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Retailer Face To Face


Ball Last September saw the Fenwick department store group centralise all its functions across its estate, including its greeting card buying. However, as PG discovered from talking to Abigail Ball, who heads up the card buying for all nine stores, and Lizzie Tillmanns, who provides the sales analysis and forecasting, curating for local tastes is very much part of the new thrust at Fenwick. As to be expected, when it was announced that after years of buying its greeting cards (and all manner of products) on an individual store basis the Fenwick group of department stores was to make the switch to centralised buying, there were groans of disappointment from many card suppliers. They were fearful the new approach would result in a homogenous offer on the card racks, a drop in sales and a step back from the enjoyable working relationships with the store buyers the previous set-up had brought. Making a very approachable and engaging double act, Abigail Ball (who now heads up buying for the card and stationery buying for the group) and Lizzie Tillmanns (whose role as assistant merchandiser sees her working closely alongside Abigail on the sales analysis and forecasting) greatly enjoyed their ‘lap of honour’ at PG Live last

month, putting to rest any fears, both through their words and their order placing, that there is to be no ‘one size fits all’. Abigail and Lizzie have set to in earnest to give the card selection “a fresh look”, but one that is very much tailored to each of the stores’ demographics and customers’ buying tastes. In addition, they are tidying up the inconsistencies in retail pricing remedying a situation whereby the same card design could be on sale at a number of different prices within the group. There are nine department stores in the group now, located in Newcastle, London’s Bond Street, Bracknell, Brent Cross, Canterbury, Kingston, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Colchester and York. Colchester and York

Above: Fenwick’s (right) Abigail Ball, assistant buyer for cards and stationery, and assistant merchandiser Lizzie Tillmanns, were very happy to spend their Silver Ticket with Paper Salad’s Jack Wilson at PG Live. Left and middle: The tribal calling is loud in the Newcastle store - Fenwick reordered huge quantities of the Lines Behind designs, while Bug Designs’ range of celebs wearing Newcastle FC shirts also sell very well in the store. Below: The cards are all shown full facing in the Newcastle store. Bottom: Fenwick’s Newcastle store achieves the highest sales in the group on greeting cards.

operate through brokerage (though with input from Abigail), with GBCC responsible for Colchester and Woodmansterne for York. Each of the branches has a sizeable greeting card department, their importance underlined by the departments’ prominent positions instore. “There is no doubt about it, greeting cards help to drive traffic as well as additional impulse sales,” says Abigail. “The card

departments tend either to be prominently positioned on the ground floor - as is the case in our Newcastle and Colchester stores, for example - or in a hot spot close to the café, as we have in Brent Cross, Tunbridge Wells and Bentalls in Kingston,” she adds. While Newcastle is seen as the flagship on the card front, taking the most revenue wise, due to the store configuration, Bentalls in Kingston actually gives over the largest amount of space to cards and wrap. 60


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Progressive Greetings July 2019  

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Progressive Greetings July 2019  

Subscribe and receive hard copies of Progressive Greetings delivered direct to your desk anywhere in the world. Visit