Progressive Greetings January 2023

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As I write this there are still a couple of frenzied shopping days left before Father Christmas comes down the chimney, and while it might not be a cracker, it will hopefully not be a turkey.

While the Royal Mail strikes did impact on Christmas card sends, they also drove consumers back to the high street, unwilling to risk gifts ordered online not arriving in time.

“So, the Daily Mail just wrote us off in four words,” was the comment from Chris Bryan, Second Nature’s general manager and GCA president on seeing the front cover of Daily Mail on Saturday 10 December. And the offending phrase was ‘…forget sending Christmas cards’ suggesting to its readers that due to Royal Mail strikes there was little point in sending festive greetings as they would not arrive in time. Urghhhhh! This was the last thing we needed.

Admittedly only a matter of days later, the DM did something of a U-turn in the industry’s favour with the bold headline on Daisy Goodwin’s full page article: ‘Even if they don’t arrive on time, there’s nothing so magical as a Christmas card’.

This positive Christmas spirit was more than matched by how members of the greeting card community really did pull together in the face of adversity with the CWU’s industrial action putting the dampeners on our mega card send.

As a long-time member of the GCA Council, I was privy to all the cajoling, meetings, pestering, allegiance forming that Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA and fellow Council members were busy doing in December, including successfully managing to

Above: The Card Centre’s John Barrett welcomed PG’s Jakki Brown to the Felixstowe landmark shop, which celebrated its 75th anniversary and won a Retas in 2022.

Left: A welcome headline in the Daily Mail.

Below: The GCA Council and Past Presidents enjoyed an annual gathering in early December to reflect on the past and to plan for the future.

overturn a negative tack several journalists were looking to take by bombarding them with facts, figures and quotable nuggets, such as card sending is up for 18-34 year olds.

However, as Amanda said to me this morning: “What has been great this year is how many of our members have engaged with the media with the result that their individual stories were heard, which really paint a picture of the vibrancy of our sector.”

It was so good to hear Danilo’s Daniel Prince and Dean Morris fight the corner - on Channel 5 News, LBS and BBC Midlandson how the Royal Mail strikes have caused not only their businesses disruption, but also sullying their brands’ reputation with the public for non-delivery of orders. I loved the gumption of Dandelion Stationery’s Jo Wilson appearing on Radio 4’s You and Yours, regaling both the history and modern day relevance of sending Christmas cards, even converting the hitherto non-sender interviewer Bob Walker to the merits of cards and was super impressed by indie retailer Austin & Co’s Sean Austin’s deft skill on the Jeremy Vine Radio 2 phone in, quashing the ‘Christmas cards are dead’ line hook, line and sinker.

The passion and talent of those in our industry is what makes it so special…here’s hoping for a passionate and vibrant 2023 with no more Royal Mail strikes!

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


43 51 67



All the latest happenings and developments in the trade.

30-31 Over The Counter

New Beginnings…

David Robertson, co-owner of JP Pozzi considers Nostradamus’ predictions and hopes for 2023.

32-33 Cardsharp

The China Syndrome

PG columnist vents his spleen wondering why the media hoed into Christmas cards being produced in China.

35-41 Viewpoints

Collective Thoughts

Members of the GCA Council share their views on the industry’s challenges, opportunities and wishes.



A raft of new ranges and designs.

63-65 In Conversation With…Cardgains

A Shaw Thing

All change at the top of Cardgains as Chris Dyson retires and Penny Shaw becomes managing director.

67-69 In Conversation With…Dandelion Stationery Poster Girl

PG talks to Jo Wilson, founder of Dandelion Stationery about the publisher’s journey and its poster sideline.

71-77 Focus on…Christmas Card Trends

Jump To It

PG joined publishers in reliving the joy of Christmas jumper day and tapped into some of the festive card trends for 2023.


Retailer Face to Face A Finest Year

Tesco’s Sam Ody and Katy Strachan reflect on the grocer’s greeting card progress over the last year.

79-83 Art Source Feast For The Eyes


Retailer Focus Historic Greetings

A delve into the indie treasure trove that is The Card Centre in Felixstowe.


Face to Face

Hare Raising

Belly Button Designs’ founder Rachel Hare shares the publisher’s mega launches, Henries win and licensing aspirations.

PG serves up a smorgasbord of what some experienced aesthetic bellwethers cite as the cultural drivers of our creative tastes for 2023.


What’s Hot?

A trio of retailers lift the lid on their best-selling ranges.


Sources of Supply

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Copyright© 2023. While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this magazine was correct at the time of publication, the publishers cannot accept legal liability for any errors or omissions, nor can they accept responsibility for the standing of advertisers nor any organisation mentioned in the text. Views of contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the publishers.

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

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Tracey Bearton Features Editor Jakki Brown Editor/Joint Owner Warren Lomax Joint Owner Ian Hyder Joint Owner Tracey Arnaud Sales Manager


Christmas Crunch time

As PG went to press there were still three shopping days left until Christmas and it was still all to play for.

“My hunch for all this week is it will go nuts with the weather being warmer and non-delivery of online purchases will force people into the high street. However, it will be nowhere near enough to make up,” Miles Robinson, co-owner of the House of Cards Home Counties group commented. “Last week’s trade was shocking, as a group we were 15% down on the previous year! Stamp sales were catastrophic as when RM did manage to sell them to us, they couldn’t deliver them.

It was a perfect retail storm for sure! The strikes have been awful for us, stamp sales are down 50% on last year (mainly due to non-delivery) and this has impacted on card sales (especially boxed/packaged) as customers cannot buy stamps or guarantee cards they send will arrive

RM have certainly done a great job in reducing card sending for sure!” added Miles.

Like Miles, Heidi Early, co-owner of Earlybird Designs in London’s Stoke Newington admits to having felt a “bit broken” due to challenges of trade, but then Saturday 17 December was the retailer’s “best day ever.” While unwilling to be drawn on any “firm predictions” for the final Christmas run up, Heidi said: “If I’ve learnt anything it’s that anything is possible! I think we will have a boost from people not relying on deliveries and actually coming to the high street to shop. And once they’re in the shop we have the opportunity to blind them with amazing customer service and remind them why shopping in person is such an enjoyable experience!”

Up in Edinburgh, the Saturday before the Christmas weekend, Paper Tiger owner Michael Apter said: “Everyone

Diary Dates

wound the clock back to about 2007 and went back to the High Street at the weekend - we saw really significant footfall in the city centre. It feels like people are ready to come back and enjoy that big city experience for the first time since the pandemic, and shoppers were also out in big, big numbers at the start of the week. I am expecting a really busy week in the run up to Christmas Eve, and have a feeling that I will be pretty happy with the numbers by the time we get to Hogmanay.”

In Lancashire, Mark and Marion Flaherty of Best Wishes in Garstang is enjoying a “very busy” last week. “Gifts are selling well, as one customer said: “we aren’t risking having anything delivered, if we can’t get it in Garstang it’s not happening!”

The Royal Mail strike action has affected the sale of cards, mainly boxes, but customers are still buying the individual family/titles.”

“Trade has been very good and it is very busy so let's hope for a good last week with one extra day,” commented Philip Nield, co-owner of Reflections in Nantwich and Rugeley. “We have actually had an increase on single Christmas cards (many of which are given and not posted) and also gifts and chocolate, but boxed assortments are about 25% down in both shops, which may indicate that people have not been willing to post them due to the strikes.”

£2m fundraising milestone reached by Noel Tatt for Help32 Charities

Christmas is known as the season of goodwill, and this is most certainly the case for Noel Tatt as the publisher has now reached the £2 million charity fundraising milestone from the sales of its Help32 Charities Christmas card collection.

The Kent-based card company has been working with Help32, a brand that brings together 32 UK member charities, since 2001. Some 10% of the retail price from the designated charity collection is donated to Help32 every year and the sales from the 2022 range from Noel Tatt means the accumulated amount received by the charity brand from the publisher has now surpassed £2 million.

The Help32 brand has been increasing in popularity among Noel Tatt’s customers and 2021 saw a record amount of £127,000 being raised.

“We are so grateful to the amazing team at Noel Tatt and to their stockists for their valued support. Their commitment to Help 32 Charities is incredible,” said Martin Richardson, Chair of Help32 Charities, which includes Action Medical Research, The British Polio Fellowship, RNLI, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, The Mental Health Foundation and Sue Ryder among its member charities.

While many of the Help 32 charities are well known, its members also include smaller, lesser-known charities for whom the awareness as well as the funds the Christmas card pack sales generate are very much appreciated.

Commenting, sales manager of Noel Tatt, Michael Griffiths, said: “We were delighted to sign an agreement to re-establish the Helpcards brand back in 2001, recognising that Christmas multi-packs were becoming overwhelmingly a charity-based product - and are even more delighted to have now reached this significant fundraising milestone.

The brand is now distributed to over 1,500 of our independent customers annually and we would like to thank our customers for their ‘help’ in enabling this and we look forward to increasing this further in 2023!”

The new Help32 collection has recently been launched, with completely plastic-free packaging, now supplied with a sustainable wire rack rather than a single use cardboard FSDU. The cards are fully protected in an outer ‘wallet’ made of board.

The Help32 collection spans four different card sizes, with each pack containing eight cards.

Retailers hold their nerves for last minute rush
GCA’s Dragons Speed-dating event takes place the afternoon of March 2 at London’s Business Design Centre. There is an earlybird price of £135 is available for publishers until midnight on 9 January. A PG Live exhibitor meeting will take place at the same venue in the morning on March 2 The GCA Conference and AGM is to take place in Leeds’ Armouries on September 28 , with a meet-up the evening before. Below: Part of a Reflections’ Christmas window. Below middle: Paper Tiger’s Michael Apter. Above: The new reusable wire stand for Noel Tatt’s 2023 Help32 Charities collection.

Cardies fight back

As postal strikes hit, media features publishers and retailers

Greeting card publishers, retailers and the GCA took to the media to promote Christmas card sending as well as highlight the detrimental effect the postal strikes have had on business.

Danilo’s Daniel Prince, Dandelion’s Jo Wilson, Ricicle Cards’ David Rice-Nicolls, Dean Morris, Austin & Co’s Sean Austin, Thortful’s Pip Haywood and the GCA’s Amanda Fergusson are among those who did their utmost to work their media magic on TV, radio and in print to extoll the virtues of Christmas card sending as well as highlighting the damaging effects of the postal strikes in the festive run up.

Daniel Prince, md of Danilo appeared on Channel 5 News at the start of the strikes, in which he said: “These strikes are causing maximum harm for businesses. We do sympathise with the strikers, however, the fact that the strikes are happening now, at the peak period, almost the peak weekend for selling and delivering goods to consumers, that’s where the sympathy for us ends.”

On Jeremy Vine’s BBC Radio 2 show, the presenter ignited the industry’s passions with his suggestion that: “After years of steady decline is this finally the death knell? Is this Hark The Herald Death Of The Christmas Card year?” bringing in journalist and broadcaster Matthew Parris, who confessed he stopped sending Christmas cards about five years ago “for selfish reason - it was just a huge task”, saying he was “tormented” when he got a card from someone he’d not sent to.

Within a minute, independent card retailer Sean Austin of Austin & Co was on air putting forward a great case for cards. “Based on what’s been happening this year, the death of the Christmas

greeting card has been vastly exaggerated, we’ve found ourselves this year, even with what’s been going on, our sales are increased.

“Research has shown that millennials are pushing the greeting card forward. It’s almost that people have had enough of social media and are almost putting two fingers up to it, and they want to something which is a bit more personal, and a bit more acceptable to the person receiving it.”

Referring to last month’s rescreening of the Woodmansterne, Inside The Factory BBC documentary and how it showed the “huge process” involved in making greeting cards, Sean added: “I’m at the coalface, one person in one shop, but there are literally hundreds of thousands of people, it’s a huge industry that brings a lot of money to the economy.”

That convinced Matthew to admit: “I do realise that it’s a big and useful industry, and probably gives a lot of people a lot of pleasure and I don’t mean to sneer, I’m just lazy,” as Jeremy summed up with: “We started by asking if the Christmas card is dead, I’m now thinking it might not be.”

Top: ‘Forget sending Christmas cards’ was an unwelcome message on a Daily Mail front cover.

Above: Danilo’s Daniel Prince on Ch5.

Thortful loses £1m through RM strikes

Online greeting card retailer Thortful’s md Pip Haywood spoke out on BBC’s Radio 4 and later in other media saying it had lost “in the region of £1million” due to the strikes, at a rate of £30,000-£50,000 per day. She also stressed how the strikes had also affected the income of the many artists and designers who rely on the income when their card designs are ordered from the Thortful marketplace.

Left: Thortful’s md Pip Haywood.

Dean Morris’ message

Dean Morris appeared on LBC Radio’s James O’Brien following customer complaints that its Christmas card orders were not arriving with the public.

“I needed to ventto about 1.3million listeners, thanks to James O'Brien doing a phone in.” Dean told the radio host: “I do support the strikes, everyone deserves a decent living wage” but pointing out it was the busiest time of year for Dean Morris Cards and other publishers, and the low value of cards means they don’t have the luxury of using more-expensive courier firms so are reliant on Royal Mail.

Dean rammed the message home again when he was filmed by BBC Midlands at the publisher’s premises.

Above: Dean Morris is not one to mince his words.

GCA gets issues on radar

Getting greeting industry concerns over the Royal Mail strikes and bid to change its six-day delivery obligations on the government’s radar has moved forward thanks to GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson’s “really useful” meeting with the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

At a recent meeting Linda Stephens, BEIS’ assistant director for postal policy confirmed to Amanda: “there are currently no plans to change the requirements of the postal service” with regard to the Royal Mail’s universal service obligation (USO), adding that the government is “listening to evidence”.

Amanda said: “I feel we are now, at last, getting on to the government’s radar. Linda took lots of notes and is keen for any stats we can share.”

In the last few weeks Amanda has also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours, on LBC radio, on the GB News TV channel’s news show hosted by Alastair Stewart (see above) and has been quoted in the Sunday Times both about the Royal Mail strikes as well as Christmas card sending.

Amanda revealed: “Linda also confirmed that any changes to the USO will require further consultation, and then debate in Parliament. So, it’s some way off - but it’s now that we need to be stating our case to MPs pointing out these concerns.”

Above: Amanda on the GB News TV show hosted by Alastair Stewart.

Introducing new designs from Me to You, Violent Veg and Blue Mountain Arts. Pre-order from January 2023 via your Business Development Representative, our Customer Service Team on 01243 792600 or online at @CarteBlancheGrp @carteblanchegrp @carteblanchegrp @CarteBlancheGroup Calendars & Diaries 2024 NEW

All Systems Go

PG Live opens for registration

Progressive Greetings Live 2023 is now open for retail buyers, international distributors and licensees to book their free tickets.

Billed as “the greatest greeting card show in the world”, PG Live 2023 will be back in all its glory at London’s Business Design Centre in Islington on Tuesday and Wednesday, 6-7 June.

Show director Warren Lomax said: “We want to give everyone the chance to plan their year as early as possible so opening PG Live’s registration for visitors early seems the right way to go.

“It’s always such an enjoyable event we know buyers and overseas distributors just want to get the date fixed in their diaries so they can get together for the best the greeting card industry has to offer.”

With more than 140 exhibitors already signed up - and lots more in the pipeline - the line-up is already expansive, from the fabulous established names of UK Greetings, Woodmansterne, Danilo, Emotional Rescue, Ling Design, Hallmark, Museums & Galleries, The Art File, Abacus, Belly Button Designs, Dean Morris Cards, Caroline Gardner, Paper Salad, IC&G, and Pigment, through fast growing publishers like Bewilderbeest, The Seed Card Company, Stormy Knight,

Raspberry Blossom and Heyyy Cards, to complete newbies, such as Richard’s Gallery, Stoats And Weasels, and Arrthithe list is constantly growing.

As the UK’s only trade exhibition dedicated to the greeting card industry that’s vibrant, buzzy and something a bit different, the show ticks all the boxesand the latest innovation of Springboard Intro, sponsored by The Imaging Centre, is absolutely flying!

This new section gives first-time exhibitors an easy way to debut at the event at just £440+VAT for a table, while to mark the printer’s 10th anniversary of sponsoring the whole Springboard area, an attractive bonus of £100 credit is being given to all 2023 exhibitors in the main Springboard area who are publishers using The Imaging Centre’s IC Simplicity service.

Roshah popped up at John Lewis

Anyone popping along to John Lewis in Manchester’s Trafford Centre recently would have discovered Roshah Designs, who had a pop-up shop in the popular department store.

Founder and designer Robina Shah showcased her cultural and ethnic greeting cards and gift wrap, along with her hand-embellished gift socks in the run up to Christmas.

“It was my first pop up shop in John Lewis,” Robina told PG. “My cards were in the new Introducing… range in Tesco stores recently developed through UK Greetings too - this was such a brilliant opportunity and l’ve loved that Roshah Designs is getting out there more.”

Recognising how far the company has come in a short time, Robina added: “It’s all thanks to exhibiting at PG Live that has given me the confidence to develop further, even though my imposter syndrome has kicked in many times!”

Trafford Centre.

Moonpig claims 16% of card sales are now online

The cost-of-living crisis and Royal Mail strikes caused Moonpig to cut its revenue forecast for the year from £350million to £320m, but the online greetings giant still posted an upbeat message in its recent half-year results.

“Despite the difficult trading environment, we have delivered a robust set of results and, with our data-led model, we are ideally positioned to capture the significant long-term opportunities in our markets,” commented ceo Nickyl Raithatha in a recent statement .

In its half-year results, the FTSE 250 group said revenue for the year would be about £320m because of challenging trading conditions and “the continued macroeconomic uncertainty”.

Trading at Moonpig and its Dutch-based sister card and gift business Greetz reflected the more challenging conditions seen from October onwards and was also impacted in the UK by industrial action at Royal Mail during September and October, which affected lastminute card-only orders around each strike day.

However, Nickyl remained upbeat. “We are a high-margin, cash-generative business with a large opportunity in front of us and a clear market leadership position. Once the external environment stabilises, we absolutely expect to resume our long-term growth trajectory.”

And he insisted the online greeting card business is still at an early stage. “The longterm trend shows that, clearly, the market continues to move online and the numbers are still low - we think it is about 16% penetration in the UK,” with the results statement adding that there is significant opportunity to drive card-attached gifting, with fewer than one in five of orders across Moonpig and Greetz currently containing a gift.

The number of orders from Moonpig and Greetz dropped by 13% to 16.9m from 19.5m. Despite the fall, the company restated its profit target for the full year of between £85m and £88m because of the size of its profit margin. Its strategy to navigate the uncertain economic outlook is focusing on the higher-margin cards business and offering a cheaper range of gifts to customers.

Moonpig’s pre-tax profits halved in the first six months to £9.1m from £18.7m in the same period last year, partly driven by increased interest payments on its purchase of Red Letter Days and Buyagift in July as it expanded into the gift and experiences market.

Above: Moonpig leveraged its own IP with the development of some plush Moonpiggies.

Above: Robina Shah popped up at Manchester’s Above: Registration has gone live for PG Live 2023. | Tel: 01638 569050 | Email: A stunning collection of charity Christmas packs, bumper boxes, luxury boxed cards and single captioned cards all available to pre-order. Please contact your local territory sales manager or our sales office on 01638 569050. Come and visit us at Hall 3, M10/N11

Comic Calls Out Paperchase On TV

Paperchase was taken to task by comedian and TV presenter Joe Lycett over its administration deal that left greeting card publishers £thousands out of pocket - and he’s even helped three of them with a £17,000 donation.

Introducing Channel 4’s Joe Lycett: Got Your Back special episode that was screened in mid December, the star told the audience that he’d been “busy pissing people off” as he gets “annoyed about injustice”.

Joe devoted a 20-minute section to covering the legal move that saved the greeting and stationery retailer and 761 jobs when it was taken over by Aspen Phoenix Newco Ltd, a legal entity of Primera Capital, in January 2021 - but the pre-pack administration deal meant the new owners didn’t have to honour debts with previous suppliers but could legally sell through around £7million worth of stock that the old company hadn’t paid for.


holding up placards saying “My other card’s a Moonpig” and “Cash for cardmakers” with potters moulding middle finger signs in clay.

The artists and Joe then moved to Paperchase’s flagship store off Edgware Road where the model stripped naked with “six pack not pre-pack” written on his back for a mock life-drawing class.

Back in the studio, Joe displayed his own Christmas cards that he designed and sold and then handed cards to artists Angela, Liz and Kelly containing cheques dividing the £17,000 raised from the cards’ sale between them.

“I'm giving you guys all the profits to make up for some of the losses you've made from your dealings with Paperchase,” Joe added, who sent Aspen Phoenix Newco Ltd a message in the form of a greeting card wrapped around an extensive legal dossier.

Chris Dyson retires

It’s all change at the top for Cardgains buying group, with joint managing director Chris Dyson retiring, and Penny Shaw, the company’s marketing director taking on the role as managing director from 1 January 2023.

While Chris officially retires at the end of this year, he will be assisting on the Cardgains Village at the Spring Fair, 5-8 February 2023 where it will also be recruiting members of the greeting card community to take on the Cardgains Charity Challenge for 2023, which will be in aid of Motor Neurone Disease, in memory of David Hicks.

(See pages 63-65)

Below: Chris (left) with co-directors Penny Shaw and Steve Grocott.

Paper Awards finalists

With Top Drawer S/S23 getting ready to welcome visitors at London’s Olympia 1517 January, show organiser Clarion Retail has revealed the finalists in its Paper Awards as well as a partnership with The Better Trends Company, which will be offering expert advice to buyers and brands both live at the event and digitally.

“We have to make clear that this is all entirely legal.” Joe said, “and did keep Paperchase trading. It's a kick in the postits to our artists though, who saw their work sold in Paperchase and Aspen Phoenix Newco Ltd has banked the money while they still hadn't been paid in full.”

Joe introduced three artists/publishers collectively owed more than £60,000, including Angela Chick, who designs and sells cards under her own name, Bow & Bell’s Kelly, and Liz Faulkner, co-owner of Jelly Armchair, who said the £22,000 outstanding had been “devastating - we’ve been fighting off bankruptcy for a couple of years”.

Joe then filmed himself and the artists - including Liz’s sister and co-owner Catprotesting outside the London Cheapside Paperchase store, with potter Keith Brymer Jones and TV presenter Kinnie Huq and a male model in a dressing gown

The retail owner’s statement was: “Aspen acquired the Paperchase brand in January 2021 because they believed in

The Paper Awards finalists across the four categories are Emotive Design: Earlybird Designs, Elsa Rose Frere, Joy Nevada, Noi Publishing, Ricicle Cards

Sister Paper Co, The Sunshine Bindery, You've Got Pen On Your Face.

Engaging Print: Cath Tate Cards, Elsa Rose Frere, Heraldblack, Mahin Hussain, Matere Studio, Meraki, Noi Publishing, Storigraphic.

this much-loved High Street brand. As such they invested money into a business that couldn't have continued otherwise and save 761 jobs in the process.

“They deeply regret the Paperchase’s former owners were unable to pay their creditors including individual artists and small businesses and had to hand the business over to the administrators at that time almost two years ago.”

Exciting Use Of Colour: 1973, Alphablots, Archivist, Cath Tate Cards, Elvira VV Design, Mahin Hussain.

Innovation In Design: 1973, Alphablots, HappySelf Journal, Poet And Painter, Raspberry Blossom.

At Top Drawer, visitors will find over 500 brands across Craft, Fashion, Food Emporium, Gift, Greetings & Stationery, Home, Launchpad, Play, and Wellbeing.

(See Innovations pages 55-59)

Above: A Noi design (top) and an Elsa Rose Frere are in the finals.

Joe Lycett gives £17k to publishers affected by pre-pack admin deal Above: Joe Lycett presenting his show and in disguise as Perry’ inside Paperchase. Below left: The trio of publishers on the show Below: Nude model Franklin features in the artistic protest at Paperchase’s flagship store
C3306 C3309 C3311 C3302 C3321 C3300 C3307 C3301 C3305 C3303 C3314 C3315 Tel: 01480 435 562 | Card Size: 159mm x 159mm | Blank inside Available Wrapped or Unwrapped. MADE IN the uk


Scribbler kiosks roll out into shops, offices, unis and hospitals

The first wave of Scribbler greeting card print on-demand kiosks have been installed in shops, offices, universities and hospitals in the UK, with a trial due to get underway in Eire in a chain of convenience stores in January.

Developed by FujiFilm , the kiosks, which were unveiled to potential interested parties in July, have the wherewithal to offer 1,800 different Scribbler greeting card designs in less than a metre of floor space, that can be printed in minutes using intuitive touchscreen technology.

The first batch of kiosks have now been installed in 12 Scribbler stores while a contract with the Elior Group, a leading contract catering and support services company has resulted in machines now up and running in several highprofile office locations, universities and a leading hospital, with more to follow.

“Being such a new concept, we knew we would have refinements to make on the functionality of the kiosks, the first phase of which were completed prior to installation,” confirmed Chris Chater, commercial director Europe (consumer imaging) of FujiFilm.

These refinements include a ‘button’ which can deactivate Scribbler’s ruder designs being visible; the ability to incorporate a typewritten message inside the card; the facility to include Chip n Pin payment; promotional mechanics to upsell multiple purchases as well as a translation function that initially covers six languages.

“It is fascinating already to see the patterns of the most browsed categories from the kiosks out there,” commented John Procter , co-founder of Scribbler. “These insights will be invaluable in ensuring we offer the right design mix and don’t miss any opportunities.”

As Chris added: “The beauty of the kiosks is that they really can bring cards to the people. We are also in dialogue with several other contractors, both in the UK and overseas, as part of our expansion plans which we hope will come to fruition in early 2023.”

Top: A kiosk in situ in a Scribbler shop, that can also be used to print best sellers.

Above: FujiFilm’s Chris Chater (right) with Scribbler’s co-founder John Procter, on stage at The Henries 2022, at which they co-sponsored the Best Photographic Card Range category.

Youngsters’ winning ways

Inspiring designs and very happy children have meant Stationery Supplies indie retailer Sarah Laker particularly enjoyed her store’s Christmas Card Competition - so much so, she’s doubled her charity donations from sales.

With 78 entries from children at her two shops, based in Marple and Wilmslow, Sarah struggled to pick a shortlist before thankfully handing over the job of choosing the winners to a public vote, which came up with the four winners, two at each store.

Thanks to Jo Wilson and her team at Dandelion Stationery the four designs were printed and paired and went on sale in store, with £2 of the £2.50 per card price going to the parent-teachers’ associations of the winners’ schools.

“I've loved every minute of this competition. I also think it's a great insight for children into the world of greeting cards and how they are produced – let's hope we've inspired the next generation of card designers. Seeing their happy faces has made my day,” commented Sarah.

Jill’s Rocket-ing

Jill White, founder of Rocket68 has two new ventures booked. GBCC has signed a licensing agreement with the talented publisher and designer for her Bright Botanicals art designs to add to its Almanac Gallery portfolio.

Adding to her claims to fame, Jill recently joined forces with author Sarah Lavelle on the Piff In A Puffle children’s book, with Sarah providing the words and Jill creating the illustrations that tell the tale of a special puffer fish.

Below: Jill signing books at Chicken And Frog in Somerton and with author Sarah Lavelle.

Barking Glad

The Ponks have proved to be totally pawsome as the Cardies’ pack has helped indie retailer Jo Sorrell lift the Most Dog-Friendly Shop award for the second time.

Orberry was on paw to pick up the trophy a few weeks ago, on behalf of his fellow rescue Labradors Bella, Big Ben, and Little Ted - oh yes, with a wee bit of help from his ‘hoomans’ Jo and husband Andy to make sure he arrived safely at The Kennel Club in London.

“Orberry Strawberry superstar,” Jo crowed, “he was obviously best in show! We are super proud to have been voted the Best Dog Friendly shop, huge thank you to all our fantastic customers who took the time to vote for us. Being a dogfriendly shop is very important to us. How lucky are we to be able to combine our love of dogs with our love of cards, a perfect match!”

Cardies in Stevenage was up against fellow greetings store Austin & Co from Malvern, and Aylesbury’s Friars Square Shopping Centre for the title, one of 15 categories in the awards. This is third time Cardies has won this award, having also twice been finalists previously, and was delighted to make it a hat trick, accepting the trophy from CBBC presenter Katie Thistleton, who hosted the event.

Having been a dog-friendly shop since Jo opened the doors way back in 1988, Orberry is her sixth Labrador meeter and greeter for Cardies, also living at home with Bella, Big Ben, and Little Ted, who she’s give the collective name of The Ponks.

Above: Orberry with Jo Sorrell and husband Andy with Cardies’ third Most Dog-Friendly Shop award.

Above: Winning smiles from winning young designers.
Further developments see 25 kiosks installed by early January
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Stranger Things Happen

Sir Cliff Richard still high in the calendar charts

The evergreen Sir Cliff Richard may only be number three in this year’s Danilo calendar top 10but company founder Laurence Prince has revealed the much-loved British star is definitely top of the pops when it comes to sales.

In a recently released Spotify Spot & Chaser podcast Laurence explained The Young Ones singer has sold in excess of five million calendars worth £40million over the past 35 years - and that’s despite his much-publicised decision not to pose for any more topless shots.

With Danilo selling more than three million 2023 calendars in 2022, in the publisher’s top 10, Netflix’s sci-fi drama Stranger Things has come straight in as a new entry at number one, and the theme continues with Star Wars still in the mix although dropping one spot to eighth place, while the Doctor Who

Danilo top 10 calendars 2023

(Last year’s position in brackets)

1 Stranger Things (new entry) 2 Elvis (new entry) 3 Sir Cliff Richard (4) 4 Minecraft (5) 5 Bluey (new entry) 6 Friends (3) 7 Star Wars (8) 8 BTS (6) 9 Pokemon (7) 10 Doctor Who (new entry)

Stranger Things takes the number one spot for the first time.

calendar featuring all 15 Doctors is also a new entry at number 10. Danilo’s licensing director Dan Grant said: “As Doctor Who will be celebrating 60 years on the small screen in 2023, predictions are that it will climb the chart for Christmas next year.”

And there’s great news for Laurence, the man who started the whole celebrity calendar genre with his first signing of Elvis Presley after the singer’s sad demise in 1977, for the original rock’n’roll superstar is back in the charts with a new entry at number two, helped by renewed interest in his life and music thanks to this year’s biographical blockbuster from director Baz Luhrmann. Showing how far women’s football has come, a new entry at number three in Danilo’s top sporting titles is the England Lionesses, while the men’s national team stick at sixth.

Danilo’s Sporting top 10 calendars

(Last year’s position in brackets)

1 Liverpool FC (1)

2 Manchester Utd (2)

3 England Lionesses (new entry)

4= Arsenal FC (5)

4= Tottenham Hotspur (4)

6 England men’s football team (6) 7 Chelsea FC (3)

8 Manchester City FC (7) 9 Newcastle Utd (9) 10 England cricket team (10)

Scouts post beats Royal Mail

Swindon Scouts definitely lived up to the movement’s ‘do your best’ motto by beating the Royal Mail strikes to deliver around 2,750 cards in and around the town.

Supported by Chris and Tracey Bryant, who once again sold the special Scout postage stamps at 35p through their Expressions indie card and gift shop in Swindon Old Town.

“After checking stamps sold this year against 2021,” Chris told PG, “We’ve sold 11% more in 2022.”

“We also sell Royal Mail stamps as a service for our customers and, after a stocktake, it shows we sold less in 2022. This suggests for local postings more customers have taken advantage of the Scout Post.”

This Scout Post service covers 34 areas around Swindon. Expressions has supported the initiative for many years with the stamped cards collected from the store and other special post boxes, then sorted for distribution to the Scout groups in each area to hand-deliver.

Above: The Scout postie at Expressions.

The Light Fund’s bumper year

Industry charity The Light Fund raised a record £356,242 in 2022 which is now being put to good use to fund 59 different charity projects in 2023 across the world.

This year’s record-breaking total was thanks to the very successful English Channel relay swim; raffles at events such as The Henries, The Retas, The Greats and The Licensing Awards; the annual treasure hunt; and quiz nights.

The staggering total means that The Light Fund has now raised over £2.1million and will have helped 164 different charities over the years since its inception in 2004 when it was founded by PG’s Jakki Brown, Ian Hyder and some like-minded folk from the greeting card and licensing industries.

The charities projects being funded by the 2022 donations are: The ADD-Vance ADHD & Autism Trust, Annie Mawson’s Sunbeams Music Trust, Barons Court Project, Berkshire MS Therapy Centre, Birth Trauma Association, Bowel Cancer UK, The Brain Tumour Charity, Breast Cancer Now, Brittle Bone Society, Bromley Brighter Beginnings, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), Carers Worldwide, The Children’s Trust, Chorley Youth Zone (Inspire), Crohn’s & Colitis UK, Cruse Bereavement Support, Demelza Hospice Care for Children, Golden Lion Children’s Trust, Happy Days Children’s Charity, Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity, Hospice Of St Francis, Kidscape, London Wheelchair Rugby Club, Macmillan Cancer Support, Maggie’s, Martin House Children’s Hospice, Motor Neurone Disease Association, MSUK, My Black Dog, New Life Special Babies Units, Newlife The Charity For Disabled Children, NSPCC, Orchid, Pancreatic Cancer UK, PTSD Resolution, Read For Good, RCN Foundation, Sands, Self-Injury Support, ShelterBox, Shine Cancer Support, The Sick Children’s Trust, The Snowdrop Project, Speech & Language UK, Spread A Smile, St Christopher’s Trust, Together For Short Lives, Ty Hafan, Voices Of Hope, We Reach UK, Whizz-Kidz, Winston’s Wish, World Child Cancer, and Youth Adventure Trust. In addition, other donations went to Amy Winehouse Foundation, RNLI, ShelterBox Pakistan Appeal and Ukraine DEC Appeal.

Below: Above: The Light Fund’s 2022 fundraising will see another ‘hot bed’ being bought for a UK hospital by the New Life Special Babies Units charity. Above: One of the colourful hand-drawn stamps of Swindon’s Scout Post.

2023 will be upon us by the time you read this and if Nostradamus’ predictions ring true then we are going to be faced by a number of challenges.

He predicted a great war, a great fire and economic disaster! Some would argue that two out of the three have already happened and they don’t look like they are easing anytime soon. Lots of happiness and fun to look forward to then!

New Beginnings...

Nostradamus’ infamous book Les Prophéties was first published in 1555, long before we had the keyboard warriors and social media doctors, but if you read into his broad claims you could find hints to Hitler’s Reign of Terror, the 9/11 terrorist attack and many other horrific events that have been tentpoles in our recent past.

He even predicted a desperate politician may try to save his career by entering a jungle, but no one believed him about that!

If only we could predict the future, we would all no doubt change things dramatically.

So, should we all stay in, lock the doors and not come out? The problem with that is we did that during Covid and life was pretty dull.

Indie retailers and card publishers have never really laid down and admitted defeat. We are a resilient lot who work on the assumption there is always another birthday, wedding, baby or bar mitzvah.

2023 should be the year that business and life returns to normal. In 2019 we first

Right: Is the answer to what indies should do in 2023 in Les Prophéties?! Below: French astrologer Nostradamus had quite a knack for predictions.

heard about an illness in China and then in the months and years to follow no-one could have predicted what would happen. Not even Nostradamus.

Covid seems to have put the last two years on fast forward and I am tired of fighting to get fair treatment for retail businesses.

Sadly, we are not sexy. We are not a spaceport or a free port or indeed any kind of port. We don’t tick the boxes for tourism and we don’t make a major enough ripples in our community to warrant access to lots of the pots of money available.

Here in Scotland we are waiting on announcements around business rates (which are back in full), tourism tax and many other policies that continue to make it hard for people to trade.

Every High Street from Aberdeen to Zouch seems to be in need of saving. Lots of money is promised, lots of ideas are put forward and there is lots of initial enthusiasm but as the work gets harder and the time pressures get more onerous it ends up as the same band of people fighting to try and improve for all.

I am one of that band - with less time than ever but, somehow I can’t just walk away.

I love retail. I love my business and ultimately, I must love the pressure because doing something else would, definitely be easier.

So, what’s my business focus for Jan 2023 and beyond? What do I want to achieve in the year ahead and just exactly where I am going to start?

Without doubt my biggest weakness in my business is that I overbuy stock and I also find it hard to say “no” to certain reps and agents with whom I have dealt, over many, many years.

I need to use January as a chance to purge myself of lots of stock.

This has meant for the first time in business I have not committed to pre-sell or new product. I want to wait and look at it fresh over the course of January.

I also really want to look at the mix of cards in our control and again consider what changes are needed.

Adding in new publishers, changing the mix and generally tweaking things is good not only for sales, but for the soul.

There are so many good publishers out there it is time that I looked beyond my tried and tested ones a bit more. The


only problem, is that my customers love certain ranges, and many of the cards that I love don’t appeal to my customers.

The next focus on my list is our website. I love the look of it and love the way it is set up, but we simply made a mistake with what we tried to do retail wise.

As many of you will know we all tried to make the online side of things work during Covid, as we felt it could be our only real outlet, but our shops (indie gifts and cards) are not easy to replicate or represent online.

We are all about the ever changing stock. We are all about the new companies and most of us don’t buy in items in bulk. In fact, most small indie stores don’t have EPOS as we change things so often that adding and removing items would take more time than makes sense.

Online retail is like a whole other store and you can get sucked into it without seeing the reward. My plan now is to pick one category line that we can really push. I will then put on the proper stock and social links and see if that works. We have started this and have seen some progress. If we can get it working better and see a decent return in sales, I may then look to add another product category, building staff commitment and stock as we go.

I have spoken to so many retailers who all feel the same about their online status. One lady even said she felt she had failed, but I don’t think that is the case at all. We can’t compete price wise or service wise with the online specialists so we really are up against it.

Above: This year’s I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here was even more bonkers than usual with Matt Hancock coming third.

Right: David and his mum Lynda will be on the lookout for the next big thing when they visit Top Drawer and Spring Fair.

Bottom: Jellycat is very popular on David’s website.

My third key area is getting more engagement from staff. If you look at the nurses’ and teachers’ pay demands, the government is balking at 9% rises yet we are going to have to absorb almost another 10% increase in minimum wage in April and that is only if we pay the base amount. Most indies I know try and stay above that so that they can retain good people.

So, what does this mean? Well for smaller businesses with one or two employees this is probably OK, but we have a team of nearly 40 staff and the cost of this has a real impact on our bottom line.

My intention is to give staff more focus. For some they may be given a stock holding responsibility, for others it may be the website but with the MW rate going to that kind of level it will no longer be good enough for someone to simply appear, serve and go home. We will need more support as

business owners as we will be stretched further and further by all the challenges.

Another area I believe we are all going to have to look at carefully, is the margin that we apply. Margin is a difficult thing - too high and you become uncompetitive yet with our fixed costs of buildings, energy and wages spiralling, getting the most from our margin will be essential.

Looking at those around us is key of course. If you have a Card Factory on your doorstep price is an issue, while if you have a WHSmith store with its premium pricing, we indies have room to move and will still be cheaper.

I don’t think one margin is a fix allusing your experience and discretion and applying a margin which is reflected in the goods makes sense.

So, what else will happen in 2023? I believe that in card design we will see further reflection in our society with gender neutral

and less stereotyping in many of the ranges.

The campaign to change the narrative around age in greeting card design is another interesting one. We shouldn’t feel bad about ageing, we should celebrate it and I think the awareness of more and more of these things will result in better designs overall. Retirement cards used to feature a deckchair, a shed, or jokes about hair or drooping body partshardly great for self-esteem.

I really believe that the amazing talent pool we have in British card design will see cards continue to evolve to reflect our society, hopefully still with a touch of humour though.

Quite simply neither you or I, the politicians or even Nostradamus can really predict the future, all we can do is deal with it.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy prosperous 2023.

To contact David email:


syndrome The China

Try telling people that lived through two World Wars, that the globe today has never been in a more dire situation. In fact, despite the war in Ukraine, in the first 22 years of the 21st century, fewer people have died in human conflict than in any other two decades in the last two millennia. And aparently there are fewer people living in poverty, than at any time in world history.

To Cardsharp, what makes the present day unique is the influence of modern technology, the internet, social media and millions of online platforms. It makes us feel that the world is in the midst of constant crisis. Which it is, but then it always has been.

Thanks to the multifarious media platforms, to Cardsharp’s mind it seems that every issue is elevated to a crisis and there is a moral outrage angle that someone wants to exploit. The world is experiencing some terrible stuff - the war in Ukraine, rampant inflation and global warming, for starters - but why then pick on the humble Christmas card?!

Our industry has had enough to deal with in the last vital quarter. The cost-ofliving crisis and how that will affect Christmas card sales, the strength of the dollar affecting manufacturing costs and the endless run of postal strikes hitting us throughout December. We normally get very

unfairly battered in the media about charity Christmas cards and the percentage that reaches the good causes, but thankfully this Christmas past, we were spared that particular media outrage.

We even had the self-appointed ‘Money Saving Expert’ Martin Lewis, who has made a fortune giving such sage advice on topics such as ‘How much does it cost to keep your Christmas lights on?’, advising people to save money by not sending Christmas cards.

But in late November, we were hit with a real left fielder that no one could have predicted. It came from an unlikely sourcethe esteemed Daily Telegraph of all places and its senior news reporter, Patrick Sawer.

The headline was bad enough: ‘High Street shops accused of hypocrisy as

almost half of Christmas cards are made in China’. The article went on to accuse high street shops of a lack of sensitivity as well as hypocrisy for outsourcing to China, where Christians are routinely persecuted.

The Telegraph ‘found’ that nearly half of the Christmas cards sold by major high street retailers and supermarkets are printed in China. Wow, that took some investigative journalism thought Cardsharp! This, according to the Telegraph, is prompting concern over messages of hope and peace being produced in a country with a poor human rights record.

It singled out the likes of Paperchase with 51 of its 57 multipacks made in China and WHSmith, with all ten of its multipacks from there and shock horror, including one that showed a festive London skyline.

Above: The only thing that hasn’t happened is an alien invasion that threatens the future of humanity, as featured in the War of the Worlds film based on HG Wells’ book. Left: The Telegraph unfairly chose to pick on boxed Christmas cards that have been made in China. Below left: Martin Lewis has not helped the industry in suggesting that people save money by not sending Christmas cards.

The Telegraph even got a quote from Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative Party Leader. Remember him? not many people do! “For a country that is locking up peaceful democracy campaigners and cracking down on Christian churches, it beggars belief that British companies could be so insensitive at a time of peace and good will, when China right now is guilty of slave labour and genocide and threatens Taiwan with invasion.”

The article also included a quote from the Bishop of St Albans who stated: “We should all ask ourselves where our products come from”.

Now, Cardsharp is not condoning the brutal behaviour of the Chinese government, particularly with regard to its treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang province or the clamp down on civil liberties in Hong Kong. But how does the greeting card industry approach this thorny issue?

Rishi Sunak has advocated a new attitude towards China, which he describes as “robust pragmatism”. Perhaps, as well, this is really the best policy we can adopt as an industry.

The Telegraph did include quotes from all the major retailers that stood accused. All maintained that their suppliers were robustly audited, and the workers were treated fairly. They all also said that they did not source from Xinjiang province. Iain Duncan Smith clearly demonstrated why he never became Prime Minister, or ever even got to fight an election, when he stated, “Loads of printers go out of business here, meanwhile China uses slave labour. I am

appalled by the lack of sensitivity of these organisations”.

He totally misses the point. The UK greeting card industry does not have the print capacity in the UK to print all of the Christmas boxes or if it did, it could not do it at a price that could be passed onto the UK population. Many publishers and retailers are indeed making real efforts to re-shore as much production as possible, but you can’t change supply chains overnight. Several publishers and retailers are looking for alternative locations to China for production, but they are not without challenges, not just in time and expertise.

If we don’t manufacture Christmas card boxes in China what are the other options, mused Cardsharp? What about Turkey, that lovely bastion of free speech and pacifism? Or India, that hugely tolerant Muslim-loving country! Ditto Bangladesh, a corrupt one-party state kept in power by the military.

But Cardsharp thinks he has found the answer. A huge country, where the Christian church is all powerful and half the population attends its services, where Christian patriarchs have the ear of the president, and where Christmas is celebrated as a

Christian festival. So how about outsourcing our entire overseas Christmas card manufacture to Russia?

Cardsharp is not serious of course. But there is an awful lot of Christmas humbug when it comes to manufacturing origin. Take a look at the digital device that no doubt, Duncan Smith, the very reverend bishop and many PG readers use every few minutes - the iPhone. Well Cardsharp learned that 95% of iPhones are manufactured in China and 19% of them are sold there. And Apple regularly removes apps that the Chinese government deems inappropriate. In another words, Apple tacitly agrees to censorship by the Chinese state. The oppressed Uighurs in Xingang province are denied any kind of voice about their plight by Apple’s tacit collaboration with China.

While we are on the subject, reflects Cardsharp, let’s take a look at the issue of the environment. Next time you hear someone rattling on about not sending greeting cards to protect the future of the earth, here are a few facts. Laptops, smart phones and digital technology contributed 3.5% of global emissions in 2020 and this is predicted to rise to 14% by 2040. To put this in perspective, this is half the contribution of the whole worldwide transportation systemevery train, plane and automobile journey on the planet.

In fact, virtually every toy, Christmas decoration and a massive proportion of gifts that are bought at Christmas are manufactured in China. So, in singling out our greeting card industry in the Telegraph article to Cardsharp’s mind smacked of fake outrage and shoddy journalism. The Telegraph has often been called the official newspaper of the entrepreneur and the Conservative party, but there was nothing very entrepreneurial about the tack taken in this case.

So, having had to contend with fighting numerous battles in the last quarter of 2022, Cardsharp hopes that the new year will herald new opportunities and an easier ride. Or, to refer to one of the hits by New Wave band, China Crisis, could that just be ‘Wishful Thinking’?!

Top: The Tech Vision platform recently made a video about Apple’s iPhone manufacturing in China. Right: China Crisis first sang all about Wishful Thinking back in the 80s. Left: While there has been a fair amount of re-shoring manufacturing to UK soil, China is still flying the flag for overseas production.

Collective Thoughts

“There will be challenges for us all,

the dark times we as an industry deliver that love and sentiment that everyone needs,” said Second Nature’s Chris Bryan, president of the GCA at the association’s Conference and AGM. In his concluding speech, he added: “We all have a responsibility to nurture and protect our industry. Greeting cards have always been resilient to economic downturns. I believe the market can still grow…let’s look to the future of what is possible.”

Here, Chris and some fellow members of the GCA Council share their views on the industry’s challenges, as well as the opportunities and wishes for the coming year.

Chris Bryan general manager of Second Nature

Opportunities: “There are still 67 million people having birthdays, 350,000 weddings and just as many births and millions of other emotional moments in people’s lives that our industry can help celebrate or commiserate. Our industry is one of the few that delivers a product that’s truly meaningful and is often kept for the special sentiment it conveys, the GCA and everyone involved in the industry, no matter their role, should be really proud of what we do.”

Challenges: “Inflation, the cost-of-living crisis, is not going to be resolved overnight. The war in Ukraine has had such a global impact on economies and until it’s resolved, it’s difficult to see how there can be any degree of certainty. Costs will continue to increase, demands on public services will increase and taxes and wages will need to increase to offset it all - it’s a vicious circle. Our challenges will be keeping the importance of sending greeting cards at the top of consumer’s priorities as they may seek to make cut-backs on their spending. Card prices have barely risen but the cost of sending a card, especially with the recent

Above: Chris Bryan in full flow at the GCA Conference a few months ago.

Right: PM Rishi Sunak egging on England FC in the World Cup, as Chris urges, the UK needs a government with a ‘grip’ on issues.

poor service from the Royal Mail and proposed cuts to the future service are concerning, so we need to keep pushing the message of just how amazing the impact of receiving a hand-written card is.”

Wishlist: “My letter to the Good Fairy, would contain several wishes…

(a) The war in Ukraine to stop - it goes without saying that it’s truly horrific on the humanitarian side, all those poor people losing wives and loved ones but the damage to global economies that the war will continue to cause could take years to reverse.

(b) The UK government (any UK government) needs to get a grip, the economy needs strong legitimate, honest leadership with a workable plan that doesn’t over penalise the poorer members of society or completely remove the incentive to work harder.

(c) Somehow, we need a fair and workable system where employees can fight for their rights with independent arbitration without calling for strike action. I absolutely understand and support the need for and value of employee rights but the fact that so many people’s lives and livelihoods have been jeopardised is deeply unfair.

(d) The Royal Mail needs to get its house in order, keep to its obligations and deliver value for money.”

but in


Sarah Jackson

director of Stormy Knight

Opportunities: “It's easy to focus on the negative events but I think the report presented at the GCA AGM shows that people's shopping habits are beginning to return to normal after the pandemic and that the tradition of giving greeting cards is still a strong one that people value. It feels like there has been a shift within people's buying habits too, that has seen them supporting local businesses and really valuing their high street. There are a lot of industries that boomed during the pandemic and then saw a quick drop off in business when normal life resumed, but thankfully we aren't one of them.

There are so many exciting things going on behind the scenes at the GCAimproved member benefits, more GCA Locals are being planned which are a great way of bringing people together to swap publisher tips, a great selection of webinars to help publishers with growing their businesses - combined with the Dragons’ Den event, these offer opportunities for growth and self-promotion for members.”

Challenges: “Where to start?! The Collins English dictionary selected 'permacrisis' as its word of the year for 2022 and it's easy to see why. It feels like we've had one thing after another thrown at us the last few years with Brexit, Covid, and now the impacts of the war on Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis. The biggest challenges for us at the moment are centred around pricing increases and how to keep realistic margins while still providing competitive prices to our customers.

For an industry as a whole, it's the Royal Mail and postal strikes that have been concerning - especially in the run-up to Christmas.”

Wishlist: “Hmmm mandatory Christmas card sending? Just kidding... It's a boring answer but I guess more economic stability that would even out the cost-of-living crisis and allow people to enjoy themselves a bit more. More birthday parties, weddings and new homes are a great excuse to send a card!”

Challenges: “We thought Brexit was tough, then there was Covid and in 2022 we had both of those on steroids with the invasion of Ukraine. I’m not sure what can come next! All of these matters have made our job and that of our customers more difficult in many ways with inflation, board and transport shortages and great sadness for so many.

The cost of stamps along with the strikes worries me. Cards bring joy to the recipient, but we need to get them there at a reasonable cost and when they are expected. I do not think that more Amazon vans swerving around the road delivering cards and letters is any answer and I hope the great British postman will continue come rain or shine six days per week for many years to come.”

David Byk


of Ling Design, GBCC and Penny Kennedy

Opportunities: “I think everyone is worried about 2023. However, I was really buoyed by the data presented by Kantar at the GCA Conference and AGM that highlighted how greeting cards are more recession-proof than other products due to the relatively low cost and joy they can bring, but we cannot be complacent. The industry needs to continue to push the importance of sending cards and how they continue to be massively relevant, even in harder times. The consumer will still buy great cards from great retailers and we all need to be at the top of our game. The GCA also has an opportunity to shine as we are the industry body that can get those messages across as well as increasing awareness as to how much we are doing as an industry for the environment. The GCA is also a campaigning organisation and we have seen the tenacious work that has been done taking on the Royal Mail and its desire to have legislation changed so they only deliver parcels and not letters at the weekend.”

Wishlist: “Ling and GBCC have responded to all the chaos in the world by putting together our biggest and best Christmas releases ever at competitive prices!! If you can’t beat them…beat them!! We know customers buy cards and we want them to be ours!! As for the fairy we want it to ensure there is snow on the Alps, but not in Birmingham at the time of the Spring Fair and for everyone to be spreading loads of love (with cards) at Valentine’s Day.”

Above left: David Byk (centre) with fellow Council member, (right) Brett Smith of Emotional Rescue and The Art File’s md Ged Mace, a former long-time Council member and past president.

Left: The ongoing war in Ukraine is horrific, with knock-on effects on industry.

Continued on page 39
Above: Sarah Knight in Festive Friday mode to encourage the writing Christmas cards. Right: Being able to rely on postal delivery is a key to the greeting card industry.


Nick Carey managing director of Abacus Cards

Opportunities: “For the industry to focus further promoting the relevance of greeting cards and the hugely important role they play in our society. For example, I’ve witnessed a fall in the uptake of Valentine’s Day over the years and this is a real shame. Industry goliaths and or the GCA could further promote this and other seasons through PR, or perhaps some high-level celebrity endorsement.”

Challenges: “The political and economic uncertainty. Following on from Brexit, Covid-19 and now with this war and the cost-of-living crisis, it’s just a nightmare. Running a business in this environment of fast changes and U turns has been very difficult.”

Wishlist: “Fairy dust wishes…It’d be great if the Royal Mail was to create a ‘greeting card’ stamp that was discounted to recognise that these stamps are used by the elderly, children’s birthdays, sending invites, messages of love etc.

Also, for the government to impose an ‘e-shot’ tax on companies with a turnover of over £50m whereby these companies had to report on how many individual ‘e-shots’ they sent. With a half pence tax per email! 10 emails, 5p! simples! E-shots are the bane of our inboxes and are contributing to destroying our postal service.

It’d be awesome if we could get the country’s most popular celebrities photographed sending cards and for cards being featured in the many reality TV programmes, like Love Island, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, etc. to promote the huge ‘power’ of the greeting card to the younger generations.”

Above: Nick Carey has recently joined the GCA Council.

Below: The recent Thinking of You Week saw the launch of a schools initiative which saw this Lottie Simpson card being written by UK pupils and sent to children in Ghana.

Fiona Pitt


head of commercial of Hallmark Opportunities: “The industry is a great way for people to emotionally connect with one another and with all the challenges we are facing right now, we all need to show each other how special they are. For me a great opportunity is to get the young to buy into our category more and realise the value in sending and receiving a physical card. The GCA is a wonderful way to share best practice and help young people and publishers grow within the industry. Some stats to back up my comments: l 50% of the UK population placing a higher emphasis on connection post pandemic. (Mintel 2021)

l 9 in 10 people say receiving a card brightens their day (Hallmark’s Greeting Room 2021 research)”

Challenges: “Inflationary pressures, reduction in spending, shift in shopping patterns in line with changing lifestyles eg. city centre v town high streets; l The average spend on cards has increased as a result of inflation, however people are sending on average one less card than pre-pandemic (Kantar 2022).

l High street footfall has been falling for three consecutive months and in December it was expected to be 18% lower than in December 2019 (Springboard 2022)

l IGD predicts the rise in the cost of food and drink is set to reach a peak rate of 1719% in early 2023, before slowing over the subsequent 12 months (IGD 2021).”

Wishlist: “I would love to see the cost of a second class stamp reduced so it’s more affordable and less of a consideration when sending a card. (Cost of postage consistently listed as a key reason for sending fewer Christmas cards (Hallmark Greeting Room 2022).

I would love sustainable product solutions to be at no extra cost to source as the unsustainable alternatives.”

Sarah-Jane Porter global design and licensing director of Moonpig

Opportunities: “It’s likely to be a challenging year ahead where consumers are watching their spend but the greeting card industry has proved that it’s resilient and card sending is key to celebrating and sharing life’s moments. For the GCA continuing to listen and support our members and connect the industry to collectively deal with challenges will be key.”

Challenges: “Coming out of a pandemic and straight into a cost-of-living crisis along with strike action from Royal Mail made 2022 a very challenging year for the industry.”

Wishlist: “My wishlist would be stability in the market and driving innovation. Challenging times often call for creative problem solving. These times can be where the best ideas are born.”

page 41
Above: Sarah-Jane Porter calls for more stability in 2023. Below: Fiona Pitt shares insights on the positive power of receiving a card. left: A Hallmark post on Instagram featuring connectivity and celebration through sending a card.


Mark Callaby managing director of Ohh Deer

Opportunities: “We have the opportunity to continue producing cards that will send pockets of love to people all over the world - 2023 is likely to be pretty tough for people with the rising costs but cards continue to be a low cost way of letting people know that they're thinking of them.

The highlight for me in 2022 was The Retas which felt extra special as it really celebrated the industry, and the ‘after-party’ had one of the friendliest vibes in the industry for years. I think it reminded us how nice the industry can be and how we're very lucky to (mostly) all get along when many of us are fighting for the same pockets.”

Challenges: “Re-adjustment following the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis. I think everyone has been feeling the pinch from the endless rising costs (thanks partly to Putin) in nearly every part of running a business (and at home). Companies that saw massive success during the pandemic appear to be struggling (eg and there must be people within our industry who are also trying to weigh up which costs they can cut or what prices they need to increase (and yet many publishers are finding that some retailers won't even let you entertain the idea). I think we'll all be looking at our bottom line a lot more. We as an industry definitely need to be vocal in our stance with the Royal Mail and the cuts they want to make to the postal service. The GCA will be a key player here in making sure that we don't downgrade a postal system that is still loved and relied upon by the vast majority of people.”

Wishlist: “My plea is fairly simple - if they can't fix the economy then they must call a general election and let someone else give it a go. LOL…like that will happen!”

Challenges: “Our main issue this year has been the increased prices we have faced from our supply chain, in particular, for the cost of paper. This can be difficult when it pushes prices up but unfortunately this a necessary task publishers face if they are to survive these tough trading conditions.

These tough financial challenges could also potentially mean that some companies feel they have to cut back on their sustainability improvements, but we are fortunate that this is one area we have continued to make progress over the last year.”

Opportunities: “While it has been challenging, we see opportunities to grow sales of our greeting cards and gift wrap ranges, where demand is still high.

There is also the opportunity for the industry to provide further lobbying and support to publishers to help them face issues such as paper prices, export sales and Royal Mail strikes. With regard to sustainability, there are plenty of opportunities for the industry to keep it near the top of the agenda, ensuring they continue discussions, share best practices and help guide how we can all move forward together.”

Wishlist: “My ideal wish would be to continue working with retailers to find a way to reduce levels of leftover stock, which in turn would reduce costs as well as be better for the environment. Additionally, I would also wish to have more support from the Government to help with the energy crisis and rapidly rising costs.”

Carolyn Verderame sales director of Caroline Gardner

Opportunities: “Despite the economic uncertainly and reduced disposable incomes facing many in 2023, people will still want to reach out to loved ones and celebrate special occasions. Greeting cards offer a really thoughtful and costeffective way of doing this. Luckily our industry is full of brilliant publishers offering a diverse selection of cards.”

Challenges: “Consumers are definitely more aware of their carbon footprint and the move away from mass produced products is noticeable. People are more conscious than ever about how and where products are made. Thankfully so many publishers in the UK greeting card industry are conscious of their environmental effects and are proactive in reducing these.

Caroline Gardner is among many publishers that are proud to design and produce their cards in the UK, driving UK manufacturing and reducing the possible footprint.

Wishlist: “2023 is looking quite scary and very unknown so my wish is that inflation and interest rates stabilise, giving suppliers, retailers and customers a bit more certainty in life.”

Above: Carolyn Verderame (second right) at a recent GCA Local event in South London.

Above: Mark Callaby (right) at The Retas 2022, presenting the trophy for Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - London to Roy Beswick of The Card Collection, East Molesey. Right: A Gemma Correll illustration which highlights our anxious state, which was available on a Christmas card from Ohh Deer. Daniel Above: Danilo’s Daniel Prince with PG’s Jakki Brown at a charity jacket sale on the Products of Change stand at BLE.

This time last year, Tesco was about to take an enormous leap of faith on the greeting card front, transitioning to a partnership contract with UK Greetings, who in turn would bring in designs from 25 other publishers via brokerage.

Having successfully launched completely new selections in everyday, seasonal and own brand, trailblazed with its Introducing collection to champion diversity as well as support for small publishers and designers and clinching a Retas award to boot, that leap has put the UK’s second largest greeting card retailer very much on the front foot.

PG caught up with Sam Ody, senior buying manager of everyday cards and Katy Strachan, category manager for celebrations for the grocery giant to reflect and look forwards.

“Yes…looking back it has been quite a year for us on cards - and a very positive one at that,” summed up Sam Ody, Tesco’s senior buying manager of everyday cards and giftwrap about the first year into the contract with UK Greetings. With 2,700 Tesco stores, and each and every one stocking greeting cards, the logistical planning and execution to ensure a smooth installation across the entire estate within a few weeks last January was enormous.

“Full credit to UKG for ensuring that the transition happened with minimal disruption to our store teams and our customers,” added Katy Strachan, whose remit as category manager for celebrations covers greeting cards, partyware, disposable tableware and seasonal events.

Having both worked for Tesco for many years - Katy for 17 years

Above: All 2,700 Tesco stores stock greeting cards.

Left: Designs from Kong Yew Wong, Lucy Hook and Sam Jayne which formed part of the inaugural Introducing collection.

Below: The rear of each Introducing design includes details of the artist, their photo and a QR code to link to them.

Bottom: A new look display which incorporates cheaper own brand cards right up to those from upmarket publishers.

and Sam for 15 - in various areas of general merchandise, they both know that all non-food products need to sing for their supper to safeguard their place on the grocer giant’s shopfloor.

“Greeting cards however are very important to our customers, achieving the highest penetration of all products in Home [general merchandise], so they are definitely an important product area for us at Tesco!” stressed Sam, revealing that a third of all of Tesco customers in the UK buy greeting cards when instore. “Our greeting card displays are among the most visited in our stores, so we need to cater for all their sending needs, be it life changing events, birthdays or just to keep in touch,” elaborated Katy.

This high customer traffic means of course, that there is a lot riding on any changes made to the product mix, be it on the look and feel from the publishers involved, balance of design type, formats, retail pricing, display, PoS and marketing - and all that in a year when no one really knew how consumer card buying patterns were going to pan out as the nation adapted to life post-Covid.

“A key element of our relationship with UK Greetings was that we wanted to have

Retailer Face to Face

the flexibility of being able to bring in publishers to add different tones and bolster certain areas, such as in humour,” explained Sam. “We also wanted to develop an own brand selection that would mean we could offer great value as well as some charity everyday options.”

One of the highlights of Tesco’s new launches is Introducing, an innovative collection which the supermarket team developed in collaboration with UKG to showcase various designers, with each card incorporating a photo and bio of the artist on the back of the card, along with a QR code link, with dedicated POS instore.

“There are so many talented artists, designers and small publishers out there for whom supplying us via brokerage is not a model that would work for them. Through Introducing we have been able to share some of this incredible creativity with our customers with the designers each receiving a royalty payment and exposure to their work,”

Right: As part of its commitment to D&I, Tesco worked with Hallmark on Braille cards for Valentine’s Day.

Below left: The Tesco card buying team celebrating The Retas’ win.

Bottom: Introducing is a significant card collection for Tesco.

A key to this, Sam feels has been the greater engagement with its publisher supplier base: “Having held two publisher events this year has helped to ensure our publisher community is engaged and up to date with the latest information from both UKG and Tesco. This has served to strengthen our offer, by giving them the tools to understand our business and our focus, which is always on our customers.”

An adjunct to this has been Katy, Sam and the Tesco card team’s greater engagement with the wider greeting card community, including by spending time at PG Live, being involved in judging The Henries, attending The Retas, as well as participation in the upcoming GCA Dragons Speed-dating event in March.

“The PG Live 2022 show was a great opportunity to witness how the already polished publishers, such as Emotional Rescue, Woodmansterne, Danilo and Carte Blanche, had really moved on design wise, but to also spend time with all the newbie and emerging publishers on the Village Green and in the Springboard area, to fully appreciate their lens on card design - and I am so excited that the launch of Introducing has resulted in us working with several of these,” elaborated Sam.

Up close and personal

Having earned her Tesco buyer spurs in cookware, Christmas, fireworks, gifts, bed, bath and home accessories, Sam Ody was promoted to senior buyer for cards in April 2020, right at the start of Covid, when everyone was in lockdown. With her grandparents having been bookbinders, her father a printer, and her husband involved in the print business too, paper products were not only in her blood but her daily life.

PG put Sam Ody on the spot for some other personal revelations…

l What three words would your best friend use to describe you?

“Fun-loving, genuine, caring.”

l What is your guilty pleasure?

“A large (or two) glass of Sauvignon Blanc.”

explains Sam. “Such has been its success that we are making Introducing a constant feature on our display plans from January, meaning we can share this wealth of talent to even more of our customers.”

Introducing also forms part of Tesco’s commitment to ensuring more diversity and inclusion is reflected in its greeting card racks. “I would like to think that Tesco is leading the way with a fully diverse and inclusive offer, learning and adapting as we go,” states Sam.

Another priority area is sustainability. “We are proud to have been leading the card market on this front, but we still have some way to go. Our card range is now 100% sustainable, recyclable, and plasticfree. Sustainability was a key strategic pillar for us last year and will continue to be a focus,” said Sam. “We do however still need to be innovative and creative to ensure our ranges/products excite our customers through clever techniques, inks and paper engineering.”

Looking to the year ahead and beyond, both Katy and Sam feel pretty buoyant about the greeting card sector. As Sam summed up: “Immediate challenges aside, the future looks bright. Our insights predict that the UK greeting card market is set to grow for the next five years…and we intend to be out there at the front!”

l What is the favourite part of your job?

“Seeing new ideas/ranges come to fruition, but most importantly resonating with customers is always a great feeling and is something that never gets old.”

l What is your least favourite part of your job?

“All things admin - although important to the job I much prefer being hands-on with the product development and builds than filling in spreadsheets.”

l If you had all the skills in the world, what would be your dream job?

“A travel critic.”

l If there was a magic carpet at your disposal, where would you go?

“Anywhere hot!”

l How do you relax?

“Some really addictive reality TV with a few too many chocolates always do the trick.”

l Which three people (dead or alive) would you like to have at a dinner party?

“Ryan Reynolds, Ant&Dec (surely count as one as they come as a pair!) and Luther Vandross.”

Above: Sam Ody is a sucker for reality TV!


Historic Greetings

It was seen as a “radical move” when John Barratt’s mother suggested, back in 1964, that they convert the family-owned newsagents in Felixstowe into a new-fangled greeting card shop. But it was a risk that has more than paid off, with The Card Centre clinching The Retas 2022 award for Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - East Anglia in the retail business’ 75th anniversary year.

PG travelled to the Suffolk coast to witness at firsthand how this is a retailer still very much at the heart of its local community.

Defying the rules of ‘location, location, location’ being the top three priorities for any retailing business, The Card Centre is based right at the far end of Felixstowe High Street with the next stop being the sea. However, if you open its doors at any time you are likely to be faced with shop full of people, not just hailing from the town, but from far and wide. While many customers


Below left: A jubilant moment for John and Andrew at The Retas.

Below: A typically busy scene in The Card Centre with Anna Tink, senior assistant totting up a customer’s bundle of cards.

and occasions cards are brought out on demand in their designated ‘bags’ for customers to look through.

“I made the mistake of going into another card shop on my way here to look for an 80th birthday card, but they only had two designs! Here, I have over 70 different ones to choose from, and there is the added benefit of bumping into friends and having a chat to John and his lovely staff,” one customer confessed to PG. “Don’t think it is busy in here today just because it is the run up to Christmas, it is always like this,

because we all love it and have been coming here for years,” she added.

John Barratt, who co-owns the business with his brother Peter, is the third generation of his family to work in the shop. Now nearing 70, John feels privileged to be carrying on the legacy, and was delighted to win a Retas 2022 award in the same year that the business celebrated its 75th anniversary.

“Over 60% of our customers are over 60 years old, as this is a retirement base, but thankfully coming here is something that has passed down the generations, me included!

will be clasping their greeting card shopping lists, others will be ensconced at a wooden tabletop, giving careful consideration to an expansive selection of greeting cards for any given caption.

While the card racks in the two ‘rooms’ which make up the shop are full of designs from over 100 different publishers, multipocketed even for general birthdays and blank cards to further expand the selection, this is only half of the story as the relations

One lady came in yesterday with her now 20-year daughter asking me if I remembered she used to bring in her daughter in a pram. I responded: “Yes I do, but I also remember your mother bringing you in your pram!” I do feel lucky that the shop has played a part in so many people’s lives.”

John Barratt (left) with Andrew Reid, senior buyer who joined The Card Centre team in August 2021.
AT CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS COLLECTION CHRISTMAS COLLECTION 2023 Over 400 Designs Available Incorporating & T 01942 233201 F 01942 386221 E W To find out more or to place an order, please call us on:

It is now 46 years since John gave up being a piano teacher to join his parents in the business and he has not looked back since - though he still retains his musical connections as secretary of a choir and playing piano in his church every other week.

“Greeting card publishers just get better and better every year, not just in their designs, but their production values, approaches to sustainability and charity collaborations,” says John.

However, he also feels that in tandem with this has been a raising of customers’ expectations. “Even 10 years ago no one

would have come in asking for a granddaughter 6th birthday card. Now they not only expect it, but they expect to be shown a choice, and by buying in-depth we rarely disappoint, though we do make it a bit more complicated for ourselves and stock taking is nigh on impossible!” admits John.

The shop’s penchant for displaying the cards naked means that when anyone buys a card,

Above: John in the envelopes section.

Left: Two customers enjoying a chat while they consider the wide selection of 80th birthday designs.

Right: The front of the shop was given over to Christmas and calendars, with 200 of the shop’s bespoke Felixstowe title selling out.

Customer feedback

When the news broke that The Card Centre had reached the finals of The Retas earlier this year, in an unprecedented show of affection and high regard, the retailer’s customers were determined to leave the judges in no doubt as to the merits of this card retailing gem, with 150 people individually emailing PG’s offices to share their views. Here are just a handful…

l “What personal service and advice to help you find just what you are looking for; a vast selection of greeting cards for all tastes; cards which introduce you to artists; behind the scenes in capacious cupboards, upon request, fistfuls of cards for specific occasions which you can browse through spread out upon the generous counter. It is like a huge sweet shop to revel in the choice available, only to be uplifted by your purchases without any guilt or dentist's bills further down the line!” - Geraldine

l “I have been a customer for over 30 years. This little shop truly is a tardis! The outside gives no hint to the vast amount of cards held inside. John has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the cards, you can go in looking for one with a specific design or for any occasion however obscure and if not already on display he will disappear either upstairs or into his magic 'catacomb' cupboard and come out with a selection for you to choose from. You are never made to feel rushed or that you are being a nuisance which makes you feel more

like a friend of the shop rather than just a customer. If we could bottle the shopping experience that this little shop offers and sell it, this time next year we would all be millionaires!” - Anne

l “It was the shop I missed most during lockdown. It’s unique…So friendly and welcoming. The staff are always ready to go that little bit extra to ensure you have what you want and there always seems to be new and interesting stock. I have never failed to find an appropriate card.” - Fran

the team then need to retrieve the appropriate envelope from the area behind the till, while replenishing card displays involves a delve into the treasure trove of card designs, all neatly filed in the rooms above the shopfloor.

The Card Centre does things very much its way, but it works.

“I love selecting the cards, talking to customers and am lucky to have a good team of people working alongside me who fully support our approach to customer service. I have been told so many times that I am not allowed to retire, but the fact is I still enjoy it,” sums up John.

l “If all small independent retailers acted as they do in The Card Centre, no one would want to buy online again. Where else can you find such personal service and courtesy for a transaction involving just a few pounds?” - David

l “A huge selection, beautifully displayed and John has an encyclopaedic knowledge of his stock. He is able to pinpoint the exact right card if you explain who it is for and what interests them. His staff are welcoming there is a very friendly ambiance in the shop which all adds up to a very enjoyable purchasing experience.” - Mary

l “This shop is an absolute treasure. A little blast from the past. The staff are wonderful and you can find a card with almost anything you ask for pictured on it here - sometimes they have to search upstairs, but they’re always happy to do so. I don’t live in Felixstowe, but I buy my cards here as it’s such a pleasure.” - Susan

Left: The rear section of the shop includes a wide selection of art cards, the walls were painted grey as a result of John and Andrew judging The Henries, appreciating the cards being displayed on mid grey tablecloths.

Hare Raising

King Charles’ ascension to the throne has a special meaning for Rachel Hare, as it was the grant from the Prince’s Trust back in 1994 that set Belly Button Designs on its successful pathway.

With a whole raft of new card designs, a brand-new approach to giftwrappings and the relaunch of its gifting side launching at Top Drawer as well as aspirations to expand through licensing the brand, PG caught up with the founder and creative maestro who heads up the multi award-winning company.

“I felt rather emotional watching the episode of The Crown recently which covered the formation of the Prince’s Trust and its vision to help young people, as I was one of those people,” revealed Rachel Hare. “Receiving a £1,500 grant from the Trust meant I could buy a word processor, a portfolio case and a camera for photographing the cards.”

It also gave the embryonic Belly Button Designs the opportunity to exhibit at the Spring Fair at a hugely subsidised rate, including free hotel accommodation.

“I didn’t even know what a trade show was before the Prince’s Trust. My friend Jude and I arrived with no real idea of what would happen, we made it up as we went along,

including the prices we charged!” admitted Rachel. “One of the first people who came on our stand was John Procter, co-owner of Scribbler who placed a £900 order, I couldn’t believe it. Then someone approached me to say they would like to be our sales agent in London. I had no idea of how that would work, but thought it sounded like worth a try. Then, we won the Prince’s Trust Silver Medal at the show and I found myself in front of Prince Charles…what a start!”

Above left: A new Elle design. This range is at the heart of Belly Button.

Above: Rachel on stage at The Henries 2022 collecting the Best Relations and Occasions Range award for Elle from (right) Pete Stevens, southern UK sales manager of Fedrigoni UK, the sponsor of this award category and with host Patrick Kielty.

Left: Rachel Hare, founder of Belly Button Designs at the Spring Fair in 1994 meeting King Charles in the Prince’s Trust area.

Fast forward 28 years and Belly Button Designs has rightfully earned its place as one of the greeting card industry’s ‘crown jewels’. The company’s ever evolving portfolio reflects Rachel’s creative knack of interpreting design trends, colour palettes and societal nuances into products which chime with the public and retailers alike, be it in brand new ranges or by continually refreshing winning concepts, as evidenced by Belly Button’s prominence in The Henries awards.

Testament to the strength of its ranges, Belly Button reached the finals in several categories in the 2022 Henries alone, with its Elle range clinching the Best Relations and Occasions Range trophy.

“I can honestly say that this was the one I wanted to win, as Elle is right at the core of what we do. It is a very special range to me personally as it represents everything I believe in creatively,” said Rachel. “I first launched it 18 years ago and back then I was calling on independent shops locally, such as Harriet & Dee in Didsbury. The range has continued to grow, evolved over the years.


Every two years I move it on with a different look, but it always retains its essence - a traditional card, but with a design trend twist.”

Rachel explains that Elle “has always been a range for independents; I design it very much with them in mind, though now also develop variations for some key multiples that launch six-eight months afterwards.”

While staunchly supportive of independents and the publisher’s team of sales agents who serve them - and is part of the party, owning two beautiful card and gift shops in Belly Button’s home city of ManchesterRachel has not shied away from selected opportunities with multiples and grocers.

“The retail landscape has changed so much and we very much need to be a part of this. Michelle [Hindle] joining [as head of

Rachel’s Personal Insights

What three words would your best friend use to describe you?

“Tenacious, Scatty, Creative.”

Running Belly Button aside, what would be your dream job?

“I absolutely love fashion, so my dream job would be a fashion stylist.”

A magic carpet awaits, where would you like to go?

“To Rajasthan in Northern India, to go walking with Giles [Rachel’s husband].”

What are your guilty pleasures?

“Watching Made in Chelsea, listening to Radio 4 and visiting stately homes.”

How do you relax?

“I now go running four times a week with my dog Brody.”

What is your favourite shop?

“The fashion retailer Cos. I just love the approach. Edgy fashion, but forever clothes.”

Who would you be your dream dinner party guests?

“Hilary Mantel, Louise Bourgeois, Victoria Wood, Margaret Attwood and Emma Barnett.”

Left: The latest take on Electric Dreams, including new ceramic gift lines. The range is named after Rachel’s favourite song, by Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakey.

Right: Licensing is likely to see Belly Button design concepts being translated onto other products by other companies.

Below: The new Luxury Eco Giftwrap Display Unit which will launch at Top Drawer in January.

high heels all those years ago to give me some interim advice and just never left, thank goodness,” explains Rachel.

Another area likely to see more traction in the coming year for Belly Button is through licensing its brand looks to other companies and has appointed Licensing Link as its licensing agents to help achieve this.

sales] has meant we have been able to build relationships with other retail groups and grocers and grow the Belly Button business,” elaborated Rachel, with the commercial planning being very much worked on with Kimberley Williams, the company’s financial director which makes for a strong winning partnership.

“In actual fact, Kimberley is another reason to thank the Prince’s Trust. I first met her as a business advisor. She arrived in her sports car in impressive

Raft of Newness

“We are well aware that our designs lend themselves to be translated onto other product areas, such as bedding, textiles, homewares products, but we want to work with the specialists in these fields while we concentrate on what we do and know best,” says Rachel.

One priority area for Belly Button is its ongoing commitment on the sustainability front.

Belly Button’s greeting card launches for January 2023 include…

l Hue - a new male greeting card range of 38 embossed designs. 161mm x 192mm. RRP £3.50

l Electric Dreams - 91 new embossed designs join the range. 130mm square. RRP £2.50

l Elle - 26 new additions, all embossed and foiled, to the collection. 165mm x 165mm. RRP £4.25

l Elle Bleu - six additional embossed designs are joining the range. 165mm square. RRP £3.50

l Luxe Male - three new embossed designs join the collection range. 200mm square. RRP £5.99

l Mini Packs - eight mini cards and envelopes in sustainable packaging. RRP £10.99

Gifting and giftwrappings launches for January 2023 include…

“It is about all our futures,” Rachel states firmly. “We did have some resistance initially when we decided to go unwrapped, but I felt it was important. We also removed all our gems, removed all plastic from our packaging and even changed the handles on our giftbags so they are made out of paper, moved away from rollwrap as it would mean relying on Far Eastern production, and come up with a whole new plastic-free approach to packaged giftwrap, all made in the UK.”

What does Rachel think King Charles would make of this Prince’s Trust protégé? “Hopefully he would be pleased…I know a bit more now about business and life since I met him all those years ago!” chuckled Rachel.

l Launch of packaged Luxury Eco Giftwrap complete with a display unit. There are 18 designs to choose from. Each pack contains four sheets of wrap (two of two designs), printed on uncoated FSC certified paper with two pop out tags on the back of the packaging.

Sheet size 696mm x 500mm. RRP £4.50

l New giftbags, with handles made from knitted paper.

l As well as new mugs, new for this year are ceramic trinket trays. Augmenting the stationery portfolio are writing sets and A6 single notebooks, all made in the UK.

Above: Hue is a new male card range that will debut at Top Drawer in January. Left: A new Luxe design.
EVERYDAY 2023 E: Tel: 01373 462165 AVAILABLE NOW • THE 2023 COLLECTION •

Ahead Of The Curve

In addition to new Christmas Smilies Tiddly Widdlies mini cards, Kali Stileman Publishing has also expanded its gift wrappings collection. The latter includes a super sophisticated design featuring gorgeous scallop detail in on-trend colours.

Kali Stileman Publishing 01305 848899

Top Drawer Stand M58

Drink Up

A huge burst of colour is served up in the Jess Miller range from Ricicle Cards. The 16 designs are fun and punny with a bright colour palette, blasting out a mix of illustration and hand-lettering. There are lots of birthday designs in the range of A6 cards, but also a mix of Father's Day, wedding and Valentine's Day occasions are also covered. As always, they're all printed in the UK on FSC board. Ricicle Cards 07850 757676 Top Drawer Stand N65

Bright and Beautiful

The brand new collection by illustrator Marylou Chalon by Stormy Knight is a cheery collection featuring 12 die-cut designs in beautiful bright shades - think candy pinks, zingy mints and sunshine yellows – and is finished with spot UV notes to really make them pop! The collection includes birthdays as well as occasions and each card comes paired with a fleck craft envelope.

Stormy Knight 0117 9098684

Top Drawer Stand N61

Pucker Up

With more than a pinch of sass and a whole lot of birthday fun is Rosie Made A Thing’s new Pout greeting card collection. The colourful pretty designs are all 145mm square, and come naked with a fancy bespoke spotty envelope.

Rosie Made A Thing 0116 4062000

Top Drawer Stand O52

Forest Folk

The world is full of magical things, including the latest collaboration between Earlybird Designs and artist Lee Foster Wilson that has resulted in the Bonbi Forest collection. The illustrative range spans key occasions and birthdays in a whimsical journey of animals, botanics, sun and soft colours, Lee’s gentle style, inspired by the countryside and sea that surrounds her in native Cornwall, features warm words and kind sentiments. These designs have been enhanced with spot UV and embossing, printed on FSCcertified board.

Earlybird Designs 01227 765372 Top Drawer Stand N51

Lifting You Up

Raspberry Blossom has four new collections launching in January, one of which is Happiness.

This new collection spans 15 designs which are a kaleidoscope of colour, pattern and joyful sentiments. Inspired by the publisher’s namesake stationery collection, these bright everyday designs are all finished with a luxe emboss and spot UV gloss.

Raspberry Blossom 01926 257757

Top Drawer Stand N79

A selection of products being launched at Top Drawer, January 15-17 at London’s Olympia.
/ SUMMER 2023
Stationery & Gift Wrap Collection

Unbottled Joy

Alljoy Designs’ award-winning Message in A Bottle range of 3D pop ups is welcoming 20 new cards. Meanwhile, the company’s 3D Square Pop Up collection which straddles its Kids Pop Up and Miniature World ranges have also been augmented. The kids range covers ages 1-6 while Miniature World covers everyday and weddings..

Alljoy Design 07790 844342

Top Drawer Stand P79

On Your Marks

Poet and Painter is launching eight new Mark my Words! bookmark card designs. Each bookmark is edged with biodegradable gold foil, attached with red ribbon and supplied with a cheery, cherry red envelope. Meanwhile another 16 new designs join its Motley occasions and everyday collections.

Poet and Painter 07779 064894 Top Drawer Stand M60

Flush With Plush

Celebrate the arrival of three wonderful heritage licences, to the Rainbow family. Adorable soft toys based on Maisy, Bagpuss and Giraffes Can’t Dance characters will be launching in plush format from Rainbow Designs. Also, marking Disney’s 100 Years of Wonder, Rainbow Designs is launching the Mickey Mouse Memories range.

Rainbow Designs 01329 227300

Top Drawer Stand L58

Marking Moments

Celebrating Now and Into the Future is the latest occasion card collection from Anna Wright. The new cards focus on celebrating the now, companionship and support to be yourself and go your own way, all of which aim to raise a smile. The 15cm square cards are based around Anna's characterful animal illustrations and her playful handwriting and come with recycled oatmeal envelopes with neon-pink splats, packaged with a neon-pink clasp.

Anna Wright 01962 868 910 Top Drawer Stand N81

One Potato, Two Potato

With a new look and style, is Sweet Potato, a new range from Caroline Gardner. The designs’ simple geometrics and florals were inspired by traditional block printing methods and soft vintage colours. Shapes were cut from potatoes and printed on paper, before being coloured and finished digitally.

The range comprises 13 designs, covering key captions, blank and birthday cards. Caroline Gardner Publishing 0208 288 9696

Top Drawer Stand F59

Sketching It Out

A striking new range from ArtPress is based on drawings found in Hannah Pontin’s sketchbooks. The project was to produce 100 sketches in 100 days, hence the drawings are beautifully free flowing. The image on the back of the card, shows how they originally appear in the sketchbook. The 150mm cards come with an accompanying fleck recycled envelope.

ArtPress Publishing 020 7231 2923

Top Drawer Stand O59

A selection of products being launched at Top Drawer, January 15-17 at London’s Olympia.
4062000 |

Change For Good

Among the newness from VENT for Change are the refillable and recycled weekly planner/journals. All made from reclaimed leather and FSC-certified sustainable paper, these are available in seven striking colours with various refill options.

VENT for Change 07395284788

Top Drawer Stand O78

Blue Sky Thinking

Brainbox Candy has floated up to sign a greeting card licensing deal for A Daily Cloud, the brainchild of illustrator Chris Judge, based on his inspirations sparked by cloud shapes, which has earned him 420,000 followers on Instagram. Brainbox is launching 20+ of the designs as 150mm square greeting cards which come with silver envelopes. Brainbox Candy 01702 716643 Top Drawer Stand P81

The Bewitching Hour

Midnight Garden is one of several new collections from Meraki. This delicately floral and botanic range with a touch of fauna makes for a sophisticated send. The 170mm x 120mm cards include both rich dark backgrounds as well as some on a rich cream backdrop, with a subtle caption, all with a scalloped die-cut edge.

Meraki 020 7840 2662

Top Drawer Stand O60

Down To A Letter

Sunshine Moments

The Art File’s Spring Summer 2023 Everyday launch comprises over 180 brand new greeting card designs. New on the scene is Soleil, an eye-catching, vibrant collection that celebrates the beauty and colours of tropical wildlife. Each design was hand-drawn and digitally enhanced by in-house designer, Beth Kemp. These beautiful cards are printed on a luxurious textured board and finished with embossing and enhanced with cold foil.

The Art File 0115 8507490 Top Drawer Stand G59

Cocktail Hour

Piña Colada is Cath Tate Cards’ latest collection which is good enough to drink! The 12 designs with hilarious captions feature a retro typeface and colours but served up with modern humour! The 170cm x 120cm cards feature embossed text and are printed in the UK on high quality 100% recycled board, accompanied with a kraft envelope.

Cath Tate Cards 0208 671 2166

Top Drawer Stand N60

Heyyy Cards’ brand new letterpress style cards feature as extensions to its I’mPressed collection, taking the range to 32 designs, printed on 360sgm board and finished with delicately debossed icons and brightly coloured envelopes. Joining the collection are designs for new baby, wedding, sympathy as well as new birthday cards, featuring popular themes including golf, baking, gaming, swimming and fitness.

Heyyy Cards 07488 283524

Top Drawer Stand S23

A selection of products being launched at Top Drawer, January 15-17 at London’s Olympia.

Earning Your Stripes

Print master extraordinaire Lizzie Perkins, the founder of Art Matters is equally happy domestic birds as she is detailing bigger beasts. Joining the Wonderful World range is Bengal Tigers. This 150mm square greeting card joins the menagerie, printed on FSC board. Art Matters 01491 671758

Wrap Attack

Western Sketch has beefed up its collection of premium giftwrap.  In addition to seasonal designs there are now eight everyday fun designs from which to choose. All the wrapping papers are printed in the UK with a full FSC chain of custody.   Western Sketch

The Appliance of Science

The Pattern Book is thrilled to announce a new partnership with the Science Museum in London, with a range of eight co-branded greeting cards launching in January 2023. The range explores the museum’s extensive collection of historic artwork and imagery contained in its Science and Society Picture Library, from the story of evolution and dinosaur extinctions to the design of cricket bats and corkscrews.

The Pattern Book 020 7274 0042

Chitter Chatter

Stitch In Time

Created to inspire and celebrate women’s love of sport and exercise and how they in turn inspire future generations, the Inspire Collection from Jane Buurman Handmade combines the beauty of nature and flowers coming together to create the female form, with the strength and passion women have for sport and exercise, all in stunning colour. Each of the 14 designs hail from original free-motion embroidery artwork.

Jane Buurman Handmade 07703490241

Child’s Play

Pink Pig has given some of its most popular Babble range cards a fresh new look. There are six new ‘add your town’ cards in the range and nine new drinks themed cards. All feature fun characters, and fresh fonts that tie in with the existing Babble range. The cards are 150mm square, printed in UK on FSC board and come with Ekocraft recycled envelopes either naked, with clasp or cellorwapped.

Pink Pig 07795574548

Bexy Boo has recently finalised its new kids’ collection which is based on the publisher’s Henries-nominated range ’this card is for you because’. The new collection includes 10 new age cards, covering years one to five for both boys and girls, featuring the cutest designs from a bunny with butterflies to a polar bear wearing a party hat. All printed on FSC 300gsm board, they come with a white envelope and eco stickered as standard.

Bexy Boo 01565 830 546

A selection of products being launched to pep up retailers’ displays.

Welcome home.

The industry is undergoing radical change. Consumer goods fairs are reshaping themselves. The three successful events Ambiente, Christmasworld and Creativeworld are being held concurrently for the first time in 2023. Experience this innovative concept with the world’s most comprehensive product range and a diverse array of synergies – also for the stationery industry – live in Frankfurt. Discover the trade fairs of the future: Tel. +44 (0) 14 83 48 39 84

4. – 7. 2. 2023 FRANKFURT / MAIN
3. – 7. 2. 2023 FRANKFURT / MAIN 3. – 7. 2. 2023 FRANKFURT / MAIN

“It’s time for a change, as we restructure the team at Cardgains, ensuring we have a solid plan in place for the years ahead,” wrote Chris Dyson, joint managing director of Cardgains in his swansong column of the buying group’s December newsletter, confirming his retirement and announcing that Penny Shaw, the company’s long time marketing director is taking up the role of managing director from the start of 2023.

PG pays a fond farewell to Chris while asking ‘a Penny for her thoughts’ on taking up the hot seat, which accounts for 1,000 independent retail rooftops.

I t’s all change at the top of the Cardgains buying group, as from 1 January 2023 joint managing director Chris Dyson is retiring after almost three decades with the business, and Penny Shaw, the company’s marketing director is to take on the role as its managing director.

While it was not exactly a secret, Chris officially shared his retirement news with members and suppliers in Cardgains’ recent newsletter, writing: “It’s time for me to regroup, take things easy and enter the world of retirement.

Top: The refreshed Cardgains logo.

Above: Penny Shaw takes over as md of Cardgains on 1 January 2023.

Below: The Cardgains Village, on which several suppliers will have a pod, will be part of Spring Fair again in February and Chris will be lending a hand.

I have had nearly 30 years with Bridewell UK and Cardgains and loved every minute, getting to know hundreds of members and numerous suppliers as we carried on the fight on behalf of the independent retailer.”

The expanded portfolio

While every year sees additional companies joining the bedrock of Cardgains suppliers including many leading card, gift and party companies, the 2023 list is kicking off with a bang, with ten companies being welcomed into the portfolio, reflecting the changing shape of the Cardgains membership. These are Bexy Boo, Boxt, Depesche, Fountasia, Padhome, Peers Hardy Group, S66 Sportwear, Smart Games, Something Different and University Games.

The managing director baton passes to Penny, who having spent the last 25 years with the company, latterly as marketing director, is certainly no stranger to the industry or the needs of indies.

“I am delighted to have this opportunity to further develop Cardgains and futureproof it for our members and suppliers. I remember when I first joined Cardgains all those years ago asking Chris “why isn’t every retailer a member of Cardgains?” as it has so many advantages,” Penny said of the buying group’s premise which enables retailers to take advantage of terms and benefits (financial and administrative) that otherwise would not be open to then, while securing payment to Cardgains’ official suppliers. “I still hold that view, and the coming years will hopefully see us encouraging more independent retailers to join us.”

Paying tribute to his long-time colleague and friend, Chris said: “I know that Penny, along with the recent appointment of Miles Robinson [co-owner of House of Cards] as chairman and Aga Marsden [owner of Highworth Emporium], as our new nonexecutive director, will continue to move the company forward in the years to come. I’m obviously privy to some of the changes that are planned and can tell you, it’s in good hands and there are exciting times ahead.”

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE 63 In conversation with...Cardgains 020 8671 2166 Top Drawer stand N60 NEW from 80 NEW DESIGNS FOR 2023

With a refreshed logo, ‘Together more than ever’ as its marketing strapline for the 2023 thrust, a bolstered supplier portfolio that has swelled by the addition of 10 new companies, the return to the fold of Ian Doyle into the member support team, a new Charity Challenge and a whole programme of marketing activity for members to be unveiled in the first quarter, Penny is already fully embracing her new role.


“Cardgains, like all businesses needs to develop and grasp new opportunities, but I am certainly mindful to maintain the stability it has enjoyed and provided for our members and suppliers for over 30 years,” said Penny, adding “I will of course very much miss working with Chris, but I aim to do him and the members proud by taking Cardgains onto its next stage of development”.

Reflections on the past

When Chris Dyson left United Biscuits to join the national accounts team of greeting card publisher WN Sharpe’s back in 1989, little did he know that this was to lead him in to the Cardgains team four years later, initially as sales and marketing director before becoming joint managing director, sharing the role with its financial maestro, Steve Grocott.

In a moment of reflection, Chris said: “Throughout my time at Cardgains, £millions of turnover and member bonuses have moved through our system. Suppliers and members have also constantly evolved as new products have been launched and created and retail has changed. This period through history has seen eight prime ministers, six US presidents and a Covid rollercoaster to name but a few of the events, appointments and struggles!”

Citing some of the product “boom times”, Chris highlighted “Tatty Teddy, Ty Beanies, Yankee Candle, Willow Tree and the arrival of many small house card publishers - as they used to be knowngrowing into brands we now know as

Left: Chris has worked in the industry, man and boy!

Below: A happy scene at the end of the 2022 Cardgains Charity Challenge, the Ultimate Ullswater which saw retailers, suppliers and Cardgains teamsters raise over £22K for Alzheimer’s Society.

major players in the greeting card industry. I am sure we [Cardgains] have played our part with the development of many of these.”

Summing up the changing retail landscape and Cardgains’ enduring place within it, Chris added: “Over the years, our competition has changed and will continue to do so. Clintons, Birthdays, WHSmith, supermarkets, Card Factory and, of course, latterly we have the online options!

Ultimately however, the spirit of the independent retailer, the supplier support and the part we play still makes our group of independent Cardgains members a major player in the industry with turnover this year expected to reach £25million.”

Chris explained how the membershipwhich accounts for around 1,000 rooftops across its 650 members - has also changed dramatically since its inception, evolving out of the Bridewell CTN base.

“The Cardgains vision started offering the same Bridewell UK concept to card shops which was an immediate success. Over time, gifts were introduced, which expanded our appeal and changed the makeup of the membership. Today we have card shops, gift shops, convenience stores, garden centres, art galleries, bookshops and florists all enjoying the many membership benefits on offer.”

Of his personal highlights, Chris said that being presented with the Honorary Achievement award at The Henries in 2006 was a key moment. “I was thrilled to be recognised in this way, while among my colleagues, peers and friends,” said Chris.

He also stressed, quite rightly, how rightly proud he was of Cardgains’ charity work over the last 22 years. “I have met some great people along the way while at the events, making friends for life and, between us, raising over £350,000 for various charities, and covering around 800 miles!

A personal message to everyone who has ever taken part in a Cardgains Charity Challenge and walked shoulder to shoulder with myself and others, often stretched to personal limits…it’s been a pleasure.”

Chris will be at Spring Fair on the Cardgains Village (February 5-8)

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE 65 In conversation with...Cardgains
Right: Chris Dyson has been a man of many guises for Cardgains various marketing ‘spins’ over the years. A cake to celebrate Cardgains’ 30th anniversary and evolution a few years ago.
Top Drawer, Stand O59 15–17 January 2023

Zero training in design and print has been the making of Jo Wilson as a greeting card publisher, she believes it’s because she had no preconceptions about the industry and she’s been able to do what she thinks is right.

Luckily, with a business studies degree and years of corporate experience at blue chip companies like Rolls Royce, Bombardier, and Ernst & Young under her belt, Jo had the background knowledge to make things work - so long as the designs are there.

And, with the recent triumph making it five Henries trophies and three finalists’ spots since Dandelion Stationery started with its Words of Wisdom collection back in 2014 there’s no question about the designs!

“I'm not trained in anything creative,” Jo admitted. “I went to uni., did a business studies degree, had various corporate jobs at big companies and then wanted a change. Some of it was having children, and the sort of corporate life I had that didn't necessarily suit. I also had a really horrible boss and just thought, ‘I've had enough’.”

Jo’s husband Paul was in a similar situation. She said: “Although his boss was okay! - but he was also in a corporate role as an accountant at Toyota and didn't want to do that for the rest of his life. A small printing business near us in Derbyshire came up for sale, so he bought that in 2011.”

Jo Wilson has become something of the poster girl for the greeting card industry as the Dandelion Stationery founder has not only built up the publisher over the past eight years, but now does a nifty sideline in giant window display posters to support its independent retailer stockists.

Fresh from her recent stardom on BBC Radio 4’s You And Yours and latest Henries win, PG caught up with the multi-talented publisher.

Above: Jo celebrates willing her fifth Henries award at the October 2022 ceremony.

Left: One of the free general downloadable POS that Dandelion has developed for retailers.

Right: No 14 Ampthill owner Jo Barber (left) and her shop manager Kirsty Hammond (right) with Dandelion’s Jo Wilson.

Below: The first poster Dandelion produced for Austin & Co.

The idea was for Jo to stay in an employed job for a while to provide some stable income, but she started doing wedding stationery, and a few greeting cards that were sold through Paul’s business. After 18 months Jo was happy to give her job up, with Dandelion Stationery born in 2014.

For the first six months it was just Jo and her iPad, thinking up witty captions and drawing her Words of Wisdom designs to match, where she cornered the market in traditional sentiment meets modern phrasing and images, as a little bit of cheek and taking the mickey is how she gets the right words “without it being too mushy”!

First off the press was the now classic ‘It’s ok to get excited when the Screwfix directory arrives’ card - definitely inspired by Paul whose role has now expanded from

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE 67 In Conversation With...Dandelion Stationery

print maestro to DIY expert in charge of building trade show stands along with managing Dandelion’s accounts to feed his love of a good spreadsheet.

Jo was then joined by Jess Greaves who is her super-organised studio manager as well as being in charge of all things marketing, social media and customer service-related, and the team now includes graphic designers Sophie and Rebecca, who both started as interns, Jo K looks after accounts admin, Helen keeps the stock topped up and the warehouse running smoothly, Nicola is operations and orderpacking queen, and Alison ensures the inventory is all under control - oh yes, mustn’t forget Ted and Toby, the four-legged head of security and his sidekick.

Above: Paul, Jo’s husband with his large digital printer.

Below left: One of the best sellers in Words of Wisdom.

Below: A sneak peek of a new Words of Wisdom design for 2023.

Bottom: Jo (second right) with industry chums Austin & Co’s Sean Austin, GF Smith’s Emma Oliver (left) and Janet Stevens.

publisher’s first stockist outside Derby back in 2014, closely followed by Sean Austin at Malvern’s Austin & Co, both of whom still order regularly.

“It was Sean who approached us first, asking for posters,” Jo said, “I think one of the first we did for him was a Remembrance Sunday one, just a really simple poster that had some poppies on. Then we did a couple of others for him, including a Covid one that featured toilet rolls, and it just went from there.

Worldy Wisdom

As well as its indie retail base in the UK, Dandelion now has a large export business in America, through Notes & Queries, plus in Australia and New Zealand. Most of the humour translates, apart from having to change Mum to Mom for the US along with swapping out Screwfix for the Aussie equivalent of Bunnings. The publisher also has a range of cards in French while other European nations tend to take designs without words, and there’s a 200-strong Welsh collection including 140 from Words of Wisdom.

After growing continuously through to 2019, Dandelion unsurprisingly took a hit in 2020 with Covid, but bounced back last year. “In what felt like a really short space of time we were back to where we were, or even beat our 2019 figures,” Jo said.

As to the current climate, Jo says that she feels “Shops are more cautious in terms of their spending, whereas a retailer might have placed a £600-£700 order, they may be doing £200 orders now, ordering more frequently, but in smaller values, making sure they've sold it through before committing more money. Cash flow is tight for everybody.

“Turnover-wise we will have done okay, but the margin within that turnover is tighter than it's ever been,” said Jo.

New designs are launched each January and again in the summer, just prior to PG Live, “always the show where we launch the summer collection - it was the first show we ever did and remains our favourite show,” revealed Jo.

Despite expanding into gifting lines that are outsourced, there’s a distinct advantage to having Paul’s Melbourne Print company on tap as it means there is no need to sit on large amounts of stock, plus they can also turn around topical new designs within days.

And with some of their bestselling designs being personalised cards, where trade customers can choose a location to be included, the ability to print these in quantities as small as just 12 cards is really popular.

The print link has also led to increased engagement with Dandelion’s independent retail customers - who make up around 70% of its customer base, starting with Jo Barber at No 14 Ampthill who became the

“It then made us think ‘oh, actually, maybe other customers might want this especially if they've got a big window to fill’.”

So now, if customers place an order over a certain value with Dandelion, they can choose a poster free of charge, under that value it is offered at cost. “We don’t aim to make any money on poster sales, it’s an add-on service purely for the retailers’ benefit,” stressed Jo.

And for the new year, Jo will be keeping the product range fresh, futureproofing the company for its 10th birthday in 2024.

“Before Dandelion I used to go to work to earn money and not really get any enjoyment. I can genuinely say I love what I do now and the friendships you make in an industry like this are just so fabulous,” exclaimed Jo.

Jo’s work with the posters, free downloadable Shop Small POS, and willingness to help retail customers with community projects such as Stationery Supplies’ children’s Christmas Card contest (where Dandelion printed the winners’ designs to be sold for school PTA funds), grounds the publisher in its independent retail roots.

“Small independent shops are our lifeblood,” Jo explained, “without them, we wouldn’t be here.

“Ultimately, all any of us want is for Joe Public on the High Street to go in a shop and buy a card. That's what we're all here for. So, anything that we can do that brings footfall into the shops, we should be doing it.”

In Conversation

Jump to it!

spreading the Christmas card cheer, they can’t destroy an important British tradition which goes back over 170 years, with publishers investing to create a stunning array of designs for this coming year.

PG joined publishers in reliving the joy of Christmas jumper day and tapped into some of the trends for 2023.

With Christmas cards such a hugely important part of the greeting card industry calendar, almost every publisher has a festive selection, but just what constitutes a winning design in today’s market?

In the latest Census data for England and Wales, for the first time since the 10yearly poll began in 1801 less than half the population, just 46% - or 27.5million people - describe themselves as Christian with ‘no religion’ the second most common response at 37.2% (22.2m).

So, while the event ostensibly celebrates Christ’s birth, it’s grown into a festival enjoyed by all faiths and the fact secular designs now far outweigh the religious ones isn’t surprising.

“We don’t do any religious cards at Ohh Deer,” co-owner Mark Callaby explained. “Humour with cats, dogs or Santa seems to perform better for us.”


Right: UKG has seen a rise in specific religious sends.

company “didn’t include any religious imagery in our 2022 range, but I may pop a few in for 2023”. She added: “The nativity scene has sold well for us in the pastmaybe with rainbows for this year!”

However, at Ling Design 40% of its designs in its charity division have a religious connection. As head of creative Clare Twigger said: “We also cover religious in our boxed and charity FSDU offer, which enables breadth for a retailer to have the best mix of cards for customer choice and proposition, and we offer different styles and content of religious cards for different consumers.”

At Noel Tatt, sales manager Michael Griffiths revealed its Help32 collection has “historically enjoyed more success with lighter religious designs, such as contemporary three kings, village church, choir boys and nativity scenes. In 2022, 13% of our charity range had religious content, in 2023 it’s just over 8%”.

card trends
Focus on...Christmas
And Wendy Jones-Blackett said her eponymous Below: Christmas jumper Above: A religious design from Ling’s charity range. Ohh Deer’s Papio Press range has been a Christmas hit with its contemporary styling.
published by 01992 702 900 /danilocalendarsuk @CalendarsUK /danilocalendarsuk Greeting Cards, Gift wrap, Calendars & Diaries AMAZING BRANDS AWARD-WINNING PRODUCTS

Dean plays his joker

For all the new trends out there, traditions have a part to play, especially at Christmas. Dean Morris loves Christmas traditions, one is his is a publishing homage to JC, in Dean Morris Cards style of course!

“I produce a new Jesus Christmas card every year - and have done since 2011. Obviously, me being me, it’s always from a humorous angle, but they continue to sell well alongside my traditional festive offering. I’ve had a few emails and phone calls from members of the public over the years who have taken offence, but it’s often led to interesting and good-natured discussions with them about the nature of the cards, that I’ve always enjoyed!”

Left: The 2023 religious design, Dean Morris Cards style.

Right: Dean Morris in festive spirit!

UKG’s brand manager Rebecca Badrock added: “We’ve seen a gain in popularity in specific religious sends in recent years, although the proportion of these vs non-religious cards is still relatively low. We just make sure we offer a mix of classic and more modern religious styling.”

As Paperlink’s marketing manager Ryan Blue added: “With a more multicultural society, we’re proud to be more inclusive, creating cards that can be given and received with joy, regardless of the sender’s beliefs. These designs have all been inspired by the natural world around us, something that unites us all and gives thanks at this magical time of year.”

And Nigel Quiney’s art manager Carl Pledger explained that religious cards are now a very small percentage of the publisher’s portfolio, with just four of the upcoming 2023 range showing festive wintery scenes of churches and singing choirs out of 250 designs.

The Art File’s Christmas range caters for all interests and customer demographics. While 20% are religious designs, such as three kings, angels and general nativity themes, 80% are contemporary in theme and imagery featuring Santa, robins, reindeer and mistletoe.

As ever, there’s a difference of opinion on colours on Christmas cards, with navy and gold having risen in ascendence as a traditional option to the reds and greens, while non-trad brights and festive pastels also abound. For every trend there is an anti trend.

At Wendy Jones-Blackett, creative maestro Wendy revealed that: “For the second year running we found non-traditional card

Left: Rainbow colours work for Wendy Jones-Blackett.

Below leftt: Paperlink’s Reflections range features foil details.

Below right: Die-cutting is a sustainable way for UKG to add value.

Bottom: Abacus’ selection includes luxury boxed cards.

colours have done as well as the traditional red/gold/green. Our Rainbow Drops range has exactly that, rainbow colours across all the designs. It’s something fresh against all the dark colours!”

But it is not just on the design front that trends are being tracked, arguably even more apparent over the last few years has been publishers’ respective approaches on the sustainability front. And the 2023 collections will continue this journey.

A case in point is Abacus. With everything printed, manufactured and packaged in the UK, the publisher’s latest charity packs have new packaging in translucent paper bands which can be widely recycled, and it has now also engaged with tree-planting scheme to offset the company’s carbon footprint by planting a tree for each customer order.

As Liz Ellis, Abacus’ studio manager, highlighted: “Within the industry there’s a distinct move away from flitter/glitter even though eco options are available, and cards without finishes are much more prevalent. Hot foil, emboss and die-cut are still widely available, these products tend to have slightly higher price points but all can be recycled.”

All Nigel Quiney cards for Christmas 2023 are also flitter-free, with Carl Pledger explaining they use foil finishes instead “with care taken not to cover more than 25% of the card so they are recyclable”. In addition NQP is focusing on

Continued on page 75
Focus on...Christmas card trends

Relationship matters

So how are changing family dynamics coming into play in Christmas card collections?

At Noel Tatt, sales manager Michael Griffiths comments that Mum & Dad captions have declined in popularity over the years, in answer to which the publisher has launched a significantly larger number of caption cards for 2023. “Both Of You and Special Couple are far more popular, perhaps reflecting how the traditional family unit has changed over time. Son & Partner and Daughter & Partner are being introduced by us for this coming year, following many requests by our sales team,” revealed Michael.

It's a similar story at Nigel Quiney where To All The Family, From All Of Us, and To All Of You captions worked well in 2022 so “we’ll look to add more of the same for 2023” Carl said, while taking heart from the positive general Christmas cards sales in 2022 to expand for the new year with the introduction of Christmas Flower Press and humour range Giggle Bells.

Above: A contemporary Christmas design from NQP.

Far right: NQP’s Carl Pledger showing off his Christmas jumper and a traditional card design.

Right: A new caption card from GBCC.

embossing and die-cutting “all of which have no impact on recyclability - we have added card attachments to our higher price codes, fixed with card pads, keeping them eco”.

Paperlink’s Ryan Blue concurs on the foil trend as it “provides a real feeling of luxury, at an affordable price”. He added: “Sustainability is key, so we’ve kept foil thickness down, allowing every design to be recycled. We’re also part of the World Land Trust, so every card sale benefits critically endangered forests and balances the carbon emissions of production.”

With UKG’s retail customers in tune with shoppers looking for a sustainable option, Rebecca Badrock said: “Our keepsake boxes are always in demand. They’re beautifully designed and the reusable keepsake box is great for storing cards or other items.”

The publisher’s whole 2023 Christmas range will be 100% sustainable, glitter replaced with special foil finishes and all pads, ribbons and gems are now fully sustainable. Rebecca added: “Paper engineering and laser diecutting are also great options for adding value to designs in a sustainable way.”

At Noel Tatt, all boxes and charity packs are

Above: Nature is key at GBCC.

Left: This Art File Form card is also a decoration.

Right: Ling revamps its Robin each year.

plastic and glitter-free, with its counter cards also available unwrapped, as Michael Griffiths said: “I think there is a direct connection for most people towards being kinder to our planet and enjoying Christmas surrounded by future generations.”

GBCC believes the growing consumer desire for environmentally-friendly products leans into the trend of capturing people’s connection to nature and the world around.

Nostalgia is a key requirement, head of creative Lucy Ledger said, along with designs featuring household pets, and she added: “Forest flora and fauna and elegant festive woodland characters are gaining in popularity as they evoke the magic of the outdoors at this special time of year and beautiful seasonal foliage designs continue to be strong.”

For The Art File Christmas cards remain thematically consistent each year. As James Mace explained: “We pride ourselves on combining classic designs with contemporary features including foiling, diecutting and embossing, all of which enhance the overall quality and experience of each card while maintaining imagery customers have come to expect from a great Christmas card.”

At Ling , having analysed its Christmas card sales data invariably “top of the tree” according to Clare Twigger is the Ling Robin. “So, we make sure we have designs that encompass and move that on - the challenge is that every year we want the design to be even better than the last.” Christmas past and Christmas future!

Continued on page 77
card trends
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Charitable acts and packs

The greeting card industry has a long history with charity tie-ups, but this is something which will be even more needed for worthy causes in the coming year, generating income and awareness for numerous charities.

Noel Tatt is a master on the charity card front, with its Help32 multipack range supporting 32 good causes across a wide spectrum. Having now raised over £2million for Help32 over the years (see news) as Michael Griffiths, sales manager, summed up: “There is no other industry like ours that raises £millions for charities each and every year. It is something of which we should all feel proud.”

UK Greetings is another publisher committed to its charity Christmas card programmes, It will be supporting nine charities in the UK and Ireland with its specific Christmas charity collection, namely British Heart Foundation, RSPCA and SSPCA, Marie Curie, Mind, Samaritans, NSPCC, Alzheimer’s Society, Children’s Health Foundation, and Focus Ireland.

At Paperlink, charity cards remain an important element of its Christmas offer, with Cancer Research and the NSPCC the beneficiaries. As marketing manager Ryan Blue highlighted:

“According to the Charities Aid Foundation 2022 report, charity donations were down in 2021, and expectations are that 2022 will be even worse. With many people forced to cut back on donating, charity cards represent a way to give back without an additional cost to the end user.

“In 2022 we launched a new, stronger and more prominent display stand for our cards, and some fantastic new designs. We’ve seen a real increase in sales - the figures so far indicate we’ll be able to provide the charities with a worthwhile donation.”

Hallmark takes collaboration even further with longstanding partner Barnados. As the publisher’s head of brand marketing Jess Lovelace said: “We work very closely with the Barnardos team to develop our product ranges - even involving the children the charity works with in the creative process to ensure we have a true collaborative approach.”

The “incredible support” of customers has allowed The Art File to raise over £250,000 for Young Lives Vs Cancer, RSPCA, Dementia UK, and Motor Neurone Disease

Association, through the sales of its Christmas cards. Sales and marketing manager James Mace said: “We’re immensely proud to support them for the outstanding work they do across the UK. For every Art File charity pack sold this year we will donate 50p to these amazing charities.”

Having increased its charity offer for 2023, Ling has a twopronged approach with the Ling Charity division offering a bespoke design and packaging service on its ranges for good causes who want their own Christmas cards, and, head of creative Clare Twigger added: “We also run our very successful Ling charity packs which support five carefully-chosen charities across a spectrum of sectors. This is incredibly important to both us and our customers and we ensure the design selection is exactly right. For 2023 we have slightly increased the size of the FSDU which has allowed us to reduce the RSP which we know is very important to the charity card customer.”

Ohh Deer has UK Harvest lined up as its 2023 charity partner, and co-owner Mark Callaby said: “We will be donating a proportion of our sales to them for some of our card packs - we’ve already signed off Christmas 2023 and have sent it to some customers already.”

With the current economic climate Abacus Cards understands people are more cost conscious but, said studio manager Liz Ellis: “They still want quality and to be able to purchase beautifully designed and manufactured products,” so the publisher is offering a wide variety of caption titles, charity packs, bumper boxes, and luxury boxes with sleeves and apertures for a touch of indulgence at an affordable price.

Liz added: “Charity cards are valuable. By sending a charity card, as well as spreading that all-important Christmas cheer, our industry is helping raise vital funds for worthy organisations to help support others in need.”

Funds raised through the sale of the Abacus charity packs are split equally between the British Heart Foundation and Marie Curie, and for sister brand Clare Maddicott the contribution is divided evenly between Parkinson’s UK and Young Lives Vs Cancer - last year alone its charitable donations exceeded £49,000.

Focus on...Christmas card trends
Left: The Art File’s charity cards have raised £250,000 for good causes. Below left: A modern take on the religious theme on this Abacus charity card. Below right: Some of the designs from Noel Tatt’s Help32 range, which over the years has generated £2 million for the good causes it supports. Bottom: Collaboration is key for Hallmark and Barnados.
ART SOURCE TO APPEAR REGULARLY IN THE ART SOURCE SECTION OF PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS CONTACT TRACEY ARNAUD ON 01234 740 051 FINDING QUALITY TEAM MEMBERS For more details contact Warren Lomax on or Tracey Arnaud on Looking for Artists, Sales Agents, Sales Representatives, Marketing Managers, Designers or Product managers? Talk to us about our Integrated Recruitment Package. An advert in PG magazine’s Appointment Section and a month’s worth of adverts on our digital news feed, PG BUZZ.

Art Source

Feast for the eyes



The aesthetic drivers: “2022 was another turbulent year to say the least - the emergence of permacrisis has really hit the mainstream in most areas of everyday life. We have watched the western world face and continue to face incredible threat, seen multiple political parties and people come and go, come again and go again, causing chaos in their wake. We have said goodbye to a much-loved monarch, something we didn’t realise would impact us so personally and deeply until the inevitable happened. The year ended amid a costof-living crisis set to last well into 2023, so the outlook really has been quite bleak but what we do best is see the beauty and opportunity from the darkest of days. We are blessed to work in a visual industry and with the talented creatives that make it what it is. The troubles of the last 12 months are now the catalyst for some very beautiful and thoughtful themes.”

Hannah’s trio of design trends are…


“Social stationery is a beautiful way to share uplifting messages which are needed more than ever in the post-Covid world of permacrisis. Bold typography mixed with vibrant colours make this theme really joyous. Designs share reaffirming messages of hope and positivity, with their

Background image: These paintings on fabric by Sarah Campbell will feature in a new book written by Sarah on the art of painting on fabric. The texture and free flowing hand will be something that people will respond to. (Represented by Yellow House Art Licensing).

Left: Hannah Curtis, the co-founder and md of Creative Sparrow UK.

Right: Soulful reflection in a Maria Over design. (Represented by Creative Sparrow).

Below: An Erin Donohoe design that epitomises the solidarity trend. (Represented by Creative Sparrow).

Bottom: An uplifting design by Karin Lauria. (Represented by Creative Sparrow).

use of hand-lettered typography and vibrant hues within a complimenting palette.”


“With so many political and social issues affecting our thought processes there is a real wave of ‘I stand with…’. Standing up in solidarity with people, rights, movements and making sure there is a collective voice that will not be silenced is important. Design will see anything from the obvious to the symbolic showing mutual support especially with individuals with a common interest.”


“We have had so much to reflect upon in recent years and as we officially enter this new Carolean era we not only celebrate the new and changed world, but reflect on the past. Reflection by definition means ‘serious thought or consideration’, but this trend is not a dreamy-eyed nostalgia but something more meaningful. We will see beautiful imagery characterised by deep thought for those who want to send a clear message of thoughtfulness.”

bold colours, strong solidarity, thoughtfulness, nostalgic patterns and calming nature are just some of the trends predicted by some leading artists agencies and picture libraries to be reflected in greeting cards over the coming year. a year which saw so much thrown at us from all directions, sending our sensibilities into orbit, PG serves up a smorgasbord of what these experienced aesthetic bellwethers cite as the cultural drivers of our creative tastes for 2023. Hannah Curtis, managing director of Creative Sparrow UK
GREETING CARD T 01206 396209 E sales Over 40 years quality service to the trade Hotfoiling also available Polypropylene & biodegradable bag specialists FRIENDLY, EXPERT ADVICE DEDICATED AND KNOWLEDGEABLE TEAM FAST AND EFFICIENT SERVICE HIGH QUALITY FILM BAGS

Bhavi’s and Amanda’s trio of design trends are…

Retro Basics

“This theme sees colour palettes stripped back as we focus on softer, pastel, earthly tones. The Retro Basics trend draws focus on nostalgic patterns, icons and fonts, which also offers the opportunities to celebrate cultural references. Inspired by the classics, such as William Morris and Van Gogh, this theme brings traditional painterly styles and floral details into more modern motifs across woodland creatures, secret gardens, royal aspects, and even pop culture too! This theme oozes charm as it introduces new techniques and palettes to original icons and their characteristics.”

Shine Bright

“In contrast to Retro Basics, Shine Bright screams positivity with

its bright palettes, bold shapes and patchwork and cottagecore patterns.

Far left: Bhavi Patel.

Left: Amanda Hendon.

Bottom left: A Pimlada Phuapradit design that has echoes of the past. (Represented by Advocate Art).

Bottom middle: This Di Brookes design screams positivity. (Represented by Advocate Art)

Below: An elaborate design by Jaime Cromer. (Represented by Advocate Art)

Drivers: “2022 was such a dynamic year and 2023 will most likely continue to be full of societal change. The war in Ukraine has made us more aware how we need to strive to understand our relationships with others on a larger scale. People are wanting to compensate for the anxieties of life caused by the cost-of-living crisis and our impact on the planet. The effect of the pandemic is still being felt, with a large part of the workforce now permanently hybrid working. Having a good balance between home life and career aspirations is key to mental wellness and feeling fulfilled in the workplace.”

Inspired by motifs from sea creatures, jungle animals, simplistic animal forms, bumble bees, rainbows, fruit, and icons with smiley faces, they combine with witty pick-me-ups and a play on words, resulting in a perfect match to uplift the mood. Its limited colours create a modern, minimalistic look making this trend appeal to both the younger and older markets.”

Silk Road

“Silk Road is equal parts luxurious and decadent. From regal big cats and tropical birds to rustic renaissance gardens, it's the smell of night blooming jasmine, the warmth of an expertly brewed pot of tea, the feeling of petting the softest kitten, and the visual feast of an ornate Persian rug. Bright colours (particularly rich pinks), unique icons and fanciful details bring this trend to life. Dive into this sumptuous theme and embrace all things elaborate and over the top!”

Jo’s trio of design trends are… Mental Health

“Mental wellbeing continues to be a focus; consumers are wanting to see this expressed in design and become normalised. Cards that include words of affirmations and peaceful scenes are increasingly popular. Spirituality takes front stage too with more and more people considering astrology and tarot cards as a direction for their peace of mind.

The world is preparing for it to be a tight year ahead, rather than allowing the current affairs to bring us down we also have a huge opportunity for comedy within greeting cards to incorporate

Bhavi Patel, art licensing manager and Amanda Hendon, global manager of Advocate Art Jo Astles, greetings and gift agent of The Bright Agency Left: Jo Astles. Below: A Claudine Rose design that taps into the spirituality trend. (Represented by Bright Art Agency).

Where ideas turn into success.

From idea to trend to success: The latest edition of the world’s most important trade fair for hobby, handicrafts and artists’ supplies focuses even more sharply on the future – and showcases the creative DIY trends that will drive your business forward. Tel. +44 (0) 14 83 48 39 84

4. – 7. 2. 2023 FRANKFURT / MAIN

jokes regarding housing, costof-living etc.”

Bold Maximalism

“Cards that have strong, bold designs and colour palettes reflect the challenges were facing each day, and the type of attitude we’ll need in the coming year. Bright and colourful patterns that invoke inclusivity and individuality are on the rise. Maximalism is what the people want, cards packed full showing aspirational large family gatherings and drinks overflowing, whether embellished or foiled, as long as it shines!”

Drivers: “The world is an uncertain place these days and I think some of the strongest drivers of trends will be a need to escape. We will want to be excited by bright, strong colours and comforted by textures and soft tones.

Card publishers are being made to demonstrate their ecofriendly ideals and we will continue to see a move away from print treatments, such as foiling and heaven forbid, glitter! Art that responds well to techniques such as embossing and debossing will be in demand.”

Sue’s trio of design trends are…

Strong Bold Colours

“Customers will be looking for joy in bright colours, something that will distract from the gloomy political situation. The pantone colour for the year is Viva Magenta - warm, vibrant but natural. We will also be looking for escapism in subject matter as well as colour palette.”


“As our lives become more governed by tech the



Below: Paul Thurlby’s new escapism images feature beaches and sunshine. (Represented by Yellow House Art Licensing).

Right and bottom right: These minimal colour designs from Valerie Greeley tick the ‘calming nature’ box. (Represented by Yellow House Art Licensing).

Small Occasions

“Although ‘big holidays’ are important, we are beginning to see a rise in ‘mini occasions’. Regardless of your love language, people love a reason to give and receive gifts. We’re constantly looking for ways to celebrate smaller moments in life such as Galentine’s, pet birthdays and more.”


Left: A Bea Muller design. (Represented by Bright Art Agency).

more clients will want to explore the work of hand-painted/crafted art. It will also be important that the art has been created by a named artist. The techniques involved, will be celebrated. The feel of the stock and how it works with the image will be more important as cellowrap is gradually discontinued.”

Calming Nature

“For something a little more calming, customers will be looking for designs that show a direct link to nature

The themes are of animals, birds, wildlife and landscape. The colour palette is restful and calming.”


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

Far left: This Christine Gore design packs a punch visually. by Bright Art Agency). Sue Bateman, director of Yellow House Art Licensing Left: Sue Bateman left: Mia Underwood, a new artist for Yellow House, puts magenta to good use in this new Christmas design. by Yellow House Art Licensing).


Category Name of Publisher Product/Name Range Comments

“A best-selling everyday publisher.”

“Goes down well with customers.”

“Consistently excellent sellers.” “Strong range of art blanks.”

“The Classics range is a mainstay for us.”

Below right: A Giuliana Lazzerini design from Mistlestoe which is available as a card as well as a print.

Reliefprint Press Cards

English Graphics Two Bad Mice Rosie Made a Thing Blue Eyed Sun Museums & Galleries

Art Angels Mistletoe House


“Small publisher with excellent strong sellers.”

“A recent re-introduction in everyday and Christmas.”

“This is the cutest range we stock.”

“A consistent strong seller.”

“Interesting that the older designs sell the best.”

“Great for everyday and Christmas cards as well as wrappings.”

“The retro designs sell well.”

“As well as cards, this small publisher offers great prints.”


“These two publishers never fail to impress.”

“The publisher has taken a big step forward on design.” “Classy designs.”

“Perennially popular.” “Big, bold and to the point.”

“Some great Scottish-themed designs.”

“We are forever topping up the displays for these companies’ cards.

“Good solid sellers.”

“A runaway success here.” “A gift and sentiment in one.”

Graham Fraser, owner of Alba, Oban. A popular emporium of cards, gifts and art materials with a sister deli business in the unofficial capital of the West Highlands of Scotland.
Everyday Relations & Occasions Humour Art Photographic Gifts
Belly Button Wendy Jones-Blackett Noel Tatt Ling Design Peartree Heybridge Redback Cards Holy Mackerel
Alex Clark Wrendale Designs Edinburgh Arts Country Cards Noel Tatt Emma Ball Life Charms Generally Generally Generally Generally Camilla
Rose Cloud Nine Erica Sturla Generally Generally Generally Generally RSPCA Homewares Jewellery
Hand-finished Cute Humour
Category Name of Publisher Product/Name Range Comments Everyday Art
Occasions Giftwrappings Gifts
Cinnamon Aitch Louise Mulgrew Art Angels Dry Red Press Museums & Galleries
Margo, Piccadilly and Amelia Generally Bank and Winter Generally Classics; Wild Press Generally Generally Generally Generally Generally Wrap and giftbags Wrap Prints
Jo Brewer, owner of Henry Brewer Gallery in West Bridgford, Nottingham and Gallery 18 in Loughborough. A duo of art galleries that also offer a selection of cards. Right: An Erica Sturla design from Holy Mackerel. right: One of the RSPCA design from Noel Tatt. Right: A Claire Tuxworth design from Reliefprint Press.


Name of Publisher

Nigel Quiney

Rosie Made a Thing Tracks

Right: Rosie Made a Thing coasters sell well for Cardies.

“A pretty ‘Nanna’s choice.”

“Totally relatable humour with recognisable characteristics.”

“Huge choice, easy ‘just in case’ cards.”

“Sentiments and thoughts that fit the needs of senders perfectly.”

“These two publishers offer modern non-fuss designs.”

“Cater well for more traditional tastes.”

“A very classy cute range.”

“Fun, bright and a little bit quirky.”

“Best sellers as they are full of interesting information.”

“Simple stylish designs.”

“Both publishers offer these perfect little pick-up gifts that can be sent with a card.”

An art card from Tracks. One of the many R&O designs from Caroline Gardner.

A cute Owl’s Nest design from Ginger Betty.

Quentin Blake’s children’s age cards from Woodmansterne sell well in Cardies.

Everyday Humour Art Thinking of You Relations and Occasions Cute Children’s Adult Ages Giftwrap Gifts Christmas Boxes and Packs Christmas Singles Christmas Relations
Dandelion Janie Wilson Caroline Gardner IC&G Ginger Betty Woodmansterne IC&G Caroline Gardner
Generally Generally Words of Wisdom Generally Generally Generally Owl’s Nest Quentin Blake What A Year Generally Coasters and notebooks Coasters and notebooks Bumper boxes Charity packs Dogs and cat designs
Rosie Made a Thing Dandelion Stationery Tracks Woodmansterne Raspberry Blossom IC & G Ginger Betty Janie Wilson Louise Mulgrew Pizazz
“Our Christmas selection this year went down well with our customers, but that is thanks to the choice from our talented publishers, be it the bumper boxes from Tracks or the lovely dog and singles from Raspberry Blossom.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE 87
Range Comments
Jo Sorrell, owner of Cardies, Stevenage.
card and gift shop at the heart of the community in the Hertfordshire town.
Top to bottom:
PRODUCT DIRECTORY l PRODUCT DIRECTORY l PRODUCT DIRECTORY Tel: 01638 569050 Email: To appear in the Product Directories contact Warren Lomax T: 020 7700 6740 or contact Tracey Arnaud T: 07957 212 062 To appear in the Product Directories contact Warren Lomax T: 020 7700 6740 email: or contact Tracey Arnaud T: 07957 212 062 email: 01565830546 01565 830 546 @BexyBooLtd BexyBooLtd @BexyBooLtd To appear in the Product Directories contact: or Tracey Arnaud Tel: 0115 929 4776 Order Online Publishers of quality blank greeting cards THE GREATEST COLLECTION OF GREETING CARDS IN THE WORLD 88 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE
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CARDS One of the UK’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. ) Impress Publishing Appledown House Barton Business Park New Dover Road Canterbury, Kent CT1 3TE Tel: 01227 811 611 Fax: 01227 811 618 email: years 3IsisCourtWyndykeFurlong Listan Labels Y Yoour Number One Supplier of Numerals, Name, Relation & Age Labels for Greetings Cards. Huge selection with immediate delivery. Buy direct or from your wholesaler. 60 Teel01235465489Fax01235532118 e OX1 5JN dshir Abingdon, Oxfor Abingdon Business Park, 3 Isis Court, Wyndyke Furlong, T 90 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE
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Create special moments from the show floor to your shop floor. Best-sellers, contemporary designs, unique and personalised gifts –it’s all here waiting to be discovered.

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