our customer base. As we offer a free personalised/bespoke writing service on cards we've found that Elspeth's cards are perfect for that job - plus they are such a lovely husband and wife team to work with. A fun, bright, colourful and cheery card range for children, with lots of coloured foiling and embossing. Some great bright and cheerful designs. Our favourites are the children’s designs and the wrap only retails at £1.75 per sheet. Both wrap publishers are great staples for us with their on trend designs. Glick’s gift bags are at great prices and the company licences designs from publishers whose cards we stock (eg Wendy JonesBlackett, Paper Salad, Stephanie Dyment). The alphabet and male keyrings have been a big success and retail under £9.99. The company’s Yorkshire mugs and gift ranges go down a treat with our customers; they just love them!

Right: The Shiny & Bright children’s range from Angela Faulkner features coloured foiling and embossing. Below: A bright and cheerful flatwrap design from Kali Stileman.

Ancillary

Dialectables

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Art Trends & Design Focus

Into

The

An indigo shade of the infinite starry skies and deep serene waters, it’s significant that ‘Classic Blue’ is the calming and comforting hue chosen as Pantone’s Colour of the Year in 2020 for designers as the world’s anxieties grow regarding climate, political and social chaos and changes. This year visual trends have a number of key influencers, such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, triggering a fervour for Japanese culture, while allusions to the mystical, magic and the cosmos will draw curiosity. Caring for the environment and protecting endangered animals will be a huge priority, with the use of natural materials, forms and textures in design and illustration, and kindness to each other, and ourselves, are conveyed in gentle words. Diving in to the ocean of design trends for 2020, a glittery shoal of image library ‘schooled’ experts share their thoughts on key influences that will inspire art and design.

Luci Gosling, head of sales & research for Mary Evans Picture Library: Movers & shakers 2020 “I think we’re all pretty certain that the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be a major highlight of the year, meaning Japanese style is going to be everywhere. In terms of art exhibitions, the Aubrey Beardsley show at the Tate Britain will, I think, reignite interest more generally in the Art Nouveau style of that period - it feels very much in-tune with the increasing vogue for maximalism in fashion and interiors. Finally, environmental awareness will continue, quite rightly, to be at the forefront of people’s minds, along with the spread of the mantra ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Anything that fits with that principle, whether it’s wildlife illustration, WWII home front posters or even world maps, we think will have a resonance.”

Left: ©Jazz Age Club/Mary Evans Picture Library. Below right: Starry and celestial ©Old Visuals/Everett Collection/Mary Evans Picture Library. Bottom left: Exquisite Japanese artwork - ©Robert Gillmor/Mary Evans Picture Library.

Key art & design trends 2020 Japanese gallery: “Japanese art has always been popular for cards, but with the Tokyo Olympics it has a new relevance. And although we think the Games will have impact, it’s also a trend that never really dates and has real longevity. We have a wide range of Japanese imagery at Mary Evans Picture Library, including some beautiful hand-colour photographs of Japanese life around the turn of the last century. But the exquisite nature illustrations of Watanabe Seitei from a rare 1917 portfolio are a gorgeously artistic choice for cards.” Twenties zing: “If we’re looking at anniversaries, then 2020 marks the beginning of the decade known as the ‘Roaring Twenties’, as well as the beginning of Prohibition in America. Illustration and designs that sum up the Jazz Age feel like they’re due for a revival. We’ve even chosen to feature some of the dazzling covers designed for magazines such as The Tatler and The Bystander in our own calendar for 2020.” Luna landings: “Finally, stars, astrology and the heavens have all been featuring heavily in the fashion world recently. We’ve also licensed a series of starstrewn zodiac illustrations for a range of cushions, which have worked brilliantly. With everything on planet earth looking rather dismal, we think the lunar and celestial theme may well be worth exploring over the next year or so.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Art Trends & Design Focus

Jehane Boden Spiers, founder of Jehane Ltd: Movers & shakers 2020 “Now more than ever before, it’s impossible to discuss trends without referring to social factors. Arguably the biggest influence on art and design will be the ongoing importance of our relationship with nature; our concerns around sustainability and climate change. With the Tokyo Olympics we will undoubtedly see an increase in licensees publishing Japanese-inspired designs. While the Tate will celebrate our introspection and search for change with a major new exhibition by JMW Turner. 2020 is the year that Turner will appear on the new £20 bank note!”

Key art & design trends 2020 A gentle sentiment: “The use of words will continue to be popular and connect audiences young and old. I’ve been discussing this trend with my artists and our feeling is that in 2020 the emphasis will be on a gentler use of words. It will be more popular to use phrases which incorporate references to kindness or be words which we might say quietly to ourselves. As my artist Lee FosterWilson has noted, people will react better to quotes that are softly encouraging and accepting rather than ones which are strongly motivational. ‘In a gentle way, you can shake the world’ (Mahatma Gandhi).”

Magic & mysticism: “The trend for mysticism was set by Gucci’s famous Spring/Summer show in 2018 and shows no sign of wavering. No doubt a reaction to political uncertainty, the trend for divination will be strong in 2020. We will see an emphasis of designs inspired by tarot reading and palmistry. This trend is an extension of the concerns around nature and sustainability. Our search for harmony will see an increase on books and designs about mysticism, the solar system, and how the stars came to be.” Wabi Sabi: “The 2020 Olympics in Japan will see an increase in the popularity of ‘Wabi Sabi’. In traditional Japanese aesthetics ‘Wabi Sabi’ is a world view centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Sometimes described as one of beauty that is ‘imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete’. This trend includes an interest in oriental spiritual practices, reflected in simpler interiors and designs. It will also incorporate an increase in using natural elements and textures. Moss, mould, fungi and illustrations made of natural forms will be popular. Indeed, this aesthetic is a kick-back against the relentless pursuit of perfection in both life and social media. This trend aims to re-connect us with nature and what’s really important.” Top: Kindness is a Beautiful Gift ©Tracey English Be Kind to Yourself ©Lee FosterWilson courtesy of Jehane Ltd. Left: In the darkest dark look to the stars © Lee Foster-Wilson courtesy of Jehane Ltd. Right: ©Mushrooms by Katherine Quinn courtesy of Jehane Ltd.

Bhavisha Vadgama, art director & senior agent for Advocate Art UK, and Amanda Hendon, manager for Advocate Art Inc USA: Movers & shakers 2020 “We think that the main areas that our clients have taken a specific interest and shown awareness to are climate change, cultural upheaval and sustainability. We have also seen a boost in nostalgia - new takes on classical tales (ie Disney’s African American Ariel) - while celebrating diversity and inclusivity. We feel that card publishers have responded by having more diversity in their ranges; featuring a range of different characters, incorporating patterns and colour palettes from other cultures. We have also tried to identify the occasions which we feel could help expand our reach so focusing more on cultural festivals such as Eid, Diwali, Chinese New Year etc.”

Key art & design trends 2020 Harking back: “There are three key trends which we feel are on the rise, not just on greeting cards, but in other licensing products and also fashion. The first being nostalgia; imagine 1970's discos with bright, bold colours and patterns, geometric shapes, kitsch motifs, as well as psychedelic influences. Our prediction for a trend colour is amber orange and burnt canary yellows to be at the centre of attention of this fun trend.”

Tropical tastes: “The next trend we think will be popular comes from Tiki and tropical influences: Travelling to the Hawaiian tropics and focusing on bold, exotic botanicals, tropical birds combined with a hint of paradise with sun, sea and cocktails. Exotic fruits like pineapples and passion fruits to create a more citrus design. Overall we also predict a huge focus on food stuffs in licensing; this year all the trendiest boutiques are stocking food ornaments.” Natural preservation: “The final trend we think will be huge is endangered animals and climate change, a topic that is very much the talk of our society right now, and the mission to preserve our wildlife and oceans. We think that card publishers are going to celebrate these endangered animals and have them as the focus of their designs, and combine the earthly tones and patterns with rich finishes to make these more trend forward.” Above: Tiki is trending in 2020 - these images are courtesy of Advocate Art. Left: A delicious nostalgic illustration from Rebecca Prinn courtesy of Advocate. Right: Beautiful and precious, our wildlife. An illustration created by Amanda Shufflebotham courtesy of Advocate Art.

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Art Trends & Design Focus

Sue Bates, director for Yellow House Art Licensing: Movers & shakers 2020 “2020 feels like it will be a momentous year. The political landscape is still so tense and undecided. We might leave Europe or we might not. Trump might be re-elected or he might not. Given that, I think people will search for a distraction. The Tokyo Olympics will be exciting and not just for the sport. The culture of Japan will pervade everything from food to art to style. All eyes will be on America in this election year and I would expect American style to be very influential. The Climate Emergency will not be out of the news for a minute and people will be choosing to express their solidarity with the issue by buying fewer things and what they will buy will have a handmade quality to it.”

Key art & design trends 2020 Japanese aesthetic: “Japanese style has had a huge influence on Western art, especially in the late 20th century, and I expect a new wave of inspiration as we head towards the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020. I can see customers picking up on the cultural influences and being drawn to Japanese images and Japanese influenced images. We are proud to work with Glasgow Museums

Hannah Curtis, director of The Bright Agency Licensing: Key art & design trends 2020 Tokyo muse: “The summer of 2020 will see Tokyo host the Olympics and Japanese-inspired art and craft look set to be important influences in design. We are already seeing a Japanese aesthetic in the popularity of motifs such as Japanese cranes and pattern designs reminiscent of richly-patterned kimono fabrics, but the search for authenticity - a continuation of the trend for ‘artisan’ products of previous years - also identifies the beauty found in traditional Japanese craft techniques that explore the integrity of materials and the practice of mending, repairing and reinventing, popularised by Instagram and ‘handmade’ marketplace sites such as Etsy. This, in turn, reflects a move away from disposable ‘single-use’ mass culture and a reverence for history and the ‘life’ of an artefact. We are expecting designs that capture a slightly faded grandeur, that combine new aesthetics with old, to create something unexpected but beautiful in their reminiscence of traditional Japanese culture to be key in the coming year.” Joie de vivre: “The US Presidential Election in November 2020 and Britain’s long-awaited exit from the EU, are two hugely significant political events with potentially global impact. The climate of uncertainty that has attended both seems to have motivated a move towards (or even need for) design that embodies a sense of fun and a bright, optimistic colour palette that will

who have a collection of Japanese papers and woodblock prints that have been very popular for licensing over the years for a variety of product, and several of our artists are influenced by Japanese style and techniques. Expect to see bold, colourful patterns, lots of florals, delicate watercolours and woodblock prints.” Bright eyes: “Bright colours will continue to be popular after years of dominance of blacks whites and neutrals. We see this in clothing and increasingly in interior design, and nowhere more so than in the greeting card industry where bright colours make a design stand out from the crowd.” Eco aware: “People are becoming more and more aware of the climate emergency. Consumers will be looking to reflect their concerns in their buying choices. I expect to see a continuation of the move away from digital images towards something more textural, painted images rather than flat graphic styles. This will go hand in hand with the growing influence of crafts. Nancy Nicholson’s embroidery designs are a good example. Also Janine Partington’s work in enamel. Themes will continue to be based in the world of nature. We haven’t seen the back of birds, cats, or cacti yet!” Above left: Large multicoloured Chrysanthemums (detail) © CSG CIC Glasgow Museums Collection courtesy of Yellow House Art Licensing. Above right: The Tree of Butterflies © Emma Brownjohn courtesy of Yellow House Art Licensing. Left: ‘Seagull ©Janine Partington courtesy of Yellow House Art Licensing.

transcend the almost unbelievable conditions we find ourselves in. The bold colours, just a step or two removed from the primary palette, forecast by Pantone for Spring of 2020 - including Flame Scarlet, Classic Blue and Saffron - really capture that vibrant, concertedly positive mood. We think design that combines this with an edge of humour and an unapologetic joie de vivre will be hugely sought after in the coming year, as a welcome antidote to the general weariness and trepidation!” Climate rally call: “Although it has been a key trend for a couple of years now, a sense of our environmental responsibilities is only becoming more acute, and this increasingly impassioned feeling is played out in trends that both celebrate the natural world but that also rally us to action. Designs featuring or referencing ‘wild’ animals/endangered species and environments that draw attention to their beauty - but also fragility and the need to be bold in our efforts to protect continue to be popular. We are also expecting greetings to move towards more emphasis on colour, pattern and texture to add interest in place of flitter elements, and with a more naïve aesthetic overall.” Above: Full of joie de vivre, illustrated by Sarah Long courtesy of The Bright Agency. Left: Sam Neville’s cranes/Sanja Rescek cranes or embellished bird artwork reminiscent of Kimono prints, courtesy of The Bright Agency. Right: Lizzy Doyle’s stunning leopard is colourful and naïvely illustrated, courtesy of The Bright Agency. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Tracey Arnaud

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or email traceya@max-publishing.co.uk

01565 830 546 | bexyboo.co.uk @BexyBooLtd

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Glick, Unit 1 Allenby House, European Ind. Park, Knowles Lane, Bradford BD4 9AB

agents wanted Including firm favourites and brand new designs THE GREATEST COLLECTION OF GREETING CARDS IN THE WORLD

Brands include: Keepsakes, Words of Love, Jelly Beans, Bella Rose, Champagne and many more

@glickgiftwrap

NEW CHRISTMAS AND SPRING DESIGNS

www.emmabryan.co.uk

â&#x20AC;˘ UK Market leaders with humour, art, photographic, contemporary and traditional occasions & relations cards, plus seasonal. â&#x20AC;˘ 2Î?HULQJDIXOOSODQQLQJVHUYLFH with merchandising and retail development opportunities.

www.progressivegreetingslive.com

Teel:: +44 (0)115 986 0115 T customer t ser vices@paper i @ rose.co.ukk www.writefromthehear t.co.uk

â&#x20AC;˘ Specialists in garden centres and the independent trade.

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WAY

hello@emmabryan.co.uk 07889 598606

High Quality Greeting Cards, Gift Bags, Gift Wrap & Ta Tags for every occasion.

THE AND TRUTH

LIFE

THE

*GCF1HĆ&#x201A;EG +353 (0)404 20528 Email info@garlanna.com www.garlanna.com

Find The Great British Card Company on:

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Te T el: 0161 16 64 41 06 0655 Email: m sales@da sales@d avora.co.uk av 135 Hea 13 135 eaton Moorr Rd | Stockp ock kpo port ort SK4 4H 4 4HY HY

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PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

www.greatbritishcards.co.uk Waterwells Drive, Gloucester GL2 2PH Tel: 01452 888970


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PRODUCT DIRECTORY

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60 years

CHARITY GREETING CARDS

Your Number One Supplier of Numerals, Name, Relation & Age Labels for Greetings Cards.

One of the UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading publishers of Charity Greeting Cards. Impress offers a wide collection of images, including fine art, graphic, photographic and cute. We also offer a bespoke design service for bulk orders and/or mail order fulfilment.

Huge selection with immediate deliveryy.. Buy direct or from your wholesalerr.. Listan Labels 3 Isis Court, Wyndyke Furlong, Abingdon Business Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX1 5JN

Impress Publishing Appledown House Barton Business Park New Dover Road Canterbury, Kent CT1 3TE Tel: 01227 811 611 Fax: 01227 811 618 email: info@impresspublishing.co.uk

Te T el 01235 465489 Fax 01235 532118 www.listanpublications.co.uk sales@listanpublications.co.uk

New Cardiff designs at

www.idrewthis.co.uk Hallmark Cards PLC Dawson Lane, Bradford, BD4 6HN UK&NI: 0800 90 20 900 ROI: 012 480 104 customerqueriesUK@hallmark.com

To appear in the Product Directories simply contact Warren Lomax

.6-5*3"$*"- and -(#5(3&&5*/($"3%4

on:

020 7700 6740 or email on warren@max-publishing.co.uk or contact

Tracey Arnaud on:

07957 212 062 or email on tarnaud@btinternet.com

Hue tribe

www.huetribe.com t: +44(0) 7943416562 e: info@huetribe.com facebook: www.facebook.com/huetribedesign

CPNFTFFPVSOFXJMMVTUSBUJPOTPO45"/%41 BU1(-*7& % OFF ALL SHOW ORDERS

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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PRODUCT DIRECTORY

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WIDE RANGE OF PRODUCTS

l PRODUCT DIRECTORY

To appear in the Product Directories simply contact Warren Lomax

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Art that tells a storyâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;?

on:

LING DESIGN

020 7700 6740 or email on warren@max-publishing.co.uk or contact

Love Country by Sarah Reilly

Tel: 07735 918118

Inspired by Music and 1960â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s American Advertising.For all Vinyl & Rock nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Roll lovers

 L E T U S TA K E YOU BAC K 

B rand N ames a Pizazz, Pizazz Gallery, G Pizazz Limited Edition, E Pizazz for Men, Doodle, D A of Nature, Whatt a Picture, Art Designers Corner Cloudesley House, Shire Hill, Saffron Walden,, CB11 3FB

T: 01799 520200 F: F: 01799 520100 www.nigelquiney.c w ww ww.nigelquiney.com om

Tracey Arnaud www.lingdesign.co.uk

01892 838 574 information@lingdesign.co.uk

on:

07957 212 062 or email on tarnaud@btinternet.com

sarah@lovecountryuk.co.uk www.lovecountryuk.co.uk

Silk Screened Retro, Pop & Classic Cards

An exciting and innovative range of quality Birthday, Relations, Special Occasions, Handmade, Art and Humorous greeting cards. Full range of Christmas and Spring Seasons merchandise.

AG E N T S WA N T E D :     ĆŤ   ĆŤÄ&#x2018;ĆŤ    ĆŤ        ĆŤÄ&#x2018;ĆŤ   ĆŤ   

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on:

020 7700 6740 or email on warren@max-publishing.co.uk or contact

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Tracey Arnaud on: For further details please get in touch.

info@vincentmcevoy.com

+44 (0)7779 578340

LING DESIGN The UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading privately owned publisher of Greetings Cards and Stationery.

07957 212 062 or email on tarnaud@btinternet.com

Great brands, Great service Bespoke planning

  ÄŽ    Ä&#x2039; 01780 763 368

We can help with all your bespoke planning requirements. From smaller displays to redeveloping complete card departments

Marina B Designs from me to you with love

...The home for

UK

Happy Motherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Dayy D

and

Products: Greetings cards for all occasions, Christmas and Spring Seasons cards, gift wrap and bags, charity cards, social stationery. Bespoke service for charities and other fundraisers.

originalposter.com

All our cards are supplied on consignment, so you only pay for what you sell.

Ling Design Ltd 14-20 Eldon Way, Paddock Wood, Kent TN12 6BE Tel: 01892 838574 enquiries@lingdesign.co.uk www.lingdesign.co.uk

We also supply card fixtures and spinners free-on-loan. @NoelTattGroup 01227 811 600 sales@noeltatt.co.uk

www.marinab.co.uk mar in a@ m a rinab. co.u k Agents wanted

www.noeltatt.co.uk

We replace slow sellers and damaged stock free of charge. We merchandise regularly, so you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to.

M

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PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

ad

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Greeting cards & gifts designed with awesomeness in mind

Exquisite Designs Beautiful Cards Key br ands include: Wr ite from the Hear t Ar tisan, Marzipan, Capisco Designer s Guild, Clare Tupperr Lucy Ledger plus man y more

p p paperlink...

Tel:: +44 (0)115 986 0115 Te customer ser vices@paperrose .co.uk www.paperrose .co.uk www.ar tgroupcards.co.uk

purpletreedesigns.co.uk info@purpletreedesigns.co.uk

the home of fabulous cards!

Uk publisher of Greetings Cards with an extensive range of quality Birthday, Relations, Occasions and Seasonal product... available from

LUXURY GIFT PACKAGING

356 Kennington Rd London SE11 4LD T 020 7582 8244 info@paperlink.co.uk k www.paperlink.co.uk Paperlinkcards

THE GREATEST COLLECTION OF GREETING CARDS IN THE WORLD

www.progressivegreetingslive.com

@ @paperlinkcards

LING DESIGN

Our Brands: Laughter with Animals, Sporting Fun The Funny Side of Life.

ICONIC LICENCED BRANDS

R

son s easo e

01892 838 574 www.pennykennedy.co.uk

to be

Method of sale: Direct to Retail 14-20 Eldon Way, Paddock Wood, Kent TN12 6BE Tel: 01892 838574 enquiries@lingdesign.co.uk www.lingdesign.co.uk

cheerful ...

Design-led Stationery, Gifts, Calendars, Diaries and Cards

happy cards f rom

0208 613 8085 paperbirdpublishing co uk paperbirdpublishing.co.uk

Brands Laura Ashley, Roald Dahl, Lily & Val, Vintage Ladybird, Caroline Gardner, Monsoon, Born to Shop, Flash Gordon, Boofle and many more. Our In-house design studio and established supply chain enables us to offer bespoke services. tel: +44 (0) 1225 329494 email: sales@porticodesigns.com website: www.porticodesigns.com

raspber r yblossom.com hello@raspberryblossom.com 020 3723 5405 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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t. 07779 654 694 e. info@ruby-tuesday.co.uk www.ruby-tuesday.co.uk

greeting cards & contempoRary gifts www.redbackcards.com e: info@redbackcards.com t: 01752 830482

AGENTS WANTED

To appear in the Product Directories contact

Warren Lomax

020 7700 6740 or email warren@max-publishing.co.uk or contact

Tracey Arnaud

07957 212 062

or email traceya@max-publishing.co.uk

Products: Greetings Cards, Gift Wrap, Gift Bags, Social Stationery, Partyware

Brands: 6 Heron Trading Estate Alliance Road, Park Royal, London W3 0RA T: 0208 385 4474 F: 0208 385 4471 E: info@Xpressyourselfcards.co.uk WWW.XXPRESSYOURSELFCARDS.CO.UK

To appear in the Product Directories email

Warren Lomax warren@max-publishing.co.uk or

Tracey Arnaud tarnaud@btinternet.com

124

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

PRODUCTS: World’s leading publisher of high quality plastic greeting cards. Also an extensive range of quality greeting cards covering Everyday, Occasions, Christmas and Spring seasons. BRANDS: Cherished Thoughts, Sweet Sentiments, Buddies Always, Symphony, Thinking of You, Style, Special Wishes, Special Times, Young Editions, Groove Sensations, Forever Blessed, Grey Skies, Classics. METHOD OF SALE: SENSATIONS – Direct to retail XPRESS YOURSELF – Now one of the leading wholesale publisher suppliers in the UK

To appear in the Product Directories contact

Warren Lomax

020 7700 6740 or email warren@max-publishing.co.uk or contact

Tracey Arnaud

07957 212 062

or email traceya@max-publishing.co.uk

Blossom & Bows Card Essentials Greetings Impressions In Touch Isabel·s Garden Planet Happy Sentiments With You In Mind Word Play

Method of sale: Wholesale Distributors

Simon Elvin Limited Wooburn Industrial Park, Wooburn Green, Bucks HP10 0PE Tel: 01628 526711 Fax: 01628 531483 www.simonelvin.com mail@simonelvin.com


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The UKâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s leading publisher of highest quality handmade Greetings Cards.

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DIRECT TO RETAIL & EXPORT

Products: Greetings cards for all occasions, Christmas and Spring Seasons. Spinners and other retail displays available. Talking Pictures Cards Ltd 14-20 Eldon Way, Paddock Wood, Kent, TN12 6BE

Tel: 01892 838574 enquiries@talkingpics.co.uk www.talking-pictures.co.uk

To appear in the Product Directories contact

TEL: 01480 435562 FAX: 01480 450599

020 7700 6740

www.tracksltd.com

or email warren@max-publishing.co.uk or contact

STUKELEY MEADOWS IND EST,

Warren Lomax

UNIT 2, 12 BLACKSTONE RD, HUNTINGDON, CAMBS, PE29 6EF

Tracey Arnaud

2@= 29KL= M<K

07957 212 062

or email traceya@max-publishing.co.uk

Just food and their friends....

7RPFDW&DUGV

view by rufus designed in thames ditton

is there a vegan option?

5=N= ?GF= ?J==F

topdog@view by rufus.com 020 8972 9706

All greeting cards printed with vegetable inks on recycled boards/envelopes, including biodegradable packaging...

www.the-taste-buds.co.uk info@the-taste-buds.co.uk 07906 367 663

viewbyrufus.com register fo for a trade account: www w..viewbyrufus i b f .com/b2b /b2b

www.tomcat.cards info@tomcat.cards

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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DIRECTORY OF WHOLESALE

We offffer a We COMPREHEN

range of high Greeting Cards f ALL Occasions,

CHRISTMAS an Season f Sale:

mail: inffo o@words-nWeb: www We w..words-n-wishes.co.uk

Tel: 01942 233201

EUROPEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S LEADING GREETINGS CARDS, PARTY PRODUCTS, GIFTS, CANDLES, TOYS, STATIONERY AND FLORIST SUNDRIES DISTRIBUTION CENTRE 75000 SQ FT

Verse

& entimen

an extensive range of superior quality,

design-led Greeting Cards for all occasions, Spring Seasons & Christmas.

Method of Sale: Direct to Retail

Orders can be placed on our trader site

www.cbgtrader.co.uk

or call our customer services team on

+44(0)1243 792600

Art Cards eA Botanical Fine

Market Leaders in

Vibrant and nd elegant gree greeting cards A freshly fr modern perspective on nature

Call Now 075 7700 1145 www.zaquarella.co.uk info@ zaquarella.com

To appear in the Product Directories simply contact

Warren Lomax: 020 7700 6740 warren@max-publishing.co.uk or contact

Tracey Arnaud: 07957 212 062 tarnaud@btinternet.com 126

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

BESCOT CRESCENT, WALSALL, WEST MIDLANDS. WS1 4NG 01922-646666 www.greetingshouse.co.uk info@greetingshouse.co.uk MON,WED,FRI 8.00am-4.45pm TUES,THURS 8.00am-7.45pm SAT,SUN 8.00am-1.45pm


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Polypropylene & biodegradable bag specialists

GREETING CARD

Over 40 years quality service to the trade Hotfoiling also available

T 01206 396209 E sales@badgerconverters.co.uk www.badgerconverters.co.uk

GIVE E YOUR

BAGS

Manuffacturers of high quality fllexible packaging 30 YEARS EXPERIENCE - QUA UALITTY Y SERVICE EXTENSIVE STOCK RANGE - QUICK DE ELIVERY ASSURED

- HEADER BAGS - WA WALLET BAGS - ZIPPER BAGS - FLEXOGRAPHIC, HOTFOIL & THEERMAL PRINTING www.transrappackagin ng.co.uk sales@transrap.co o.uk

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0122 1228 228 2 28 8 56 5605 60 052 26 6 www.fful ulcrumfilms. ulcrrum mfillm ms s co.uk uk

Over 400 Bespoke Envelope Sizes 8 Sizes Permanently in Stock RECYCLED

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ORDER ON LINE AT:

W W W. EN VE CO .CO .U K

01 90 83 78 86 6

www.regentenvelopes.com 01274 583000 sales@regentenvelopes.com

We’ve been producing p bags of high clarity and high quality q for over 30 years. 01274 220 220 www w.wrapid.co.uk sales@wrapid.co.uk

IN FO @E NV EC O. CO .U K

‘we we make Envelopes and Stationery’

MOREE THAN 50 COLOURS 6 POPULAR GREEETINGS CARD SIZES 50+ WH HITE SIZES IN STOCK BESPOKE ENV VELOPES AV AVAILABLE PEEL A AND SEAL CLOSURE RECYCLED / KRAFTT / 140GSM / 120GSM 11 SUPER BRIG GHT NEON COLOURS BESPOKE NOTEBO OOKS & STATIONERY

PLEASE GET IN TOUCH FOR YOUR COMPLIMENTA TARY RY ENVELOPE OR NOTEBOOK SWA WATCH PA PACK

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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SPECIALISTS IN SHORT RUN MULTI IMAGE PRINT s Foiling Services without the need for dies s Wiro bound notebooks, no minimum quantity s In House Fulfilmment Services

T 01274 305832 E info@hellocards.co.uk www.hellocards.co.uk

The simplest way to order your greetings cards

FLITTERING FOR ALL YOUR FLITTER REQUIREMENTS

ABL Foil Ltd Unit 1, Industrial Estate East Hanningfield Chelmsford Essex, CM3 8AB 128

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

Contact DAVID JIGGINS Tel: 01245 400104 Email: david@abl-ltd.co.uk

Powered by

Unit 8, Archers Park, Branbridges Road, East Peckham, Kent TN12 5HP www.theimagingcentre.co.uk Email: info@theimagingcentre.co.uk Tel: 01622 871449

we print

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Your saf ep ai

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Outstanding, cost effective and efficient production of Greeting cards, Packaging and Social stationery, ideal for intricate and hand finished products. • Over 15 years experience providing high-quality printed products direct from the Far East • Trusted and financially stable, UK owned by The Sherwood Group • Socially responsible manufacturing: SMETA, ISO9001, ISO14001, FSC certification • Full product prototyping in the UK for competitive speed to market requirements

To find out how we can benefit your business, contact Derek Lam +00 (852) 3527 3471 / derek@sherwood-press.com or The Sherwood Group Head Office Hong Kong Office: 13/F, Kam Chung Commercial Building, 19-21 Hennessy Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

www w..sherwoodgroupuk.com

000510

PJ PRINT LONDON The Capitals Only Specialist Greeting Card Printer All Industry Finishes Available In-House Including Laser Cutting

Social Sta tationerry Printer of the Year

Award winning U UK & Global specialist manufacturer ffor the greeting card industry fo or over 40 years The Print Works Colville Road, Acton, London, W3 8BL E-mail: sales@pj-print.co.uk Tel: 020 8993 5160 www.pj-print.co.uk

To discuss how we can worrk together, contact Richard Bacon: Tel 0115 928 7766 Email ric chard.bacon@sherwoodgroupuk.com

www.sherwoodgroupuk.com Hadden Court, Glaisdale e Parkway, Glaisdale Drive West, Nottin ngham NG8 4GP

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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THE SPECIALIST GREE ETINGS CARD PRINTE ER Litho Print

Die-cutting

Digital Print

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Distribution

Tel:0127 e 4 4531828 Email: info@herbertw o alkers.co.uk

www.herbertwalkers.co.u uk

WAREHOUSING & DISTRIBUTION

WAREHOUSING & DISTRIBUTION

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A ba c u s Ca r d s Lt d , Th e S t u d i o , Oa k s Dr i v e, N ew ma r k et , S u f folk. CB8 7SX

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PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Profile for Max Media Group

Progressive Greetings February 2020  

Progressive Greetings February 2020