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On The Cards Back in 1991, when shoulder pads were still en vogue, two young(ish) publishing bods were stood in the car park outside Simon Elvin’s HQ in Buckinghamshire following an inspiring meeting with the great man and true entrepreneur, Simon Elvin. “What do you reckon then Jakks? Shall we do it?” Warren asked me. It was a proposition I couldn’t refuse... to join forces in a Management Buy Out and purchase Progressive Greetings from our former employers Johnsons Publishing. Warren and I were reliving the memory with Simon just before Christmas at the recent GCA Past Presidents’ Luncheon. It seems like only yesterday, but the ebbs and flows of this ever-changing industry has continued to fascinate us for the last 25 years. While the industry has seen huge changes over the last quarter century, the essence of this trade, anchored by the dynamic creativity and passion of those within it (on the publisher, retailer and supplier fronts) has ensured it has adapted to meet a myriad of challenges. We feel so lucky to have made so many great friends in this trade as well as crossed paths with some extraordinary people and businesses. While we are not ones to dwell on the past, sometimes it is good to reminisce, after all you often see the future in the reflections of the past. So in this, our 300th edition, we hope you enjoy reading our brief historical chronicle of the industry since 1991 (see pages 70-81). But now to the future. It looks like the trade has started 2016 in pretty good shape (those affected by the floods excepted). It has been great to learn how Christmas sales held up and exceeded expectations for so many (see news and Viewpoints pages 43-47). This bodes well for a successful Spring Fair and PG Live. Please come and have a glass of fizz with us on our stand at the Spring Fair (Hall 3 Stand M45) at the end of the day (from 5.45pm) and we can toast the next 25 years!


Above: Jakki and Warren with Simon Elvin at the GCA Past Presidents’ Lunch. Below left: Go on! Enter your shop into this year’s Retas awards.

You’re Out Of This World! We are on the hunt for the card retailing stars of our industry! With this issue you will find an entry form for The Retas awards. Retailers, don’t be shy, tell us why you’re great. Publishers, agents and reps, please, please send us your nominations for which card retailers you feel have excelled in the last year. PS. A personal thanks to someone without whom PG would not be what it is today our wonderful designer Russell Sutton (pictured) who, believe it or not, has designed every page of every single issue of Progressive Greetings since we started. Big kisses to you Russell! THE HOME OF MARKET LEADING TRADE AWARDS

From baby to toddler to starting school


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


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What’s Inside

With This Issue:



43 9-33



Over The Counter With David Robertson













Post Offices Going For Greeting Card Gold


Moonpig Widens Its Galaxy


Carte Blanche’s Biggest Ever You To Me Launch


Card Retailers’ Viewpoints On Christmas 2015

Sarah Hamilton’s ‘Just A Card’ Campaign


Jeremy Corner’s Journal

Debbie Wigglesworth’s Paper Journeys


The Retail Barometer Findings 67-69

Robin Littman’s International Industry Focus 70-81

PG Celebrates Its 25th Anniversary By Looking Back On The Industry

A Collection Of Ladder Club Delegates’ Path To Cards 101-103

PG ‘Has Words’ With Publisher Megan Claire

Bloggers - A New Route To Market Spring Fair Innovations Bringing Card Designs Back To The Future The Robertson Collection’s Relaunch Art Library Experts’ 2016 Image Forecasts What’s Hot? 151-152

Lynn’s Lines 153-166


Progressive Greetings is a monthly business magazine. SUBSCRIPTIONS: UK subscription: One year £50 Two year £85 Three year £110 Overseas subscription: One year £75 Jakki Brown

Warren Lomax

Gale Astley





Advertisement Director

Deputy Editor

SUBSCRIPTIONS ENQUIRES: maxsubscriptions@marketingreinforcements.co.uk Tel: 020 8943 9541

PG is the official magazine for the Greeting Card Association GCA: Sharon Little 020 7619 0396 Email: gca@max-publishing.co.uk www.greetingcardassociation.org.uk Use your smartphone app to scan the QR code to visit our website.

Copyright© 2016. 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.



An ever growing beautiful blend of square occasions cards

Come and see us at the Spring Fair NEC 7th - 11th February 2016

You will now find us in HALL 6 Stand J22-K23 www.souluk.com 008_PG_February 2016.indd 1


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Christmas On The High Street Card Retailers Herald Positive Festive Sales The greeting card sector seems to have bucked the general trend, with the majority of stockists reporting that Christmas card sales having been better than expected some reporting incredibly positive increases. Totally countering retail research analysts BDO’s conclusion that 2015 was the worst December trading period for retailers for seven years, cardies are full of plenty of cheer. On the multiple front, Paperchase was 11.8% up, Scribbler saw its sales grow by 10% and Waitrose has revealed a 7% upturn in its Christmas card and giftwrap sales. Asda was pleased to meet its ‘expectations’ as was Card Factory

Left: It was a festive cheer from the trade! A Christmas design from Marina B.

(which will not reveal its full results until the end of January). Both Cardzone and Scribbler confirmed a trend experienced by others that sales of single Christmas cards were up, but Christmas boxes were down, although House of Cards enjoyed increased boxed cards sales for the fifth year in a row! “Better than expected” was the overall verdict of Penmark’s md Mark Rees, echoing the views of multiples, regional groups and indies. Santa did his stuff! ● To find out how independent cards retailers got on see pages 43-47.

PAPERCHASE: Frances Burkle, head of buying at Paperchase: “We saw strong sales again on our Christmas cards, so another positive year! Overall on Christmas cards sales were up +11.8%, +5.8% like-for-like up to Christmas Eve. We saw the trend grow in our single cards where our customers are continuing to search out those specially chosen individual cards for their loved ones. But interestingly, we also saw strong growth in our boxed cards where we believe our customers are again being very selective in the cards they are sending. Our bestsellers, as ever, were those lines that were different, that you just can’t find anywhere else.” SCRIBBLER: John Procter, md of Scribbler: “Our sales were not as strong as last year, but acceptable - showing 10% up overall. Sales of Christmas singles were well up, but pack sales were down. Our best sellers were our own brand singles, roll wrap and gift bags. I do think the Paris attack affected footfall in our larger centres, especially London, while online gift sites undercutting prices also impacted. There were many sightings of customers taking photographs and then telling us they could buy they cheaper online - great!” Right: One of Scribbler’s own brand gift bags.

HOUSE OF CARDS: Miles Robinson, partner of House of Cards: “Christmas was pretty good for us. We ended up just over 6% up, which isn’t too bad on top of a record year for us last year. Results seem very mixed this year with a bit of doom and gloom about, but we certainly had some star performing categories with Christmas boxed cards up 9% (the fifth consecutive year of increase), single cards up 4%, giftwrap up 12% and gifts up 11%. The only disappointing one was charity cards that were down by 4%.” JARROLD: Suzie Abel, card buyer for Jarrold department store, Norwich reported a “Like for like growth of 3% on Christmas cards, 19% on giftwrap (flat, rolls, bags, boxes and tags), and 1% on calendars.” Its sales of cello packs (both charity and non) “grew again”,“boxed card sales were flat”, while “Advent calendars’ sales were great, as were gift boxes.”

INSIDE All you need for Christmas: fabulous gift ideas and festive fun!

Above: Jarrold promoted its Christmas Shop heavily instore, in local press advertising, on its website and in its Christmas Gift Guide (180,000 copies were produced) .

Above: Inside Paperchase’s flagship Manchester store.

ASDA: Jaime Serrano, Asda’s buyer of everyday and seasonal cards and gifts: “Overall Christmas performed in line with expectations for 2015. We were pleased with our traditional and contemporary ranges’ performance which worked really well and we saw significant growth this year.” Alyssa Ashford, buying assistant of Festive/ Halloween for Asda, which is responsible for the grocer’s Christmas boxed cards selection, adds: “For 2015 we had a total of 43 SKUs on boxed cards. Overall we did see a slight decline in sales year on year, however this was driven mainly by a miss in sales on our value kids lines (we have put this down to excessive SKU choice perhaps confusing the customer). The better performing lines were our luxury six pack designs and handcrafted packs that performed well across the board.“

CARDZONE: Paul Taylor, md of Cardzone: “We traded up 5% like-for-like. Sales of single Christmas cards were very strong, however boxed and cellos were very disappointing. Footfall continues to be the greatest pressure on the high street, with numbers continuing to fall year on year. This will be the challenge for all retailers this coming year.”

WAITROSE: Michelle Klein, buyer for greeting cards, giftwrap writing stationery for Waitrose: “We had a great Christmas performance on home and general merchandise at Waitrose. Our sales were up +7% year on year.” On buying patterns Michelle says: “It all came through in the last week but we held our nerve and didn't mark down. A mild December and Christmas falling on a Friday meant customers left it very late.” PENMARK: “Better than expected!” was the verdict on Christmas trading at Penmark’s shops, according to md Mark Rees: “Our LFL was +4%. The split was similar to last year between Christmas boxes and singles. Our boxed cards’ sales held up well and were up on last year (we believed sales would be down). Single sales were marginally up on last year, and that was on the back of a strong year the year before. I think Black Friday (or Black Friday Week as it was being promoted by high street retailers) has changed the sales pattern of Christmas trading. We found November to be weaker than last year and as such we’re going into December in negative territory. This altered pattern of trading I believe is here to stay!” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


Expect more‌ Expect the perfect card from

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…more stunning embellishments …more exquisite finishes …more beautiful sentiment

UK Greetings Ltd. Mill Street East, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire WF12 9AW England. Tel (01924) 465200 Fax (01924) 431814 For more information please email: getintouch@ukgreetings.co.uk and quote ref: PG-Feb16

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for you

Exposure Silver Edition designed by icon order online: www.icon-art.com telephone: 01242 679800 / email: info@icon-art.com

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NEWS Matthew Williamson Fashions Cards


Barometer Readings Indies Start 2016 In Good Shape While “challenging” was one of the most popular word choices from independent cards retailers in summing up the greeting card industry for indies last year, the findings of the recent PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer shows that they more than rose to the challenges. In what has become an important bellwether into the health and wealth of the independent card retailer, the annual survey showed that half (52%) of indies had grown their business in the last 12 months, with another 44% holding it steady. As for their expectations for 2016 (see pie-chart), 85% of respondents are either expecting to grow this year or remain on a par with 2015 levels. The results show that further expansion into gifts has served indies well again, while the major threats to their trade were the usual suspects -

Below: What are your business’ expectations for 2016?

supermarkets, Card Factory and charity shops, though the concern about the National Minimum Wage/Living Wage has crept up the worry list. Over a quarter of suppliers pulled their socks up on the service front in the last year (more than the year previous), but sadly the 23% left let their standards slip, according to respondents. “There is no denying the importance of the Retail Barometer as it is an invaluable benchmark against which independents can measure their own performance while giving others in the trade insight into the ongoing trends of the independent sector,” commented Chris Dyson, joint managing director of the Cardgains buying group with whom PG co-commissions this annual survey. ● For more results see pages 55-63.

Print-On-Demand Launches In Store Having proved itself in Eire, Space Hippo, an instore alternative to Moonpig (and other print-on-demand operators), is now available to UK retailers. The concept, which has been operational in around 20 stores in Ireland for the last few years under the name of Quick Click Cards from Watermark Cards, a leading greeting card publisher, has been modified for mainland UK and is being sold by SMS, the company fronted by industry stalwarts Peter Goodman and Mike Apicella. Above: Everyone buying a Space Hippo card in store will be given a 20% off Once retailers have the Space Hippo unit voucher code to order another card online - for which the retailer will installed (which only takes up a metre of wall receive 45% of the sale. Below: Among the designs from Space Hippo are some licensed designs, space and a broadband connection) the public will be able to visit participating stores to create such as this Minions one. and print off their personalised card (with photo uploads) in minutes. "The public understand the concept and buy a huge amount of cards from the big players online, but this gives the independent retailer the opportunity to fight back and put some of that turnover back in their tills," says SMS' co-founder Mike Apicella. SMS will be demonstrating two Space Hippo units on the Cardgains stand at the Spring Fair. A number of publishers have already agreed to supply Space Hippo with card designs, including Emotional Rescue, Grass Roots, Danilo, Mint and Nigel Quiney, as well as the designs from the Watermark (Ireland) studio as well. “With Christmas designs it makes just over 4,000 designs on the system to select from, which equates to approximately 160’ of conventional card racking, all in just over a metre of wall space that the Space Hippo kiosk takes up,” points out Peter Goodman. In addition to the £3.95 sale the retailer makes from every card a member of the public buys, they then receive a 45% kickback if the consumer then orders any more cards online. The rental cost of the Space Hippo monitor is around a £700 one off payment for retailers.

Celebrated British fashion designer Matthew Williamson Greetings Cards & Gift Stationery has turned his couture skills to greeting cards and stationery recently, to become personally involved in creating a range with Museums & Galleries that will make its ‘catwalk’ debut at Spring Fair (Hall 3, Stand P17). "In a digital age, I still love sending and receiving cards, handwriting notes and wrapping gifts, so I'm thrilled to be well stocked up with some personal favourites and hope everyone enjoys them too!" says Matthew. Describing working with Museums & Galleries as “a dream project”, the British fashion icon Matthew explained: “We have amassed such a strong print archive over our 20 year history and it's therefore been such a pleasure to revisit some of my favourites and re-imagine them as a luxury yet affordable category to our expanding lifestyle brand." The resultant range, which celebrates his distinctive kaleidoscopic patterns and embellishments, comprises greeting cards, notecard wallets, deluxe journals, deluxe notebooks, giftwrap, gifting products, gift boxes, gift bags and gift tissue. NEW – Available exclusively from

Spring Fair Stand P17, Hall 3 www.museumsgalleries.co.uk

Above: Museums & Galleries has teamed up with fashion designer Matthew Williamson.

Moonpig To Float This Year? In a mid-January article in the Daily Mail's City & Finance section, a page was devoted to an interview with Stan Laurent, chief of executive of PhotoBox, which bought Moonpig five years ago for £120m. Having agreed a £400m sale to two private equity firms last October, Stan revealed that the company is not ruling out a stock market float. "We are not closing the door forever on a float," he told journalist Ruth Sunderland. "We have done two fairly big acquisitions in the past 12 months and we want to integrate them and stay private while we do it." Asked whether Facebook and social media could put paid to greeting cards, he was adamant that they still had a future. "The card market in the UK is £1.4bn. It has not changed through texting, Facebook or Twitter, and the reason is that it is more personal," he stated. (See pages 87-89) Below: Stan Lauren, ceo of PhotoBox, which owns online card retailer Moonpig.





additions to the Abacus children’s range

These 5 x 7 format designs cover both boy and girls ages one to six and are finished with spot raised varnish.

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Visit Abacus on

stand P30 in Hall 3A

at this year’s Spring Fair to see these new designs plus all of our latest releases. What’s more if you place a carriage paid order at the show you will automatically be entered into our prize draw to win one of these three fabulous prizes …

1. A Smeg 50’s style mixer 2. A Nespresso Citz & Milk Coffee Machine 3. A 8GB Amazon Fire 7 Tablet The draw is open to all new or existing UK customers and prizes will be drawn at the close of the show. Winners will be contacted directly and announced on our website and via our social media accounts.

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AN EC LE CT I C SE T O F S TY L IS H tr e nd -l e d G R E E TING s


FOI L STAM PI N G ON LUXURY ART B OARD , 1 2 0 m m x 1 7 0 m m , HI/55

F O R A F R E E S A M P L E P A C K P H O N E S A L LY O N 0 1 4 2 3 5 2 0 0 9 8

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NEWS Millionth Customer Celebrations


Deal Wrapped Up Ling Adds Velvet Olive To Its Group Ling Design has bolstered its position in the contemporary greeting card sector and found the ideal person to take control of the creative direction of its Penny Kennedy giftwrappings company, in one go! As PG went to press, the ink was drying on a deal which sees Ling Design acquire the assets of niche design-led greeting card publisher, Velvet Olive. In addition, Velvet Olive founder and owner, Kathryn Fletcher is joining Ling Design to head up the creative direction for its Penny Kennedy upmarket giftwrapppings company, as well as being involved in the group’s contemporary card brands, including Max and Sid and now, Velvet Olive. As Ian Bant, md of Ling Design, pointed out: “Velvet Olive is a fantastic addition to our Ling Design, Penny Kennedy and Talking Pictures offer. The fact that Kathryn is joining us to continue to run Velvet Olive and take control of the design of Penny Kennedy, as well as work with us on our contemporary brands, brings a new dimension and expertise to our successful team.” Kathryn, who lives very close to where Ling is based in Kent, admitted to PG that she had fostered an idea of working at Ling one day. “I have very much enjoyed

Below: Ling’s Ian Bant with Velvet Olive’s Kathryn Fletcher. Below left: One of the Velvet Olive ranges that will continue now as part of the Ling group.

the last 11 years as an independent publisher, but I really think the time is right to work with a larger organisation which can help me fulfil the potential not only of Velvet Olive, but also for myself personally within an industry I love,” she said. The Velvet Olive deal comes six months after Ling Design was itself acquired by Swan Mill. Commenting on the rapidly growing card and wrap group, David Byk, group ceo of Swan Mill, said: “When we said at the time of the Ling purchase that we could become a greeting card incubator we never thought the next acquisition would come along so quickly. However, Velvet Olive is such a fantastic brand and has so much potential, plus Kathryn is a great fit with Ling/ PK, that we had to grab the opportunity with both hands.” Velvet Olive becomes part of the Ling portfolio with immediate effect and will be sold by the Ling sales teams, with Kathryn continuing to manage key national accounts. All Velvet Olive cards will be dispatched from Ling’s Paddock Wood facility.

Sweet On Thorntons Three greeting card shops have recently become Thorntons franchisees: Thorntons at Every Occasion, Oadby; Thorntons at Smart Ideas, Bromsgrove and Thorntons at Baristas Café, Clydebank. In addition, two further greeting card shops are pending: Thorntons at The Card Hall, Maidstone and Thorntons and Hallmark, Lytham St Anne's. "For three years we’ve been proud to roll out Above: Smart Ideas, Bromsgrove, recently put our successful new concept stores which feature new furnishings in the 'Thorntons… in your store' concept. and elaborate finishes, all lit up with LED lighting, that truly showcases the fantastic range we offer. We know these finishing touches will make all the difference," says Han Van Rees, franchise D&R manager. "Chocolate is the perfect gift for any occasion," continues Han. "If you run a card and gift shop, our chocolate adds an extra special touch to gifts at every season. Our 'Thorntons... in your store' concept offers a full range of crafted Thorntons chocolates in beautiful packaging, complementing all product ranges in store." ● Thorntons is among the exhibitors at Spring Fair and will be exhibiting by in Hall 3, Stand M01.

There was an unexpected surprise in store for Ricci Pleszkan when she shopped at independent card shop, Postmark in London’s Dulwich recently. As Postmark's one millionth customer, she was presented with a celebratory huge bag of goodies, including cards, notebooks, pens and other stationery, which was sponsored by Caroline Gardner, The Art File and Pigment. "It was fantastic!" enthused Postmark's md Mark Janson-Smith. "I remember how excited I was when I served my first customer, so to be celebrating our millionth feels amazing. We've been very lucky to have had such loyal customers over the years, and the fact that we've hit this incredible milestone is testament to the support there is out there for local businesses. Long may it continue!" Below: Jenny Davies, Postmark's area manager, with Ricci Pleszkan.

Urban Graphics Has A ‘U’ Turn On New Name Top Drawer marked the debut of Urban Graphics’ new name and branding - U Studio. The rebrand, which came into effect in early January, was initiated to better reflect the company’s more-giftorientated product portfolio. As Jo Nicol, sales manager, told PG: “The company is very different to when it started over 10 years ago as a cards and wrap business. Now we are a gift company that also publishes cards.” U Studio will be exhibiting in the design-led gift hall for the first time at the imminent Spring Fair (Hall 6, Stand L50/M51). Below: U Studio’s debut at Top Drawer where loads of new products were showcased.



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New Supremo For Card Factory Long Serving CEO Richard Hayes Leaves The Business It is the end of an era for Card Factory as its long-serving chief executive Richard Hayes has announced his retirement. Former B&M chief Karen Hubbard has been appointed to the value retailer’s Board as ceo designate, as of February 22. Karen will succeed Richard as ceo of Card Factory in mid-April, when he will retire from the Board and leaves the Group at the end of June. Richard, formerly bank manger to Card Factory, joined founder Dean Hoyle in 2003 in helping to grow the company. Back then it only traded from 40 shops, now it comprises over 800 stores and is a listed company. Summing up the last 13 years of his career, Richard said: "I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to lead Card Factory through an exciting period of growth and change.” Stepping into Richard’s shoes will be a big challenge, especially to maintain the retailer’s impressive growth pattern. Karen Hubbard’s previous role was as chief operating officer at B&M European Value Retail S.A., where she was accountable for retail operations, distribution and logistics, supply chain, IT, HR, marketing and store development.

Commenting on her new role, Karen said: "This is a wonderful chance to lead a very successful and fast-growing value retailer with a clear leadership position in its market." From 2009 to 2014, Karen held a number of senior roles at Asda, the most recent being executive director property, format development and multi-channel. She previously spent 14 years in BP's retail operations, initially in her native Australia, before moving to the UK in 2008, where she became UK convenience retail director, responsible for BP's own retail estate across all formats, including Connect/Simply Food, Motorway, Express and the franchise channel. Paying tribute to Richard, Geoff Cooper, chairman of Card Factory, said: “Having led the business through an MBO, the 2014 IPO and its first two years as a listed company, it is fully understandable that he now wants to retire. We are extremely grateful for all he has done and, when he steps down, it will be with our very best wishes." Geoff assured that “There is significant growth still to come from Card Factory.” The retailer has confirmed that trading over the Christmas period ‘has been in line with its expectations’. A more detailed trading update will be provided on Tuesday January 26 ahead of the Group's financial year end. Above: Karen Hubbard, formerly of B&M, is to take over as chief executive of Card Factory. Left: Richard Hayes cutting the ribbon on Card Factory’s 500th store in 2010 - it now has over 800.

A Touch Of Saffron From Is It Art Expansion This year got off to a cracking start for Is It Art, with the company adding Saffron Cards and Gifts, and with it, The London Studio, to its portfolio at the start of 2016. The new agreement sees Is It Art’s sales team distributing Saffron Cards and Gifts products to the independent retailer sector. The publisher will continue to deal direct with multiples and export customers. “We have been looking at various ways in which we can increase the presence of our fabulous ranges in high quality independent retailers and devolving our field based sales operations to Is It Art will, I’m sure, provide our current and future customers with first class service and product," states Paul Steele, md of Saffron. In response, Peter Beecroft, managing director of Is It Art, said: “We are delighted to be adding Saffron’s products to our portfolio. They publish exceptional ranges and will add another dimension to our overall offering to the independent sector." Is It Art launched Saffron and The London Studio in January with four brand new ranges. Further ranges will be launched at Spring Fair (Hall 3, Stand L13). Saffron’s design studio will continue to operate from its Surrey base as will its national accounts and export team headed up by Viv Barlow.

New Greetings From The Spring Fair A new banner of Greetings & Gift will see a move to Hall 3 for the sector at Spring Fair in February (7-11, NEC) alongside complementary products in The Party Show. The re-edited layout in Hall 3 will emphasise the synergy between the sectors, with party products adjacent to suppliers offering giftwrappings, bags, tags and ribbons alongside some of the leading companies in greetings. Over 300 greeting card, stationery and giftwrap suppliers will be exhibiting. ● Progressive Greetings will be there too - on Stand M45 in Hall 3. Do pop by at the end of the day for a glass of fizz! ● The popular Cardgains Village is on the move at Spring Fair, with the front of Hall 3 (L10/M11) its new location. The buying group will be revealing new pods as well as new products, with suppliers including (in alphabetical order) Creative Party, Deva Designs, Grass Roots, IC&G, Is It Art, Jacksons, Ling Design, Sarunds, Space Hippo, Special Editions, Talking Pictures, The Great British Card Company, UK Greetings, We’ve-A-Gift, Words ‘N’ Wishes, Xpressions 4U and Xystos. (www.springfair.com)

PG Live To The Rescue A chance meeting at PG Live last June has been a saviour for eco-friendly card publisher Glebe Cottage. Following the sudden closure last year of Scottish paper mill Tullis Russell, it seemed that the company's vision of producing all its cards with a minimum of 50% recycled paper would be impossible to continue with. "As the only mill producing single sided coated board with a recycled content, the closure of Tullis Russell was a real blow," admits the company's founder Susanna Morrish. "Enquiries made to other mills and merchants seemed fruitless and we were faced with the real possibility of having to print cards without any recycled content for the first time in over 10 years. However, while visiting PG Live last June, Susanna chatted to Naomi Shelley, paper consultant at Antalis. "Naomi subsequently arranged for us to have the first ever making of Teknocard made by Arjowiggins. Then Sarah Glennie, director of Fenner Paper, sorted out making the 100% recycled board. All new stock is now being printed on the 100% recycled range, including our Wildlife Trusts collection and our very popular Spring Floral photographic cards. Our new notecard wallets are also using this stock," explains Susanna. Above: Among the Glebe Cottage designs to be printed on the new board.



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Views On The News ● “The best way for anyone to support

Dampening Spirits Storms Desmond And Eva Cause Havoc Independent card retailers are a tough bunch, but those based in areas that were severely affected by floods are having to dig deep to keep their spirits up as the long recovery programme gets underway. Early in December, the devastation of Storm Desmond hit Lancashire and Cumbria, causing flood damage to properties within the towns and villages in the counties. But worse was to come when, on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, Storm Eva brought winds of up to 80mph and persistent downpours to not only those same areas but also Yorkshire and South-West Scotland too, inflicting more watery destruction. Among the communities that awoke on Boxing Day morning to severe floods was Jill Landon, who together with her business partner Janet Slater, own the Poppies card and gift shop, based in Whalley, in Lancashire where the river Ribble burst its banks. The water, which went a metre high, not only flooded the shop and its contents,

Below: Poppies in Whalley, Lancashire, was devastated by the floods.

but caused a lot of destruction. “It was horrendous to see the damage that had been caused. The water had caused cupboards and racks to be tipped over,” says Jill. She explained that the shop has had to be “totally gutted” and that she has no idea when they will be up and trading again. “I had no idea it would take so long, but it takes a while for it all to completely dry out. We will miss Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day at least. It is the shock of it all,” she told PG.

The Long Recovery “About two thirds of the shops here on Cockermouth’s Main Street were flooded. We had three feet of water in the store, so as you can imagine much building work is going on at the moment,” says Catherine Hethrington, owner of The New Bookshop in Cockermouth (pictured left), which was affected by the first wave of floods in December. “After the flooding we had a three day scrub down and we managed to open the shop to ensure we still had two weeks of Christmas trade. Our customers were very supportive and we had excellent trading in a somewhat scruffy shop.” However, in order that reparations can take place the shop has been forced to close for up to six months, but Catherine is still hoping to relocate temporarily if she finds somewhere suitable. “I am absolutely exhausted,” said Catherine. She paid tribute to greeting card agent Robin Hill who sent her a big box of samples to sell to help.

Is Neil Greenwood A Santa Agent? Kind-hearted North-East greeting card and gift agent, Neil Greenwood, and some lovely folk from Oldham, were real life Santa and elves last Christmas when they helped out those affected by the flooding. “After seeing some of my customers’ shops flooded on the news I offered on Facebook for a family of four to come for dinner on Christmas Day and stay over. My friend owns a local pub and then said he could feed up to 30 people. I then contacted a hotel I DJ at to see if they could accommodate 30 people and also a Above: Neil Greenwood (front) with some of the local coach company to transport them. I also got local business and giftwrapped presents that were coached over to Appleby to add some festive cheer on Christmas Day neighbours to donate ingredients for the big day and also presents for flood affected people. so we could send the coach back full of gifts,” he explained. Sadly, there was a second flood so the people Neil had invited ended up having to salvage their homes and businesses. However, Neil organised for a coach to go to Appleby (one of the affected towns) on Christmas Eve filled with over 600 presents. “Hopefully it made Christmas Day a little bit less stressful for those flooded,” said Neil.

these retailers is just to come and visit us as normal because we are all still here and investing in our area,“ said Robin Hill, greeting card agent for the Lake District and North West. “For probably three to four days in early December the floods were dramatic to say the least, and left some road closures and some unlucky people with problems for the New Year and beyond. However, despite all the problems, everyone in Cumbria and the North-West is upbeat and eager to get on with having a great 2016. And if anyone finds themselves stood beside me in one of our great pubs I will be only to happy to buy them a drink as long as it’s not water!!” Below: The floods meant that Robin Hill had to miss The Art File sales meeting, but he was suitably attired at home!

● Sonya Haadndrikman-Sibbald,

partner of Celebrations in Carlisle, says: "Luckily our store was not damaged by the flooding, but it certainly affected Christmas trade and the spirits of the local community. It was heart-warming to see people pulling together and helping out those people affected by the floods but devastating to see the remnants of people’s belongings discarded on the streets damaged by the flood waters. Christmas trees, wrapped presents, sofas, and children’s toys, the flood waters had no regard for people’s treasured possessions.” ● Susan Ogden, owner of Something

Special, Todmorden, Halifax, explains that she was one of the lucky ones not to be affected by the flood but she was surrounded by the flood’s devastation around Halifax:“The previous day it rained and rained and then at 7.30 in the morning on Boxing Day the flood came as the river burst. There was a bit of warning as the flood siren went off, allowing a lot of people to raise their belongings, but a lot of damage was caused. But something good came out of it people helped each other out, people who didn't know each other, and typically English, they all just got on with it!” ● Carlin McDowall, shop assistant for Palings in Dumfries, South-West Scotland, says:“The River Nith burst its banks after a lot of rain but fortunately it didn't come as far as Palings, but it did mean it was a bit quieter in the shop. Rab Smith, the chairperson for Dumfries Retailers Association, has said there are now talks about erecting a flood defence.”



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Flush With Plush Carte Blanche Gives Away £180,000 In Bears In the coming year, Carte Blanche will give away 10,000 free Me to You plush bears as part of the massive relaunch of the brand, which coincides with its 21st birthday. This mega giveaway, which represents a £180,000 investment by CBG, will see a mass of specially produced plush Me to You bears being given to retailers, consumers, members of the press and bloggers in a year long programme of events, competitions and promotions. The thrust of this activity is summed up in three words - “brand to hand” - by Gerard O’Mahony, CBG’s commercial director. “Once you get people engaging with Me to You, either again or for the first time, you can win them over,” he believes. While he accepts that £180k is a sizeable sum to commit, this is no quick-fire marketing

stunt, but a long-term investment in the brand that aims to ignite the relationship with Me to You. Recognising the importance of getting the retail trade on side before leveraging on the consumer front, the first batch of the 10,000 special bears will be given away at Spring Fair with plenty more saved for PG Live in May. Other activities in the pipeline are being timed to support the launch of the new range into retail in April. These will be aimed more at consumers, such as competitions to drive custom to retailers as well as events in key locations, such as major shopping centres, such as Bluewater, Lakeside and the Trafford Centre. A multi-faceted social media campaign is also being planned. (See pages 90-91)

Waterlyn Has Acquired Gallery Collection Respected Australian greeting card distributor, Waterlyn (which represents many UK card publishers in Australia) has acquired the business assets of fellow Antipodean distributor, Gallery Collection. Waterlyn, a significant card supplier in Australia, has distributed greeting cards and stationery for 20 years, representing UK names such as Janie Wilson, Paper Salad, Lagom, Bug Art, Alex Clark, to name but a few. Established in 1983, and known for niche greeting cards, stationery and packaging, Gallery Collection has been run for the past nine years by Joe and Sharron Above: Waterlyn’s David and Sue Pursley (left) with Paper Lipszyc, who have been familiar faces at many UK greeting Salad’s Karen Wilson (middle) and Claire Williams. card trade shows. Waterlyn is very open to discussion with all of Gallery Collection’s current publishers. "This acquisition will allow us grow our service levels, customer base and product selection. We hope our customers will enjoy speedy delivery of their favorite brands from a one stop supplier," says David Pursley, who heads up Waterlyn with his wife Sue. "We are grateful for this opportunity given to us by Joe and Sharron Lipszyc from Gallery Collection and take this opportunity of wishing them the very best for the future." www.waterlyn.com.au

● A totem pole 2016 calendar design (that has been sent to publishers) has allowed specialist greeting card printer Graphite Creative to show off its finishes to include neon and metallic screenprint along with foil, emboss and flitter. Right: Graphite Creative's totem pole calendar.

● Paper Rose and GF Smith have kickstarted this year’s On The Cards student design competition by issuing a brief to even more colleges and universities than the competition did last year. As a result of last year’s On The Cards, four winning ideas have been produced and put on sale in Paperchase, one of the supporters of the initiative. "Now we're waiting for all the wonderful entries to roll in," says GF Smith’s company's consultant Mark Jessett. ● Two notable new retailer members to join the GCA recently are Cards for Good Causes on the charity retail side, and the Post Office, which has 11,00 outlets, 8,500 of which are independent subPost Offices. ● Fragrant news from Hallmark is that the company has appointed History & Heraldry as its UK licensee in the home fragrance category. Drawing on artistic inspiration Above: The new Hallmark from the sentiment and design home fragrance range style of two of Hallmark’s most from History & Heraldry. successful card ranges, Lucy Cromwell and Bellissima, the range is being launched at Spring Fair. ● To commemorate its 500th anniversary, Royal Mail has created an online gallery of 500 objects, people and events that tell the story of its service and its impact on world events and society. Royal Mail was the brainchild of Henry VIII, with Sir Brian Tuke appointed as the first Master of the Posts in 1516. Previously, letters were carried by coaches. Above: The post box was introduced in 1852.

Wrendale's Shock 'No Thank You' Survey According to a survey commissioned by publisher Wrendale Designs, one in four parents has revealed that their child does not send thank you messages - written or digital - to say thank you for Christmas gifts. Despite this, nearly 7 out of 10 (68%) believe parents should encourage their children to write thank you notes for Christmas presents. From the 1,000 parents of children aged 5-16 years questioned about their children’s post-Christmas thank you habits, over a quarter of parents (27%) confirm their child sends only handwritten thank you notes for their gifts, while a further 12% send mostly hand-written notes and some digital messages. More than 1 in 10 (14%) says their child sends equally a combination of digital and handwritten notes 'thank yous.' “To me, nothing beats the thrill of opening a handwritten card or letter, and it’s especially Above: Hannah Wrendale's new Snails lovely when it expresses gratitude for something you have given," states Hannah Dale, founder, & Pigtails range was inspired by her three children. award winning artist and author of Wrendale Designs. "In this increasingly digital age, I’m Left: Among those who have recently delighted that so many people still see the value of a handwritten thank you, although it’s a raised the profile of the importance of etiquette and saying thanks, on TV, shock that a quarter of parents say their children don’t send any 'thank you' message at all." radio and in the press, are Stephen Fry The publisher’s new range of stationery, Snails & Pigtails, has been created especially for and former MP Ann Widdecombe. children and includes cards, 'thank you' notelets, notebooks, crayons and letter writing sets. “I really hope to inspire another generation of children to keep the tradition of the handwritten 'thank you' alive in today’s digital world,” said Hannah. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Trips Down Memory Lane Coming Of Age Celebrations For Cherry Orchard Cherry Orchard wasn’t going to let its 21st anniversary pass by without a celebration or two, including competitions and promotions galore on its stand at Spring Fair (Hall 3, Stand Q31). There will no doubt be whoops of joy as the ultimate winner of its Shop of the Month Grand Prize Draw is revealed. The publisher has announced winners every month since the middle of last year and one of the names of these seven finalists will be pulled out of the draw (at noon on the Sunday of the show) with one lucky retailer winning a prize of £1,000 of greeting card stock (based on RRP). The retailers that are on tenterhooks are: Cherry Cards, Upminster; The Card Gallery, Wimborne; Cool! Cards and Gifts, Skipton; Rathbone's Cards and Gifts, Chingford; Emotions Cards and Gifts, Chatham; Wishes, Cudworth and Gem's Cards, Rochester. Miss Worcestershire, Laura Beth Morgan, will also be on the stand on the Sunday and Monday, sporting a dress made out of 350 Cherry Orchard greeting cards. To further mark the company's 21 years (the publisher’s official anniversary is on April 1 this year), and to launch

several exciting new collections, including the new Christmas designs for 2016, all visitors to the Cherry Orchard stand will be invited to take part in a draw to win £500 of Christmas cards (based on RRP). Meanwhile, new accounts opening with an initial order of over £250 will receive a free bonus collection of 21 packs of different designs. Another major product launch, which ties in with the company’s 21st anniversary celebrations, is its launch of a brand new nostalgic line of Down Memory Lane gift mugs, which debuts at Spring Fair. "Building on our best-selling card range, the launch of the mugs marks a diversification into the giftware market for us, with branded display stands, free PoS material for stockists and other promotions both at the show and online," explains md Jackie Collins. ● Cherry Orchard's Down Memory Mugs have been shortlisted for the Gift Association’s Gift of the Year 2016 Award in the Commemorative and Collectable Gifts category. Above: Cherry Orchard's new Down Memory Lane gift mugs. Left: The Cherry Orchard team in celebratory mood at the sales conference held at the end of last year. Jackie Collins, md, is third from the right, back row.

Widdop Rebrands At Spring Fair Major gift company Widdop Bingham is rebranding to become known as Widdop and Co. The company will be revealing a fresh new look at Spring Fair, along with a myriad of new products. In addition to changing its trading name to Widdop and Co., the re-brand incorporates the trademark 'Widdop blue', as well as the date the company was established, a significant reference to the company’s rich heritage. "Since the launch of the current logo, the business has changed beyond recognition as well as experiencing continuous growth," says md Stuart Illingworth. "The business of 2016 looks very different and hence the change in look and branding reflects the company of today and symbolises a healthy and vibrant future." The company, who supplies countless greeting card retailers and has licensing tie-ups with several card publishers, says the aim of the new branding is to portray a clear, simple, coherent message across all content, with the timing designed to coincide with the launch of several major state of the art projects during 2016. The company’s registered name will remain Widdop Bingham & Co Ltd. ● Widdop Bingham, founded 133 years ago, is one of the oldest giftware companies in the business. The company is still owned and directed by the great grand-children of William Widdop - Stuart Illingworth, Andrew Illingworth and Chris Illingworth - who was the original founder back in 1883.

● Xpressions 4 U has restructured its independent salesforce. Christine Harrison (right) has been promoted from regional manager South to the position of independent sales director. "Christine has been a valuable member of our sales team for 14 years having risen through the ranks from area manager to regional manager and now our first lady sales director," says a proud director of sales Peter Goodman. ● Judit Folinek has just joined OPC cards as the franchisee covering West Kent. ● Jaime Serrano has recently been appointed Asda’s buyer of everyday and seasonal cards and gifts. She joins from a partyware buying role for the grocer. Kate Briggs, the previous card buyer, has now moved onto buying toys for Asda.

Very Abel Indeed Marking the end of an era, the ever popular and respected Suzie Abel (below), card and stationery buyer of Norwich department store Jarrolds, is handing over her card buying reins to her colleague Chris Rushby, currently book buyer for the store. This change is part of Suzie’s decision to cut her working week to four days. Suzie will continue to buy hosiery, beauty, but the stationery, cards and Christmas products will now be under Chris’ remit. However, Suzie will still be a familiar face in the card halls at the spring shows, which she will be attending with Chris during the hand over period.

Noel Tatt’s Artistic Promotion Everyone visiting Noel Tatt’s stand at the Spring Fair (Hall 3, Stand K14-L15) will have the chance of winning a ‘one off’ piece of original art by leading illustrator Emma Thomson. Emma, the creator and artist behind Felicity Wishes and many other brands, is debuting her Otto Dreams creation on greeting Above: Otto Dreams will debut on Noel Tatt’s cards with Noel Tatt. stand at Spring Fair. “We are delighted to be working with Emma Thomson,” commented Claire Martin, design manager of Noel Tatt, about the 32 design-strong range which centres around Otto, a cute bear. “The nostalgic appeal of Otto takes us into the cute arena, catering for a more sophisticated adult send,” she adds. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE



Cards & GIFTS

At Thorntons we know that chocolate is the perfect gift for any occasion! If you run a Card and Gift shop, our delicious chocolate adds an extra special touch to all your gifts, at every season. We want to make sure we give you the best possible options to enhance your in-store gifting opportunities – which is where “Thorntons …in your store” comes in! “Thorntons…in your store” gives you and your shoppers

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... join us at the full range of passionately crafted Thorntons chocolates in beautiful packaging, that will compliment all your product ranges in store. For 3 years we’ve been proud to roll out our successful ‘new concept stores’ that feature new furnishings and elaborate finishes, all lit up with state of the art lighting that truly showcases the fantastic range we offer. We know these finishing touches will make all the difference in your store(s)! Come and see us for a chat and a chocolate (or two)! Next to the entrance, Hall 3 stand M01

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Seen To Be Green

Push For Green

Following the GCA’s call to action letter, publishers were quick to respond:

GCA Launches Call For Action The GCA is urging its members and associate members to help protect and reinforce the industry's environmental reputation, thereby safeguarding against any unnecessary negative jibes. This comes in the wake of pressure being exerted by charity and lobby group WWF, which has resulted in some unfortunate (but largely unfair) criticism. As Sharon Little, ceo of the GCA, states: "While our industry has an excellent environmental record, with most cards made from environmentally certified boards, last year we came under attack twice from WWF, the environmental charity, because they claimed they were unable to find enough cards printed with environmental logos or to find papersourcing policies on card companies’ and retailers’ websites.” The GCA has issued a call to action to its publisher and retail members to include a paper sourcing policy on their website and, if printing on FSC board (and working with FSC accredited printers), to print the FSC logo on the backs of the cards. To help members, the GCA has produced a short, easy to read Paper Sourcing Guidance featuring recommendations, together with a Three Step Guide and suggested paper policy statements (see

● "Fantastic to have clear action points and I’m sure there will be strong take up from publishers. One thing that new publishers should be aware of is that, even if the board is FSC certified, you can’t use the logo unless the printer is accredited so it should be top of the list of questions to ask printers for newbies otherwise it can catch people out when they are sourcing FSC board." Hannah Dale, founder of Wrendale Designs.

www.gca.cards). The association has also updated the Green Matters section on its website reflecting other environmental issues relevant to card businesses. A whole suite of updated information and downloadable tools are now available on the site. "We believe that the card industry as a whole must act now to ensure that there can be no further room for criticism,” says Sharon. "We believe that the public needs to be able to tell at a glance that greeting cards are produced from verifiable legal and sustainable sources. As we have found, any doubt in the public’s mind about the environmental integrity of greeting cards, leaves us open to very public criticism." Greeting cards are among the products not covered by the European Union Timber Regulation (EUTR), which is designed to keep illegally sourced timber out of the marketplace. WWF has been campaigning to extend the regulations to all goods that contain wood, which are currently exempt, including cards, books, chairs and toys. Above: The Post Office is a new GCA member: Post Office retail business development manager, David Gold, with the GCA’s Sharon Little. Left: The GCA is encouraging publishers to print the FSC logo on their cards.

A Parliamentary Greetings Banging the drum for greeting cards at the Houses of Parliament has paid off for the GCA. Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and Digital Economy, has agreed to sponsor the GCA's application for a greeting card related exhibition to be held in Parliament some time this year. The application for a week long exhibition to be staged in a key spot within the Houses of Parliament, Above: Culture Minister Ed Vaizey is championing the GCA will go into a ballot alongside submissions from other in its effort to hold a greeting card exhibition in the Houses quarters. If the GCA is successful with its proposal (which of Parliament to coincide with the Queen's 90th birthday. will point out that it is the Queen’s 90th birthday this year, surely a time for celebration), Ed Vaizey has already agreed to rubber stamp it in his guise as Minister as well as an MP. "There's no guarantee that we will get the go ahead, but at least we're in with a chance," said a jubilant Sharon Little, chief executive of the GCA.

● "We are fully behind this. We have always used FSC board. However, from the beginning of this year, we are ensuring all reprints and new designs will feature the FSC logo on the backs of our cards. It already features on our notebooks." Ben Hickman, cofounder, Brainbox Candy. ● “I was with our printers earlier in the week and have managed to convince them that the £2000 it will cost for them to be audited and inspected (as it is the print company that must pay for the inspection) and the ongoing cost of £800 per year is probably worth it. So, they will go through the accreditation process, they will pay for it, and later this year we'll be allowed to place the logo on our cards." Stuart Cox, founder of I Like Birds.

Thinking Ahead

Above: The new Thinking of You Week 2016 branding.

Giving retailers and publishers lots of time to make the most of the opportunities to promote Thinking of You Week 2016, the final dates (26 September - 2 October) and branding of this wonderful GCA card sending initiative are being shared now, earlier than usual. Thinking of You Week encourages people to send an extra card a day for a week to let others know they are thinking of them. “In 2015 Thinking of You Week took a great leap forward in what was just its second year, with major retailers such as Asda, Tesco and Morrisons, department stores and independents, paper crafters and charities taking part and we gained some great consumer press. We're looking to making another big leap in 2016!” commented Sharon Little, GCA ceo. The new branding also includes a new hashtag #sendingcards for everyone to use. A new Thinking of You Week online toolkit, with inspiration and ideas, branding, banners, posters, social media cover images and email sign offs will be available to download from the beginning of February. (www.gca.cards)



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Iron Sharpens Iron

Independent card and gift retailer, David Robertson, co-owner of JP Pozzi in Scotland, discusses becoming a sharper retailer. A fight between two people is not simply a slugfest. Boxers and trainers look to plan for their opponent. They look at the opposition’s game and try to fill the gaps that the fighter leaves. They also have to mentally prepare so that they are ready for whatever situation may occur. Unbelievably, I sit writing this on Boxing Day with the thoughts, feelings and emotions of the Christmas Trading battle replaying in my mind. The bruises from a brutal battle still sting and the pressure of my business needing to hit key figures has never been greater. It seems that the high street and traditional retailing have never been under more pressure with consistent hard body shots coming at all angles. Some retailers don’t look at this ‘fight’ in detail; they don’t have their guard up and tend to just sit back and hope they don’t get hit - in some respects, hoping that the money just comes in the door. As Bijou has grown over the last few years, we have had to become and will need

to continue to be much, much more aware of our cashflow and targeted sales as our ‘opponents’ gets tougher. To buy the correct products, to allow us to hit average sale prices, has to be stepped up to ensure that we grow sales and can handle stronger opponents. My intense ‘training camp’ is the five week period leading into, and the Saturday after, Christmas. This allows for me to factor in influences outside my control, such as the weather, the day that Christmas lands etc. It is also a period that accounts for around 20% of my turnover so is crucial to my business. After a sluggish start to this ‘bout’, where I felt a little dazed, we hit our rhythm in the run up to Christmas and ended up more or less with parity on the two previous years. The temptation was of course to go that ‘extra round’ on Boxing Day, which would have meant we would have been up for the period, but I decided to ‘throw in the towel’ as I wanted my staff to have a proper break with their families. Part of the pressure to open on Boxing Day is of course due to competition from online stores, which are open 24/7. This played heavily on my mind, worrying that Top: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17). The benefit of rubbing two iron blades together is that they become sharper and more efficient to cut. The image features a scene from Robin Hood featuring Erol Flynn ‘sharpening’ his sword with his foe. Left: Boxers, Roberto Duran vs Sugar Ray Leonard.

I may have missed out on customers who have money that was perhaps burning a hole in their pocket. That said, these customers were probably shopping online on Christmas Day (and/or Christmas Eve!) so you can’t keep double guessing yourself as you would drive yourself mad.

A Ringside Seat I am sure that many of you watched the John Lewis TV documentary - Christmas Shopping Fever 2015 - that took you behind the scenes of both its shop and online service. It was a fascinating look at how it trained its staff and believed its stores needed to entice and inspire customers. John Lewis’ MD Andy Street stated in 2008 when he took the helm that he would add 24 stores to the then existing 26 over the next ten years. The current count of 46 means he is on target to hit his aim. Moreover, as well as growing the bricks and mortar offer, he has seen JLP’s online sales grow from 10% of turnover to 33% over the same time frame. Quite simply, this ‘veteran boxer’ (it was John Lewis’ 151st Christmas in London!) has adapted and grown alongside what has been dubbed the online ‘Amazon Generation’. John Lewis’ belief is that it needs a flagship store in all the key retail towns yet its estate is still one of the smallest for what would be termed a UK wide retail chain. Each store aims to offer an exceptional level of service from its retail partners and provide a personal touch with varied and high quality product offer. The TV programme highlighted the ‘showroom aspect’ of JLP, where consumers PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE





A stunning range of cards, gifts and stationery featuring exceptionally high quality finishes and designs. Contact us below to arrange an appointment to see this incredible ‘must-have’ range. A range of Point of Sale is available.

Notebooks Fabulous notebooks with a ‘soft touch’ finish and high gloss spot varnish. Available in 3 sizes, 21 designs in total. RRP from £2.49

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For more information please contact: The Art Group, Riverside House, Centurion Way, Nottingham NG2 1RW Tel: +44 (0)115 986 0115 | Fax: +44 (0)115 986 0116 | Email: info@theartgroup-greetings.com www.artgroupcards.co.uk | TheArtGroupCards | The_Art_Group

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Over The Counter

use its stores simply to look and gain information before ordering online. Its md simply said John Lewis could only combat this by giving its customers a better experience online and hoped that its website was the one from which they chose to order. This reliance on customer service and care is something that as indies we know we MUST do. This Christmas, I feel I could have done more ‘preparation drills’ in training my staff to know more about the products we were selling.

boys? How can we build in the delivery costs? How do we man, promote and keep our system up to date? The secret of so many bricks and mortar indie card and gift stores like ours is that we can and do change our stock regularly and often. This poses further problems for an online shop or indeed stock control system. Hearing John Lewis’ struggle to match the ‘perfection’ of the Amazon model makes you realise just how difficult the challenge is.

Getting In Virtual Training

John Lewis of course reinforces its excellent service with the tagline ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’, which is used to give its customers confidence. In the run to Christmas I had numerous emails from the retailer with details of price matching offers from Harvey Nichols and its other rivals. Again, all designed to say ‘you can trust our prices’. This is a complicated operation, with a huge team of skilled operators ensuring that products, price and customer interface come together.

Picking Your Fight We as indies can’t really match the JLP price promise approach, so it is why we need to concentrate on the unusual, less mainstream products because they are not so easy to find and search for online. We really need to look at products that complement our card offering and increase our average sale price. Simple in words, more difficult in practice. I have been trying to figure out my technique of how and what products to go online with, and this is without doubt my prime target this year (along with refreshing one of the stores). Indies are at a huge disadvantage in terms of online retailing. How can we get an ecommerce store that is slick enough to give customers the online experience they are used to with the big

Training for an online ‘battle’ requires a whole other set of skills. John Le wis has recognised that its problems with its online store relate to the fact that it uses a third party for call centres and delivery. It is finding that they are not delivering the same level of service (the JL way!) that its customers are used to. Which prompts another question - how can indies give the personal touch to an online customer? Argos offers a same day delivery service, Amazon is testing drones to deliver parcels within hours, and the level of beautiful packaging from online retailers such as Mr Porter and Selfridges ups the game further - online retailing really is like fighting a southpaw... a whole different puzzle. The continual rise of ‘click and collect’ is another haymaker that we did not see coming. People seem to like to shop when they want online, but then go in store to

collect their item, and perhaps add to their purchase. This is something indies could offer, but it does mean that they would need storage space and a system to cope with it. For me, the retailers I buy from regularly and enjoy the experience online are the big department stores, such as Selfridges and Harvey Nichols. These retailers seem to ‘float around the boxing ring’, effortlessly having created a brilliant conversation with their customers through email, social media, offers and targeted marketing which draws and sucks customers (and their money) in… myself included. I pride myself on giving different gifts to my friends and family and these stores have such a wealth of product and can offer exclusives that indies can’t match or simply don’t have access to. I always find myself clicking on their emails as they feel a bit like a magazine article.

Recognising Heavyweight Heroes Now I know that you are thinking that we can’t compare ourselves with the likes of Harvey Nicks, Selfridges or John Lewis, but you have to look at those stores to which you aspire. You have to look at those shops you think are doing a great job. For me, just now, within our industry, Paperchase has been great, and personally I have shopped recently in both its Manchester and Edinburgh branches - and its online activity is refreshing too. I found the products, the look and indeed the staff, bright, helpful, interested and engaged, and I looked at the shops as something that I would want my fighting style to be like. All of these aforementioned ‘fighters’ are the Ali, Mayweather and Golden Boys of the retail world. They can be admired, but are difficult to match. They are classy, elegant fighters. Above: Cherry Healey presented the BBC2 documentary Christmas Shopping Fever 2015, which looked at what goes on behind the scenes of John Lewis. Left: Selfridges’ website is clear, clean, concise and fast.



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Over The Counter

Left: Aspirational and inspirational, Paperchase. Below: Win the fight: Boxer, Floyd Mayweather. Bottom: PG Live (pictured), Top Drawer, Spring Fair and Home & Gift are the ‘training rooms’ for card retailers.

The High Throws While ever mindful of what the ‘heavyweights’ are doing, we as indies also face more gritty opponents. This last Christmas seemed more than ever to be about the customer being offered discounts and deals from gritty opponents that we need to wear down over time. Traditionally, these type of fighters start quickly and try to break you early. The growth of Black Friday has brought this fight forward even more. Despite not being a ‘discount operator’ John Lewis’ Andy Street confirmed that in only three years Black Friday has changed the Christmas peak selling week, and what used to be a steady climb to a peak on 23 December, actually has changed to a steep ascent in the last week of November (when Black Friday falls) followed by a second climb. I used to believe that as an indie you had to hold your nerve and avoid discounting or trying to match the big boys’ punches.

They always had the advantage of their offers being accounted for in their margin, whereas us small indies would be giving away profit. I still believe we can’t trade these punches with them, but sometimes we may need to try. Yankee Candles, which is a marquee brand and a staple of many an indie card store, is a great example of a product that is heavily sold through promotion. We matched Boots’ 3 for 2 on large Yankee jars and used the offers Yankee promoted to try and bring in that customer who was wondering where to buy this product. This resulted in various degrees of success.

So with whom do we train with in terms of direct competition? Card Factory is a different beast to us indies as its model can’t be replicated. Clintons too, for me, is uninspiring, and I don’t even bother looking in its stores because there is nothing that I have not seen before. So really independents should ‘sharpen their iron’ with other independents, and I do my best to visit as many as possible. Around my stores I have some brilliant garden centers and destination shops, and these perhaps more than ever offer a challenge in terms of display and product. The huge advantage they tend to have is space. Of course, there are other new opponents appearing all the time who see cards and gifts as an easy offering. So, does this paint a pretty bleak picture? Well, in truth, the reality of the fight game is a tough one. Retail is challenging and changing and with each year the war for the customer’s £pound is going to become more and more intense, whether it be in store or online.

Punch Above Your Weight There is a saying in the boxing game that ‘iron sharpens iron’. This simply means that to be a better fighter you need to train with better fighters; you need to test yourself day in day out. I believe that in retail it is the same. Looking at what John Lewis and your other competitors do is very important, as without doubt there are some little things we can implement ourselves.

This fight is shaped in the training rooms of Spring Fair, PG Live, Top Drawer and Harrogate. The planning of the bout, the mantra of finding something different, the search to improve your technique will all be practiced and refined here. You may say that you can’t attend these trade shows or can’t afford to, but I believe you can’t afford NOT to or you may be simply knocked out. It will be a case of the more research you do, the harder you work, the more planning and organised you are the better chance you have of having your hand raised as the winner in what will undoubtedly be the toughest bout to date. As boxer Floyd Mayweather said: “Hard work dedication, hard work, dedication”... Christmas 2016, I am ready! To contact David email: jppozzi@btconnect.com PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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A Triple Century As this is the 300th issue of PG (under Max’s ownership), this is the 300th column that Cardsharp has penned over that 25 year period. Feeling in a nostalgic mood, Cardsharp settled down into his comfy chair to flick back over his generation of scribblings. What struck Cardsharp, other than the appalling naivety and quality of some of his early articles, was that however much the industry has had thrown at it, some how it has come out the other side. In the early 1990s, there was a real fear that the bitter retail recession would strangle the growth of a then emerging greeting card market. Then, in the mid to late 1990s, Cardsharp recalls there were real fears that the UK market would become a mirror image of the US market, where Hallmark and American Greetings enjoyed an estimated 85%-90% of the market. Hallmark had just been on a spending spree (acquiring major rivals Creative Cards and the Andrew Brownsword Collection and then acquired Tigerprint the own brand supplier to Marks and Spencer) while American Greetings was not far behind acquiring what were then large and substantial publishing companies - Hanson White, Camden Graphics



Above: Nelson Mandela was an integral part of South Africa's independence which happened in 1991, the same inaugural year as PG. Right: How Cardsharp appeared in the first issue of PG 25 years ago. Below: John Major was the British Prime Minister in 1991.

and Gibson Greetings. Those wags at Emotional Rescue even placed an advert in PG which featured a map of the Greeting Card Hall at the Spring Fair for a decade ahead, which was simply divided in half into two massive stands for AG and Hallmark. This prophecy never happened, and the irony is that these days neither Hallmark or UKG (American Greetings’ British subsidiary) actually exhibit at Spring Fair these days. However, although the big two have huge and successful operations in the UK (with their brokerage stronghold augmenting this – with Hallmark’s blinding swoop on Tesco being the latest in this), the near duopoly

situation never materialised, commanding nowhere near the dominating position that they have in the US. Then, in the very late nineties and early noughties, Cardsharp recalls, there was real concern in some retail and publishing circles about Clintons’ dominance in the high street and shopping malls, especially when it seemed to be attempting to use its dominant market position to restrict supply of publishers’ products (it stocked) to other retailers. Given Clintons’ reduced status in the market today this seems almost laughable now. While the chain’s business failure in 2012 generated some bad publicity for the sector and hit many suppliers very badly, the industry once again bounced back. Cardsharp, also remembers writing in the early 2000s, about the very real concern that the changes that Royal Mail were trying to introduce would damage the greeting card industry hugely. Well, the introduction of sized based pricing and increase in postal charges have certainly not helped greeting card sending, but the worst threat, that of square cards receiving a punitive postal rate as in most developed countries, was thankfully defeated, thanks to work done behind the scenes by the Greeting Card Association. Then there was a whole manner of things, that Cardsharp recalls discussing,

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CARDSHARP normally related to the digital world that would bring disaster. First it was texting, then email and in particular ecards (what ever happened to those?). Then Facebook. Then Twitter. Then Instagram and Pintrest. Added to this there was Moonpig and its ilk! When serious minded business ‘experts’ (invariably male!) were saying that Moonpig would take over greeting card sending, Cardsharp was at the time sceptical and insisted it was a niche, and not to jump on the bandwagon. One of Cardsharp’s favourite sayings is that “If you see a bandwagon coming your way, don’t jump on it as it is far too late”. Unfortunately, many did not heed this advice and a dozen years down the line many publishers/would be Moonpiggers who did jump on have learnt a very expensive lesson. Today the print-on-demand value share of the UK greeting card market is at best only 5%, with Moonpig by far the dominant force. And Cardsharp considers even that percentage to be a little on the generous side. Then there was Card Factory, a topic that Cardsharp has periodically returned to over the years. Whatever one feels about the chain, it has dramatically affected the market, but it has not bought the UK greeting card market to its knees as some people predicted to Cardsharp that it would, thinking ’10 cards for £1’ would become the benchmark. In many ways its success helped the industry through the dark days of 2009-2011 when the retail economy was on its knees. Admittedly, some sectors of the market have been ravaged by time. Noticeably corporate Christmas cards and cheaper Christmas boxes, but it is questionable how

Left: Nevermind is the second album by rock band Nirvana, released 25 years ago. Below right: In 1991, flamboyant Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, sadly 'broke free' of this mortal coil. Bottom left: Brit, Helen Sharman, was the first woman in space and the first woman to visit the Mir space station in 1991.

much profit publishers ever made out of the corporate sector, and how much both quality publishers and retailers made out of cheap boxes? Which brings us up to date. In truth, looking back to last February, Cardsharp got his predictions for 2015 wrong big time! He predicted that 2015 would be a year of real greeting card acquisition activity, both in publishing and retail. In fact, Cardsharp went so far as to over confidently prohesise: ‘2015 may have quite a dramatic effect on the face of the UK’s greeting card industry.’ Cardsharp’s reasoning was that with the greeting card market adjusting to its mature state, the only way publishers and retailers could expand was not by organic growth but by ‘buying’ an additional slice of the market. Plus, with interest rates being low and many medium sized publisher owners approaching retirement age, Cardsharp thought there would be plenty of deals to be done. But really Cardsharp has to admit in terms of activity, 2015 was one of the quietest years Cardsharp can remember. The only real deal of significance at publisher level was Kent-based Swan Mill acquiring the historic card company Ling Design from Duncan Spence for an undisclosed but £multi–million deal. Added to this, Yorkshire based wholesale and value supplier, Regent Greetings, which had been on ‘life support’ for a long period of time, finally went into administration, but no one picked up the pieces to take the name on, although it does still trade to all intents and purposes under the iParty banner. So, the ‘flurry’ of merger and acquisition activity, that Cardsharp so boldly predicted, never materialised and to be brutally honest there wasn't even very many serious trade whispers about deals even reaching gestation.

In fact, many of the substantial middle sized publishers in the UK greeting card market seem to be planning succession policies to the next generation of family management or long-term loyal and capable management. However, several of the most attractive niche players, such as Five Dollar and Belly Button, have taken the option to launch sibling businesses (Counting Stars and Bubble respectively) to spread their root base. There were also a few wobbles when the backers of industry darlings, Paperchase, put the upmarket multiple retail chain on the market with a view to a trade sale recently after a very successful couple of years trading, but although suitors such as Card Factory and WHSmith were talked about, clearly no one party came up with a bid that was attractive enough, and it effectively continues under its present ownership.

So perhaps Cardsharp has read it wrong and that the market’s maturity will mean less takeover activity, not more. One thing is for certain, in the last couple of days at Spring Fair, when people have time on their hands, there will be many rumours flying about (some of them planted mischievously for sure) about acquisition activity, but whether anything major will materialise, Cardsharp is keeping his mouth shut this time. And finally, as for Cardsharp, is it not amazing that in the 25 years he has been penning this column he is exactly the same cartoon character as he was in 1991 and not aged one single iota? If only real life was the same as a cartoon, reflected Cardsharp mournfully!



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Inset: Was Christmas a turkey or sparkling for retailers? Below left: A cracking Calliope festive window. Below: Street entertainers, the Red Hot Santas, played last Christmas at Skipton Christmas Market. The market brings people to the area from far and wide, getting them in the festive mood.

Servings Of Christmas Dinner A Cracking New Store Philip Downer, managing director for Calliope Gifts, Dorking, Alton and Haywards Heath, Home Counties: “Our Christmas sales were up, thanks to us having a new store opening in Haywards Heath and our second Christmas in our Alton store, where we saw very satisfying growth. ” Mitigating Factors: “The [warmer] weather meant that we sold fewer scarves, gloves and hats than in previous years, and our customers weren’t buying new outfits elsewhere and looking to accessorise them at Calliope, so it wasn’t a great season for fashion accessories. Online sales have been growing for 15 years, and you just have to factor that into your business. However, we saw some pleasing growth in sales from our own website. Black Friday was a bit of a damp squib; very few retailers in our market towns took part. I can see its relevance in fashion brands and electricals, but we didn’t see much activity. We didn’t participate, instore or online. Our couriers did a pretty good job, both at getting the stock to us, and shipping it to our online customers.” Buying Patterns: “Gifting was pretty last-minute, but we’ve become used to that. We sold a remarkable volume of Christmas cards in October though.” Buying Approach For Christmas 2016: “Learn from 2015 of course! What worked, what will still be working in 12 months’ time, what has peaked, and what will be novel in 2016. I think the market may be starting to tire of owls, for the time being...”

Christmas happened, but weather conditions, competition from online and Black Friday/Cyber Monday all affected the festive footprint on shop sales. While severe downpours, causing flooding across parts of the UK, sadly triggered heartbreaking problems for some indies, elsewhere independents were ready and fighting fit, with a collection of dazzling diverse product, a warm personal service and glittering merchandise and window displays. PG asks a selection box of independent greeting card and gift retailers whether their Christmas sales were as honeyed as the roast parsnips or as dry and crispy as overcooked stuffing.

Sparkling Product And Local Gifts Tina Botterill, owner of Cool! Cards and Gifts, Skipton: “We had a really good Christmas with sales up 14%. Our Christmas card sales were down, but gifts were well up. I was horrified at the number of people on Facebook who posted that they were not sending cards this year, but donating to charity instead. I felt like replying that if everyone took this attitude I would become a charity!” Mitigating Factors: “Black Friday didn't really affect my type of business. Although another shop in town was offering 15% discount on everything, I had a really good day!” Buying Patterns: “Buying started earlier PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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VIEWPOINTS than last year in mid-September and it really peaked in December on the two Sundays when Skipton has its big Christmas markets on the high street. We had our two best days of the year.” Customer Favourites: “The best selling Christmas cards this year were Woodmansterne’s packs and a range of Northern dialect cards from Heritage Gifts and Souvenirs – ie 'Ave a cracking Crimbo! Above: The ‘Hand Stand’, a Jellycat once again produced the biggest wonderful product from That Company Called If, ideal to hold volume of sales in gifts, but my best selling tablets, ipads or recipe books. individual item was the Hand Stand from That Company Called If - perfect for sitting your iPad or tablet on and it stabilises on any uneven surface. I use one in the shop, and as soon as I showed it in action several sales ensued. I first saw these when I was judging Gift of The Year and knew I had to have them in my shop!” Buying Approach For Christmas 2016: “My approach to 2016 will be less Christmas cards and a lot more secret Santa gifts, price points of £5 and £10. For the year as a whole I will continue to hunt for local talent and build on a quirky range of Skipton and Yorkshire products for my tourist trade. Other shops in the town are sending people to me now as we stock a lot of diverse product in the shop.”

A Flurry Of Festive Card Sales Emma Gillett, partner of Special Occasions, Castle Bromwich, Birmingham: “We are pleased to say that Christmas sales were up for us this year. We focused on ensuring we had plenty of stock right up until the end for both cards and gifts. We introduced new products, including gifts from Straits Gift Company and Colonial Candle from Widdop Bingham, to name a few, earlier in the year. We also advertised in our local magazine and ran an offer throughout November celebrating our 22nd year in business.” Mitigating Factors: “Luckily we have none to report.” Buying Patterns: “We always put a full complement (20ft) of Christmas cards out the last week in October. As soon the cards went out they started to sell immediately. They steadied towards the beginning of December then picked back up and didn't stop until the 24th December. Our gifts started selling slightly earlier in September and remained consistent up to and including Christmas Eve.” Customer Favourites: “Words ‘n’ Wishes were a customer favourite, also IC&G, Wishing Well and Jonny Javelin. Our jewellery range from Indulgence was Top: Words N Wishes’ Christmas singles very popular this year, and also handbags were a festive smash at Special Occasions, and watches from Timesource. The Hestia Castle Bromwich. Above: A special card for mum from IC&G. gift range from Widdop Bingham was popular and also its range from Colonial Candle. Widdop offered great service with deliveries right up to the end.” Buying Approach for Christmas 2016: “We plan to introduce new and smaller publishers to give our customers a wider choice.”

Glittering Tales Of The Unexpected Fiona Fabien, director of three shops, two Papyrus stores and Illuminati, Glasgow: “We had a very successful Christmas trading period – trading from three shops. November started off well and was up by 5% on the previous year, which I was very pleased with. December trading started well and didn’t lose momentum, and ultimately, we finished 11% up on last year with a particularly strong week before Christmas. I must admit that this is well above what we had forecasted.” Mitigating Factors: “We were definitely helped by the wet weather as two of our shops are in shopping centres – all that torrential rain in December drove footfall under cover. Our Papyrus shop in the Silverburn Shopping Centre performed particularly well – evening shopping was where we saw a huge increase with the shop continuing to be busy up to 10pm in December and 11pm in the Christmas week. And our website sales were up 20%; however our website is a small percentage of our total business.” Customer Favourites: “Accessories and gifts for the home performed particularly well. Candle sales were up 50% and I was constantly placing repeat orders. Star performers were Katie Loxton accessories and Woodwick candles.” Buying Approach For Christmas 2016: “I am always cautious when it comes to Christmas buying – so 2016 will be no different. George Osborne is warning that the UK’s financial recover is still on thin ice and cannot be taken for granted. I am delighted with this year’s Christmas trading figures, but don’t anticipate such a big increase next year.” Above: One of the Papyrus stores in the Silverburn Shopping Centre in Glasgow. Below: Consumers found themselves in frequent down-pours whilst Christmas shopping.





Spring Fair

7-11 February 2016 – Stand 3SO7 www.theartfile.com SHARE DISCOVER REVIEW

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VIEWPOINTS Left: The lucky winner (left) being presented with The Felixstowe Card Centre’s Christmas raffle prize. Below: Popshots’ Snow Globes went down a (snow) storm at The Card Centre, Felixstowe. Below left: One of the lovely solid Christmas boxes from Paper House (GBCC) featured images from Villager Jim.

Traditional With All The Trimmings! Giles Meehan, senior buyer for The Card Centre, Felixstowe: “We enjoyed a rise in Christmas sales again this year. Trade started even earlier than usual, but remained steadily busy throughout the season, rather than having any particular peak moments. We didn't dare to ask the lady who wanted to buy a ‘Husband’ Christmas card in August whether she needed to post it to Australia! For the last few weeks in the lead up to Christmas, we gave a free raffle ticket to customers for every £8 they spent. The winning tickets were drawn the week before Christmas, with the winner receiving a fantastic hamper, and the runners up receiving homemade decorated Christmas cakes, chocolates, and bottles of wine. It's been a tradition in the shop for many years - and a source of much leg pulling from customers who complain they store up their raffle tickets every year, but never win!” Buying Patterns: “Customers were especially seeking out Christmas cards with traditional, warm designs, produced to a high quality, and with just the right words. Demand for specific titles, such as Granddaughter, Daughter and Husband/Partner, Friends, To Both, etc, has certainly grown - we had far, far more customers asking for ‘Daughter and Fiancée’ than ever before, and eventually sold out! There must have been a lot of proposals in the last few months! Sales of open single cards have generally reduced, except for Ling, whose cards still went particularly well. All ranges of humorous cards also sold out this year!” Customer Favourites: “Christmas designs from Cherry Orchard, IC&G, Jonny Javelin and Second Nature have all been very popular across all titles, and boxes of Christmas cards (solids) sold well, especially from Paper House/Medici, as did most charity ranges, including Noel Tatt. Customers also loved the new designs of Popshots' Snow Globes.” Buying Approach For Christmas 2016: “It will reflect this year's successes, focusing on high quality, reasonable value cards with traditional designs, and offering the wide range of titles our customers demand!”

Naughty But Nice Stuart Delahoy, owner of Set Design, Leicester: “Sales were up overall in the shop 12% and cards played a big part. We displayed the stock earlier, which worked well and, as ever, brand and design selection is key. Our new buyer Lucy Cave put in a great shift and kept the sales rolling in, despite only being in the job for a few months.” Mitigating Factors: “I dislike Black Friday, but we embraced it, running offers over the whole weekend and turned it into a positive. Amazon is always a factor, but, for example, it did not stop us selling over £2,000 worth of colouring books a week in December, which I think proves that there are still customers who want to get the product in their hands before buying.” Buying Patterns: “Serious customers were out earlier this year, before Black Friday, and that includes the men! We sold out of ‘Wife’ cards much earlier than expected, well done guys.” Customer Favourites: “Our house look is good design with a fun and sometimes rude sense of humour, which went down well. Big Christmas card publisher hits included, The Naughty Little Card Shop, Buddy Fernandez and Modern Toss. On the nicer side, Belly Button just gets better and better, Pigment always hits the spot and Bexy Boo... just fantastic! Smaller, but perfectly formed, publishers include Jolly Awesome, Whale and Bird and Dialectable.

Above: Stuart Delahoy, owner of Set Design (centre) with card buyer, Lucy Cave (left) and manager, Jess Clay, wearing their fabulous Christmas jumpers. Top: Local to Set Design, funny cards publisher Not at all Jack. Right: Humorous cards from The Naughty Little Card Shop were a favourite with Set Design's customers.

Finally, local artists Rosie Made a Thing and Not at all Jack were very strong. Anything missing? Well, much as we like Penny Kennedy, and we sell it well, can somebody else come up with a strong commercial Christmas roll wrap range please?!” Buying Approach For Christmas 2016: “More of the same with an even greater emphasis on the dedicated cards - Mum, Dad, Wife, Husband, One I love, Grandparents... second cousin twice removed, you get the idea.”



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

Authenticity -Keep It Real Jeremy Corner, owner of greeting card publisher Blue Eyed Sun, considers what consumers want in today’s economy. For the past few years there has been a fundamental change going on in the fabric of our modern economy. If you have not already noticed it, and you work in greeting card retail, card publishing or affiliated business, it’s something to be aware of because it is at the heart of what modern consumers really want. I was inspired recently by the book and TED talk on ‘Authenticity: What Consumers Want’ by writer and business consultant, Joseph Pine, and feel it has some valuable points which is highly relevant to greeting card businesses. First, we need to take a few steps back to understand how we got to where we are today.

Commodities In the beginning our economy was based primarily on things that come out of the ground - animal mineral and vegetable. We farmed or extracted them and sold them on the open marketplace. Commodities were the basis of the agrarian economy that lasted for millennia until the Industrial Revolution. Top: The real and the fake, but both are experienced. Right: Disneyland is a real experience of a created imagined kingdom. Below: The agricultural society before the Industrial Revolution.

Goods During the Industrial Revolution goods became the primary economic offering. Goods were manufactured using commodities as a raw material. Over time, some goods have become commoditised. When they are treated like a commodity, people don't care who makes them. They care only about price.

Services There's an antidote to commoditisation and that is customisation. This progression of economic value reveals that customising a good automatically turns it into a service. This is because it is done for a particular person or company. So we moved from an industrial based economy to a service based economy. What has happened over the last 10-15 years is that services have been commoditised as well. So, beyond goods and services, what is the new level of economic value?

Experiences When you customise a service that is so appropriate to a particular person at that moment in time you can't help but make them go ‘wow’. It turns it into a memorable event and becomes an experience. Think about Disneyland, themed restaurants, experiential retail and boutique hotels.

Real Experiences There is no such thing as an ‘inauthentic experience’, because experiences happen inside of us. They are our reactions to the events staged before us. It doesn't matter

whether the experience is fantasy like Disneyland or 'real' natural authentic experiences like hiking through the mountains. There may be more or less artificial stimuli to these different experiences, but even that is a measure of degree not of kind. This is because there's no such thing as a 100% natural experience. Even if you go for a walk in the woods there

is a company that manufactured the shoes you walk in, your phone, the car you got there in. These are all manmade artificial elements brought into the woods by you.

Authenticity Authenticity has become the new consumer sensibility and the buying criteria by which we choose who we buy from and what we are going to buy. ‘Rendering’ is a key word in the experience economy because you have to get consumers to perceive your offering as authentic. This presents a basic paradox though because nobody can have an inauthentic experience, but no business PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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JEREMY’S JOURNAL can supply one because all businesses are manmade objects, involve money or machinery. All those factors make things inauthentic. So how do you render authenticity?

be a good example of an ethical company selling responsibly sourced inks and boards. It lives and breath what it says it is.


Knowing your heritage is knowing what you have done in the past. Sometimes this can There are two dimensions to rendering limit what you are able to do in the future. authenticity: You have to understand your past. For 1. Be true to yourself, which is ‘self directed’. example, 20 years ago Disney, which is best 2. Being what you say you are to others, known for family values, bought the ABC which is ‘other directed’. network and Miramax which produced adult These dimensions create a two by two matrices rated content, and were in direct conflict for businesses: with its core values. So families couldn't really trust Disney’s heritage. It Is What it says it is REAL FAKE REAL REAL was no longer being true to itself. Is Not what it says it is FAKE FAKE FAKE REAL To be authentic it’s Is not true to itself Is true to itself really important to be To be true to yourself and being what what you say you are. The biggest mistake you say you are to others renders the most companies make is to advertise things that authentic experience, it’s REAL REAL. The they are not. That's when you are perceived opposite of this is FAKE FAKE. For example, as fake - advertising things that you are not. Fake Fake could be an illegal copy of Think of any retailer that has the word something like Carte Blanche's Tatty Teddy ‘quality’ in their title above their shops. Most that used to appear on market stalls. Tatty of the time these signs look knackered and Teddy is a created character (there aren't real the business is anything but quality. They plush grey bears wandering around the appear disingenuous and inauthentic. world!) and a copy of it would be fake. It’s How To Be Authentic not a genuine Tatty Teddy. The number one thing to do when it comes Businesses do exist in these other to being what you say you are is to provide modes of authenticity. REAL FAKE is places for people to experience who you are exemplified by the Universal City Walk in - it's not advertising that does it. That's why Orlando. It looks like a real city, but it’s retailers like Starbucks don't advertise at all. made of scaffolding and wood. It’s a real They're saying if you want to know who we fake of the City of Los Angeles. Disneyland are you gave to come and experience us. on the other hand is FAKE REAL. It’s a fake Think about the economic value they have reality. Sadly, it’s not really a magic kingdom provided by that experience. Coffee at its and yet it is wonderfully true to itself. Fake core is a commodity. Coffee is worth 2-3p per Real might be something like the Facematt cup. Package it and put it on a grocery shelf range from Brainbox Candy where it looks it's worth 5-15p per cup when you treat it as like a real substitute a good. Take the same good and provide the mouth, but it’s actually Above: Beautiful greeting cards created by Scottish artist and illustrator a piece of printed Anna Wright. cardboard that Left: Brainbox Candy's 'Facematt' range of removable beer mats, which you can wear on your lovely face. looks real, but it’s Below: One of the reasons Starbucks raises the economic value of coffee is actually fake. because of its service and experience within its shops. The easiest way for businesses to fall down with all this and not be REAL REAL is to not understand your heritage and not be true to that heritage. The key to being true to yourself is knowing who you are as a business. In the greetings world, Real Real would be companies that stay true to who they are and what they say they are matches what they do. Perhaps Glebe Cottage might

Rendering Authenticity

service of brewing it in a coffee house and the value rises to £1 per cup. Surround the brewing of the coffee by the ambience of a Starbucks, and the authentic theatre that goes inside there, and now you can charge £3-5 per cup!

Authentic Cards At its core, greeting cards are also a commodity. Paper on its own is worth very little. Add a strong design that’s relevant to an important event in peoples’ lives and it’s worth more on the card racks. If you have that design created by a popular illustrator, designer or innovative brand and that card is worth more again. Retail a selection from wonderful publishers/designer makers using beautiful print techniques and thoughtful or humorous messages in a pleasant retail environment like so many card shops and those cards in that selection increases in value to the consumer seeking an authentic retail experience.

For Businesses Businesses, whether retailer, publisher or supplier, need to be aware that authenticity is becoming the new consumer sensibility. To my mind, there are three basic rules to this: 1. Don't say you are authentic unless you really are authentic. 2. It's easier to be authentic if you don't say you are authentic. 3. If you say you're authentic you had better be authentic. Training your team in your company’s heritage and values is key. For those new publishers starting out for example, you should pay attention to your company culture right from the beginning as it’s harder to change later as you grow. As a leader in your business you have to know yourself. You have to know the real reasons you work in your business and it shouldn’t just be for the money. Money and success are by products of serving customers well. So why not make them happy by giving them an authentic experience. Read more on Jeremy’s blog at www.blueeyedsun.co.uk/blog PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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A Reawakened

Force? The year 2015 kicked off with a real feeling of optimism in the UK. The general UK economy was settled, there was no talk of interest rates or inflation on the horizon, and hopes were pinned on the UK as the host nation winning the Rugby World Cup, and Andy Murray retaining his Wimbledon trophy. Some things though don’t always turn out as planned with reality throwing in a few curve balls of its own! Did independent greeting card retailers ‘find the force’ in the last year or were the gains more ‘Minions’ than £million? And what are their expectations for 2016? The answers to all this and more are revealed in the findings of the latest PG/Cardgains’ Retail Barometer.

Although the atrocious weather conditions put a real dampener on the business and personal lives of indies affected by the floods at the end of the year, up until El Nino did its damage, 2015 was stacking up well for independent card retailers. Accepting that those retailers who were contending with flood damaged homes and businesses were unable to participate in the Retail Barometer, those excepted, the findings suggest that 2015 was a pretty decent one overall for independents. Almost three quarters of respondents attributed the improvements in the UK economy as either having boosted their business (26%) in the last year or at least not upsetting trade (44%). Encouragingly, over half of respondents (52%) increased their trade last year (compared to 2014 levels), which is a 4% rise on the year previous, while another 44% managed to hold the line on 2014 levels. No doubt the increased activity on the promotional front (notably as the potential of social media is being grasped by indies) is reflected in the increase in the average customer spend tracked by over half of the barometer’s The PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer is an annual survey that involves Cardgains’ 750 retail members (which account for 1,000 retail rooftops). All surveys were completed by early January.

respondents. While the vast majority of the average spend was only up marginally, it is at least going in the right direction. Sure there are challenges, not least of which being that Christmas card sending was down for 2015. Some 68% of respondents, more than double the number of last year’s Barometer, were of the opinion that Christmas card sending was definitely down this year compared to previous years. And indies are in no doubt of who are threatening their sales – supermarkets and Card Factory, now only 1% behind supermarkets as being seen as an indie card shop’s biggest nemesis. That said, the independent card sector has gone into 2016 with all guns blazing. Some 46% are expecting to grow this year, 16% are even thinking of opening another shop (the highest number for years) with promotional and investment plans in place to make sure they, like the recent Star Wars blockbuster, are a Force Reawakened!

How’s Business Been?

Above: Did indies ‘find the retail force’ in 2015? Left: Consumer confidence returned in 2015 after many years in a recession.

Average Spend Per Customer Increased Significantly Increased Slightly Remained The Same Declined Declined Significantly

8% 48% 33% 7% 4%



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PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer

What effect has the general state of the UK economy and unemployment (real or expected) had on your greeting card sales in your shop in the last year? Increased Significantly 4% Below: Indies expanded into gifts - Miss Milly soft aqua earrings from the Amora collection. 22% Increased Slightly 44% Remained The Same 30% Declined Declined Significantly 0%

Positive Drivers As reflected in the upturn in average transaction value, indies’ expansion into gifts took the top slot as being the factor which had the most positive effect on indies’ business, further blurring the line between what constitutes ‘a card shop’ and what would now be viewed as a ‘gift shop that sells a lot of cards’. However, as independent specialist card shops know well, having a good reputation for having a strong selection of cards is what brings in the customers and while they are there, helped by knowledgeable and intuitive staff, they can be tempted by some tantalising gifts. Indies have definitely upped their game on the promotional front in the last couple of years - and it is working well, with marketing and promotional activity having leapfrogged over the evergreen strength of staff to become the second strongest business improvement tool over the last year. It’s interesting how social media and online presence continue to hold significant placings in the list of ‘positive drivers’, as increasing confidence and usage (something which has been a core area for Cardgains) brings tangible benefits. No doubt the strength of licensed partyware and balloon ranges (such as Frozen, Minions and the superheroes) has all helped to nudge ‘expansion into balloons and partyware’ into the ‘top 10’ for the first year ever, while reassuring in this ‘virtual’ day and age that the wonderful product development on the stationery front has also catapulted this into the ‘positive drivers’ list.

What main factor(s) have had a positive effect on your business in the last year? (last year’s position shown in brackets)


Expansion into gifts (1st)

2nd Promotional activity (4th)

Christmas Jingles Of all the findings in the whole PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer, arguably the most saddening is that almost 70% of respondents believe that fewer Christmas cards were sent by the British public in 2015 compared with 2014. This is a massive drop from the previous Barometer (when only 32% felt Christmas card sending would be down, although in the 2013 survey 59% sensed a drop). This is a disappointment given the inherent tradition of Christmas card sending in the UK, especially as there was very little in the way of negative consumer media coverage about Christmas cards in the run up. The growth of Black Friday on November 27 went some way to kickstarting Christmas buying, and the battle for Christmas adverts among the major retailers did their bit to add to the festive feeling. Another possible reason for such a dramatic downturn is the timing of the Barometer. The majority of retailers complete the survey by the first week of December which means that the reactions are based on an early hunch rather than a full picture of their Christmas card sales, especially as the buying pattern was decidedly later than the previous year due to Christmas Day falling on a Friday, giving consumers the feeling of ‘an extra week’ in the run up to the big day. However, as reflected elsewhere in PG, Christmas 2015 continued a trend of the last few years whereby while the sale of Christmas boxes and packs may be down, this, in many cases, more than compensated (by value) the increase in single cards being bought for friends and family. And, looking positively, almost a third of respondents were expecting Christmas card sending to remain on a par with last year (27%), or even increase (5%). The cost of stamps, indies feel, has impacted negatively on all card sales, but is something which is especially apparent around Christmas when multiple sends come into play. Approaching six out of 10 respondents believe that the price of stamps has had a negative effect on their card sales, with 17% describing this as a ‘dramatic’ decrease.

How Many Christmas Cards Do You Think People Sent 2015 v 2014?

3rd Staff (2nd)

Fewer Than The Previous Year Same As The Previous Year More Than The Previous Year

4th Shop and stock improvements (5th) 5th New customers (3rd)

68% 27% 5%

Above: Sales of Christmas singles increased last year. Part of a gorgeous card from Cinnamon Aitch.

6th Social media (6th)

What effect do you feel the price of stamps has on your card sales?

7th Website/online selling (8th) 8th Local competition closing down (7th)

Decreases card sales dramatically 17% Decreases card sales marginally 48% Does not affect card sales 35%

9th Improved stationery sales (-) 10th Expansion into balloons and partyware (-)

Continued on page 59

How has your business fared over the last year? PG looks back at the last eight year’s of PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer data. 2015 v 2016 Better 52% Same 44% Worse 4%

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

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

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

2011 v 2010 Better 29% Same 28% Worse 43%

2010 v 2009 Better 30% Same 20% Worse 50%

2009 v 2008 Better 57% Same 20% Worse 23%

2008 v 2007 Better 20% Same 53% Worse 27%



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PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer

The Biggest Bugbears

Going For Promotion

When it comes to the biggest bugbears for indies of the last year, while the top ten is a roll call of usual suspects, their ranking has changed somewhat compared to the previous 12 months’ snapshot. At a time when the grocers themselves are struggling, it is the supermarkets and their drive on the greeting card front that came out top as having had the most detrimental effect on an indie’s business in 2015. Certainly the card offering from supermarkets has improved over the last few years, Asda’s expansion of its George subbrand has gone down a storm, for starters, and all eyes are now on what Hallmark does in tandem with Tesco to up the offer on that front. ‘Convenience’ has become a watchword in so many aspects of life, and this is a card that the grocers are playing with their

If there is one area that indies have massively upped their game in the last few years it is the area of marketing. Some 60% of respondents undertook some promotional activity in 2015, and many flexed their marketing mettle in a number of directions, not just for a one off push. In the last year many indies totally grasped the potential that social media offers them to promote their business, meaning this was the ‘gold star’ in the promotional game. Working in tandem with other marketing mechanisms, social media in many cases whetted the appetite for the instore activity. Facebook promoted customer evenings, launches of significant ranges (such as jewellery collections), Twitter spread the word on competitions or instore product promotions. The expansion of loyalty cards, which encourage and reward customer engagement shows no sign of abating for indies, with this coming second in this year’s survey as the most popular promotional tool.

What main factor(s) have had a detrimental effect on your business in the last year? (2014’s position shown in brackets)


Expansion of cards in supermarkets (4th)

2nd Expansion of discount/deep value retailers (2nd) 3rd Competition from multiples (5th) 4th The UK retail economy (1st) 5th Charity shops selling greeting cards (7th) 6th Increase of the minimum wage (9th) 7th Parking issues (3rd) 8th Print on demand cards (8th) 9th Rent review (10th) 10th General online activity (6th)

Top Ten Promotional Mechanisms Over The Last Year (2014 results included in brackets)

1st Social media (3rd) 2nd Loyalty cards & incentives (1st) 3rd Instore ‘money off’/discount promotions (2nd) 4th Press advertising (4th) 5th Leaflets (6th) 6th Charity fundraising (7th) 7th BOGOF (or similar) (5th) 8th Gift voucher scheme (8th)

higher margin non-food offer (which includes greeting cards). The expansion of Card Factory and the other deep discount chains is only slightly behind in the bêtes noires league, with the general retail economy having slipped down to fourth position. Good to see that parking issues have seemingly improved in many towns - or is it that the rise in the Minimum Wage has become more of an issue - and likely to be more so in subsequent Barometers with the pressures to meet the Living Wage. Charity shops have become an accepted part of any high street, but what has been damaging to indies is how many of the leading charity shop ‘chains’ now make a big feature of their everyday card ranges, often displaying a spinner of these bespoke collections right in the shop window to attract passers by. Understandably, the benefits charity shops receive, on business rates and staff costs (many using unpaid volunteers) is irksome to indies, especially when they make a great play of their brand new greeting card collections, (published by major direct to retail publishers) appealing to the public’s altruistic nature to buy cards from them with the money going to good causes. Above left: Supermarkets really upped their game on the greetings front. Top right: Social media is a great tool to promote a shop’s products. Right: Charity shops selling greeting cards is a bugbear for indies.

9th Free gift promotions (11th) 10th Customer events and evenings (9th) 11th Collaboration with other local retailers/businesses (10th)

All Part Of The Service In the last year would you say that service levels from suppliers have? Improved Significantly Improved Slightly Remained The Same Decreased Slightly Decreased Significantly

5% 22% 50% 23% 0%

As far as the number of suppliers from whom you order, do you expect to… Increase the number 9% Remain about the same 65% Decrease the number 26%

Would you consider being supplied via a brokerage system whereby a variety of publishers’ cards are supplied to you via a broker? Yes No Undecided

26% 52% 22%

Continued on page 61



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PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer

Working Together

Threats And Opportunities

Which local bodies have you been involved in during the last year?

While the picture has been pretty constant for the last few years regarding the major threats perceived by independent card retailers, there has been a bit of upward movement in the severity of the potential damage they pose to indies. While Card Factory still comes in for a lot of stick from indies, in actual fact it is the supermarkets, with their enormous footfall and increased focus on greeting cards, that have gained ground on the thorny threats ladder. Some 70% of indies now regard supermarkets as a threat (13% going as far as to describe them as a ‘serious threat’, while 49% of respondents view Card Factory as a threat or serious threat. However, on both counts indies are feeling more optimistic as to their ability to counter these giants compared to a year ago - in fact 4% of indies see them both as a ‘bonus’, meaning they can demonstrate the point of difference a specialist card shop can offer the consumer. Indies have also relaxed a bit on how they regard Moonpig and other print-on-demand operators, recognising the benefits they bring (notably the hefty investment in consumer advertising, which has a waterfall effect on promoting greeting cards in general). The number of indies who view Moonpig as a threat or serious threat has more than halved in the space of a year with ambivalence being the most popular reaction. As for other notable multiples, Clintons is viewed as much more of a threat to an indie than Paperchase, despite the latter’s growth both in bricks and mortar and online.

Chamber of Commerce Charities Federation of Small Businesses Schools Town Centre Retailing Group Community Groups Business Improvement Districts Local Council Youth Groups

21% 57% 29% 43% 43% 7% 6% 4% 2%

Above: Independents have been working together with local schools, charities, town centre retailing groups and local councils, to name but a few.

Logging On And Posting As reflected in the promotions and ‘business booster’ sections, the immediacy of social media and the power of the internet has become more appealing as business tools for indies in the last year - something which Cardgains’ social media workshops look set to continue. A great Barometer reading is that some 61% of respondents have ‘liked’ Cardgains’ Cyril’s Facebook page, and 40% are now following him on Twitter - a dramatic increases on the year previous. Answers to the question ‘If you are not currently using social media, do you plans to in 2016?’ elicited responses in three equally sized ‘camps’. While a third of the social media ‘virgins’ stated their intention to get involved on this score, another third are still undecided, while the remaining third have no intention of doing so in the next 12 months. Only 35% of respondents have a website, though the sites that are now transactional has crept up in the last couple of years. Moreover, of those who do have a site, almost 90% are committed to further developing it in the coming year, while the remaining 11% are undecided. Of those who do not have a web presence, 60% of respondents are either intending to develop one in 2016 or are considering it - only 40% have totally rejected the idea. Indies do however remain concerned about the potential damage texting and social media could do to ‘traditional’ card sending, with 43% seeing these alternative routes as either a threat (30%) or a serious threat (13%), although over half are ambivalent as to their impact. This is somewhat of a more relaxed view compared to a few years ago when the worry was that it would totally decimate the sector.

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

Do you use Facebook or Twitter for business purposes? Yes 43% No 57%

How do you view texting, emailing or social networking sites as an alternative to greeting cards?

How do you view Card Factory? Serious Threat Neutral

26% 26%

Threat Bonus

44% 4%

How do you view Moonpig.com, Funky Pigeon.com or other ‘print on demand’ card operators? Serious Threat Neutral

9% 70%

Threat Bonus

17% 4%

With revamped Clintons stores opening up, how do you view this chain? Serious Threat Neutral

4% 59%

Threat Bonus

32% 5%

How do you currently view Paperchase? Serious Threat Neutral

0% 82%

Threat Bonus

14% 4% Continued on page 63




Come and meet us at the Spring Fair! Hall 4 - J16 +44 (0)20 8993 5966 @Retro_Co

062_PG_February 2016.indd 1

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PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer

In Keeping With Tradition

Business Predictions For 2016

Traditional words and sentiments knocked humorous cards off the top spot, after six years running, as the card category that has shown the greatest growth over the last year (compared to the year previous).

2nd Humour

43% (1st)

Independent card retailers feel more optimistic about 2016, slightly less so than they did last year. Encouragingly, almost half (46%) are gunning for growth in the coming year, with another 38% expecting to hold the line. Unfortunately, 15% of respondents are bracing themselves for a slight decline. The longer range forecast echoes the shorter range expectations. Some 46% of respondents describe the future of the independent card shop 10 years hence as being ‘positive’ or ‘very ‘positive’ while 15% (compared to 21% a year ago) view it as ‘weak’.

3rd Relations and Occasions

38% (3rd)

Business expectations for your business for 2016?

4th Children’s

33% (7th)

5th Christmas Singles

24% (8th)

5th Photographic

24% (8th)

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


Traditional Words & Sentiment

57% (2nd)

6th Contemporary Words & Sentiment 19% (10th) 7th Art

14% (12th)

7th Mother’s Day

14% (11th)

8th Licensed

10% (5th)

8th Male

10% (6th)

8th Father’s Day

10% (13th)

8th Valentine’s Day

10% (16th)

9th Handmade or Hand-Finished



10th Charity non-Christmas



10th Christmas Boxes and Packs



10th Easter



10th Trend, Fun or Graphic



11th Other religious festivals



12th Cute



A Broader Vision Gardening products and edible related products, both areas that were new entries on the diversification list last year, are still holding allure, maintaining an appearance in the Top 13.

Into which product areas would you like to further diversify?

How do you view the future of the independent card shop in the next 10 years? Very Positive Positive Neutral Weak Very Weak

4% 42% 39% 15% 0%

Do you have plans to open another shop in the coming year? Yes 16% No 84%


38% (1st)

Is The Price Right?

2nd Jewellery

33% (2nd)

3rd Balloons

24% (4th)

Opinions were divided as to whether respondents wanted the RRPs of greeting cards to go up, come down, or stay as they are!

4th Fashion Accessories

19% (6th)

5th Partyware

14% (7th)

6th Impulse Items

12% (5th)

7th Handbags

11% (7th)

8th Children’s non-toy products

10% (10th)

9th Crafting Products

10% (10th)

10th Home Accessories



11th Fashion



11th Gardening products



11th Chocolates/Confectionery



11th Toys



12th Giftwrappings



12th Collectables



12th Calendars



13th Preserves/coffee/tea related items 2%



In the coming year would you like to see the Recommended Retail Prices (RRPs) of counter cards?



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Robin Littman’s Letters

Around The World In 365 Days... Greeting card guru, Robin Littman (founder of Your Export Manager) is ‘worldy wise’ on the pace of business in most corners of the globe where UK greeting cards can be sold. Here, he touches base with some of the key players to paint an picture of the international card scene. It seems to me that, judging by the reports I have collected, 2015 was not as bad a year as might have been expected on the global greeting card scene. Yes, there are parts of the world where economic - let alone political - difficulties have created a tough environment in which to operate, and one theme running through these reports is the difficulties of dealing with a strong £pound. However, what I do know is that over the 25 years or so in which I have been exporting British paper products, distributors around the world have continued to tell me that the UK is the foremost producer of creative cards, wrap and stationery - and they want to keep on buying from us! I am honoured and grateful to have been able to be part of that process...

America Alan Harnik, president of Notes and Queries: “We have had a very good year. Most of our products come from UK publishers and we have been doing very well with them. Part of our growth continues to be based on filling gaps in the US marketplace with design-oriented English paper products. Design/special finishes (ie flitter/foil/diecutting and letterpress) are Above: Alan Harnik. Above right: Eli Nelson with his business partner, art director and wife, Elizabeth Judge in the outdoor sculpture gallery at the new Whitney Museum in New York. Right: There has been an increased appetite for UK publishers’ products from upmarket US card retailers Papyrus and Paper Source.

UK. For example, Happy Christmas vs Merry Christmas, Mom vs Mum - it’s just a no-go. We can't take cards with UK spellings. (3) Timings. We need our trading partners to work to our release calendar, which in some cases is much earlier than theirs. For example, we would like to be able to compete with American companies with a Christmas release. Each year some of our partners do not even show us their Christmas collection until April, which is much too late. When this happens, we have in effect lost a month of selling to our American competitors. Please bear this in mind. The reason British companies continue to do well is down to design and/or finish and value at the end of the day... and long may that continue in 2016 and beyond.”

Above: Robin Littman, a leading light on UK greeting card exports.

important elements in their success, as is the perception of value that British cards bring to the American retailer. Each year we ask our trading partners [UK publishers] for the following: (1) Reduce the number of square cards they offer us. The American market continues to be resistant to square cards. (2) Watch your language. There are subtle differences between the US and

Eli Nelson, president of The Nelson Line: “I am happy to report that 2015 was a solid year for Nelson Line. While our boutique and bookstore accounts continue to represent the lion's share of the business for our UK-sourced goods, we are seeing an increased appetite from some of the larger multiple retailers, such as Papyrus and Paper Source. This points to an encouraging uptick in the general taste level of American consumers. Square cards - although Americans continue to resist the modest additional PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Robin Littman’s Letters

postage requirement that square cards require in the US, we are seeing some moderation in the marketplace regarding this issue as more American publishers introduce their own square card ranges. Even so, the square card postage issue remains a major factor in our company's buying decisions. The UK continues to be our best resource for high quality, design-led paper products. While the US market continues to be dominated by American Greetings and Hallmark, there are solid opportunities for distributors such as Nelson Line as US card buyers look for more sophisticated, designled options.”



Mogens Mogensen, md of Baccara:

Above: The currency exchange of the Norwegian Krone against the £Pound has been problematic. Below: Véronique Dabrowski.

Véronique Dabrowski, managing director of Patchwork: “I ought to say to start by saying that British paper products sell very well in France. Patchwork is very happy - and indeed proud - to be representing 30 different UK publishers, all very talented with an unending offering of creativity. Our customers are independent retailers who are both sophisticated in their taste and demanding in terms of product excellence. I can honestly say that Patchwork, by having UK publishers on board, is able to satisfy their need for diversity, quality and originality. I would particularly like to take advantage of this opportunity to warmly thank those of our suppliers who supported us during 2015 (you know who you are!) and continue to do so during this period of currency difficulty where Sterling has been so strong against the Euro. This has enabled us to maintain competitive pricing in the marketplace, which is so important. When I visit my customers with a new collection I have found in the UK I do so with great passion and the love of a challenge! Sometimes it doesn’t work out, but at least I’ve given an opportunity for that collection to be seen in my marketplace. And when those customer presentations do go well (as they often do) – then everybody is happy!”

“We enjoy dealing with British publishers generally, easy going as they are. The sheer number of them ensures a great variety of products and new ideas and it makes it easier to find saleable ranges. In addition, it is an advantage that we can get decent print arrangements for smaller trial orders. The main obstacle to business is the currency exchange. We have a weak Norwegian currency (Norwegian Krone, NOK) against a strong British £Pound. In February 2013 we paid 8.60 NOK for a £1. Now we pay 13,10 NOK for £1 - an incredible 53% more! The only comforting fact about this is that the $US Dollar is even worse, being at 56% up against our Norwegian Krone! Another hamper to trade from our perspective is the trend for publishers to want to work with more than one distributor in each market country. It seems to me, on this point, that some UK publishers are too keen on short-term turnover and so find excuses to jump the fence when sales are lower from one company compared to another. This doesn’t exactly make for longterm relationships. However we still we love visiting your trade fairs and doing business with you British!”


Peter Will, md of Discordia: “As a country, Germany is fairly stable and the market for cards is doing OK - if not sensational. The competition has become tougher with new companies coming into the market recently, but having said that, I have found that the niche I have created by buying from the smaller creative British publishers has worked very well for me. Most of my customers are independent book retailers – who still represent the largest retail market (in number of stores) for ‘quality’ cards in Germany. There is a particular Above: German department store group Karstadt has been in difficulty for years so Peter Wills does not attempt to sell to the chain, concentrating instead on independent book shops. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


SINCE 1994

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reason for this. In Germany there is still Retail Price Maintenance for books so they still have that protection, unlike their counterparts in the UK where the Net Book Agreement means books can be sold at any price. At the national chain level, department store groups such as Karstadt have been in financial difficulty for years so I steer clear of them - and the same applies to the largest bookstore chain - Thalia. I have two pieces of advice for British publishers. Firstly, with whichever distributor you work, make sure you have solid cooperation with them so that you can maximise the sales in our country. Publishers need to realise that they can’t just take their UK range and sell it in Germany. For a start, square cards are a nono. Our postal operator, the Bundespost, established years ago that the maximum envelope width can be no more than 125mm, which precludes a lot of the square cards. However, I have been pleased to see that more UK companies are bearing this in mind when it comes to new ranges. Envelopes of that width are available in what are generally known as the ‘Euro’ size. Finally, you Brits seem to like softer colours than we do. We like strong and bright colours. Maybe we Germans are just more blunt!”

New Zealand

Deirdre Robinson, director of Image Gallery: “Nothing much has changed in the card market in New Zealand since this time last year. As a distributor of gifts as well as greeting cards we are finding it tougher with our gift sales as big retailers are increasingly sourcing their own product direct from Asia and are effectively competing against us rather than being a customer. They say they need higher margins than we can offer to

meet their costs. Fortunately on the cards front, with the myriad of value-added options by way of SOR, merchandising etc, publishers leave it to us. The strengthening of the Sterling in the second half of the year did put pressure on our margins and unfortunately has made some publishers’ prices less attractive. While we do not have a greeting card association like your GCA to collate and identify trends, most retailers report that their card categories are doing fine – certainly showing no sign of decline. And moreover, British design is still highly regarded in New Zealand!”

Above: The Image Gallery’s Deidre Robinson. Above right: The strength of the Sterling has put pressure on the New Zealand Dollar. Right: South African Rand. Below: Some of the Scarpa team.


Mark Kagan, director of Scarpa Imports:

“Scarpa Imports, established in 1985, is one of Australia's leading importers and distributors of greeting cards, wrap, stationery and paper products. Our beautiful ranges are sourced from selected companies around the world, including the United Kingdom, United States of America and the Netherlands. The majority of our suppliers though are from Britain and we have represented several accounts for more than 20 years - and one for more than 30 years. I am pleased to report that our Christmas sales have been excellent and we have beaten our previous year’s record, and this is despite the fact that the $Australian Dollar has slipped substantially against the £Pound. I believe that the basis of the success is the fact that the UK publishers with whom we deal are trying to reinvent themselves each year, producing wonderful new images, designs and wording. Added to this is new innovation, although of course there are plenty of ‘top sellers’ that continue to prove themselves every year with no change. Several of the most important aspects dealing with overseas suppliers are the communication channels and response times. Providing these are open and working well then the difficulties with overseas trading can be simplified and made more efficient. As we have long-term arrangements with most of our British publishers, the aforementioned issues are resolved with us. However, ensuring that we receive new samples in a very timely manner is often a bugbear. We are looking forward to 2016 with plans to expand our range further and increase sales for all our suppliers.”

South Africa

David Niven, md of Sunbird Greetings (Publishers): “There has been some rationalisation in the South African market in the last year. And there is probably a lot more to come in 2016 as economic realities start to bite hard. The local big publisher in our mass market is being confronted by a foreign competitor who has taken over the lion’s share of its business with our biggest ‘news agency’ retail chain. What will be the result? Without mentioning names, an Australian publisher came in and took the largest share of that retail group’s business. This is another reason why 2016 is looking eventful. However, at the top end of the marketplace, even with a harsh economy, there is still a customer base that demands outstanding quality at reasonable prices. That is where Sunbird Greetings fits in. Suppliers in this market are going to have to address their overhead cost structure after a devaluation of the SA Rand of more than 37% vs US $ and 32% vs £GBP since January 2015. Margins will also be affected so we are grateful to those UK suppliers who can understand this issue. These are interesting times and a clear focus on differentiation will be required...” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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PG’s 25 Year Anniversary

A Silver Jubilee

Evolution 25


1991 - 2016

This is the 25th year anniversary issue of Progressive Greetings, and the 300th edition since the magazine was first published by Max Publishing. Warren Lomax and Jacqueline Brown, the joint owners of PG for all that time, share their personal views of how the industry has evolved in the last quarter of a century, focusing in on some of the major events and protagonists that have served to shape the industry during the period.

Left: PG’s Jakki Brown and Warren Lomax in the early days (when Warren had hair!). Below right: A photo from the PG archives with Second Nature’s Rod Schragger celebrating the company receiving the Queen’s Award for Export, partly for its Explosive Pop-Ups range.

Setting The Scene Trying to do justice to 25 years of an industry that is as fascinating, absorbing and substantial as the UK greeting card trade, in a handful of pages is nigh on impossible. To adequately cover all the events, trends, nuances and personalities would require a large tome (and perhaps one day, time and opportunity, may allow us to do this!). However, we did not want to let an opportunity pass by without marking PG’s milestone and paying homage to the literally hundreds of people who, in this last 25 years, have made this industry what it is today and that have contributed so much to Progressive Greetings, our Awards events (The Henries and The Retas and our world leading greeting card industry exhibition, 70


Progressive Greetings Live) and the GCA (which, while a separate entity has been run under our auspices for the last 18 years with PG being its official magazine). The reason we bought Progressive Greetings 25 years ago (we staged a Management Buy Out from a wonderfully inspiring business man, Malcolm Pearce), was that we recognised that the greeting card industry was a very special trade and one that was centred around a fabulous product, greeting cards, that brought joy and comfort to all. All that still stands of course, this is still a very special industry -fiercely competitive and yet, counter intuitively, rich in camaraderie. We have, in this all too brief history of our recent industry, focused more on the business, marketing and personality side of the industry in the last 25 years, rather than

the many and diverse design trends that have come and gone (and indeed returned!) in that period. Perhaps an in-depth look at this aspect will have to wait for another day? Certainly looking back at the last 20 years of The Henries awards’ product finalists gives a flavour of these changing/returning design trends. Please do not take offence if we have not mentioned you by name, so many of you have contributed so much to this trade over the last two and half decades of its evolution. As it turned out, 1991, the year that we bought and published Progressive Greetings, was fairly pivotal for the UK greeting card industry. Britain was in the midst of a viscous retail recession, one, which in its way, was almost as nasty as the one we have just recently come out of. The 1980s had seen the industry enjoy steady growth from a low base and many publishers and retailers were starting to question whether that growth was sustainable. At that time the market was probably worth around £500 million, less than a third of what it is today. Believe it or not, in those days the market leading UK greeting card retailers were WHSmith (who led the field on everyday cards) and Woolworths (who was top of the tree on the Christmas card front). At that time each boasted around 10% of the

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greeting card market. Interestingly, Woolworths is just one of a number of major card retailers that have gone by the wayside in the last 25 years without seemingly having had a long-term impression on the size of the UK greeting card market. This proves that greeting card sending in Britain is stronger than many of the retailers who traditionally have distributed them. The next few years of the early 1990s saw the retail market emerge from recession, and in fact experience a sustained boom, which did not really end until the big banking crash of 2008. But the mid to late 1990s were really the boom time for the UK greeting card sector as sales grew on the back of healthy margins for both retailers and publishers. In fact, looking back, this period really was the ‘golden age’ for greeting card publishers. Sales were growing and margins were fat. Fortunes were made and there were some spectacular success stories and mind-boggling acquisitions (that are mentioned later). The ‘noughties’ however saw the margins of the publishers being squeezed by retailers as the market consolidated and major players like the supermarkets and Clintons flexed their muscles. Post 2008, the card market has suffered as the retail economy has suffered, and also has been hit by the declining traffic flow in the high street that has been increasingly hit by internet sales. Yet, a generation on since we first published Progressive Greetings, the UK greeting card industry, although not without its challenges, is in reasonable shape, with the recent GCA UK Market Report showing that the buying public spent £1.5 billion on greeting cards last year, and that’s without including sales of Christmas boxes and packs. So, despite dire predictions that greeting

card sending would die out with emails, texting, Facebook or whatever the latest social media fad, it would seem that the British public (well, mainly the females) are still enjoying their love affair with greeting cards. Intense competition among publishers has meant that design standards are the highest in the world and that has kept the consumer engaged – right across the spectrum, from high end to value. The rise and rise of Card Factory, with its value based card offering, has kept cards affordable to lower income families in the darkest days of the recession, taking over where the CTNs and market stalls once dominated on the cheaper cards front. Even the business failure of Clinton Cards, which has been such an important player in the greeting card market over the last 25 years, has not had such a devastating effect as many predicted. For those industry veterans who have been in it for all of PG’s 25 years (and there are surprisingly many of you), we hope that this brings back some memories. For those newer and younger members of this great industry, we hope this fills in some gaps in your historical knowledge. And may the evolution continue for many more decades to come!

The Rise And Fall Of The Clintons Empire

No history of the greeting card industry over the last 25 years would be complete without the story of the incredible rise and fall of Don Lewin’s Clinton Cards’ empire. It could be argued that there would not be a modern specialist card shop on the high street today were it not for Clintons. The son of a London chimney sweep, Don Lewin opened his first card shop in 1968, naming it after his son, Clinton, who later went on to head up the company. The chain grew slowly and steadily over the 1970s and 1980s from its Essex heartland until in 1988, when, with around 88 stores, it launched on the stock exchange and became a Plc. But it was always a bit of a hi-bred as the Lewin family retained a big chunk of the shareholding, much to the distrust of many City financiers, many of whom felt that such a degree of family ownership and family management control (three Lewins were senior directors) was inappropriate for a public company. It was from here onwards that Clinton Cards (as it was known then) started its rapid expansion. The distinctive orange and brown logo started to appear in high streets and shopping precincts all over the UK. In many ways Clintons was a major beneficiary of the recession of the early 1990s when it bought up specialist card chains from the likes of Hallmark, American Greetings and Fine Art

Above: GBCC’s founder Peter Reichwald at the turn of this century with Richard Caborn, Minister for Trade under Tony Blair’s government at the Spring Fair. Right: Clinton Cards’ founder Don Lewin with his two children (and co-directors) Clinton and Debbie at the time when the specialist card chain was in its golden period.



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Developments for knock down prices as the major publishers looked to rid themselves of retail interests, but sought guarantees for their distribution. All these acquired mini chains (Hall of Cards and Someone Special to name a few) were ‘Clintonised’, and for a number of years Clintons really was the high street card giant with ‘the Don’ being dubbed ‘The King of Cards’ by the press. By 1996 Clintons had 500 stores and Don was awarded an OBE, and in 1998 Don was awarded The Henries Honorary Achievement Award. On the high street and in shopping centres (becoming the number one tenant), Clintons, renowned for paying top whack for prime retail positions, was milking the profits on the back of a prolonged consumer boom. It was a golden scenario. However, given this phenomenal success, it was not surprising that a certain hubris started to creep into the Plc. In the mid noughties, to achieve the milestone of a 1,000 stores, Clintons bought the previously very profitable value chain of Birthdays, which had subsequently struggled under two venture capitalist owners. But this acquisition proved to be a poisoned chalice. Birthdays had been a value chain, but the Clintons’ management seemed to have qualms about running it as such, given that it might undermine the core Clintons brand

and its premium pricing strategy. One of Don Lewin’s favourite sayings was: “You can’t sell sentiment cheap”. The thinking was that a successful value chain might damage Clintons, while abandoning the value approach for Birthdays, might mean ending with an inferior Clintons style brand. In the end the Birthdays (under Clintons’ ownership) fell between the two stalls and the chain struggled, especially with the onset of the recession in 2008. And, in not properly committing Birthdays to a value offering, it opened the door wide open to the aggressive and fast growing Card Factory chain. In essence, Clintons was in poor shape to survive the dual bombardments of the

Wholesale Was King Believe it or not, in 1991 (when PG was bought), the wholesale publishing sector (sold via cash & carries and wholesale distributors) accounted for half of all greeting cards bought (and 40% of the UK market by value). Three major publishers dominated this sector, Fine Art Developments, Kingsley Cards and Simon Elvin. Sadly, only Simon Elvin survives as a greeting card company now, although the Kingsley brand is still a part of Budget Greeting Cards’ portfolio. Looking back 25 years, wholesale publishers had an enviable business model, able to distribute through a network of some 250 wholesalers, who in turn distributed to their customers, primarily newsagents and market traders, who at that time accounted for a big chunk of the market. Back then, greeting card chains like Clintons were just starting to expand and the supermarkets had not made many inroads into the market. The quality of the wholesale publishers’ cards was remarkable for the price and in certain genres, like cute and sentiment, was almost

recession and Card Factory, and the writing was really on the wall when the Plc ring-fenced Birthdays (in 2010) and closed this side down. Two years later (in 2012), in the face of mounting losses, American Greetings, Clintons’ major supplier (parent company of UKG), called in its debts, putting the Plc into administration and subsequently bought up the newly slimmed down chain with no inflated shop leases. Three years on, and American Greetings still owns Clintons, although it is managed by US company Schurman Retail, of which it is a shareholder. Although a new red fascia and look has been introduced in many Clintons stores, many of the old orange and brown liveried shops are still trading and the retailer is a shadow of its former self with 65% less outlets than it had at its peak. Not surprisingly, the new management had no desire to continue to employ any of the Lewin family. (While the chain’s namesake, Clinton Lewin re-entered the trade, forming his iCandy Cards & Gifts group, apart from attending one or two trade gatherings, Don Lewin has not been seen since). So, a 45 year rags-to-riches fairy story, ultimately ended in tears. It was a sad end to the career of Don Lewin who for decades had bestrode the greeting card industry like a colossus.

Above: The distinctive orange logo of Clinton Cards, which was the number one shopping centre tenant at one time. Left: Selling three million cards a week under the brand, Simon Elvin could lay claim to being Britain’s Favourite Cards when PG started, and for many years afterwards.

on a par with direct to retail offerings at a fraction of the price. At its peak, Fine Art Developments’ wholesale UK turnover was over £50 million, and its chairman Keith Chapman, as well as Simon Elvin’s eponymous founder and owner, both appeared in the Sunday Times Rich List. Kingsley’s colourful proprietor and creative genius, Jeff Bottomley, even moved to Monaco as a tax exile (see page 74). In addition to many independent operators, there was also a

national chain of wholesalers (now defunct) called Macsel Greetings. In addition to the major wholesale publishers, there was also a secondary tier of wholesale publishers, which included Second Generation, Regent Greeting Cards, Beaucards, and Astor Green, all now long gone as publishers, yet at that time boasted £multi–million turnovers. And indeed in the early 1990s PG was filled with adverts from wholesale publishers, clearly outnumbering Continued on page 74 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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those from direct to retail publishers. Looking back at PG’s Wholesale Directory section from the mid 1990s, only seven of the 45 wholesaler companies listed are still trading! Changing patterns in the market saw the wholesale markets share diminish. The rise of Birthdays (started by Ron Wood), the original national value card retail chain, started to erode the share of the newsagents and market traders, as did the rapid expansion of specialist chain Clintons. The rise of greeting card sales in supermarkets further hit the wholesalers. Then Card Factory, with its unbeatable prices, really stuck the boot into the sector. Today in 2016, Simon Elvin stands almost alone as a major wholesale publisher flag flier (Hallmark still offers some Hambledon ranges, but nothing like it once

Saint Simon Over the last 25 years that Max Publishing has published Progressive Greetings there has been one man constantly at the forefront of the UK greeting card industry - and indeed for a full 15 years before that. That man is Simon Elvin, and with his wife Janet, has headed up his eponymous business for the last 35 years, which, in recent years, has become a much broader card publishing group. Simon started his publishing company Simon Elvin at more or less the same as Jeff Bottomley of Kingsley Cards (see below). Indeed, both these huge characters had worked together in the early 1970s, which just goes to show Simon’s rich heritage. Having sold his original publishing company Image Arts, Simon started Simon Elvin in 1979, bringing top class design to a wholesale sector, which hitherto had been more renowned for quantity rather than quality. Simon Elvin was a vital publisher in helping to push the wholesale sector to win 50% of the card market. In the early 1990s the Simon Elvin brand was the top selling greeting card brand in the UK, out selling all other brands when it came to volume. As the wholesale sector has declined, Simon has diversified his publishing empire, acquiring and then developing a clutch of direct to retail companies, such as Nigel Quiney Publications, Glick, Paper Rose, Avocado, The Art Group and Polytint. Although now in his mid seventies, Simon shows no sign of slowing down and his attention to detail and passion for this trade is legendary.

did). Meanwhile, the number of bona fide card wholesalers in the UK has dropped to around the 40 mark, though of course there is the very successful national wholesale chain, Budget Greeting Cards (BCG), which is also a major publisher of its own cards and very committed to the sector. The wholesale greeting card sector will never return to its former glory but it still to this day represents around 10% of the market.

Top right: Simon Elvin, even before PG started, (as pictured) played a leading role in the industry. Above: The ever inventive marketer Rupert Magnus (right), founder of the greeting card wholesaler Rupert Magnus Trading, got Kevin Keegan to appear in the company’s adverts. Above right: Leading wholesale publisher’s creator driver, Jeff Bottomley of Kingsley Cards. Below: Stuart McKay (now chairman of Paper Rose) at his desk back when he took over the running of UKG and took it to glory.

Jeff Bottomley Younger readers may not be familiar with the name, but in the early 1990s when Max Publishing was formed, Jeff Bottomley was one of the key characters in greeting card publishing. Jeff became the owner of greeting card publisher Kingsley Cards in 1980 and his creative drive and inspiration saw Kingsley become a vanguard of the then hugely successful tranche of wholesale publishers (along with Simon Elvin and Hambledon Studios). In the early 1990s, with the wholesale market still booming, Kingsley became the major own brand supplier to the then Ron Wood-owned fast rising Birthdays value retail chain. Jeff, ever the fiery flamboyant red head and with boundless inspirational creativity, was never long seen with out one of his trademark giant cigars or a glass of champagne. At its peak in the mid 1990s, Kingsley was turning over £22 million and this enabled Jeff to leave UK shores and become a tax exile resident in Monaco, where he has resided ever since.

Clash Of The Titans For the last 25 years, the one big constant, not just in the UK greeting card industry but in the global one, has been the intense rivalry between the two American publishing giants of Hallmark and American Greetings. These two behemoths were both founded in the first half of the 20th century and they collectively dominate the US market, their combined market share now estimated to top 90%. Yet in the UK, even today their combined market share is probably only 50%, and that’s despite huge acquisitions of sizeable UK publishers over the period. Nevertheless, this has not prevented the UK becoming a huge second battlefield, with both companies trying to get the edge over the other. Back in 1991 Hallmark was clearly in the ascendant in the UK as American Greetings’ UK operation was suffering after a period of indifferent senior management. All that changed in 1992, when a straight talking West Midlander called Stuart McKay took over the helm and, over the next decade, transformed it into a powerhouse. He sold off AG’s loss making retail chain to Clintons, he 74


streamlined the brands and consolidated the operational side onto one major site in Dewsbury, Yorkshire. He brought in a topnotch creative and marketing director in Keith Auty, and, what has now become UK Greetings, won major supplier status with most retailers over the subsequent few years. Hallmark did not take this lying down of course. Utilising some of the huge profits the

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company generated in the US, it went on an acquisition binge of UK publishers, the likes of which had not been seen before or seen since. First, it was historic Yorkshire publisher, WN Sharpe, for which it paid around £20 million. This figure was dwarfed in 1995, when it paid an estimated eye-watering £200 million for Andrew Brownsword’s eponymous company. A couple of years later, Hallmark went back to Yorkshire to pay £180 million for greeting card manufacturer and publisher, Creative Cards, and then to cap it all, a further £12 million or so for Tigerprint, the own brand greeting card supplier to Marks and Spencer. Apart from Tigerprint, it is doubtful whether Hallmark ever achieved a return on this huge investment, but it

Above: Irvin Stone, founder of American Greetings (parent to UKG). Left: Don Hall Jrn, who heads up Hallmark.

signalled that the Kansas-based global publisher was not just going to roll over in the face of the American Greetings’ resurgence in the UK. Then it was American Greetings’ turn to go on a spending spree, but in a more modest strategic way. It acquired humour

Where There’s Muck, There’s Brass If Don Lewin was the protagonist in greeting card retailing of the 1990s, there is no doubt that Dean Hoyle, founder of Card Factory, took a ‘leading man’ role in the ‘noughties’. Dean, like Don Lewin in the decades before, changed the face of UK greeting card retailing in a way that eventually contributed to Clintons’ collapse. Nearly everyone is was eventually sold to Clintons before familiar with Card Factory now, and it’s going into administration in 2010. incredible strength in the retail market with Around the mid 1990s, another young 880 outlets, but what many will not know is ambitious man, a greeting card van that CF was not the first successful value card salesman, from West Yorkshire not Lancashire, chain - it just adapted and refined an was watching Ron Wood’s success with established model brilliantly. interest. That man was Dean Hoyle! The original pioneer of this model was In 1998, Dean opened a shop in a young Lancashire-born greeting card Wakefield with his wife Janet, which went on market trader turned wholesaler turned to become the Card Factory giant it is today. retailer named Ron Wood. After achieving The business model and offer in the early supremacy in wholesaling in the North Card Factory stores was very similar to Ron West, Ron expanded into retailing and in Wood’s Birthdays in the early days, but the the space of just over a decade (from 1985 difference was that it was even more to 1998) established a successful chain of competitive on price. Quickly, Card Factory value card stores that traded as Birthdays, offering the best product from the then thriving group of wholesale publishers. By 1996 Birthdays was up to 330 stores and was making £11 million profit on a £99 million pound turnover, and so it was no surprise when Ron decided to cash in his chips, selling out to venture capitalists for £90 million in 1996. The new owners Above left: Dean Hoyle at the Huddersfield FC stadium. and the subsequent venture Right: There is no denying Card capitalist owners after that made a Factory’s impact. complete hash of Birthdays, which

specialist Hanson White, followed by key WHSmiths’ supplier, Camden Graphics. Then rather fortuitously, due to the business failure of its American owner, AG was able to acquire Gibson Greetings UK, the Telford based publisher who had in the previous decade built up the reputation of being the independent retailer’s friend. The last 15 years has seen Hallmark and AG scrap it out for major multiple accounts, which has seen ebbs and flows in either direction. The most recent major ‘chess moves’ have seen AG protect its dominant position in Clintons by having to acquire the chain when it was running aground in 2012, while last year saw Hallmark do a ‘smash and grab’ in bagging Tesco’s business from AG. This Clash of the Titans saga will no doubt continue to ebb and flow as long as there is a greeting card industry in the UK.

grew to over 100 stores. This was great for any cash strapped consumers, but the publishers that were supplying Card Factory started to get real pressure from their other retail and wholesaler customers not to supply the growing chain. Poor Dean faced a perfect storm at the start of the new millennium, with nearly all major greeting card suppliers withdrawing their supply. He had a large, growing, hungry baby that needed to be fed with lots of product and nothing to feed it with! Everything looked like it could go pear shaped. Step forward one year, Stuart Middleton, an ex-agent, sales rep and marketing director for various greeting card companies. Stuart had used his creative, sales and marketing skills to set up and run a greeting card publishing company he called Excelsior Graphics. Stuart was adept at producing quality greeting card product at very low costs and had become a major supplier to Birthdays. Unfortunately there was a change of policy. The new venture capitalist owner after Ron Wood, foolishly and abruptly changed direction and dumped Excelsior. Stuart like Dean was left in brown matter, and in adversity they became natural allies. With other publishers making excuses not to supply Dean both became increasingly reliant on each other. Stuart at Excelsior scoured the Far East for the most cost effective supplier to produce high quality, low cost product, and Dean’s rapidly growing Continued on page 77 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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YEARS 1991 - 2016

Card Factory empire shifted vital selling point, there were it as quickly as Stuart could other factors that have produce it. Inevitably in the contributed to Card Factory’s early noughties a share success. Card Factory was a very exchange occurred slick operation. It sold cheap between the two entities, cards but from shop which meant that Stuart environments that looked crisp, Middleton became a clean and inviting. The staff, even significant shareholder in part-timers, were motivated and Card Factory and vice versa. well trained. Even before the This is how almost recession Card Factory was through accident and shaking things up but the adversity that the Card events of 2008 onwards meant Above: Birthdays’ founder Ron Wood Factory vertical retail model (right) with footballer Bryan Robson. that Card Factory’s booming low came into being. Card price sales started to change the Factory could design, print in the Far East, whole structure of the greeting card industry. ship and sell all its greeting cards without Here was a huge chain, not buying many of giving a margin to anyone else along the its greeting cards from a third party, but way. This enabled Card Factory to make a producing them itself. This turned not just great margin but still sell decent greeting perceived views on greeting card retailing on cards at ridiculously low prices. its head, but views on retailing in general. Of course, Card Factory was not just Belatedly many previous trade critics about low prices, although this was clearly a have given credit to the role Card Factory

played in keeping the card sending habit going so strongly for those on limited income. Many greeting publishers now admit privately that their biggest historic business mistake was bowing to pressure and withdrawing supply to Card Factory. And there is no doubt that Card Factory’s success was a major contributor to the demise of both Birthdays and later Clintons in 2012. A couple of years after Dean sold out in 2010, Card Factory went public and became a Plc. Dean, still only in his late 40s, is now non-executive chairman. As for Stuart Middleton, he is still creative director of Card Factory and is believed to be the largest individual shareholder of Card Factory Plc. His shareholding alone, not taking into account his past dividends and share sales, makes him a multi-millionaire many times over. Not bad for a likeable and modest man, who 25 years ago was a humble Hanson White sales rep!

The Supermarket Spree Now that all the big grocers (and even the smaller ones) have racks and racks of greeting cards, it is hard to believe that in 1991 cards had very little distribution in supermarkets apart from Christmas boxes. In fact, back at PG’s ‘birth’, the grocers’ share of the market was only around 4%, but given the voracious expansion plans of the supermarkets in the 1980s, and the attractive juicy margins offered by greeting cards, once they got a taste for greeting cards, it was full on. It was Tesco, so dominant in the 1990s and 2000s, that led the way. The grocer teamed up with a small West Country based company, Minds Eye, who came up with the novel idea of ‘brokering in’ a multitude of small publisher’s products. The model worked, at least for Tesco, whose market share of the UK greeting card market started to rise rapidly. The other supermarkets took note, as did UK Greetings and Hallmark, who both threw considerable amounts of money and

Above right: A Sainsbury’s display from a few years ago when cards were moved to the front of the stores. Above: Asda’s recent launch of the George range ups the supermarket’s card offer.

resources at the other grocers to secure their business. They introduced what could be called a ’modified brokerage’ model, where the publisher reserved a good proportion of the card displays for themselves, but then brokered in smaller more specialist publishers. Given the guarantees and sweeteners that the big two offered, it became harder for Minds Eye to compete, and ultimately its margins were squeezed to the extent that in 1999 it went into administration. Since then, one by one, the big five grocers have all gone over to brokered displays, run by either Hallmark or UK Greetings, though GBCC did have a taster of Sainsbury’s and Gemma looked after a slug of Tesco. The last decade and a half has been almost a case of musical chairs, with Hallmark’s recent win of the Tesco account from UKG, being the latest in a line of ‘Supermarket Broker Swopsies’. Although many publishers are against the whole brokerage system, there is no doubt it is here to stay, especially in the supermarkets, and has given other publishers a route to a major retail customer that would otherwise be closed off to them. It has however, led to the seemingly perverse situation where many

medium-sized publishers’ largest customer is also their competitor. The last 25 years have seen the supermarkets’ market share rise and rise to a peak of around 40% five years ago. In fact, according to some estimates back then, Tesco overtook Clintons as greeting card market leader, only then to be eclipsed by the growth of Card Factory. While the supermarkets have probably passed their peak when it comes to greeting card market share, the game is still playing out. Lidl and Aldi, who at present do not sell cards in any meaningful way, have eked into the big fives’ overall grocery market share – will cards be next? The move towards less frequent big trolley shops and towards more convenience store shopping, will have no doubt affected the big five supermarkets’ greeting card sales, but nevertheless, they still remain a huge part of the market. Continued on page 79 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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PG’s 25 Year Anniversary


YEARS 1991 - 2016

The Trendy Set Like most sectors of retail over the last 25 years, there has always been value, middle and premium segments of the greeting card market, with most retailers and publishers identifying themselves with one of those categories. So how has this three-tiered structure panned out over the last quarter century? The retail value sector, Birthdays and Card Factory, have represented the value side of the market within the last 25 years, while for the most part, Clintons has commanded the benchmark of the middle ground, leaving the ‘trendy’ end of the retail card market in the premium space. In the supermarket sector the latter has been typified by Waitrose, in the department store sector, by the John Lewis Partnership, while in the high street the story over the last 25 years is more complicated. Perhaps one of the first retailers of what can loosely be described as ‘trendy cards’ was, although hard to believe now, was WHSmith. In the 1980s, the stationer had huge success with the cards of a couple of Islington-based companies, Accord and Camden Graphics, not to mention humour ranges called Dino, created by a young artist called Deborah Jones, and published by Andrew Brownsword. By 1991, so strong was its reputation for stocking ‘small house publishers’ cards, WHSmith was by and away the UK market leader on the everyday greeting card front. At the same time, there was a trendy retail chain that was really capturing the imagination of hip young consumers and was

building rapidly. This was Athena, originally set up by Swede Ole Christensen in the 1960s, but by the early 1990s it was under Above: Paperchase’s Timothy Melgund (right) and Robert Warden shortly after the MBO 20 years ago. the ownership of Pentos plc, Below: An historic Emotional Rescue Odd Squad card which makes reference to the iconic ‘tennis who also owned book chain, girl’ image from Athena. Dillons and Rymans, the stationer. Athena’s eclectic mix of poster art, their level best to carry on for a few years, left-field greeting cards, stationery and gifts but the days of Athena as a major high street was really popular and successful in the 1980s brand were over. and early 1990s. Its reputation for This left space for what is now the besticonic posters, such as L’Enfant (of a known upmarket greeting card market retailer muscular man holding a baby) and to emerge and grow, Paperchase. Having been the one of a young lady tennis founded by two art students in the 1960s, player scratching her naked Paperchase went on to be run in a small behind, continued to adorn experimental way by WHSmith in the late millions of student bedrooms for 1980s. In the mid 1990s, its senior years. Athena was a bit of a hi-bred management team, led by Timothy Melgund, as it had its own publishing spotted the brand’s potential and led a division and its own shops but management buyout. Since then Timothy and also a group of independent retail design director, Robert Warden, have, with franchisees who traded under the different financial backers along the way, built Athena banner and format. the chain to over 130 stores in the UK alone. But as the 1990s unfolded, While Paperchase is not by any means Athena seemed to be losing its touch. The the only thrusting player in the hipster head of Pentos, a book loving financial man quarter - Scribbler has been an undisputed called Terry Maher, seemed more interested force for good, especially on the humour in Dillons than Athena. Then, in a cynical front, while Cards Galore has been a major manoeuvre at the end of 1995, having ringshowcase retailer for high-end hand-finished fenced Athena, Pentos Plc put it into publishers - however Paperchase (through administration the day after Boxing Day, its larger retail estate) has long been the leaving a myriad of publisher suppliers with loudest voiced champion for contemporary massive losses. The Athena franchisees did greeting card design.

Bearing Up Ever since a wild grizzly bear was spared a hunting death at the hands of President Teddy Roosevelt, a 100 years ago, and the term ‘teddy bear’ was coined, bears have been considered ‘cute’. And since cute and greeting cards have always been cuddly bedfellows, cute bears have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship with greeting cards in the UK, especially in the last 25 years. Although there have been many ursine characters to have ‘beared up’ on UK greeting cards over the last 25 years, there are two that really stand out - Forever Friends and Tatty Teddy (aka ‘the grey bear’). While Forever Friends dominated the late 1980s and early 1990s, Tatty Teddy stole the show in the late 1990s and from the noughties onwards. The Andrew Brownsword Collection story (original home of Forever Friends) has become a greeting card legend. His eponymous publishing company initially made its mark with a humorous range by

artist Deborah Jones under her pen name of Dino. But when Andrew and Deborah came up with the idea for two immensely cute large faced bears in the mid 1980s, things really started to take off. The bears had no name but appeared in a variety of guises, all expressing emotional warmth and sentiment. For some indefinable reason, Forever Friends caught the public’s imagination in a way and a scale no previous greeting cards had ever done before. The

Above: Forever Friends bears with their ‘father’, Andrew Brownsword (left) and ‘mother’, Deborah Jones (centre).

cards appealed to everyone. Up to then cute had been considered a child genre or bizarrely, better suited to a male send than a female one. Forever Friends managed to transcend generations and was loved equally by children, juveniles and adults. Continued on page 81 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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PG’s 25 Year Anniversary


YEARS 1991 - 2016

By 1991, Forever Friends was a Right: A young Stephen Haines (then a major high street brand as the British rep for Andrew Brownsword), before he female consumer went into a Forever set up Carte Blanche and kicked-started the Me to You phenomenon. Friends frenzy! Major licensing deals followed, the plush spin offs sold in their hundreds of thousands and some enterprising independents even set up dedicated Forever Friends shops that only sold FF merchandise. Very soon it was reported that Andrew, in those years of mouth-watering publishing margins, was making £12 million of annual profit, and in the early 1990s he featured regularly in the Sunday Times’ Top 100 Rich list. But they say ‘timing is everything’ in main US Hallmark board (until he left and now business and as ‘ABC’ (as it became known) is a major hotel mogul, owning some of the rapidly increased its UK market share, while most exclusive pampering venues in the UK). at the same maintaining a massive profit, Like nearly all fashion trends, Forever Hallmark, the world’s largest greeting card Friends could never have been expected to corporation, came a-calling. Andrew maintain the level of its popularity, and went Brownsword played his hand brilliantly, in to a steady decline. rejecting increased offer after offer to sell to Having reached such a peak, the the Kansas-based monolith until, in 1996, he prevailing industry’s view was that there accepted a rumoured package that was would never be another cute phenomenon estimated to be near to £200 million. As part to reach the scale of Forever Friends, but of the deal, Andrew also took over the they were wrong. running of the UK Hallmark operation for a Someone who had ironically been a time, and became the first Brit to join the young salesman for Andrew Brownsword in

the early 1980s developed another cute concept that has even outstripped Forever Friends in terms of global sales. This of course is Stephen Haines, founder and owner of the Carte Blanche Group, home of Tatty Teddy, the star of the Me to You brand. For nearly ten years until 1995, Carte Blanche had achieved a fair degree of success on the back of a character called Tatty Teddy, who started off as a cartoonish brown bear, but became a more vulnerable looking grey fellow with a blue nose. Then, with the financial assistance of industry business angel, Duncan Spence, Stephen and his team came up with a cute plush version of Tatty that had both a design feel and that vital ‘aah factor’. Clintons got behind the concept big time, and for years Tatty Teddy also became a staple card and plush sale for thousands of independent retailers. Unlike Andrew Brownsword, Stephen Haines has resisted purchase offers for his company and remains fully committed to Carte Blanche till this day, and Me to You is all out to celebrate its 21st birthday big time this year (see pages 90-91).

Death Of The Greeting Card

As we enter 2016, the industry does face some demons. The decline of the high street is not being helped by the growth of retail online; anything that threatens the postal system will have a knock-on effect on card sending; plus the younger generation needs to be coaxed into the habit of sending cards, while maintaining buying/sending levels of existing card consumers. While finding growth, whether on the publishing or retailing side of the market, is tricky, there is certainly no shortage of greeting card choice for even the most demanding consumer. Added to the publishers who were in their infancy when PG was ‘born’, such as Paperlink, Paper Rose, Abacus, Woodmansterne and Really Good, are those who came along in a strong wave around 20 years ago, such as Belly Button, Five Dollar Shake, Wendy Jones-Blackett and Blue Eyed Sun. So, without wishing to be complacent, having seen off so many threats to its very existence over the last 25 years, the humble greeting card sector hopefully will see off a few more, giving Progressive Greetings lots to write about in its forthcoming editions.

As long as Progressive Greetings has been published, there have always been harbingers of doom predicting the death of the greeting card, yet in the last 25 years the size of the market at retail has more than tripled! In the early 1990s, many said the retail recession would bring the greeting card market crashing down. And over the years, whenever there is a high profile retail failure, whether it be Athena in 1996 or Clintons in 2012, some (normally male) business journalists prophesise the death of greeting cards. Yet, when clothing retailers or grocers go bust, no one predicts the demise of clothes or food retailing!

From postal rises, texting to ecards, emails to Facebook the death knell have been rung over the years. As it has turned out, some social media have actually helped greeting card buying and sending by encouraging new and reinforcing existing social bonds. And then came Moonpig.com. A few years ago you could have got the impression, by reading the financial press and watching breakfast TV, that Moonpig was taking over the greeting card industry. In essence, this was down to its high profile TV advertising and earworm jingle. Yet, even now, Moonpig and the other print-on-demand operators only account for 5% of the card market. Above: David Hicks, founder of Really Good, having all of his long locks cut off whilst holding a Happy Hefalumps card, one of the defining contemporary ranges of the last 25 years. Left: Michael McIntyre (right) hosted The Henries in 2008 just as he was starting out, presenting an award to Wendy Jones-Blackett’s founders Wendy and Steve.



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Retailer Face To Face

Going For

Gold T

his coming year some 1,500 independent Post Offices will be totally overhauled, benefitting from a new look and layout, which has retailing very much at their heart. The vast majority of these stores, like the 5,000 others that have also undergone a transformation in the last three years in what is the biggest revamp of Post Offices in its entire history, are either existing greeting card stockists or should be. And, in many cases, they could be doing a better job on the card front, but

Wouldn’t it be great for the industry if there was a group of 8,500 independent greeting card retailers who are guaranteed a regular footfall, are at the heart of their community and receive expert help to enable them to improve their card retailing prowess further still? This is no pipedream. PG met up with David Gold, retail business development manager of the Post Office’s Retail Awareness Team, and discovered just how prominently greeting cards feature in the massive transformation programme of the nation’s 11,500 Post Offices and sub-Post Offices that is currently underway.

Above: Post Office’s David Gold with the GCA chief executive Sharon Little (right) and PG’s Jakki Brown shortly after the Post Office joined the GCA. Right: Borough Bridge Post Office was selected as one of the Small Business 100 companies in 2014 and since then it has been very active on social media, promoting its card selection as well as its other services in fun, inventive ways. Below: Nigel Hamilton-Evans of Borough Bridge Post Office in North Yorkshire next to his ‘guest beer’ card rack.

thanks to the Post Office’s Retail Awareness Team (formed as part of the Network Transformation project) Post Offices are now being given the wherewithal to do so, both through face to face and online support. “So many of our Offices were great Postmasters, but they needed support to help them improve on the retailing of other products,” says David Gold, business development manager of the Post Office’s Network’s Retail Awareness Team. “Greeting cards are one of the most important products a Post Office can stock.” He points out this is not only due to the inextricable link greeting cards have to stamp

sales and the unequalled profit margin they offer, but how the sending of greeting cards chimes with the role many Post Offices play as a community hub. Right from the off, David and his colleagues in the Team have forged links with experts, both within the Post Office ‘family’ as well as the industry at large, in order to better inform and inspire those whose stores would undergo a transformation, on various product areas and services. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Retailer Face To Face

On greeting cards specifically, David says: “Chris Houfe of GBCC [who was president of the GCA at the time] was incredibly helpful in giving me a summary of the sector, the industry facts, as well as an ongoing input. Jeremy Corner of Blue Eyed Sun has also shared some great information and insights, as have several others,” reveals David. Added to this, the Retail Awareness Team has been able to draw on the expertise of ‘champions’ within the Post Office Network, enlisting the support from fellow postmasters who have a penchant for a certain area to share their views and experiences for the greater good of others in the network. Several of these (two of whom being Nigel McCormack of Wincanton Post Office and Nigel Hamilton-Evans of Boroughbridge

Top: Nigel McCormack, postmaster of Wincanton Post Office in full flow on one of the Post Office Retail awareness videos. Above: (Second left) Malcolm McCormack and his wife Ann of Wincanton Post Office were delighted to receive The Retas 2014 for Best independent Non-Specialist Card Retailer - South from (right) Steve Baker of Pigment, sponsor of the category and host comedian Rob Derring. Right: Under the current Parliament the Government has committed £1.34bn for the Post Office network to make sure there is no programme of Post Office closures and to update branches; in November 2013 the Government announced a further £640m investment in the Post Office network, from 2015 to 2018. This revamped Post Office in Druffield was among the first to feature the new look.

Post Office, who features in this article) star in a series of videos that are hosted on the Post Office Network’s ‘private’ website, but also on YouTube (on the Post Office Retail Awareness YouTube channel). The dedicated website (which now has around 5,000 active users) also incorporates buttons to link to around 20 different card publishers’ sites, from UKG to GBCC to Blue Eyed Sun to Davora. David is keen to stress, “We cannot recommend a supplier to our agents, seeing ourselves as a conduit. We just want to give them the tools to help them transform and grow their businesses, and greeting cards are often very much part of that.” At the training sessions which take place prior to each transformation, David reveals that a “good hour” is spent extolling the merits of ensuring they have a good greeting cards display and aim to become “the best card shop in the village or town.” Although David and his team have to overcome reticence on price points when it comes to cards: “A lot of subpostmasters are scared of offering cards for £2.99 in their shop. We share the example which Jeremy of Blue Eyed Sun told me that if you only offer cards at 99p and £1.49 the natural inclination is to buy the 99p ones. However, if you offer some at £2.99 too then you will sell more of the £1.49 cards.” With some great case studies under its belt now, David says it should be easier for those going through the transformation in

the coming year to have even more confidence to further develop their business. One of the true stars, who is as much a born entertainer as he is a card retailer and postmaster, is Nigel Hamilton-Evans of Boroughbridge Post Office in North Yorkshire. The Post Office Retail Awareness YouTube channel, as well as the retailer’s own Facebook page, testify to his retailing prowess and inventiveness. In addition to some memorable event or service-specific mini-films and animations (the retro-styled black and white one for Mother’s Day in which Nigel appears as a professor who delivers the message as to why we should send Mother’s Day cards is hilarious), there is an engaging general one in which he shares the rudiments of successful card stocking as well as some top tips.

From The Retas To The Film Business

“I haven’t been so positive about the positives of this business for years,” a very upbeat Nigel McCormack, postmaster of Wincanton Post Office, told PG.“A Post Office today has so much going for it. Just think of all the eBay packages that people now bring in, Amazon uses us as a collecting point for its deliveries, the likes of Boden and ASOS use us for returns – and now, with the closure of so many bank branches, we are going to fulfill more banking roles. And every time someone comes in to use one of our other services, they can be reminded that they need to buy a card for someone!” adds Nigel, who has been postmaster at Wincanton since 1982, a year after his parents Malcolm and Ann (who are still involved) bought the business. The MCormacks recognised the potential of greeting cards a long time ago, but have continued to put great store in improving their selection, as reflected in the store winning The Retas 2014 award for Best Independent Non-Specialist South shortly after the store underwent a major refurbishment as part of the Network Transformation. Nigel appears in several of the Post Office Retail Awareness Team videos, one on greeting card buying and selection, another on the importance of attending trade shows. “Some of the older Post Offices just didn’t see the potential of greetings, but more are now doing so,” he feels. He also suggests that traffic could be the other way and how card retailers could consider becoming Post Offices. “It has worked very well for us!” he said smiling. Right: The traditional exterior of Wincanton Post Office belies a modern greeting card emporium.

“These are what I refer to as ‘my guest beers’,” says Nigel Hamilton-Smith, referring to one rack of cards, which he changes regularly to feature new ranges. ‘Keep the selection fresh and remove designs that don’t sell, rather than selling them off cheap’, implores Nigel in the video. He hopes that his videos and social media activity inspires postmasters to up their game on the card front. “It is so disappointing when you see some of the poor card displays in other Post Offices, especially as greeting cards fit in so well with the other aspects of the business,” says Nigel. With the Post Office having now joined the GCA last month, the relationship between the greeting card industry and Post Offices is set to get even stronger in coming years. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Retailer Face To Face

Mo npig Widens Its Galaxy If any of the 50+ publishers with whom it deals go for a meeting with Moonpig they could find themselves sitting in a bath or hunkered down in a shed next to a row of gnomes... or all manner of other themed rooms that have just been created within the London headquarters of the print-ondemand market leader. With Moonpig you do expect the unexpected, but news that it is now planning a move into ‘proper cards’, now that is stratospheric! The industry has several reasons to thank Moonpig (see page 89), but learning that it is working on broadening its offer into ‘normal’, non-personalised greeting cards is prompting reactions from all quarters, as people get their heads round the significance of this move. Moonpig has always been something of an unusual hybrid and as such a tricky one to pigeonhole. “We see ourselves as a greeting card retailer first, then as a publisher, increasingly as a distributor and now as a gift shop too. Plus we are also a brand,” sums up Sarah Jane Porter, Moonpig’s head of licensing, who works closely with Geoff Sanderson, the company’s creative

director, as well as with Sasha Walker-Allen who joined the team last autumn as the business’ first card category manager. All three share extensive greeting card credentials. Sarah Jane (SJ) worked at Tigerprint (Marks & Spencer’s greeting card supplier) for 13 years. Geoff spent 15 years in a trio of creative director roles within the Hallmark group (Tigerprint, its new media company Crown Greetings and Hallmark Cards) as well as on the retail side with Birthdays, plus on various creative collaborations centring around greeting cards and IP. Sasha meanwhile

Top: The introduction of the Concertina range at the end of last year, that was driven by Sasha Walker-Allen, is the first new format for years. Above: A snapshot from one of Moonpig’s latest advert. The company sees cards as the core with flowers and gifts as the ‘attachment’ rather than the other way round. Left: Moonpig’s Geoff Sanderson, Sasha Walker-Allen and Sarah Jane Porter in the ‘garden’ meeting room.

has been a high profile card buyer for WHSmith Travel, Paperchase and Waterstones. In short, they know their cards and so any move into the ‘wider’ card world is being done with consideration and circumspection. “We want to broaden our appeal to more consumers and in doing so also hope to increase the number of people who send cards, whether for established card sending reasons or for no particular reason,” says Geoff. “We also want to encourage our existing customers to send more cards,” he adds. To do this will involve broadening the product portfolio of designs in a number of directions. The current card portfolio comprises some 7,000 designs. These currently divide into three sources – licensing from established brand owners and agents, tie-ups with card publishers, and those generated by Moonpig’s in-house studio. Moonpig’s set up means it can be very quick to market on hot licensed properties and can make a right song and dance about it through its social media and advertising routes. Added to this are the agreements it has with around 50 publishers whereby every time a design is selected for personalisation, Moonpig will pay the publisher a royalty. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Retailer Face To Face

Left: Showing off her creative talents in a different direction, Moonpig design manager Katie Bear undertook to transform areas of the company’s London HQ into themed meeting rooms. Below: Part of Moonpig’s launch of its personalised Star Wars cards, included a three week fanfare of competitions through Facebook, culminating in someone winning a one-off piece of graffiti artwork worth £2,000 from urban art collective, Graffiti Life.

“As well as agreements with the established brands, we have lots of very small companies that we work with, and they are very happy with the revenue we are able to generate for them,” assures SJ. Paying tribute to its own in-house studio, Geoff says: “Our studio team do a fantastic job - and generate 3,000 designs every year! There is so much talent within our team that we have not yet fully explored,” he said, before revealing another possible direction. “In fact we are currently looking at the possibility of licensing out some of our in-house creations to other third parties.” Sasha joining the team as card category manager, Geoff sees as pivotal to Moonpig’s expansion on the card front. “Sasha plays a vital role in bridging the technical, commercial and design teams. It is not just about designing the right products, but ensuring that we have the right technology platform and logistics in place to take it to the market,” says Geoff. He cites the move away to more smartphone and tablet based ordering from desktop based computers as a case in point. “We were not quite ready for the escalation in mobile purchasing and probably lost

sales as a result. This is now sorted and 60% of all Moonpig cards are ordered from a phone or tablet.” The introduction of the Concertina range last November, which allows the consumer to accommodate up to 16 photos into a multi-fold card format (and retailing at a higher price of £4.99) was something Sasha has driven. “This is the first new format Moonpig has introduced for years,” explains Sasha.“And I am pleased to say it went down very well in the run up to Christmas, so we are introducing it into other sending occasions.”

Thanking The Lucky Stars? To borrow from Monty Python’s Holy Grail, so what has Moonpig ever done for the greeting card industry? Moonpig is the only greeting card brand that advertises heavily on TV (and increasingly in the digital space too), reminding and inspiring the public to send cards. It pays over 50 card publishers (from the largest to the smallest) handsomely every time a member of the public selects one of their designs. Its slick set up, whereby anyone has up to 7pm to order a totally bespoke card and is assured that it will be posted the very next day, has been a godsend for saving card sends that might otherwise have gone by the wayside in the ‘sorry I forgot’ layby. Its ongoing investment in technology - not just in its ordering system, but on product innovation too, such as its collaboration with Zapper for video upload cards - has maintained a freshness in the sector. Plus, it has generated significant column inches in the press - from when Photobox first bought out Moonpig in 2011 for £120 million to the company’s founder Nick Jenkins, and being a newbie ‘dragon’ on BBC’s Dragons’ Den TV programme. Sure, it is a competitor to bricks and mortar greeting card stockists, but even in the most recent PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer, only a quarter of independent retailers say they think of it as any kind of threat, with the vast majority (70%) being ambivalent about its presence and some seeing it as a bonus. Left: The collaboration with Zapper saw the introduction of cards which can accommodate uploadable videos.

An expansion into other higher-end personalised options, such as cards with finishes as well as hand-finished elements, is also in gestation to appeal to another enclave of card senders. However, Moonpig’s future story will also include a non-personalised chapter too. “We are very happy that Moonpig has been a driving force in establishing the personalised card sector, which now accounts for around 5% of the market. But we also want to be a part of the 95% that aren’t personalised cards!” says Geoff. Geoff anticipates that this coming year will see Moonpig move closer towards this – both on the technology front as well as the product selection. “We need to make sure that we have the platform ready. We are also deliberating as to where it should sit on the Moonpig website, what this area should look like and the extra features it should include, such as shareable videos and back stories on the creators,” ponders Geoff. Then there is the issue of having to order and hold stock, although its new distribution facility in Northampton (which currently accommodates all orders placed between 4pm and 7pm, when it takes over from its Guernsey side) has the wherewithal and is already distributing in stock gift items. As to the actual selection, SJ signals that part of this is also likely to satisfy what she refers to as ‘no send sends’, to appeal to the younger generation. “We have recently initiated a Youth Project within the Moonpig team which is looking into the millennials and Generation Zs of ‘no sends’ who are more likely to be looking for a card featuring a unicorn as their mate said she liked them when they met up recently than an established caption,” reveals SJ. So, if you gaze into the night sky some time soon and spot something strange it could be a flying pig welcoming a unicorn into the fold! PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Face To face

Bearing Right Being unveiled on its stand at the Spring Fair (February 7-11) is what Carte Blanche’s ceo Alister Marchant states as being the company’s “biggest ever launch” - but it is not just the size of the totally revamped Me to You plush and gift collection that is significant, but how it signals a massive shift in attitude and commitment to its retail customers. PG found out all about the Me to You plans to ensure the brand, which is celebrating its 21st anniversary this year, has ‘the key to the door’ and hearts. For a little bear with a blue nose who doesn’t speak, Tatty Teddy (the star of Me to You) has prompted an awful lot of listening, numerous questions being asked, hefty investment in product development being made, packaging totally reassessed and considerable marketing muscle being flexed recently. Why? Because Me to You is not just important to Carte Blanche, but to thousands of retail stockists, and millions of fans around the world. Following an extraordinary amount of ‘behind the scenes’ work by the Carte Blanche team in the last six months, the Spring Fair marks the official launch of a totally revamped Me to You plush and gift collection, which fanfares a relaunch of the brand. As marketing director Ruth Leonard puts it: “We want everyone to fall in love with Me to You all over again.” Carte Blanche has certainly put a lot of thought and effort into how to rekindle the love affair. Interestingly however, while Alister acknowledges that sales of the Me to You plush and gifts have been on the slide for the past years, the brand has 90


been holding up well on the greeting cards and licensed merchandise fronts. “Our greeting card sales have been pretty constant,” confirms Alister, “which proves that Me to You really means something to the consumer.” As revealed in PG last month’s edition, it is not just the new Me to You product line itself that marks a stepchange in the brand’s development, but the

Top: Carte Blanche’s marketing and PR will involve more lifestyle shots of Me to You products in situ. The sentiment on this piece has been taken from one of the best selling Me to You greeting card designs. Above: Carte Blanche’s ceo Alister Marchant (left) and commercial director Gerard O’Mahony at the recent GCA AGM. Left: The new collection includes more inventive packaging to enhance the product, while the RRP has been reduced significantly on many products, such as the ‘heartland’ 7” bears, such as this one. Below left: The 6’ planned display accommodates the three different strands of the products - from the higher end Signature, the middle Essentials as well as entry level price points in the Impulse collection. Independent retailers are being offered the first order of the planned displays on SOR.

very approach Carte Blanche is taking towards its former and would-be independent retail customers. The very generous SOR offer (for an independents’ first order of the 2’, 4’ or 6’ planned display options) has not surprisingly gone down very well with those indies who have had a pre-sell sneak peak of the range (only on paper, as the ‘real thing will be shown at the Spring Fair for the first time). Other plus points is the improved packaging as well as the fact that retail prices on many lines have been substantially reduced, but with no loss of margin to the retailer. “We’ve listened to our customers, we’ve listened to our consumers. This is a big thank you for the loyalty they have shown us while

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Face To face

Left: The new plush and gift collection sees more of a return to the classic blue and white colourway of the Me to You logo on the packaging of the Signature collection especially. Below left: CBG founder Steve Haines (left) with Me to You artist Steve Mort-Hill on the company’s stand at the Brand Licensing Europe exhibition last October, which showcased the brand’s licensing prowess. Below: Some of the latest everyday Me to You card designs. The insights from the massive consumer research project currently underway into the buying habits of greeting cards and gifts will feed through into the subsequent greeting card designs and ranges from Carte Blanche. Bottom right: This year will see an even more active marketing and social media campaign which will promote Me to You as well as its retail stockists such as it did with the Twitter competition to promote ladies nightwear in M&S at the end of last year.

we relaunch Me to You and realign it back to where it should be,” says Alister. Although clearly buoyed up by the new collection and the support in place to facilitate its launch (PoS, social media campaigns, consumer insights etc), he is aware that its success will mean meeting competition head on, and that competition is not just any other plush character. As Gerard O’Mahony, who joined CBG as commercial director in the middle of last year, elucidated: “Our competition isn’t another bear; everything is our competitor. It could be a Yankee Candle, it could be a Pandora charm; it is whatever the consumer purchases as a gift for something. What we are doing is re-introducing Me to You as the brand

that conveys emotion and sentiment like nothing else; consumers eyes will light up when they see Me to You.” Something that definitely will light up eyes is that, as part of the relaunch and the 21st celebratory year for Me to You, Carte Blanche is giving away 10,000 free plush bears. This mega giveaway, which represents a £180,000 investment by CBG, will see a mass of specially produced plush Me to You bears being given to retailers, general consumers, members of the press and bloggers in a year long programme of events, competitions and promotions. The thrust of this activity, is summed up in three words - “brand to hand” - by Gerard O’Mahony, CBG’s commercial director. The first of these limited edition bears will be given away to retailers at Spring Fair, an extra incentive to go and check out the new collection and gain a better understanding of the thinking behind its structure. The new collection comprises 96 items in total across three distinct segments - Signature, Essentials and Impulse - each of the trio catering for different consumer purchasing decisions. Signature, definable by its sophisticated

packaging, targets the more considered purchase for which higher price points are less of an obstacle. “This is the epicentre of the brand,” proposes Gerard. It covers all the core sentiment captions – “including some that have proved incredibly popular on our greeting cards,” he says, citing ‘I love you to the moon and back’ as a prime example. The Essentials range caters for the sizeable middle market, including what Gerard describes as “the engine room” of the whole collection, the 7” bear. Boxed mugs (RRP £4.99) are also included within this range, but at a lower price than previously. The Impulse range is anchored by lower priced pickup lines, such as keyrings, keepsake friendship items. “These are a great entry point into the brand, which should help regain traction with younger girls,” believes Gerard. Special 2’, 4’ and 6’ planned displays have been devised for retailers, including products from each of the three sub-brands with a suite of supporting PoS. Although the first consignment of products have been earmarked for the planned displays, in the future retailers will be able to cherrypick from the entire collection. “Our days of being seen as arrogant and telling retailers what to order are long gone,” says Alister with an assuring smile. Clintons is all lined up to fanfare the new range, dedicating windows and prime display space to it at Easter, but independents form a vital force in the Me to You relaunch, with shipments primed for very early in April. It was 21 years ago that Me to You was first launched on the planet, it does seem as though with all of the activity planned for this year, Tatty is going to be marking his coming of age big time.

An Extra Dimension Of Understanding

“If you land in a new country, you need a map to find your way around. You might think you know the way, but you could easily get lost, take a wrong turning or make an assumption based on your own perceptions,” says Gerard O’Mahony, using the analogy to explain why Carte Blanche has commissioned what must rank as one of the most extensive research projects into the workings of the consumer mind when it comes to greeting cards and gifts. Carte Blanche commissioned leading research company, Structural Thinking to undertake the extensive project, which has involved talking to 4,000 consumers in depth, even accompanying some of them on shopping trips to buy cards and gifts. “The consumer purchasing decision of buying a card or gift is more complicated from so many other consumer products,” explains Gerard. “Structural Thinking has worked with many major brands in different product categories. In all the other studies it has undertaken, they look at the ‘Five Ws’ of consumer purchasing behaviour (who, what, when, where and why). For the first time ever, with our research they have had to add a 6th W - whom, as the recipient is such an important part in the purchasing decision for a card or gift.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Artis In Focus... Sarah Hamilton

ne Card

Left and below: The logo and downloadable postcard/flier artwork that Sarah urges people to download from the website (www.justacard.org) and feature in their shops, as well as following the campaign on Twitter on the #justacard hashtag.


Sarah Hamilton is a talented artist, and, after 25 years in business, has built up a strong following for her work. But more than this is her passion to support and protect the livelihoods of independent retailers and galleries though the Just a Card campaign she selflessly started. Hot on the heels of her impactful Thunderclap social media campaign last month to further raise the profile of indies, PG popped into see Sarah in her London studio. There are some people who you meet who are so instantly warm that you know they are good people, right to their very core. Sarah Hamilton is one of those, but she is no Mother Theresa figure who has sacrificed her life to help those who are dying, disabled or social outcasts. Sarah is supposed to be spending her time on her artwork and developing the spin off range of homewares and greeting cards. However, as her burgeoning email inbox and Twitter feed testifies, Sarah spends a lot of her time on Just

Booking In To Cards

“Cards are close to my heart – I began making them when I first left college and orders from stores, including The Conran Shop and Designers Guild, were made on the kitchen table in our small Brixton flat, kick-starting my career. I adore making them - experimenting with colourways, trying new designs, sharing my passion for paper and knowing that they play a part in people’s lives,” says Sarah. In fact, she sums them up as the “little pebbles that led to the rest of my work.” Sarah has recently been commissioned to be the editor of a book to celebrate greeting cards and their art by high-end book publisher Pavilion Books, which should be published next October.

a Card, the campaign she started almost by accident over a year ago (and funds), that is gaining ground by the day. The premise of the campaign is to encourage consumers to support independent shops and galleries, and that by buying small items, such as a card or a candle, they are helping to safeguard the very existence of these important retailers. ‘If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card we’d still be open.’ It was seeing this note in the window of a gallery that had recently closed down that struck a chord with Sarah. “I thought - enough is enough - we need to fight back! As an artist and designer, who Above: Sarah Hamilton in her South London studio. Above left: One of Sarah Hamilton’s greeting card designs. Right: Crafty lifestyle magazine Mollie Makes has been really supportive of the Just a Card campaign.

also makes cards, I know just how valuable each and every sale is, not only to independent shops and galleries which make our high streets unique, but to their artists and designer suppliers,” she said. “Regrettably, it’s too late for that gallery, but others need our valuable support, and this is why we started our campaign Just a Card - to encourage people to appreciate just how invaluable every single purchase is,” adds Sarah. Garnering support from contacts she knew, including the crafty consumer magazine Mollie Makes, and Decorum Media (who kindly helped to develop a website which includes downloadable promotional tools), the campaign got off to a decent start at the end of 2014, but the idea of a Thunderclap social media campaign last month has now sent it rocketing. The Thunderclap campaign to promote Just a Card (and encourage people to support it) had an amazing 1.7 million reach on social media, which Sarah sums up as “astonishing”, admitting it “blew the roof off our target. We reached over four times our wildest hope!!” Even more impressive though was how pretty much every significant organisation involved in craft and design has now pledged their support to the campaign, including The Crafts Council, Folksy, UK Handmade and Handmade in Britain. Buoyed up by this great take up has spurred Sarah on even more and would love retailers, card publishers and other artists to spread the word even wider. “This is very much a nonterritorial campaign - it is all about people being aware that small acts, like buying one card from a shop, can make a difference to safeguarding the future of our wonderful retailers, artists, designers, publishers and makers,” says pioneering Sarah. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Debbie Wigglesworth’s Paper Journeys

Debbie Wigglesworth, founder of the Paper Collaborative, discusses the merits of learning and experiencing together through workshops, to both individual and group benefit. It’s always a creative buzz to take part in a workshop - be it for your own personal development, creating a wonderful team spirit or simply to create something special. During the past few months I have organised several (paper based) creative workshops for several clients, including greeting card publishers Moonpig and Belly Button. Each has been unique and tailored specifically to my clients’ needs - working with artists, designers and wordsmiths to enrich the experience and bring a point of difference to each workshop. Regardless of the specific detail, there is always a common thread - that of 'togetherness'. There is something very enriching about all being ‘in it together’ - learning a new skill, experimenting for the first time (or the hundredth time), reaching an unexpected outcome and simply just playing. The ultimate aim is to ignite the creative thought process, thereby enriching the individual’s and ultimately the client’s portfolio!

A Cut Above The exquisite work of Karen Bit Vejle demonstrates the artistic skill of psaligraphy - the ancient art of cutting out silhouettes on paper. Karen describes this as “the art of drawing or painting with scissors”. Since her first show just seven years ago she has seen her “scissors for a brush” tour the world and has worked on commissions for several international clients, including Hermes and Georg Jensen. Above: Master of psaligraphy, Karen Bit Vejle. Her work will be celebrated at the London Design Festival this summer and will be shown at Skandium in Marylebone High Street, followed by a TED Talk later in the year in Arendal, Norway. Karen says: “My heart and soul are at peace when I have scissors in hand, and the paper dances between the blades.''

Taking Notes

Joining The Union? It was great to hear all about design group Brand Union’s recent workshop (supported by my good friend Justin Hobson at Fenner Paper), that was held at its London-based studio at which The Private Press was invited to set up a temporary silkscreen printing facility. Above: Everything is so much easier if you are Brand Union’s creative director wearing an origami hat to do screen-printing! Clare Styles (whose client list includes Vodaphone and The Absolute Company) and her team were thrilled to welcome Gary Parselle of Brighton-based The Private Press to transform its work space in to a temporary silkscreen studio. Before they got their hands dirty, first they all had to wear a boiler suit and make an origami printer’s hat! Their creations were hung out to dry for all to see in the window of its Smithfield studio - printed on Fenner Paper’s Colorset. Justin Hobson, marketing director for Fenner Paper, commented:“This is a truly engaging, interactive and creative activity for the whole company to get involved with - far more fun than a team building day paint balling.”

Winning The Lotta Through researching Lotta Jansdotta’s latest work for this column I’m delighted to confess that I made a slight detour and have booked myself on her workshop to be in her homeland of Alana (a small group of islands inbetween Sweden and Finland) this summer! Commenting on her workshop, Lotta says: “Together we explore, talk about inspirations, print, reminisce on good music, chew on business challenges, share contacts and laugh.” I met Lotta Jandotta at her very first exhibition at the New York Stationery Show. Since then I have watched her creativity continue to thrive with great excitement and respect. Inspired by nature, her contemporary designs have a simple Scandinavian influence/style and are seeped in artisan traditions with a sleek urban look and feel. Lotta's work is about her life, and her genius is often described as exploring the beauty in everyday things. Her branded lifestyle products predominantly include textiles and ceramics, however she also has a deep affinity with paper and also offers a delightful collection of paper products and stationery.

Creative paper company GFSmith are among the sponsors of a creative consortium event to be held in Manchester on February 2 2016, entitled Note to Self. For this, organisers Chris Roberts and David Moore have gathered together speakers from some of the world’s best creative agencies to share their inspiration, knowledge and ideas on a chosen subject, each of whom are given a strict 20 minute time slot. Following a list of designer luminaries, next month’s event sees Jim Williams (graphic designer, lecturer and author of Type Matters); Chris Gaffey (the award-winning director); creative drivers of design consortium Spin Studio; leading lights from creative agency Lord Whitney Connoisseurs of Make Believe, each sharing a 20 minute treat of their ‘pearls of wisdom’. Summing up the essence of the event, David Moore says: “We believe in bringing creative people together to share knowledge, experience and ideas.” The event is expected to sell out.

Above: Lotta Jansdotta in action at one of her workshops. Left: The innovative design force, Lord Whitney, will be speaking at the imminent Note to Self event in Manchester.

If you are interested in any of the features in Paper Journeys contact Debbie Wigglesworth email deborahwigglesworth@gmail.com or call Debbie on 07718619521. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


Available in Soft; or Hard Cover PLEASE VISIT US AT

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Spotlight On Ladder Clubbers


Into Orbit

An emerging and rising line-up of card publishers, and ‘graduates’ of last November’s Ladder Club seminars, reveal their ‘life before cards’ and the tale of their leap into the greetings sphere.

The Typewriter Artist Ann Worsnip, artist and founder of Oi Doris: “My vintage typewriter is my pencil. I tap away at the old typewriter keys, how exciting it is when an image starts to appear. I started one Christmas, with the intention to create a unique gift for my family. Once people saw the portraits I was then asked to type bikes, cars, people’s houses and, before I knew it, I was known as ‘The Typewriter Artist’. I decided to take my work into the public view and booked a few craft fairs. I couldn’t believe the response I got. For me, one of the best things I take away from my work is people’s reaction when they realise how my work has been created. You can actually see the moment the penny drops, they take a step closer to look and say, “Wow!” My greeting cards are really popular, so with this in mind, 2016 will see Oi Doris launching into the greeting card industry at PG Live.” Stepping Up: “It was great to find out about The Ladder Club. The best thing I took away from it was the choice of card stock I had to choose from. I had been printing at my local printers so I had a choice of only two types of board, smooth or laid. The boards shown to me by GF Smith’s Mark Jessett at The Ladder Club, made me feel like a kid in a sweet shop.” Top right: It can be exciting but daunting taking the leap into greeting cards. A card from Woodmansterne. Above: Ann Worsnip aka Oi Doris. Right: Completely made through using a typewriter, a hare from Oi Doris.

A Sweet Friendship Regina French and Indra Stepuriene, founders of Chocogreetings: “Indra, my friend of 20 years, and I came up with an idea a year ago to combine our love of chocolate and art to create greeting cards with chocolate. We thought, most people like receiving greeting cards and most people like chocolate… Above: Chocogreetings’ Regina French (right) and Indra Stepuriene. and receiving both is perfect! Below: A card and gift in one - a tasty chocolate on a chocogreetings card. I am an events manager and Indra does administrative work. We are both single mums and we have been dreaming for some time now to own a small business and we are very passionate about it and know we can succeed. Greeting cards was my passion for several years. I started making handmade cards after having my first child. Because I was a stay at home mum I had some time to get creative. But a couple of years later I went back to full-time employment and forgot all about it until a year ago when Indra and I decided to get creative and to start our own business. We are currently experimenting with different graphic styles, trying to get a feel of what is the most desirable on the market. We are going for a clean minimalistic look, the artwork on the wrapping of the delicious chocolate being the focal point.” Stepping Up: “The Ladder Club seminar was fantastic! It was packed with useful information and the speakers and attendees were very friendly and helpful. I am very proud to be part of this friendly industry. The most useful points for us were getting the pricing right, printing options and getting ready for our first trade show.”

Uncle’s RHS Art Collection Nicola Clear, founder of Wiseartwork: “Why don’t you start your own business?” I was asked this in 2013 while discussing the frustrations of juggling a corporate career and looking after my twin daughters. I thought, “What could I do? I have no product! - That sounds scary!” But I knew I would Above: For more info about artist Alfred John relish the challenge if an opportunity arose. I didn’t Wise, see www.wiseartwork.com. have to wait too long. In 2014 my mother, Margaret, the only surviving relative of her late uncle, Alfred John Wise (1908 - 1985), established copyright ownership to the 900+ botanical PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Spotlight On Ladder Clubbers

Creative Direction watercolour paintings that Alfred created for the RHS between 1920-1960. Many are of prestigious RHS Award of Merit plants. A loner, Alfred never married, and lived a solitary life in a caravan in the grounds of RHS, Wisley, surrounded by pots, brushes and his artwork. The originals - held at Wisley and at the Lindley Library in London - have remained largely unseen by the public… until now! My first reaction to seeing the artwork was amazement at the detail and beauty. So now I had a product with potential. In January 2015, I launched the Wiseartwork brand and have now self-published two greeting card Above: Beautiful floral designs from Wiseartwork. ranges and giclée prints. The Spring Fair provided insights into giftware markets and has led to a licensing agreement with J. Salmon for a 2017 Botanical Flowers calendar.” Stepping Up: “Attending The Ladder Club provided fantastic support. I was on the right track, but in a new business you must wear all the ‘hats’ all the time - that’s hard! The Club is exceptionally friendly and delivers inspiring seminars. It helped confirm that I have a quality product, but I will constantly need to refresh the range, target the right market, and take risks. The question remaining is how and when to take the next leap!”

A Grand Plié Annelise Caro, director for Caro Art Publishing:

Below: Annelise Caro. Below left: Red ballet shoes from Caro Art Publishing.

“I am a professional ballet dancer, initially trained at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London. I furthered my training at American Ballet Theatre in New York, and have since danced all over the world with companies including Barcelona Ballet and The Royal Opera in Covent Garden, London. I have spent the past two years also working as a freelance artist and illustrator, and having listened to my fellow dancer friends joking about receiving the same Degas cards year after year and for every occasion, I noted a lack of variety in dance related cards and decided to create a collection of cards inspired and informed by my experience as a dancer. I have incorporated other influences though - whilst watching flamingos on a trip to a wildlife park last year I was struck by how dancer like they were - elegant and pink with long necks and legs - yet also rather comical at the same time. It was from this idea that I developed 'Legs and Feathers', my first range of cards, based on quirky hand-painted illustrations of flamingos doing ballet!” Stepping Up: “The Ladder Club Day One seminar was absolutely brilliant. Having muddled through since early this year trying to find out everything about the industry by myself, it was great to get all of my questions answered and also to learn many useful things that I wouldn't have thought to ask. Although I had already started the production process on my first ranges when I attended the seminar, I still found the in-depth information given in the talks from the Imaging Centre, Sherwood and Enveco invaluable. I also attended the dinner the night before, which I would highly recommend as it was wonderful to chat to both industry experts and new publishers who are in the same boat. I'm looking forward to coming back next year for Day Two!” 98


Janna Cossettini, director for Deckled Edge Design: “After gaining a BA in Fine Art, I trained in graphic design and worked as an art director for the Condé Nast company of magazines, Above: Janna Cossettini. both in Australia and here in the UK. I then moved on to various UK based retail catalogues: M&S and also John Lewis Home. Life on a shoot was always fun. A lot of work would go into finding fabulous homes in the first place, but on the day we would completely have the house redecorated in a client’s agreed style by 10am. We would then do a full days shoot of the home with gorgeous lifestyle shots of their product. And then voila! At 5pm, like Cinderella, the house would be returned to its former state in an hour or two. I miss those days at times, but it can’t beat being a mum either.

Music To Material Naomi Lodge, founder and designer for Naisy: “I actually trained as a classical violinist at the Royal Northern College of Music, but towards the end of the course I decided it wasn’t really the lifestyle for me. I knew I was made to be creative, but also had a good logical brain on me, so I started off sewing various house-shaped products which I sold at my local market. At these markets I quickly noticed how cards were my bestsellers, and between markets I realised the creativity inside me would not allow me to be a mass producing machine, and nor was it financially sustainable. I decided that surely, somehow, textile artwork could be Above right: Textiles artist, Naomi Lodge. Above: The ‘You are my Sunshine’ design featured on mass produced from Naisy. greeting cards. I use lots of scraps of fabric (which I like to think I am saving from a sad life in boxes in the loft, or even worse, heading to the waste bin) and I stitch them together using a technique called ‘free-motion embroidery’ which is just like drawing with a sewing machine. My style is quite simple and illustrative as I like to let the patterns in the fabric, and the quirky free-motion techniques do the talking.” Stepping Up: “The Ladder Club was invaluable for me. As someone who had only focused on music until the end of my degree, I have often felt I am missing out on what I could have learnt in probably just a few lectures at art school. The Ladder Club taught me lots that I didn’t know about what goes on in retailers’ minds, I learnt about different printing methods, and I also discovered what a friendly bunch of people make up the greeting card industry!”

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Spotlight On Ladder Clubbers

Art has always been part of my life. Greeting cards is just another path. The idea and the plan had been there for a few years, but it was more about when was the best time to execute on the plan. Deckled Edge has been launched a year now and Above: Deckled Edge specialise in handthere is still so much to learn, painted watercolour illustrations with and yet when I look back I have bold use of colours and texture, as seen on this new Father’s Day design from its come so far! The designs are varied, but Fool’s Gold range. in the main are reflections of local life. I do afford myself some artistic license with citings of kangaroos and dinosaurs and so on, but they do make the job much more fun.” Stepping Up: “The Ladder Club has been an immense help in answering questions, giving guidance and support in ways I would never have managed alone. I have learnt most recently about retailers’ buying time-line, licensing, export, the use of free social media, the importance of a trade website, building a solid relationship with my stockists, keeping an open mind, and finally that this industry is a lot of hard work but equally as rewarding with it’s many twists and turns.”

Fur-tile Idea Jo Scott, founder of Scott & Robson Designs: “Career wise I went into sales and marketing for computer software for the arts and entertainment industry for 20 years and I still consult for companies as a freelancer. However, during this time, I always continued to paint for colleagues, friends and family portraits of people and people’s pets. The pet portraits I created were always very popular, and it has become something I specialise in and working on full-time as a separate business. I had been researching, then plotting and planning a venture into card publishing for about three years and started Scott & Robson Designs last year. I paint in watercolour, and use ink, pen and pencil. My designs are meant to be fun and bring a smile; I like to think my cards make a connection and people can recognise their own pet’s habits and traits in my cards.” Stepping Up: “The Ladder Club was great for a whole host of reasons, but for me learning more about brokerage and the Above left: Jo Scott. pitfalls was very useful, as well as Above: Capturing the essence of the talk from Jeremy (Corner) who dogs, a Scott & Robson card. highlighted everything you need to work on and therefore I was able to pinpoint areas where I needed to improve.”

A Twenty Year Plan Nick Saunders, founder and designer of Meany-bo-Beany Cards: “I spent many years working a combination of freelance illustration, graphic and textile design, and contract work in animation and design studios. I also taught illustration in art colleges in the North and South-West UK. Currently I Above: Man with a plan, Nick live and work in North Devon. Saunders. My last two jobs were for companies in the gift market so Below left: Digitally collaged I saw and learned a great deal there, but I began researching designs feature in Meany-boBeany’s collection. and planning a greeting card company back in the late 90s. I have always enjoyed making cards for friends so setting up a greeting card publishing business seemed a logical step. I feel now I’m in the right place personally and financially to realise this and am currently designing ranges for my first trade show at PG Live 2016. For Meany-bo-Beany I’m utilising a range of approaches stylistically and materially, but all to a greater or lesser extent they involve a degree of digital manipulation. Many are figurative, either drawn or using vintage found source material, but there are other more design-led humour ranges, all I hope will be seen as beautiful and desirable.” Stepping Up: “The Ladder Club was exactly what I hoped it would be - friendly, inspirational and hugely informative. The opportunity to talk to the speakers informally at the dinner the evening before and at lunch on the day itself was also extremely valuable; I learned so much from these one to one chats. All of my questions regarding pricing, printing costs, the role of the agent were answered on the day by the speakers who provided a great insight into the process of setting up, running, and succeeding as a greeting card publisher.”

Jazz Scenes Sophie Bancroft, partner of DesignBy32: “I’m an established and successful singer/songwriter with my own folk-inflected brand of jazz. My music has been used on major USA TV series such as ‘Six Feet Under’ and recorded by multi-award winning vocalists including Liane Carroll. During my 40s I became a major walker, to the great joy of my labradoodle Ella, and thoroughly enjoyed the daily beauty of my surroundings in a small Midlothian village. My walking has provided the source of inspiration for much of my recent songwriting, and this has been further enhanced by my new found love of landscape photography. In 2014 I was funded by Creative Scotland to enable me to bring together my photography and songs. With the original intention of projecting my photographic images onto screens during performances, this then developed in to my first collection of greeting cards, which contain a QR code/weblink to the song connected to that particular image.” Stepping Up: ‘The Ladder Club seminar was fantastic. It felt very inclusive, nurturing and supportive. We were blown away by the amount of information each speaker passed over. It has given us a huge amount of food for thought on our direction as a greeting card publisher, which we are now mulling over.” Above: Jazz singer, Sophie Bancroft. Right: DesignBy32’s cards contain a QR code that links to a song reflecting the image. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


visit us at Spring Fair NEC Hall 3 Stand 3Q41 www.jeanbarrington.co.uk


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Passionate About Cards? Existing profitable business Income from day one High-quality products All cards produced in the UK Full training & support Opportunities available now For more information call Andrew Cutler on:

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The Personal Touch It might have begun life on notonthehighstreet.com offering bespoke cards, but having exhibited 18 trade shows in the last four years, since the company’s inception - and a stand at the Spring Fair next month and PG Live in May taking it to 20 - publisher Megan Claire has rocketed from the bespoke ambit to direct to trade too, becoming a recognised and respected brand within the greeting card industry, reaching The Henries awards finals twice so far. PG traces the ‘personal credentials’ of Megan Claire. It was after designing a personalised Valentine’s card for a friend, and uploading it to NOTHS, that Megan Purdie, founder of Megan Claire, watched her sales soar and realised the potential of offering an online personalised card service, reflecting customers’ memories, special dates and places, and even their number of cats, within her contemporary typographic card designs, which was the stepping stone to establishing the company. Looking back even further though, it might never have happened due to the lure of a curved stick! Even though her zeal for art and design was apparent from an early age, Megan didn't take the creative path at first, preoccupied with another passion, her love for hockey. “I was very creative as a child always making Christmas cards for family, however due to subject restrictions and my love for

hockey at school, I studied sport instead of art,” she explains, adding, “later I studied English at university (my love of words clearly reflected in my typographic designs) before living in Australia for six months to play hockey.” But Megan soon realised that her artistic streak could not be quelled and was destined for a creative career. So she taught herself how to use graphics software in her own time, also

studying graphic design at college in the evenings while working full-time in retail. And it wasn’t too long before she had landed a job as a graphic designer. “I expanded my portfolio of designs, including greeting cards, and then attended The Ladder Club in October 2011. This opened my eyes to the greeting card industry and I decided this was the right path for me!” says Megan. So fired up and inspired, Megan joined online market place notonthehighstreet.com (NOTHS), selling her card designs directly to the public. But fate was to take a hand in Megan’s success when she designed a personalised card for one of her friends. Megan explains, “A friend had asked me to make a bespoke Valentine's card for her boyfriend (now husband) with their shared memories and places they had travelled. I designed a simple onecolour typographic design and decided to upload it to NOTHS.” It proved to be a major turning point in the business. Not only did sales of that particular design go sky-high, it also triggered a light-bulb moment in

Top: The Valentine’s design (from the Sentiments range) that Megan created for her friend, and uploaded to NOTHS, that kick-started the personalisation idea. Above right: Creating beautiful design-led cards using contemporary typeface is Megan Claire’s signature style. Far right: Not personalised but just plain gorgeous, the Pink Champagne range from Megan Claire. Right: Megan Purdie, founder of Megan Claire, with mum Gill, who has helped her daughter in the business from day one.



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Publisher Focus

Megan’s mind - to personalise her card ranges. This component was to become Megan Claire’s point of difference. “That Valentine’s design was selling 3,000 cards a week, each one personalised and made to order! It was so busy that I was soon earning more from NOTHS than in my day job, and even though it meant 18 hour days for me and my Mum, [mum Gill now works in Megan’s business] who were both still working full-time, I absolutely loved it! And, it is still our best selling personalised card on NOTHS.” That card has proved so successful for Megan that her very first range she offered to trade, Sentiments, was based on this style, the range remaining as strong four years on as it was from launching at PG Live, her first trade show. The range also went on to become a finalist in The Henries Awards’ Best Contemporary Trend Range in 2012, during Megan’s first year in business. “This simple yet classic typographic style was the foundation for our business, and our design ethos is still very much based on classic simplicity,” she expounds. Megan decided to take the publishing plunge and left her full-time job in April 2012, throwing herself into her first, very successful, trade show only eight weeks later, gaining international distributors and agents who are still with her today. Also, within her first year of trade, she was also approached by John Lewis to sell her personalised prints and wall stickers online. And then, in 2013, Megan was nominated in the finals of The Henries Awards

Mum’s The Word

Right: Megan Claire supplies a number of stunning designs that are unpersonalised. Below: The typeface style of the Personalised Town Cards for retailers by Megan Claire.

again, in the Best Spring Seasons Range, with her The Perfect Match Valentine’s Day collection... an occasion that was proving lucky for her! “I was extremely happy (and shocked!) to be nominated for a Henries Award in both my first and second year of setting up as a publisher... and commissioned to design the GCA’s Christmas card.” Megan reveals that, when starting up, some major learning curves were stabilised by attending The Ladder Club, which was a great source of information, such as learning the simplest of industry standards, like selling the cards in packs of 6s, and knowing how to perfect stock levels - enough to supply customers, but not so much that there would excess stock or major cashflow problems. “Knowing the right terminology, learning to ask lots of questions and knowing your customer helps too - one customer got Right: Megan Claire’s Personalised Scribbly Kiss designs uses a script font on the cards – highlighting the place and person. Below right: For trade customers, Megan Claire’s Classic Typography personalised range focuses on the person and place, but in a simplier style font. Below: Mother and daughter team, Gill (right) and Megan Purdie.

Megan’s mum, Gill Purdie, has helped her daughter in the Megan Claire business from day one. She knows the company inside out and was happy to give up 34 years in the NHS to come and work for her daughter full-time. “We soon got into a routine and Mum knew exactly what was needed and when. She has grown with me, attending every trade show since 2011 - I think she knows the ropes probably better than I do now!” claims Megan, adding, “I do all the designing and she does everything else! She deals with the wholesale orders and also helps to fulfil all of the NOTHS and John Lewis orders. She is my right hand bookkeeper, chief tea maker and my ultimate sounding board!” And the positive thing with working together as a mum and daughter team?...“is that we trust each other fully, our work ethics are strong and we both strive to do the best for the business, with a mutual understanding of the level of quality and service required. The only down side to working with each other is that neither of us can switch off!” confesses Megan.

a cracking deal on price from us as we misunderstood the type of retailer they were because we didn't ask the right (or enough) questions!” Megan muses, adding, “and even after exhibiting at 18 trade shows in four years, I think it's fair to say we will still always be learning as we grow towards new opportunities and face new problems.” As the business grew, and grew quickly, Megan decided she needed to take on help and a bigger and more structured workspace to grow. “I started working from home, but those days of working in my PJ's are long gone! I took on my Mum, Gill, two and a half years ago. We moved into a small studio, but before long we'd already outgrown this and moved into a studio twice the size within a year.” Megan Claire’s website has sold personalised product directly to consumers practically since day one of the publisher’s beginning, so it seemed natural to introduce this channel to its trade customers too, with successful results, particularly for Spring Seasons designs. On the personalised contemporary card front, Megan Claire now offers card retailers its Sentiments range as Personalised Town Cards – ie for a shop in Stockbridge the designs can reflect the town’s history and landmarks, great for card buying tourists and locals; Personalised Scribbly Kiss range designs - ie Best Mummy in Ampthill, the focus being on the person and place, and similarly, so does the Personalised Classic Typography range, which features a simplier font style - ie The Most Brilliant Teacher in Tiptree. And so, what are the future plans for Megan Claire? “We can't wait to see what the next 10 years have in store! We love what we do and hope it continues for a long time yet. We would like to see Megan Claire growing steadily, and taking on more staff to deal with the different aspects of our business.” And as well as creating ranges for its lovely greeting card stockist, Megan receives bespoke orders from NOTHS, “and John Lewis and I also design bespoke wedding stationery. So at the moment, we have quite a few eggs in quite a few baskets! Ultimately we'd love to be stocked in every shop in the land!” she jokes. Megan Claire will be at Spring Fair in Hall 3, Stand V40. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Venturing into the blogging and vlogging world to reach the consumer is a marketing tool that more and more greeting card publishers and retailers are harnessing - using this potent vehicle in the virtual realm to promote their tangible product. In the last few months alone, Hallmark anchored the launch of its PR marketing campaign for its Itty Bitty mini plush collection by engaging with bloggers, rapidly gaining consumer awareness through endorsement from many of the Tots100 (the top 100 British mummy and daddy bloggers). Moonpig plunged headlong into the ‘bloggers-sphere’ too, by regularly sending out parcels of card and gift treats from the fairy pigmother to appraise. And Paperchase has recently showcased its forthcoming collections at bloggers events at its London HQ. PG blags its way into the blogging world, gaining a better understanding of this new route to market from both card industry cyber marketing gurus and ardent blogging authors.

Exploring The Blogosphere

Fully delving into the digital world, Moonpig has linked-up with a number of fantastically supportive bloggers to review its cards and gifts for, among other occasions, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Diwali, and most recently Thinking of You Week where it sent its top 20 bloggers a beautifully giftwrapped pack of cards to send during the Week. Sally Egginton, social media and PR assistant for Moonpig, elucidates: “Since we’ve invested in our social media and PR team we’ve had more capacity to engage bloggers on a range of topics relating to Moonpig. We have ongoing conversations with bloggers and they’re treated like traditional journalists. There’s nothing like the endorsement of a blogger. For example, our Dad’s Institute [male bloggers] tested out some of Moonpig Father's Day gifts and cards which was particularly successful as it allowed us to speak to a much more male dominated audience. We began working with mummy bloggers and have since branched out to daddy, tech, and lifestyle bloggers of varying age ranges. As a brand we look for bloggers that write passionately about family, relationships and occasions, rather than target bloggers just for their follower numbers.”

Positives of this marketing route: “Harnessing and maximising potential with bloggers is of huge importance to us and we’re learning daily. Pursuing bloggers also challenges us as a business to be innovative, the nature of blogs being that they are really integrated to social channels and any work we do with bloggers must reflect that cross platform agility. We’re experimenting with more video content, which we’ve found has been a hit with a younger demographic, an audience we’re interested in as potentially the most natural online shoppers.” Blossoming results: “We’ve found that activity outside of key calendar celebrations has received really positive interaction. For Thinking of You Week in September, we sent some of our favourite bloggers a pack of seven giftwrapped Moonpig cards along with a tag to explain how they could get involved. We received some great content as the story behind it was all about connecting with people.” Above: Seen as an ‘Outdoor Dad’, Moonpig sent dad blogger ‘Photalife’ Father’s Day gifts that he showcased on his blog. Right: Blogger, Amrit Matharu.

Amrit Matharu writes and reviews on themes around British-Asian culture on her blog Amaretto's World. Last November, she reviewed Diwali cards that she received from Moonpig. “As a proud British-Asian, my blog covers many topics related around my culture Diwali being one of them! Moonpig reached out to me and asked me to review their new range of Diwali cards, which I was completely stoked about. I love that there are greeting cards around multi-cultural festivals available. Whether you're celebrating or not it's lovely that you can send well-wishes to your loved ones. I started a blog as a space to record my creative journey. It began as a brainstorm of my fashion designs and art and quickly evolved to a place of beauty tips from make up to nails. I enjoy writing and getting creative so as I blogged more I also became more involved in media, writing articles for newspapers, magazines and radio, so my blog has become a record of my career also.” Finding followers: “When I first began blogging and my social media channels, I followed people who inspired me and that I was interested in. I still continue to do so, and PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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I guess that is the same way my followers find me. I'm very active on social media, letting my followers know what I'm up to or what projects I'm working on, so you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube at @AmarettosWorld /Amaretto's World.” Bonding with bloggers: “I love that bloggers are a new route to the marketplace. If you want to find out about a product it is the quickest way of getting a real opinion. Bloggers are passionate people and love to take their time out to blog so I think there is value in it.” Inviting a group of lifestyle, travel, crafters, wedding, and stationery addict bloggers and vloggers to its Tottenham Court Road HQ, Paperchase showcased last year its new collections, both Spring/Summer 2016 and Christmas, to the creative collective. Dawn Nicholson, marketing and PR manager for Paperchase, explains: “We recognise there are a lot of bloggers who are also customers. By working with bloggers and hosting blogger events we can connect with people passionate about our products, share with them and receive useful feedback. Paperchase as a brand actively supports creativity, and engaging and supporting the blogger community is an example of that. As a blog is an individual expression of that person’s passions and interests the categories and topics covered by our

Left: Amrit Matharu’s blog Amaretto's World discusses themes and products around BritishAsian culture. Moonpig sent Amrit its Diwali designs to appraise. Right: Daisy Martin’s blog My Green Cow (www.mygreencow.co.uk) is a visual diary of her everyday experiences. Daisy was also invited to Paperchase’s bloggers events. Below right: A total stationery addict, Daisy loved the new Paperchase products she saw at its bloggers event for Spring/Summer 2016, such as this Valentine’s lips money box. Bottom left: After Paperchase’s design team explained their inspiration behind its new festive collection at the Bloggers Event, the bloggers were then invited to decorate their own mini Christmas tree using Paperchase baubles and trinkets.

blogging network can vary immensely, but that is reflective of Paperchase - we want customers to feel they can reflect their own individual style through our products so there is a natural fit. Some of the bloggers we have researched and felt there was a great fit with our brand, where the quality of the content on the blog shows the author is actively investing time into their posts. Others have contacted us directly or have attended events through one of our existing contacts and we have then seen their work. Our blogger events are very informal and we try and make them as welcoming and interesting as possible.” Positives of this marketing route: “There are so many different blogger groups we can talk to, from specific crafting and wedding blogs to more broader categories like lifestyle, travel and fashion. Unlike some other types of media you are communicating directly with the audience group rather than through a media channel.” Blossoming results: “Feedback has been very positive, we are looking forward to running more events and blogger engagement throughout 2016.” In a ‘project about my life’, Daisy Martin’s blog My Green Cow is a peek into her everyday experiences to create a space of her memories (and her passion for stationery!). One or two of those occurrences was an invitation to the Paperchase Blogger Event, Spring & Summer 2016 Collections, and also its Christmas Event. “My blog came after my YouTube channel - I needed a platform to share more photos at one time of individual products, rather than spamming them on Instagram. I can also write a lot more about something on my blog.

I chose to base my blog and channel around stationery because I have always loved stationery. Back to school stationery shopping was my favourite thing about going back to school when I was younger! The Paperchase event was brilliant! This was the second year I was invited. As well as the Christmas event I got to see the Spring & Summer Collections for 2016. We also had the in-house designers talk us through the collections, letting us know why they chose things and where the ideas came from, which was incredibly interesting. We then had a few Christmassy activities planned out for us! We learnt how to make pinwheels with Things By Laura, and we got to decorate a little Christmas tree too!”

Finding followers: “I tend to find people to follow through the people I already follow. On Instagram for example, they might tag someone in a photo and I’ll head over and check out that person’s profile. As for how my followers find me, I post things I enjoy, whether it's something I've bought, something I've made or something that I'm in the process of creating, and people seem to find me! I know hashtags help on Instagram. I think on YouTube people tend to find me through the recommended video feature.” Bonding with bloggers: “I'm all for it! I have a little shop myself and I contact bloggers all the time. I love that I'm now on the other end and can start to help out other brands and small businesses reach more potential customers.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Spring Fair A selection of Animal cards launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.


Steel Yourself

Ding Dong! The Little Bells creates cute and adorable handillustrated animal character cards, designed to appeal to children and adults alike. For Spring Fair there will be new additions to the Trinkets range, including Baby Shower and New Baby titles. The cards are sized 150mm square, printed on textured board and sold wrapped with heavy weight white envelopes. The Little Bells 07885 980 808 www.thelittlebells.com Hall 3 Stand M37

Funky sketches with watercolour accents are the subject matter of Animal Antics, a new range from artist Emma Roberts at The Steel Rooms. Modern, fresh and very different, there are six designs initially, with more to follow soon. All the cards are blank, 140mm square and supplied wrapped with complementing envelopes. All the designs are also available as mounted prints. The Steel Rooms 01652 657256 www.theSteelRooms.com Hall 3 Stand L36

Cats With Soul Natural Partners is launching a new range by the celebrated artist Lesley Anne Ivory, who has been described as the greatest cat artist of her generation. The initial range comprises 20 beautiful designs, which will be a must for all cat lovers! The cards are sized 178mm x 127mm, in a mix of landscape and portrait formats, blank inside and sold wrapped with a white envelope. Natural Partners 07714 768956 www.naturalpartnersart.co.uk Hall 3 Stand V31

Rose Tinted

All Set! Wrendale Designs is excited to introduce a beautiful new twist on its award winning The Country Set range. Entitled The Country Set, Flora and Fauna, these cards depict popular British animals including favourites such as the hare, owl, wren and badger with the addition of delicate flowers illustrated with pen, ink and watercolour. The cards are sized 150mm square, printed on high quality textured board and supplied wrapped with a recycled kraft envelope. Wrendale Designs 01652 680253 www.wrendaledesigns.co.uk Hall 3 Stand R10

Twelve brand new Christmas Cats and Christmas Dogs have been added by Rose Hill to her Christmas card selection, now bringing this range to 30 dogs and 16 cats, all being kept warm and cosy in their oh so fashionable Christmas jumpers. All the cards are sized 150mm square and come wrapped with red envelopes. Rose Hill Designs 07742 347603 www.rosehilldesigns.co.uk Hall 3 Stand U20

Call Of The Wild Lola Designs is launching Wildlife Botanical, a new range of eight designs of lovingly painted animals with a double exposure feel, all designed by Amanda Mountain – who likes both flowers and animals! The cards are sized 150mm square and sold with a crisp white envelope. Lola Design 07796 692559 www.LoladesignLtd.com Hall 3 Stand M39



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Spring Fair A selection of Art cards launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.


The Power Of Zen For Spring Fair Olivia Goddard is expanding her Zentangle range, now with 12 designs of bright and simple figurative patterns. All the designs are taken from original artwork by Olivia, showing the texture of the original canvas. These cards are blank inside, sized 127mm x 177mm and come wrapped with a complementing envelope. Olivia Goddard Designs 01206 304555 www.oliviagoddard.co.uk Hall 3 Stand W38

National Treasure

Maid (By) Marion

Portfolio is proud to announce its latest collaboration - The National Gallery, the third most visited art gallery in the world. There are two ranges, with over 50 cards in total, celebrating some of the most famous paintings in the gallery: a 165mm square classic range and a 146mm x 170mm range which has glitter, foil and embossing. All the cards are sold wrapped with a smart grey envelope in a branded bag. Portfolio 020 8960 3051 Hall 3 Stand Q08

ArtPress is over the moon to be publishing the work of Marion Deuchars, the international award-winning illustrator and author of the Let’s Make Some Great Art series. There are two ranges - the Fingerprint range (pictured) comprises eight cards and a fun notecard wallet with six cards. And with Marion’s iconic hand-lettering style recognisable across the globe, there is also The Inspiring Words range with eight cards. All the cards are sized 150mm square and supplied wrapped with china white envelopes. ArtPress Publishing 020 7231 2923 www.art-press.co.uk Hall 3 Stand N19

The Sky’s The Limit Ryland is extending its atmospheric Seasonal Skies range with nine new designs of country life and country pursuits aimed at men. The cards are 150mm square, printed on FSC linen textured board and sold wrapped with recycled ribbed kraft envelopes. Ryland Studios 01400 261745 www.rylandstudios.co.uk Hall 3 Stand L33

Down By The Sea This spring sees Emma Ball launch a new range of coastal cards titled A Day at the Seaside. It’s been five years since Emma painted her last range of seaside scenes and she has decided it was about time she reprised this theme! There are 12 cards, beautifully printed on textured watercolour board and sold wrapped with coloured envelopes. Emma Ball 0115 9858081 www.emmaball.co.uk Hall 3 Stand S03

Tribal Brights Blue Island Press is launching Betsy Goes Tribal, a brighter than bright range by Donna Sharam, at Spring Fair. Bursting with intense colour and flair, there are cows, giraffes, zebras, cats, dogs and some trees all designed to bring a smile for any occasion. The cards are all sized 150mm square and supplied wrapped with white envelopes. Blue Island Press 0176 123 9098 www.blueislandpress.co.uk Hall 3 Stand R28 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Spring Fair A selection of Children’s cards launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.


Growing Love Lucy Monkman will be showing new age cards for girls and boys aged 1 to 8 at Spring Fair. The Age Cards with Animals range features a host of sweet animal characters on and around bold and colourful lettering. There are 16 designs in the range, sized 144mm square and supplied with a white envelope. Lucy Monkman 01904 630043 www.lucymonkman.com Hall 3 Stand W33

Disney All Stars Sparkle Me All Over Add some sparkle to your shelves with the new Vibrance range, Hambledon Studios’ biggest and broadest everyday collection to date. Featuring bold artwork and bouncy editorial, there are over 350 beautiful designs covering a host of captions and occasions in a wide range of styles and finishes. Hambledon Studios 0845 1300007 Hall 3 Stand M22

Potty About Potter

UKG is launching Disney Innovations, a 20-card range comprising the most popular Disney character franchises including Avengers – Captain America, Cars, Spider-Man, Frozen, Toy Story, Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Disney Princess and Planes. The designs feature a variety of Z folds, pop ups, glitter shakers, theatre folds, lenticular and honeycomb pop-outs and come in a multitude of card sizes. UK Greetings 01924 465200 www.ukgreetings.co.uk Cardgains Village Hall 3 Stand L10/M11

New card designs and a beautiful new giftwrap (pictured) have been added to Hype’s Beatrix Potter range. There are now 67 cards in various sizes, from mini cards to square art cards and three wraps in this range! The cards are printed on beautiful hammered card, wrapped with either a white or a brown kraft envelope and the giftwrap is printed on high quality paper and supplied flat wrapped. Hype Associates 0151 702 7788 www.hypa.com Hall 3 Stand S60

You Looking At Me? Funny Friends is a new range of children’s age cards with rather delightful illustrations of wild animals from Julia Hook Designs. The range covers ages 1 to 6 for boys and girls, with 12 cards in total. The cards are printed on 150mm square textured board and blank inside and sold wrapped with crisp white envelopes. Julia Hook Designs 07903 535295 www.juliahookdesigns.co.uk Hall 3 Stand V34

Days Of Wonder Classic Tales is a new range inspired by children’s stories from Moongazer. Launching with Alice in Wonderland, this imaginative range of cards illustrates key scenes including The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and The White Rabbit and include decorated quotes from the book on the reverse. This range is blank inside sized 150mm square and printed on FSC board. Moongazer Cards 077454 81411 www.moongazercards.com Hall 3 Stand W51 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Spring Fair A selection of Gifts and Giftwrap designs launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.

Growing Sentiment


Roll Up! Roll Up! Inspired by the bright neon lights and vivid colours of the fun fair, the Fun Fair collection is an exciting new launch from The Unique Paper Company. This eye-catching range of wrap, rolls, boxes and bags features spots, stripes and captions and is available in a range of different colours, offering a little bit of fun for everyone. The Unique Paper Company 01026 242483 www.theuniquepapercompany.co.uk Hall 3 Stand P40

The Perfect Balance

The Potted Garden range from Garden Greetings is expanding. This innovative gift concept combines wrapping, protection and a greeting card, transforming any small pot plant into a personal gift. Each card comes flat with a clear space on the back for a personal message. There are now four mini ranges within the Potted range, offering over 20 different designs. Garden Greetings 07772 311645 www.gardengreetings.co.uk Hall 3 Stand K47

For the perfect gift for mums and nans on Mother's Day look no further than Joe Davies' best-selling Equilibrium Sentiment Jewellery. The range is expanding to include lovely bracelets, earrings, necklaces and pendants, all just perfect for Mother’s Day and Mum’s birthday. Each item of jewellery is presented beautifully boxed. Joe Davies 0161 975 6300 www.joedavies.co.uk Hall 5 Stand C30-D31

A New Oeuf-re Making no egg-scuses on the pun front, Widdop Bingham is egg-ceedingly egg-cited to release this Eggcellent range - a range of colourful egg shaped money banks available in singles or in a set of four complete with an egg box. The egg theme continues across a broad category of giftware including candles, key rings and mugs. Widdop Bingham 0161 688 1226 www.widdop.co.uk Hall 4 Stand G10-J11

Box Of Tricks A new range of 13 Retro Celebration Boxes is launching from RetroCo. These keepsake boxes include titles: Remember the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s as well Child Of The… for the same key decades. There are also the major milestone anniversary boxes for silver, pearl, ruby and diamond anniversaries. Each box contains a collection of memorabilia: a 24 page booklet greeting card, a music CD, a DVD of news stories, replica ephemera such as postcards, posters, music and TV guides, plus retro surprises like coasters, magnets, badges, stickers and lots more. RetroCo 07976 733 677 www.retroco.com Hall 4 Stand J16

Box Of Tricks Katie is a new coordinated gift and social stationery range from Lesser & Pavey. This range comprises a folding storage box, memo pad with matching pen, a delightful gift set which includes an address book, notebook, note pad, pencil, a spiral notebook and weekly organiser, a clipboard memo pad with pen, a jewellery box and a vanity case. Lesser & Pavey 01322 279225 www.leonardo.co.uk Hall 5 Stand C04-D03 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Joe Davies (Manchester) Ltd, 149 Broadstone Road, Reddish, Stockport SK5 7GA Tel: 0161 975 6300 Fax: 0161 975 6301 Email: sales@joedavies.co.uk www.joedavies.co.uk 116_PG_February 2016.indd 1

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Spring Fair A selection of Hand-Finished cards launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.


What A Gem! Following on from its In a Word male range, The Handcrafted Card Company is launching one for the ladies with Spread the Word! Celebrating all women and all the fun they have, this range comprises 70 160mm square designs covering relations and occasions, all printed on stylish pinstripe board and hand-finished with a sparkling hot pink gem. The Handcrafted Card Company 01782 639733 www.thehandcraftedcardcompany.co.uk Hall 3 Stand T60

A Sparkly Life

In The Mail

A new range called Everything Sparkles will be a major launch for Rush at Spring Fair. This collection comprises of 80 designs covering open birthday, relations, male and occasions, all printed on a beautiful textured board and handfinished with lots of glitter and sparkles. This range is sized 150mm square and comes wrapped with a matching envelope. Rush Design 01788 521745 www.rushdesign-uk.com Hall 3 Stand V60

A new male range, Male Mail, is being launched by Laura Sherratt at Spring Fair. There are 24 sophisticated spring and occasions designs, all very elegant and understated with bold text and a classical dickie-bow ribbon embellishment. All the cards are sized 150mm square and come wrapped with a colourcoordinated envelope. Laura Sherratt Designs 01538 384566 www.laurasherrattdesigns.co.uk Hall 3 Stand W21

Feeling Hot Hot Hot! Sabivo Design is warming us all up at Spring Fair with the colourful new tropical themed range Cockatoo. Parrots, flamingos, cocktails and tropical flowers galore will aim to bring summer nice and early onto the Sabivo stand! The initial launch of 20 designs cover everyday and popular occasions, all hand-illustrated and hand-finished with cupflower jewels and polkadot bows in the UK. The cards are sized 145mm square and sold wrapped in rib-kraft envelopes. Sabivo Design 0116 2258255 www.sabivo.co.uk Hall 3 Stand W18

The Eyes Have It

Neon High

Jodds is launching Eye, Eye Captain, a great new range of 16 birthday cards at the Spring Fair. Featuring fun textile characters with delightful googly eyes and modern sentiments, these cards are sized 150mm and sold wrapped with complementing envelopes. Jodds 01869 278550 www.joddscards.com Hall 3 Stand Q01

New relations and open birthday designs are being added into Paper Salad’s popular Kaleidoscope range. This range is printed using super bright neon inks and finished with striking copper foil and then hand-finished with a die-cut shape attachment. The cards are sized 175mm x 125mm and supplied wrapped with a neon coordinating envelope. Paper Salad 0161 427 0001 www.papersalad.co.uk Hall 3 Stand U10 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Spring Fair A selection of Hand-Finished cards launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.

On show at Spring Fair will be Paper Diamonds, a brand new hand-finished range from Wendy Jones-Blackett. Taking a beautiful uncoated white board with a gold-dusted shimmering surface, each card is delicately hand-finished with tiny jewels, silver glitter and holographic stars. There are 48 designs in this range, comprising ages, relations, open birthdays and occasions, are all sized C6 and sold wrapped with a dove grey envelope. Wendy Jones-Blackett 0113 2888468 www.wendyjonesblackett.co.uk Hall 3 Stand N17

Words Of Kindness Dandelion Stationery is expanding its Henries’ Best Words and Sentiments Range nominated Words of Wisdom range at Spring Fair. 12 new designs are being added, taking the total offering to over 320 designs. The new designs take a contemporary approach towards illness, sympathy and thinking of you and other everyday titles, and all are hand-finished with subtle sparkle. Dandelion Stationery 01332 695359 www.dandelionstationery.co.uk Hall 3 Stand U53

Lola Pats is a brand new range of 18 beautiful patterned designs from Clear Creations covering birthday and everyday occasions. Clear is also launching its first ever giftwrap to coordinate with this range with gorgeous Swarvoski crystal embellishments for that extra special touch. Clear Creations 020 8885 0009 www.clearcreations.co.uk Hall 3 Stand U51

Wishing On A Star The Talking Pictures team is proudly launching two new open ranges at Spring Fair - Wish and Sparkle. Wish features bold, bright and breezy icons embellished with heaps of Talking Pictures’ magic, including gems, sequins, foil and flitter. Sparkle features a striking celebratory word in sparkly text across the front of each card accompanied by sequins, foil and spades full of flitter! Both ranges come wrapped with white pearl envelopes. Talking Pictures 01892 838574 www.talking-pictures.co.uk Hall 3 Stand Q16-R19

Fabric Of Life Blue Eyed Sun have launched a gorgeous new range of hand-finished greeting cards called Vintage Too, an evolution of its best selling Vintage range that is based on original embroidered artworks by award winning textile artist Jo Corner. Beautifully litho printed on thick watercolour sustainably sourced board and finished with jewels in the UK, these distinctive original 36 designs are 125mm x 125mm and retail for £2.99. Blue Eyed Sun 01273 823003 www.blueeyedsun.co.uk Hall 3 Stand X31

Clear Complexion


A Girl’s Best Friend

A Rare Bloom Azalea is a beautiful new range of highly embellished cards from Rachel Ellen, specially made to celebrate those special milestone birthdays. Printed on a luxurious textured board, each card features two delicate felt flowers with crystal centers and glimmering touches of luxurious gold flitter. The cards measure 159mm square and are sold wrapped with striking black and white striped envelopes. Rachel Ellen Designs 0115 962 2862 www.rachelellen.co.uk Hall 3 Stand R07 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Spring Fair A selection of Humorous cards launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.


Class Act Going strong for over ten years, the Frank by Name humour range from Abacus Cards is expanding again with another super new batch of designs. The 14 latest releases into this iconic photographic range cover the perennially popular topics of ageing and alcohol and comprise an equal mix of birthday and other everyday designs. Presented in a 5” x 7” format, the cards are printed on smooth board and are accompanied by white envelopes. Abacus Cards 01638 569050 www.abacuscards.co.uk Hall 3 Stand P30

Naughty But Nice Country Cards has rebranded its humour offering as Humour by Country Cards and has extended this range to 90 designs, widening the subject matter and giving it a bit of extra spice! All a bit of good clean fun without being crude, the designs are in either blank or Happy Birthday, sized 7” x 5” and wrapped with coordinating envelopes. Country Cards 01835 822485 www.countrycards.co.uk Hall 3 Stand N21

The Munchies On display on Brainbox Candy’s monster-sized stand at Spring Fair will be Sunshine and Biscuits, launching to fanfare and song (and a hobnob or six). Gloriously fun puns and delightful illustrations grace 22 designs across everyday, occasions and seasonal cards, all designed to brighten up everyone’s day. Brainbox Candy 01702 716643 www.brainboxcandytrade.com Hall 3 Stand S50-T51

Absolutely! Dean Morris Cards is excited to add lots of new designs into its popular Fabulous range, now in it’s 10th successful year. There will be 10 new designs at Spring Fair, ranging from nice to naughty and all with the trademark Dean Morris retro visuals and humour. Dean Morris Cards 01902 560247 www.deanmorriscards.co.uk Hall 3 Stand V64

More Fizz! Jam And Toast is a totally fabulous, brand spanking new text-based, funky humour range from Emotional Rescue, jammed to the rafters with funny quotes and hilarious sayings about booze, friends and life in general! Designed inhouse, this range comprises 12 blank or birthday designs, sized 6” square and sold wrapped with a cream envelope. Emotional Rescue 01926 747935 Hall 3 Stand L13

Vintage Comedy Wine O'Clock is a fun and contemporary humorous range from the GBCC. The theme is clear from the name – it's all about wine! The 13 designs use strong graphic imagery and bold type, tied in with bright colours, which cheekily help to convey the fun messages. All the cards are sized 127mm x 176mm and are sold wrapped with a quality brown envelope. The Great British Card Company 01452 888999 www.greatbritishcards.co.uk Hall 3 Stand P22-Q23 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Spring Fair A selection of Photographic cards launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.

PikNIk is a photographic range of cards from Look What I Found exploring the beauty of the accidental and insignificant things in life. From flowers in bloom to quirky street art, every exquisite image is a rare balance between commerciality and cool. There are 48 cards in this range, all sized 120mm x 170mm, printed on FSC board and sold wrapped with white recycled envelopes. Look What I Found 0117 9771510 www.lwif.co.uk Hall 3 Stand L32

Sands Of Time Sandscript Cards will be expanding its ranges of cards of new designs with messages written in the sand or on driftwood. There are now over 150 designs in its collection covering all occasions. All the cards are blank inside, sized 150mm square and sold wrapped with light grey envelopes. Sandscript Cards 01803 752869 www.sandscriptcards.co.uk Hall 3 Stand X51


Blooming Lovely!

Time Capsule Building on the ever-growing popularity of retro products, Alternative Image’s 2016 catalogue features nearly 100 new monochrome and colour images alongside its classic bestsellers. All the cards are blank, printed on FSC board, sized 5” x 7” and sold wrapped with scarlet envelopes. The Alternative Image Company 020 3478 4804 www.altimageco.com Hall 3 Stand V11

Magic Eye

Great Scott! Glebe Cottage has added 12 more designs into its beautiful photographic collection of blank cards by Scott Morrish. The range, which celebrates the natural world around us, features landscapes and animals - we especially like this quirky duck! All the cards are 159mm square, printed on recycled board and sold wrapped with white recycled envelopes. Glebe Cottage 01626 369269 www.glebecottage.co.uk Hall 3 Stand U60-61

Ling Design is releasing 12 brand new designs into its award winning photographic range Beautiful. Once again a stunning selection of varied images ranging from spectacular scenery to stunning wildlife are included on designs sized 165mm square and sold wrapped with complementing envelopes. Ling Design 01892 838574 www.lingdesign.co.uk Hall 3 Stand Q18-R21

Round And Round The Garden Leonard Smith is expanding its RHS Wisley range with eight new notecard designs featuring Len’s photography at this most amazing of English gardens in Surrey. Each glossy wallet contains five each of two designs of notecards with white FSC envelopes. The notecard wallets are available with or without clear sleeves and can also be supplied with a counter display unit. Leonard Smith 01376 562727 www.leonardsmith.co.uk Hall 3 Stand U31 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


Simon Elvin offers the best collection of Social Stationery and Gift Bags available, giving both quality and outstanding value for money‌ a combination that delivers great deals for your customers and excellent margins

Only available through your local specialist wholesaler, so that you can control stock selections and timings.

SIMON ELVIN LTD. SPECIALIST CARD PUBLISHER Wooburn Industrial Park Wooburn Green Buckinghamshire HP10 0PE T: (01628) 526711 F: (01628) 531483 W: www.simonelvin.com 124_PG_February 2016.indd 1

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Spring Fair A selection of New Products launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.


The Sound Of Music Sumptuous is a new range from Twizler with over 70 male and female birthday captions. Elegant and contemporary, the designs are printed on gorgeous board and enhanced with silver foiling, with a musical theme for the male cards. All the cards are sold wrapped with a red envelope. Twizler 01959533567 www.twizler.co.uk Hall 3 Stand R38

Let There Be Light

Getting Social

Really Good presents Showtime! A range featuring colourful retro designs with a collection of LED’s for illumination - your name in lights… well your age or initials at least! There are 36 blank designs, sized 150mm square and sold wrapped with a white envelope. Really Good 01235 537888 www.reallygood.uk.com Hall 6 Stand J22-K23

Simon Elvin has launched its brand new Social Stationery range for 2016. The range is bursting with gorgeous designs inspired by the latest trends and colours and covers everything from twin pack cards, place cards and notecards to display packs, cake boxes and money wallets. Simon Elvin 01628 526711 www.socialstationery.biz Hall 3 Stand N15

Burnished With Love The latest everyday range from Belly Button is Copperfield featuring elegantly hot-foiled copper words and symbols with rich autumnal tones and textures. There are 56 designs in the range, sized 143mm x 175mm, and sold wrapped with either teal or pale stone envelopes chosen to reflect the colour of copper when exposed to the elements over time. Belly Button Designs 0161 902 0200 www.bellybuttontradeshop.co.uk Hall 3 Stand T11

‘Avin’ A Larf

Back In The Day Retro Life is a brand new humour range from Linda Wood, with 1950s style illustrations of fun situations across a broad spectrum of occasion’s. There are 12 cards in the range, sized 5” x 7”, and all come wrapped with a white hammered envelope. Linda Wood 01376 562535 www.lindawood.co.uk Hall 3 Stand W30

With naughty characters, cheesy puns and animals enjoying a bit of banter, Banter Pants is the new humour range by Miss. Pea for Hotchpotch. There are 12 designs in the range, with eye-popping neon orange envelopes. Hotchpotch 01243 792600 www.cbg.co.uk Hall 3 Stand U02-4A21

Winter Loveliness The latest Christmas range from Claire Louise is Let It Snow. With an initial launch of 16 designs, this is a whimsical collection of snow scenes featuring animals all painted in watercolour and ink by Claire. Claire Louise 07715 373344 www.clairelouise.eu Hall 3 Stand X39 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Spring Fair A selection of New Products launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.


Boxing Clever Brand New for 2016 from IC&G is a massive expansion of its beautifully designed individual boxed cards. With new titles and designs, each card includes hot foil, embossing and flitter and also many handcrafted elements to add to the stunning high quality finish. Each cards is all wrapped up in luxury tissue paper, in a full colour printed box. International Cards and Gifts 01202 897494 www.icgcards.com Hall 3 Stand M30

Stickly Speaking

Spicing It Up

An exciting new range from Lisa Stickley is being released by The Art Group. Passionate about designing and creating, Lisa brings her own brand of quirky humour to this contemporary range of beautifully illustrated designs. There are eight 120mm x 168mm designs, all sold wrapped with a fuchsia pink envelope. The Art Group 01159 860115 www.artgroupcards.co.uk Hall 3 Stand M10-N11

Olive & Belle will be displaying new additions to its super popular Peppercorn Press range. The 12 new designs comprise birthday and everyday occasions in its signature quirky and colourful style. Sized 120mm x 170mm, these cheerful designs are complemented with recycled kraft envelopes. Olive & Belle 07836 247811 www.oliveandbelle.co.uk Hall 3 Stand W61

Lots Of Goodies! The Goodlife is a vibrant new card collection from Pocket Typewriter of 16 cards and social stationery products, including notecards, notebooks and gift bags in its signature cottage garden floral print. All the cards are sold with special envelopes with coordinating envelope liners. There is also a special counter display unit creating style and impact effortlessly. Pocket Typewriter 0115 931 2772 www.pockettypewriter.co.uk Hall 3 Stand V35

Male Delivery A brand new line of male designs called Timeless Moments is being launched by Cherry Orchard. From smartphones to teenage sneakers for younger men, through to a relaxing glass of wine or a colourful riverside Kingfisher for the more traditional gent, there are 28 159mm square open designs to cover all ages. Cherry Orchard Publishing 01684 295500 www.cherryorchardpublishing.co.uk Hall 3 Stand Q31

Day Tripper Molly Mae is launching Trip the Light Fantastic, a wonderfully bright collection with contemporary patterns beautifully enhanced with embossed and foiled details. The range comprises everyday male and female birthdays and special ages ranging from teens to 100. There are 30 130mm square designs, all sold wrapped with kraft envelopes. Molly Mae 0844 7362686 www.mollymae.co.uk Hall 3 Stand U40 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Spring Fair A selection of New Products launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham, 7-11 February 2016.


Taking A Dip On display at Spring Fair is a completely new look for Caroline Gardner; a lovely fresh range called Pigment with dip dyed backgrounds, gold, rose gold and black foil text with jolly and sentimental phrases. Arty and sophisticated, there are six cards sized 140mm x 146mm in the range, sold wrapped with complementing envelopes. Caroline Gardner 020 8288 9696 www.carolinegardner.com Hall 3 Stand S08

Bring Out The Fizz! To celebrate 10 successful years of its award winning Pizazz range, Nigel Quiney is launching beautiful new Pizazz designs fresh for Spring Fair. Birthday cakes, butterflies and beautiful florals abound, are all elegantly flittered giving it the Pizazz touch of magic! Nigel Quiney Publications 01799 520200 www.nigelquiney.com Hall 3 Stand P10-Q11

Righting The Angles Kate Guest’s new Triangle range is the company's first diversion into colour designs. The range introduces quirky stamped birthday text, now synonymous with Kate Guest’s brand, on a bed of triangular patterns and on-trend colour combinations. The cards are A6 in size and are presented in a wrapped with brown ribbed envelopes. Kate Guest 07976 031464 www.kateguest.com Hall 3 Stand V51

Even More Catittude! Call of the Wild, Vicky Mount’s popular range for Tomcat Cards, now has a new sister range of 12 cards: Call of the Wild - Monochrome. Going back to the original sketches for the range, there are familiar and brand new designs all in black, white or grey, with finer details, a softer look and even more endearing cat appeal. Tomcat Cards 01243 837300 www.tomcatcards.co.uk Hall 3 Stand W31

A Stroll In the Valleys Pili Pala, Davora’s dedicated Welsh language brand, is doubling in size to 60 designs. Due to popular demand the range now includes Christmas, St David's Day and age specific birthday cards, many with glitter finishing. All the cards are sold wrapped with complementing envelopes. Davora 01616410655 www.davora.co.uk Hall 3 Stand W40

A Little Piece Of Magic Mosaic is a brand new range from Paper Rose by award winning artist Clare Tupper, who uses collected papers and black line work to build this exciting 12 card range. Covering general birthdays and occasions, all the cards are sized 120mm x 170mm, delicately finished with a beautiful sculpted emboss and foil, have die-cut edges and are framed by mosaic printed envelope. Paper Rose 01159 860115 www.paperrose.co.uk Hall 3 Stand M10-N11 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


Polypropylene & biodegradable bag specialists Over 40 years quality service to the trade Hotfoiling also available



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

Tomcat Cards

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A collection of New Products from non-exhibiting companies

Getting Ahead Heads Up is a new range from 1790 Cards of animal and bird designs in the distinctive block colour graphic style of designer Belinda Morris. There are 18 cards in the range, with diverse images including a mouse, a barn owl and a beagle. All the cards are blank, sized 150mm square and come wrapped with a grey envelope. 1790 Cards 01904 448130 1790creative.co.uk/cards

Get Set For Spring Hand-painted watercolour flowers and striking hearts make up Deckled Edge’s expanding and increasingly popular Flowering Hearts range. There are 25 cards in this range, featuring Valentine’s and Mother’s Day, as well as everyday occasions. All the cards are sized 150mm square, printed on textured board and supplied wrapped with matching envelopes. Deckled Edge 0800 771 0771 www.decklededge.co.uk

More Cookies! The Cookie Jar range of friendship and occasions cards from Clare Maddicott is expanding to include birthday cards. This latest batch of 14 designs offers an equal mix of designs for male and female birthdays with the range’s gorgeous trademark spot raised varnish finishing. All the cards are blank inside and sold wrapped with coordinating envelopes. Clare Maddicott 01638 569050 www.maddicott.com

Taking The Mik My Fine Feathered Friends, Miko Greetings’ capsule range of zany, colourful and delightful birds, is expanding. The range now has eight designs by cartoonist Mik Brown, who runs riot on country walks listening out for bird song. All the designs are sized 150mm square, are blank inside and sold wrapped with complementing envelopes. Miko Greetings 02086931011 www.miko-greetings.com

Paws For A Cause Scott & Robson is launching a new range of Dog and Cat cards in support of the Helping Paws charity. The range comprises 12 cards all painted in watercolour by Jo Scott, each animal is a real rescue animal and there’s a story about each on the back of every card. Scott & Robson Designs 07506630626 www.scottandrobson.com

A Rhyme For All Seasons Desito is adding 18 new Valentine's and 10 Thinking of You designs to its Itzy Ditzy range, featuring fun and sentimental contemporary verses combined with stitched fabric elements. All of the designs are sized 150mm square, printed on FSC board and sold wrapped with a purple envelope. Desito 01959 534852 www.desito.co.uk

Box Of Delights Fledgling publisher Outside the Box is expanding its colourful and unusual Chris Crump range. There are now eight blank everyday cards in Weird Animals (pictured), four Inside-Out Surprise Cards and five Concertina Story Cards. All the cards are sized 152mm square and sold wrapped with white or red envelopes. Outside the Box Enterprises 01579 371244 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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A collection of New Products from non-exhibiting companies

Beer Eyes Bonnie Blackbird is launching Good Times, a fun and ‘beerilliant’ boozy birthday card range aimed at people who like a tipple! The collection of 16 designs is fresh and striking with splashes of watercolour brightness against bold paintbrush effect typeface. The cards are sized 150mm and sold wrapped with white envelopes. Bonnie Blackbird 07799 280584 www.bonnieblackbird.com

You Got It! Cave Woman Jessie Cave, a successful actress, comedian, writer and artist, has turned her hand to greeting cards with the launch of her range Love Sick through CardMix. Jessie’s 12 designs cover all the aspects of liking someone, dating, falling in love, friendship and breaking-up – essentially becoming entirely Love Sick. This intelligent and witty card range is the perfect collection of uplifting doodles that we can all relate to, laugh with and enjoy. CardMix 01923 200633 www.cardmix.co.uk

The Oh So Retro range from Distinkt Cards is expanding with the launch of six new designs into this successful birthday and relations collection. There are now 12 designs in total and all the cards come wrapped with a ribbed kraft envelope. Distinkt Cards 01892 511678 www.distinktretail.co.uk

Birds Of A Feather Heriots Garden is a strikingly beautiful handdrawn and painted range from Saffron with 19 birthday and relations cards featuring British woodland flora and fauna. All these designs are printed on beautiful linen textured white board, adding a stylish and sophisticated feel. This range is sized 160mm square and sold wrapped with white envelopes. Saffron Cards and Gifts 01932 888338 www.saffroncards.co.uk

This Little Piggie Animal Glitz The new Woodland Creatures range from English Graphics features illustrations by founder artist Heather Marten. There are six designs: a resting deer, leaping hares, a hedgehog, a fox, a hare and a mouse, all printed on clay coloured board, with a splash of handapplied gold or silver glitter. The cards are sized 140mm square, and supplied wrapped with a crisp white envelope. English Graphics 01590 672778 www.englishgraphics.co.uk

Pink Pig’s got all busy with their little pink trotters and designed an exciting new range called Pink Pig’s Kid's Age Cards! There are 20 designs with ages from 1-10 cards for girls and boys featuring cute animal characters. The cards are all 150mm square, on quality FSC board and sold wrapped with apple mint envelopes for the girls and buttermilk envelopes for the boys. Pink Pig Cards 07583088596 www.pinkpigcards.co.uk



(t) 0116 230 4197 (f) 01536 401 031 (w) www.mint-publishing.co.uk

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Publishing Highlight

Above: The movie, Back To The Future, celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. Below: Two newly relaunched Not Particularly Orange designs from Really Good.

Last year, not only was Marty McFly celebrating 30(!) years since the hit movie Back to the Future was released into film theatres, but some card publishers too have been zapping back and forth in time to regenerate some of their archival designs or ranges from the past for rerelease. PG talks to a trio of publishers travelling back to their greeting card annals to repeat history. Mad World Two bonkers worlds collided when David Hicks, founder of publisher Really Good and Soul, met cartoonist Robert Duncan 27 years ago, and one of the barmy results was a postcard range called Not Particularly Orange (NPO). Now, many moons later, the successful range has been rereleased exactly as it was originally, albeit with a bit of hair on the characters to make them look less male and now in a card format. David expounds on how the range came about and its come back. “I think Robert Duncan and I met in about 1989. He came over to my bedsit to present his work. He wore a suit. I didn't. We were introduced via a mutual acquaintance. We hit it off from the first moment. It's our stupid sense of humour that made us. However, our first card range together was something else... Terribly Useful Cut-outs, and it bombed. As I recall though, there were only six cards or so. We then met at his office and chatted about what to do next. The style for NPO was already something he was scribbling, but then we just decided to add a simple spot colour to each design. The name Not Particularly Orange came about because there was no orange in it. Obvious. I think we started with 20 postcards, and then our

Above: Mad men, Robert Duncan (left) and David Hicks. Below: With and without hair – The Not Particularly Orange range has only been slightly altered from its inception 27 years ago by giving the characters hair on the re-published designs.

humour forced us to add orange envelopes to them. I think we were the only publishers to have postcards with envelopes at the time, but it worked well. It was a quick and easy way to send a message, this being before the days of email, texts and social media. I always did the lines, and then I gave them to Robert to illustrate. It worked well, although at times we both got carried away with our own sense of stupidness! The range lasted for quite a few years, maybe 10-12 altogether. In the end, we had around a couple of hundred designs or more. We added small gifts, some quite silly: We did the world's first mobile phone deckchair in the range. We always thought we'd bring the range back one day,

but because times have changed, we've done them as greeting cards, albeit a similar size to our old postcard size. We've only done 20 designs again (already launched). Oddly, I still remember some previous code numbers, so it was odd recoding the cards. It's strange, but a lot of ranges end simply because everyone gets bored of them. Now, I look at them and think they look quite fresh again. And that's where we are. We simply think they look fresh again. Everything comes round again, and Not Particularly Orange range lives again!” For more on NPO visit: www.duncancartoons.com/the-notparticular-orange-story

Design Rewind Artist Jane Ray has worked continually over the years with innovative design card publisher Roger la Borde since its inception in 1985, however recently the publisher revisited some of Jane’s first, more politically-infused, designs and relaunched them. Jenni Barnett, creative director for Roger la Borde, explains: “When Roger la Borde started out Jane Ray was one of the unique hands forging a distinctive Eighties aesthetic in illustration and craft, and working with her felt like being part of a completely new movement. In the bleary-eyed period post-punk it seemed possible to break down the barriers between ‘high’ and ‘low’ art and transgress boundaries: Jane trained in ceramics (hence the jewel-like quality of her drawing) but found herself painting and illustrating; she PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Publishing Highlight

mixed materials from sweet wrappers to shredded paper; her work was overtly political – full of environmental and global development concerns and infused with one of the great cultural movements of the time, ‘magical realism’. Her images were in the very first line-up of cards produced by Roger la Borde. The desire to put work like hers out into the world was why Roger la Borde came into existence. Publishing her work felt like changing the world. And aesthetically, at least it did. It carried the work of a tiny London publisher into the vaunted halls of New York’s Bergdorf Goodman, as a centre-piece to its entire 1988 gift hall display... and beyond. Before long, Jane Ray’s distinctive illuminated borders, and their look-a-likes, seemed to be everywhere. A true part of the look and feel of the period, all from its humble beginnings on four greeting cards and a giftwrap.

Left: One of Jane Ray’s stunning designs currently on a Roger la Borde notebook. Right: Roger la Borde has refreshed Jane Ray’s beautiful original designs. Below: Jane’s designs, with their well-known borders and drawings of nature, were in Roger la Borde’s very first collection. Below left: Artist, Jane Ray, has been working with Roger la Borde since its beginning.

The decision to refresh and relaunch some of Jane’s original older designs is simply that it feels like the right time. It doesn’t seem possible to have a period-defining look without people tiring of it and it being impossible to keep publishing it. I don’t believe there has been a year when Roger la

Timeless Attributes Over the years, Paper House (now a brand within The Great British Card Company) through its acquisitions has inherited a wonderful archive of art card images, some going back to the 1940s and 50s, from publishers such as Medici Cards and Royle Publications. Nick Adsett, group product director for The Great British Card Company, was charged with the envious job of cherry-picking some original designs from its historical collections for its 2015 and 2016 Christmas ranges. What's in the GBCC's archives?: “Paper House has a history of greeting card company purchases over the years and maybe the most significant in terms of an art archive was the purchase of Royle Publications, along with a treasure trove of art with cards rights assigned in perpetuity. Stanley Roy Badmin (1906-1989) was a wonderful painter, and his work now sells extremely well within our Medici Cards Christmas range. We also have some wonderful classic Christmas landscape sheep/snow scenes from artist Joseph Farquharson (1846-1935). And Royle also has a strong tradition of great timeless humour. David Thelwell’s cartoon illustration, originally published by Royle in 1994, is relaunching as a new humour Christmas box, also in the Medici Cards range. These particular images were originally published from 1980 onwards, but there will be many more examples that go back a lot further, and of course we still publish some wonderful work originally purchased by the Medici Society back in the 1940s and 50s.”

Borde has not had a Jane Ray image in its catalogue but since the mid 90s these have usually been quite different from her early work – much less raw, much more refined. So, although we have been itching to re-issue the original images for many years now, the moment suddenly feels right. Obviously there is a certain amount of nostalgia for the look of the time, and Jane’s images capture a certain less obvious part of the ambiance of the Eighties, which maybe drives our fondness for and desire to re-issue these images. But the quality and power of Jane Ray’s drawings of nature are really hard to match. Put them in front of a fresh audience and with all their resonance for present concerns about the environment and global poverty, and I feel they have a rejuvenated capacity to thrill and to move.”

The decision to reintroduction some of the original, older artwork from GBCC’s archives: “You cannot just commission someone today to paint these types of masterpieces which were often worked in oil and were probably the culmination of a lifetime spent honing a painter’s technique; they bring a gravitas to GBCC’s offering and create a bridge back to our country’s past traditions. However, an awful lot of the archive also now looks very dated, so you have to be careful to make a distinction between ‘traditional, nostalgic high-quality’ and plain old-fashioned.” The artwork's appeal for today's market: “I think consumers are looking to slow down and take a softer approach to the Christmas break these days as an antidote to the other 51 weeks of the year, when we are constantly assailed by a very aggressive UK press, constant political posturing and financial insecurity. People are reassured by links to the past and the thought of a traditional family Christmas has extra appeal, especially if they don’t get to spend so much time together with the family as they used to or would like to. These kind of paintings from Royle’s archives allow you to reminisce about how your parents approached Christmas and are therefore very reassuring, being of the highest quality. They are a link to past traditions. GBCC’s ‘Christmas Wall’ has become much-loved by our retailers at the International Spring Fair, come see it in Hall 3 stand L10-M11.” Above left: This image created by David Thelwell was first published by Royle in 1994, and will be re-published as part of Paper House’s Christmas 2016 range that will be available to view at Spring Fair NEC. Above right: Artist Stanley Roy Badmin (1906-1989) created artwork that remains popular today. First published on cards way back in 1984, his images are again in print within Medici Cards’ Christmas range. Left: First published in 1980, this beautiful snowy scene painted by Joseph Farquharson (18461935) now adds gravitas to the current Medici Cards Christmas collection from Paper House (GBCC).



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Publisher Spotlight

A Robertson Re-Collection

Fine art card publisher, The Robertson Collection, sadly ceased trading last year after 35 years in business following the decision by its owners. But, having worked with the company for 15 years, and lamenting the loss of this established and esteemed company, art card advocate, Ben Davies, managing director of art licensing company DDFA, decided to acquire the brand and will be re-launching The Robertson Collection at this month’s Spring Fair, introducing over 300 new card designs. Ben talks to PG about his resolution to take on this art card institution.


or over 15 years Ben Davies has been working with The Robertson Collection, licensing artwork images to the well-respected art card publisher from his fine art licensing company DDFA. However, when The Robertson Collection closed its art card doors, after trading for over 35 years, for the final time last year, Ben felt it was a truly sad day:“The Robertson Collection represented some of the UK’s best artists on its cards and gave artists an outlet to show their artworks to the general public, who often wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see the art in galleries. Many of the artists’ works are in galleries or exhibitions around the country for a very short period of time before they are sold into private collections. Greeting cards allow people the opportunity to appreciate and share their love of these artworks with their friends and family,” he explains. Ben first dealt with the Eileen Pritchard, the founder of The Robertson Collection, around 15 years ago, when she commissioned artworks by Filippa Whitford, along with many other artists from DDVA's portfolio. “Eileen particularly loved the softness which Filippa captured in her watercolours,” recalls Ben. After Eileen sadly passed away, Ben then had the pleasure of dealing with her sister, Elizabeth Robertson, and Eileen’s daughter, Liz Pritchard, who

both took over the reins of the business and moved it forward. “I had a great relationship with both of them and loved seeing them at the Spring Fair and at their offices in Wolverhampton. Both myself and Elizabeth Pritchard have a common interest in scuba diving so we would often chat about where to dive, although I will say that Elizabeth did far more diving in the cold waters of the UK than I do! I’m far more a warm weather holiday diver!” muses Ben. But when he found out the business was closing last year Ben felt that it was a great loss to the marketplace and industry as The Robertson Collection had been offering high quality art cards to the market for many years. And the art-loving public would be missing out too. “Many people keep cards on their mantelpiece for many years as they love them so much. Only very recently I had a phone call from a lovely lady who had kept one of The Robertson Collection’s cards on her windowsill in her kitchen for five years. The reason for her call was because her cat had knocked it into the sink, and Above: A couple of square cards from The Robertson Collection’s Classic Collection, showcasing John Haskins’ (top), and Pieter Wagemans’ art. Left: Former partner of The Robertson Collection, Liz Prichard, with PG’s Warren Lomax at a past GCA AGM. Far left: A Robertson Collection anniversary design with artwork from artist Nuala Whales (160mm square).

Above: With artwork from Chris Chapman, an Open Christmas design from The Robertson Collection. Above right: From The Robertson Collection’s Gallery Collection, featuring Suzanne Parker’s artwork. Left: Ben Davies, the new managing director of The Robertson Collection.

she was so upset about it! Unfortunately, I was unable to help as we had no stock of the old design. Maybe in the future I should make a note to keep a few cards of each design for such emergencies!” So, given this intrinsic and entwined shared history, Ben purchased the assets of The Robertson Collection a few months ago to keep it alive, and, as reported in last month's PG, is relaunching it under his ownership at this month’s Spring Fair. He working closely with Isabel Scott Evans (formerly of Ling and Simon Elvin) to refresh the range. “I have known Isabel for many years when she was the creative director at Ling Design, and I feel fortunate to have her involved on the creative side,” says Ben. “We will be introducing over 300 new card designs continuing the strength of strong traditional artworks which The Robertson Collection has been known for,” he explains. Along with new artworks by established Robertson Collection artists, such as Jeremy Barlow, Stephen Darbishire, Wendy Tait, Nigel Artingstall and Pieter Wagemans, the company will also be releasing a range of over 250 new artworks by over 80 of the UK’s most popular artists. Proud to take on The Robertson Collection mantle, Ben confirms, “There is still a strong market for fine art and contemporary art cards, and these new ranges will continue the strong fine art tradition which The Robertson Collection has always been known for.” The Robertson Collection Spring Fair: Hall 3, L44 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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The patriotic flags will be flying once again for the Queen’s 90th birthday this year, with one of the largest street parties celebrating in the Mall, putting London back on the trend map too. South American icons, such as exotic plants, tropical colours and alpacas, will influence some of the hottest design motifs of 2016, inspired by the Olympics in Brazil. And botanicals will bloom with a ‘bunch’ of major art exhibitions of a horticultural nature. With an abundance of social and cultural events this year, a cluster of image library aficionados ‘screen’ some key design influences ‘reeling’ on to cards in the forth-coming year.

Luci Gosling, sales manager for Mary Evans Picture Library: Cultural Movers & Shakers And Key Trends For 2016: The Jazz Age: “We’re thinking that 2016 will begin with a resurgence of interest in the Art Deco period and particularly the era’s fashions. The new series of ITV’s ‘Mr Selfridge’ will introduce the famous Dolly Sisters, the twin cabaret artists who epitomised the glamour of the period, and in the autumn, the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey’s new exhibition will be ‘The Jazz Age’. We can’t wait,

especially as we represent the fabulous Jazz Age Club collection featuring many stylish images of The Dollies.” British Heritage: “It is also the Queen’s 90th birthday in April, an event that may not necessarily inspire an artistic trend, but our collection of original Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell fashion designs would make a beautiful card range as a tribute the Her Majesty’s inimitable regal style. We always look to anniversaries too and the 300th birthday of Capability Brown next year has inspired Visit England to name 2016 the year of the English Garden. We’re imagining that this will be a key trend for

the coming year and will, we believe, see a revival in traditional art and illustration of the garden.” Christmas Past: “As well as Art Deco and royal fashion, we predict a continuing interest in vintage and retro styles for Christmas. Leading card retailers, mail order and museum shops have increased the number of vintage designs they source and we think a nostalgia for the past will continue to feature in festive card ranges.”

Inset: Next year jungle motifs will feature heavily on artwork: Monsieur Monkey, 2014 (digital), Lucy Banaji/Private Collection/Bridgeman Images. Top right: From Mary Evans’ collection, a fashion illustration by Norman Hartnell of a beautiful dress specially designed for H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth. Rright: The thirst for retro continues - an array of adorable vintage Christmas scenes are available from Mary Evans. Left: Rosie and Jenny Dolly, known as The Dolly Sisters, were Hungarian-American identical twin dancers and actresses, well-known in the Jazz Age (image available from Mary Evans Picture Library). PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Jehane Boden Spiers, co-director for Yellow House Art Licensing: Cultural Movers & Shakers: “Tropical design trends are set to remain strong with the influence of the Olympics in Brazil 2016 and surface pattern will reflect the indigenous cultures and costumes of South America. With the Presidential Elections in the USA we are bound to see the North American influence rise in popularity, with a special emphasis on vintage. We are living in uncertain times and the comfort of the familiar will be a strong magnet; we can see this creating a revived interest in English florals and traditional prints. And with the new Star Wars film, and an ever-developing space exploration programme, space is big on the radar again. Reflective fabrics, rainbow skies, pearlescent treatments, and out of this world landscapes will all be in vogue - it won’t just be Brian Cox making science trendy!”

Key Trends For 2016: Retro Graphic Patterns: “Influenced by Op-Art and the recent Bridget Riley retrospective at the Tate, optical illusions and bold graphic patterns are going to be huge in 2016/2017. Simplistic geometrics will filter down from the catwalk and limited colour palettes will capture consumers’ attention. We can predict an imaginative use of black and white stripes, diamonds, checks, and combinations of all the above featuring on a wide application of product. Bold graphic patterns will hint to the retro, merging with naturalistic elements.” Expressive Blooms: “Exuberance and large-scale floral designs are a key trend for 2016. Influenced by expressionist and impressionist mark-making, this trend will follow on from the hugely popular theme of the tropics. With an injection of energy and feeling, communicating our need for freedom and zest for life, and with the revival in crafts and a focus on print-making in recent years, art pieces displaying a clear sense of gesture and markmaking form the basis of this expressive trend. Georgia O’Keefe will be the highlight at Tate Modern for the summer of 2016 no less, the first large-scale show in the UK for more than 20 years.” L Is For London: “With major international London events such as the ‘Lumiere’ festival regularly drawing thousands of visitors from across the globe, London is set to remain a global capital. Lumiere brought in new commissions for over 20 artists alone, including UK artists Julian Opie and Janet Echelman. With mayoral elections due and the continuing expansion of the city, London-themed product is showing no signs of waning! Artist Paul Thurlby’s latest ingenious book ‘L is for London’ already has an exciting licensing programme in place with Yellow House and interest is ever-growing. London is big news. Some might say that Q is for Queen, but Paul Thurlby prefers 'Q is for Queue’ which, in our opinion, is the stand-out image of his London book. God Save the Queue!” Top: Beautiful simple geometrics with naturalistic inspiration will be a key trend in 2016 and beyond. Artwork: Sardinas © Gillian Martin courtesy of Yellow House Art Licensing. Above: An expressive bloom - Alliums © Tessa Pearson courtesy of Yellow House Art Licensing. Left: London icons on ‘God Save the Queue’ © Paul Thurlby courtesy of Yellow House Art Licensing.

Flora Spens, account executive for Bridgeman Images: Cultural Movers & Shakers: “Major exhibitions in the UK in 2016 include ‘Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse’ at the Royal Academy and ‘Botticelli Reimagined’ at the V&A, reigniting a fascination with the horticultural world and decorative floral imagery. London will also be celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday next year in style with a flurry of events next year. Further afield the Olympics Games in Rio, Brazil this year will lead to a wealth of tropical prints, bright, energetic patterns with a Latino flavour. Taking inspiration from exotic paradise scenes, classic fifties styles, Latin American art to exotic plant motifs, modernist Art Deco buildings, old Below: Latin America will have a strong influence on design in 2016: Les Jardins Majorelle – Succulents by Jacqueline Colley/Bridgeman Studio artist.



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fashioned cars, warm landscapes to colourful Spanish Latino dancing. The jazzy tropical theme will spread further thanks to the hype expected around the release of major blockbuster films, The Jungle Book and Tarzan. It is also 150 years this December since Rudyard Kipling was born, once the most popular author in Britain, which should lead to images of characters or symbols from his works, and famous phrases from his cherished tales used on products.

This spring it is the major Shakespeare anniversary, celebrating 400 years since his death, and this will lead to more gift products drawing inspiration from the great legacy left by the famous writer.”

Key Trends For 2016: Tropical Prints: “The Year of the Monkey begins in February according to the Chinese Zodiac, and all eyes will be looking at the Olympics in Rio this year, or the release of the Jungle Book. Expect to see bold, exotic flowers, ornate patterns, birds of paradise and mysterious creatures crawling onto gift products. Green is going to be big in 2016 according to experts, as colours depict the sensory feast of a tropical rain forest.” Scandinavian Aesthetic: “Nordic style is growing in popularity across the world and provides a breath of Above: The Elephant's Child having his nose pulled by the Crocodile, illustration from 'Just So Stories for Little Children' by Rudyard Kipling - available from Bridgeman. Left: A natural Scandinavian edge: Wild Horses, 2015, (digital media) by Varpu Kronholm /Bridgeman Studio artist.

Natasha Harding, senior agent for Advocate Art: Cultural Movers & Shakers: “We have seen the 2016 Brazilian Olympics influencing everyday trends for the past couple of years, helped too by the 2015 World Cup being held in Brazil. Icons such as tropical plants, exotic birds and tropical fruit have all been popular in interior design, clothing trends and paper products. Moving on from this, we have also seen a growing Southwestern/Central American influence with the rising popularity of cacti and succulents in interior design. A few other major events of 2016 that may inspire new trends we have the 58th Presidential Election, the opening of the first hotel in space and the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations, to name but a few. In the past we have seen the huge impact the royal family have had on the nation’s buying power, and we may see a resurgence of patriotic icons - think royal birthday cakes, Union Jacks and Londonthemed icons.”

Key Trends For 2016: Southwest States: “Dreamcatchers, cacti and feathers are among a few of the increased requests and looks we have started to be asked for. We feel this is a move on from the tropical drive influenced by the 2016 Brazilian Olympics that was growing in 2015.”

fresh air in the machine age we live in. Bridgeman Studio artist, Varpu Kronholn, from Finland, enjoys combining organic and digital elements and experimenting with different techniques. Her illustrations are popular among surface pattern designers, for greeting cards, stationery and fashion projects.” Kipling Illustrations: “We predict Kipling’s famous jungle characters will feature on products with famous words or excerpts from Kipling’s poetry such as ‘That the Female of Her Species is more Deadly than the Male’.”

Metallic Christmas: “We have seen a big increase in the requests for metallic colours being asked for when it comes to Christmas. The chalkboard trend has had its days, with the use of black being present in these designs, but the metallic colouring gives it that classy 1920s feel to the artwork, with handwritten fonts, chevron patterns and simplicity helping drive this look.” Merry & Bright: “Neon printing has been on the increase, and we feel Merry and Bright helps cover that in a nutshell, but still keeps to the commercial stance needed for the perfect design. The use of striking colours and cute characters work really well for the Kidult market.” Far left: Cacti are part of the South American trend that is to be huge this year. Artwork is by the Pope Twins available through Advocate Art. Above: Metallic colours are enhanced by a black background on artwork by Claire Mcelfatrick from Advocate Art. Left: Uplifting bright shades on a festive design from Andrew Smith, available from Advocate Art. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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PG asked a selection of card retailers for their ‘hot’ card sellers. Wendy Daffin, owner of AG Flowers, Nunhead, London A small florist shop in a city suburb with a loyal locals customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range



Dicky Bird



Sally Scaffardi Design

Animal Range


Emily Burningham



Across The Board

Top: A quirky and cute design from the Animal Range by Sally Scaffardi. Right: A sweet treat design from Lizzie Chancellor.

The Art Rooms



Lizzie Chancellor


Think Of Me


Forever Handmade


Really sweet, simple designs that are versatile for both children and adults. Lovely animal designs, with tartan elements, combined with gentle and unusual humour. Stunning English garden flower designs without being twee, and perfectly fit with being a florist. Not only is there a great selection of contemporary art designs, it is a local company to me. I try to support local businesses as I can tell my customers the products are created in their area. Absolutely beautiful! Silhouetted skylines and London icons designs with blocks of colour. Really pretty designs from an extremely local young publisher who is dynamic and keen. The cards are quite special things. And the owners, a lovely couple, have kept their company personal and not corporate. An amazing amount of paper engineering has gone into the beautiful laser-cut designs.

Handmade/ HandFinished

Elaine O’Gorman, manager of The Card Shop, Blanchardstown, Dublin A medium shop in a city suburb with a loyal locals and destination shoppers customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range



Carte Blanche

Me To You

Carlton (UKG)


Hanson White (UKG)

Across The Board

Paper House (GBCC)

Humour Factory


Across The Board



Persimmon Press


Gibson (UKG)

Simply Traditional and Helen Steiner Rice General

Tatty Teddy remains a very strong seller. We often have men coming in just to buy Tatty Ted cards for their wife. I think it's the simple captions that appeal, and also the designs are quite generic, suitable for both men and women. We have about 6-8’ purely dedicated to humour cards in store, many UKG ranges. How rude the jokes go depends on your customers, but this range of saucy but not rude humour suits ours. A huge range of bright and attractive animal dressed up designs (and a few undressed), such as gorillas roller-skating or cats wearing hats. A big seller for us. The range has recently been revamped with new colours and designs. An American company with a wide variety of photographic subject matter on its designs, which are appropriate for many occasions. Appealing to our older customers, we just can’t keep these in stock!



Right: The Disney collection from UKG includes, among others, the Marvel heroes, The Muppets, Toy Story, Winnie The Pooh and Frozen.


Handmade/ Hand-Finished Children’s Giftwrap

Blue Mountain Arts (distributed by Is It Art) Second Nature UK Greetings Glick


Customers stand there reading and reading each wordy design until they find the one that suits. Some have raised a few tears! A great collection, you just can’t beat them!

Disney Across The Board

Children recognise the characters from films and TV programmes. An absolutely huge range of wrap and accessories… and it sells and sells.



Unit J402 The Biscuit Factory 100 Clements Road London SE16 4DG Tel: 0207 231 2923 Fax: 0207 394 1162 Š ArtPress Publishing Limited 2016

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Gwen Macauley, owner of Inglewood Cards, Kendal A small shop in an old market town with a loyal locals and tourists customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range




Across The Board

Paperlink Woodmansterne

Across The Board Across The Board

Clare Maddicott

Harold’s Planet



Simon Drew


Art Angels


Jane Hickman Batik


Libby Edmonston



Swing Cards


Quentin Blake

Alex Clark



Sardine Keepsake Tins and Hanging Signs

A lovely little company with youthful, attractive and bright designs. All its designs and ranges are strong. An excellent company of quality and taste. Very wacky captions that connect with wine lovers, books lovers and campers especially. Good designs, nicely priced and continually refreshed. The humour is so off the wall. The play on words just tickle people. Because of the rural area we are located, countryside images and birds and animals really matter. Designs that are created through Batik artwork which translate into flowers from all the seasons. Featuring paintings from the local Lakeland landscape, there’s quite a unique treatment to her lively and vibrant artwork. These sell ever so well. Clever and well-designed, with a variety of subjects, such as football, dinosaurs and animals. People love the panache in the drawings which illustrate celebration and joy. The designs appeal to a rural audience - both children and adults with many of the illustrations of tractors, farm and domestic animals. Pretty tins and tin heart-shaped wall hangings with lovely quotes.


Right: Santoro’s beautiful Swing Cards are displayed on the mantle piece as a keepsake.


Handmade/ HandFinished Children’s


Helen Fisher, owner of Snap, Roman Road, Bow, London A small shop in a city suburb with a loyal locals and visitors customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range



The Art File and Noi Publishing

Across The Board


Pango Productions

Jelly Magnets




Modern Toss and Redback Cards



I Ended Up Here

Colourful Creatures


Ohh Deer


Small Eye and Adam Doughty



Velvet Olive

Lucie Loves





East Wick and Paddy Wax


Both publishers’ designs consistently cover every occasion with fresh regular updates and lots of birthday options, which is great! Always a winner, especially as it has now added some magnets of London icons! A German company, which very few other UK stores stock, whose designs features super cute animal silhouettes on wrap and cards. It's beautifully designed and very sweet. Both consistently produce funny stuff that keeps people laughing, with regular new additions and some sweary stuff that cracks people up. The publisher does a lovely range of contemporary animals, in colourful palettes. Suitable for lots of occasions. Funny stuff and silly stuff, and great new illustrators. Two of our best local suppliers producing excellent contemporary and London themed cards that sell really well for us. A nice new children’s age range that features some really sweet animal illustrations. The range of giftwrap is so good, with bold images featuring ontrend things like watermelons, flamingos and hamburgers! Candles are a great seller for us at the moment.

Right: Contemporary publisher, Small Eye, is a local business to Snap in East London. Below right: Bold and beautiful, Wrap’s Pineapples and Melons design.







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On the ball comments by retailer and publisher Lynn Tait of The Lynn Tait Gallery.

Planning Planning

Planning A lot of card retailing and publishing is obvious, but not everyone, either when just starting out or in fact experienced old-timers like me, actually sits down and asks themselves some basic simple questions - this can be said of life as well. ‘Who are my customers and why am I doing this?’ I think most of you reading this will say, ‘How stupid! Of course I know!’ But do you really? The dawning of a new year is a natural time for reassessment. Everything is possible at this stage, but those days, weeks and months soon pass if we don’t take stock. As retailers, one question you and I should be asking ourselves very regularly is: ‘Have trends, tastes and products changed?’ And as you get older your business evolves and your plans and dreams may change. My life and my business has gone through a lot of changes in the last three years so I have had to do a lot of soul searching and forward planning. Following this I have implemented a lot of transformations in my business. The extent of these transformations seem a bit strange given the heritage of my businesses - I have had my retail business nearly 30 years and my card publishing business about 25 years – but essential nonetheless.

Plus, if I was being very honest, which I always try to be, not a lot of planning went into either of my businesses at their launch. Gut feeling was the major driver and to that I will always be hugely grateful as it has very rarely let me down. I realised very early on that I had few skills, so the moment I could afford to delegate to others that had those skills I did. But what I was good at I happily did. I think this is something growing businesses don't do early enough. Basically, business owners are frightened that other people won't do it as well as them. I never had that problem. I knew I would hold things back if I carried on doing a lot of the tasks. This is one of the reasons why my two businesses have kept going all this time - delegation to the experts at the earliest opportunity! I say this because

Festive Fun I love the fact that as business owners we can make things happen - things that are fun and also worthwhile. Last month, we created our usual Christmas grotto and we made £2,150 for the charity Action Medical Research. Since we started creating a grotto eight years ago we have made £18,000 for charity, but this most recent one was a record, which was great news. We had over 600 children in to see Santa during the eight days the grotto was open. It was so hectic in the shop but we all loved it and so did the customers! Right: Last Christmas, little Hattie Seymour, who has a rare form of leukaemia, visited Santa’s Grotto in Lynn’s shop in Leigh on Sea.

Above: Be very aware of how your business is evolving, and new trends and consumer tastes. A card from Icon’s Exposure range.

numerous new card publishers who are doing very well are still packing their own cards and doing their own book-keeping. Far be it for me to tell others how to run their businesses (and make sure that your book-keeper knows what they are doing... more on that later), but maybe this could be the year to relinquish these tasks to someone else so they can concentrate on developing the business? On the retail front, there are many shop owners who are staying in their shops and not visiting trade fairs or other shops to see what is happening outside their front doors. I am well aware of the time pressures and the costs involved, but I really feel it is so important for retailers to meet other retailers in other locations and to visit at least two trade shows a year to see trends and to get inspired. From seeing my business from all angles and for so many years means I am pretty sure I know who my customers in the shop are and how much their budget is. I know the sort of products they like, and that both my customers and the stock has to vary from season to season (especially as I am located in a waterside tourist area). When I first opened my shop, partly due to the location of the shop, I knew that I wanted my stock to be 75% PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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LYNN’S LINES Left: As well as vintage children’s toys, furniture and clothes, Lynn’s has a wonderful collection of old postcards and artifacts. Below: Lynn advises not to pay your supplier until you have received your credit note for damaged or missing goods. And keep those invoices and receipts in a safe place! Below right: Do more of what you love! A MILK card from WPL.

nostalgia and local products. I confess that part of this reasoning was also because I am a collector of… well pretty much everything! from vintage children's furniture, clothes and toys, local pictures, old postcards and artifacts. I had an exact vision of how I wanted my shop, but what I didn't have was a business plan, although had I done so I may well not have gone through with the purchase. I was so convinced it would work that (naively) having a business plan never seemed important. I didn't have any business training anyway so I was rather oblivious to the concept. Although I am not recommending this as a route to go down in today’s climate, I do feel that everyone should take account of their gut feelings alongside a business plan. I look back now of when this opportunity presented itself in my 30s and think “Good god Lynn, what were you doing?” In those days there were bank managers who knew you, there was no internet shopping and there were just a few shopping centres... and thriving high streets. Fast forward 30 years and I've paid off the loans on the two business properties and I've done a huge amount of travelling the world with photos of the places I've visited published onto greeting cards. I've had the most amazing time curating exhibitions, creating and organising projects and spending a lot of time on The Ladder Club. Then three years ago, when I became ill, everything turned not so rosy. Weather and trading wise, it rained for almost five months in 2013, then it was followed by wall to wall sun! It threw my business planning out of the window. They were the worst five months of trading in nearly 30 years, followed by the best six weeks in 30 years. How do you plan a business like this in a tourist area? I then had to do some serious business planning, helped by my two sons. Firstly, I 152


sacked my book-keeper who I should have checked up on more, and who, I found out, was totally inefficient. I now prepare the VAT information for my accountant and know exactly financially where I am in the business on a day-to-day basis. We have a much better system in the shop now for dealing with faulty products and missing items. Simply, we don't pay the supplier’s bill until we receive the credit note. I know that there were lots of credit notes that had been languishing in the system (that I hadn’t received), but for a quiet life it was just easier for me to pay the invoice before I received the note.

Previously, my ordering system put a squeeze on my cash flow and I would run out of stock at my busiest time. The best thing that I have done in 2015 is to agree 60 days credit with gift companies with whom I have a good track record. I stress that some of these companies I have been dealing with for 25 years; I would never ask this from suppliers with whom I do not have a good and long track record. The advantages though of this extended credit period have been fantastic for my business. My busiest time is the summer holidays. I do my main buying from a handful of agents in June and at Harrogate Home & Gift in mid July, and the deliveries come in before the school holidays. This way I am able to order for the rest of the summer and just concentrate our efforts on selling them.

In 2015 I also opened the shop half an hour later each day and saved £2,500 in the process. I am sure I did not lose many sales as people come to Old Leigh in Essex for the day... or at least for a few hours as it is a tourist place. And I have taken on two amazing 16 year-old staff members that I am training up and who are a real asset to the business. I am now planning a big sale to declutter the shop and recoup some money in the very quiet month of January, organising the staff to arrange and tidy up the stock room, and if I am well enough, training them and designating specific jobs. My accountant has been incredibly understanding and helpful during the time I have been ill and has given me a lot of advice. I can't believe that it has taken nearly 30 years for me to be in so much control of my business. In the past I knew that I should know more about what was happening, but I valued my freedom and being able to be a free spirit more. No, I wouldn't have changed a thing, but I am proud now that I have more control over my business. The shop took 50% more in December 2015 compared to the year previous because of more stringent planning. January I know will be another story. So the moral of this is, decide what you want from your business. I never wanted to grow an empire. I was very keen to get the work/home life balance right. This is one reason why I never work in the shop unless we are short staffed. The other reason I don’t is that I am useless! I am in the shop a lot especially at the weekend, but I am a liability on the till, even after all these years. I do ALL the buying though, as this is my expertise. I can spot trends early, I know exactly what I want, I am a super woman when I order stock... and I am quick. I love my shop and my card publishing business and I wouldn't have changed a thing. While I might not be a good example of a perfect role model on the business side by any means, I do have fun. Have a wonderful year everyone. Enjoy reassessing your business, but make sure you do more of what you love!

The LARGEST COLLECTION of Greeting Card Publishers IN THE WORLD “I thoroughly enjoyed the 2015 show. A really good mix of publishers - and a fantastic lunch!” Zoe York, greeting card buyer, Fenwick of Newcastle.

Register Now! A focused, compact show, PG Live is the ideal place to source fresh product, with over 250 exhibitors showcasing their latest ranges. Put 10 -11 May in your diary and register online at www.progressivegreetingslive.com.

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Register Now! +44 (0) 1635 297070 @PGLiveLondon www.progressivegreetingslive.com

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• Greetings Cards and Gift Wrap • Stationery • Soft Toys • Figurines • Giftware and Accessories


PO BO BOX OX 2161 Boulevard The Boule vard Watford W atford WD18 1BJ TTel: el: 01923 200633 FFax: ax: 01923 200636 info@cardmix.co.uk inf o@cardmix.co.uk www.cardmix.co.uk www.cardmix.co.uk CARDMIX - a cocktail cocktail of fun, CARDMIX fashionable and humorous humorous fashionable cards, covering Everyday, car ds,, co vering Ev eryday, Spring ing Occasions,, Relations,, Spr Seasons and Christmas. Christmas.

DADDY Method of Sale: Direct to Retail 


Carte Blanche Greetings Ltd ® Tel: +44(0)1243 792600



Witty, gritty, switched on humour. Cards and gifts with a real difference. Unit 1, 45 Morrish Road London SW2 4EE Tel: 0208 671 2166 Fax: 0208 678 1119 info@cathtatecards.com

Colneis Marketing Caspari Caspari Ltd Ltd L Linden inden H House, ouse, JJohn ohn D Dane ane P Player layer C Court ourt

East E ast S Street, treet, Saffron Saffron Walden Walden E ssex, C B10 11LR LR Essex, CB10 Tel: 01799 01799 513010 513010 Tel: 01799 513101 513101 F ax: 01799 Fax: Email: info@caspari.co.uk info@caspari.co.uk Email: w ww.CaspariOnline.com www.CaspariOnline.com

York House, 2-4 York Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk IP11 7QQ T: 01394 271668 F: 01394 275114 E: colneiscards@btconnect.com Online Shop www.colneisgreetingcards.com

PProducts: roducts: EEveryday birthday, veryday ccards ards - b irthday, blank occasions, charity Christmas b lank & o ccasions, ch harity C hristmas bags, ccards, ards, ggift ift wrap, wrap, b ags, ttissue, issue, rribbon, ibbon, hankies, hankies, napkins, napkins, paper paper plate, plate, candles, candles, placemats, placemats, crackers,invitations, crackers,invitations, placecards, placecards, notecards,diaries, notecards,diaries, address address books, books, journals, journals, advent advent calendars calendars and and bridge bridge gifts. gifts.

M Method ethod o off SSale: ale: D Direct irect to to Retail Retail

Colour House Graphics

York House, 2-4 York Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk IP11 7QQ T: 01394 271668 F: 01394 275114 E: colourhousegraphics@hotmail.com Online Shop www.colourhousegraphics.co.uk



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Market leaders in Humour, Art, Photographic, Occasions and Relations cards offering a full planning service with merchandising and retail development opportunities.


www.greatbritishcards.co.uk WATERWELLS DRIVE, GLOUCESTER GL2 2PH UK TEL: 01452 888999

Bespoke design service for retail products

The T he UK No. No. 1 in Licensed Lic ensed Greetings Greetings etings Ov err 30 lic enses nses including: including Over licenses Disney, D Disne y, Peppa Peppa Pig Pig, He Kitt Hello Kitty y, Mr Me n Kitty, Men Birds and A and Angry Bir dss t: +44 + (0)1264 388400 e: enquiries@gemma-international.co.uk co.uk enquiries@gemma-interna national. ti w: gemma-int gemma-international.co.uk ernational. ona co.uk






G RASS R OOTS INTERNATIONAL A U.K owned Greeting Cards Publisher. Our everyday ranges for all occasions and relations include traditional, contemporary, cute, humour and photographic designs. We also have a full range of Christmas and Spring Seasons. All products are designed and printed in the U.K on the finest quality board.

BRANDS “Write from the Heart” brand includes; Corsage, Sentiments, Champagne, Celebrations and Jelly Beans.

M ETHOD OF SALE Direct to Retail


Beautiful greeting cards from contemporary British artwork

Units 4 - 4A Valentines Buildin g Ra cec our se Bus in ess Par k Aintr ee, Liver poo l, L9 5 AL Tel: 0151 52 3 9600 Fax : 015 1 523 494 9 e-m ail: s ales@ writefr om th ehear t.co.uk

from the

www.dryredpress.com T +44 (0) 1273 241210 E info@dryredpress.com



Eye catching, luxurious Gift Wraps, Gift Tags, Gift Bags, Roll Wrap, Tissue Papers & Ribbons for all occasions Glick, Unit 1 Allenby House, European Industrial Park, Knowles Lane, Bradford BD4 9AB Tel: 01274 655980 email: sales@glick.co.uk www.glick.co.uk

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LING DESIGN The UK’s leading privately owned publisher of Greetings Cards and Stationery. ...The home for and ...and the UK home for

environmentally friendly contemporary & vibrant paper products.

Cards made with love...

Products: Greetings cards for all occasions, Christmas and Spring Seasons cards, gift wrap and bags, charity cards, social stationery. Bespoke service for charities and other fundraisers. Ling Design Ltd 14-20 Eldon Way, Paddock Wood, Kent TN12 6BE Tel: 01892 838574 Fax: 01892 838676 Email: enquiries@lingdesign.co.uk Website: www.lingdesign.co.uk

greeting cards, notebooks paper pens, boxed notes

t. 01243 780501 e. info@jonesy.ca

Silk Screened Retro, Pop & Classic Cards



agents wanted

Inspired by Music and 1960’s American Advertising.For all Vinyl & Rock n’Roll lovers  MUM’S A ROCK CHICK IN HEELS 

CHARITY GREETING 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: info@impresspublishing.co.uk

60 years

Yo our N Number b O One S Supplier li off Numerals, Name, Relation & Age Labels for Greetings Cards. Huge selection with immediate delivery y. Buy direct or from your wholesalerr. Listan Labels 3 Isis Court, Wyndyke Furlong, Abingdon Business Park, Oxfordshire Abingdon, Oxfor dshire OX1 5JN T el e 01235 465489 Fax 01235 532118 Tel www.listanpublications.co.uk www .listanpublications.co.uk sales@listanpublications.co.uk

For further details please get in touch.


+44 (0)7779 578340

To appear in the Product Directory please contact Warren Lomax on 020 7700 6740 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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All our cards are supplied on consignment, so you only pay for what you sell. We also supply card fixtures and spinners free-on-loan. We replace slow sellers and damaged stock free of charge. We merchandise regularly, so you don’t have to. THAT’S WHY WE’RE ORIGINAL!

01932 267 300

Products An exciting and innovative range of quality Birthday, relations, special occasions, art and humorous greeting cards. Full range of Christmas and Spring Seasons merchandise. Comprehensive collection of handmade cards. Pizazz gifts.

Brand Names

Pizazz, Pizazz Gallery, Say the Word, Carousel, Meadow Sweet, R&R for Men, What a Picture! Cloudesley House • Shire Hill Saffron Walden • CB11 3FB T: 01799 520200 F: 01799 520100 www.nigelquiney.com


The easy company I'$.!N Great brands Great service Bespoke planning We can help with all your bespoke planning requirements. From smaller displays to redeveloping complete card departments.

Three great publishers, all under one roof, contemporary, graphic, humour, cute and photographic ranges with a fantastic range of occasions and relations cards. Key brands: V&A, Portobello, Spirit, Daisy Patch, Sugar Pips, Marzipan Toybox, Born to Stitch, Idols, Life, Sweet Tooth, Brights. Method of sale: Direct to retail, Export and Licensing. Riverside House, Centurion Way, Riverside Business Park, Nottingham NG2 1RW Tel: 0115 986 0115 Fax: 0115 986 0116 Email: sales@paperrose.co.uk Web: www.paperrose.co.uk www.artgroupcards.co.uk

paperlink... pap erlink... the home of fabulous fabulous cards!

356 56 Kennington Rd London SE11 4LD T 020 7582 8244 info@paperlink.co.uk @paperlink.co.uk www.paperlink.co.uk

Suppliers of humorous & contemporary Birthday, Christmas, Spring Seasons, Occasions & Relations cards

endorsed product

endorsed product

T: 01227 811600 W: www.noeltatt.co.uk E: sales@noeltatt.co.uk



Brands include: Bottomline, Bestie, Wrinklies, Hat Trick, Route 69, Bangers & Flash, Humdingers, Lacie, Sassy, Stay Wonky, Patisserie, Tinklers, Made With Love, and many many more! Method of Sale: Direct P Paperlinkcards aperlinkcards @paperlinkcards @ paperlinkcards

To appear in the Product Directory please contact Warren Lomax on 020 7700 6740

154-166_PG_February 2016_v8 14/01/2016 12:16 Page 159




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


Mr Figgis, when we say parents invited, we usually mean to sit and watch!

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

Dad - I thought you said I could be the, one to tell him you re out


Me th od of sa le : Direct to Retail 14-20 Eldon Way, Paddock Wood, Kent TN12 6BE Tel: 01892 838574 Fax: 01892 838676 Email: enquiries@lingdesign.co.uk Website: www.lingdesign.co.uk

Freepost RRZH-KLSL-HYBY Richard Sellmer Verlag KG Stourbridge Tel/Fax: 01384877755 Email: uksales@sellmer-verlag.de Products: Richard Sellmer Verlag is producing Advent Calendars for more than 60 years.

Sensations International Ltd Unit 6, Quad Road,East Lane Business Park,East lane, Wembley,MIDDLESEX HA9 7NE Tel. 0208 3854470 Fax: 0208 385 4471 Email: sales@sensationsinternational.com PRODUCTS: World’s leading publisher of high quality plastic greeting cards. Also an extensive range of quality greeting cards covering Everyday, Occasions, Christmas and Spring seasons. BRANDS: Cherished Thoughts, Sweet Sentiments, Buddies Always, Symphony, Thinking of You, Style, Special Wishes, Special Times, Young Editions, Groove Sensations, Forever Blessed, Grey Skies, Classics. METHOD OF SALE: Direct to retail.

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

The Playful Indian cards are a unique fusion of the east and west. Simple and quirky, they have made many people smile...so what are you waiting forr, put a smile on someone’s face today!


Looking for something new?

holy y cow! it’ss your birthd it hda ay y

Greeting Cards that are unique & special with creative wit. Looking for top-notch agents to join our expanding team.

rosierobins.com 01992 536461

striking contemporary cards designed by nicole 0781 5811158 info@redberryhill.co.uk



154-166_PG_February 2016_v8 14/01/2016 12:16 Page 160


www.tomcatcards.co.uk w: www .tomcatcards.co.uk e: tomcat@tomcatcards.co.uk t: 01243 837300



01923 200600 | www.woodmansterne.co.uk


Top-notch British Greeting Cards for Thoughts that Count



Greetings Cards, Gift Wrap, Social Stationery, Gift Bags, Keepsakes, Partyware.


Designer Collection, Feelings, Impressions, Inspirations, In Touch, Isabel’s Garden, Paper Wishes, Planet Happy.

Method of sale:

TEL: 01480 435562 FAX: 01480 450599

Wholesale Distributors

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

The UK’s leading publishers of highest quality handmade Greetings Cards. Products: Greetings cards for all occasions, Christmas and Spring Seasons. Spinners and other retail displays available. Talking Pictures Cards 14-20 Eldon Way, Paddock Wood, Kent, TN12 6BE

Tel: 0845 450 1815 Fax: 0845 450 1816 Email: enquiries@talkingpics.co.uk Website: www.talking-pictures.co.uk




To appear in the Product Directories simply contact Warren Lomax on: 020 7700 6740 or email on warren@max-publishing.co.uk or contact Tracey Arnaud on: 07957 212 062 or email on tarnaud@btinternet.com

161_Directory of Wholesalers_Feb 2016_v8_whole sale dirSeptember 2004 14/01/2016 11:35 Page 161

Directory of wholesalers Directory of wholesalers DIRECTORY OF WHOLESALERS l




Merseyside Greeting Cards Ltd

Merseyside’s Largest Greeting Card Distributor Due to our massive buyer power, we are able to offer you the best prices and also take a pride in our friendly service.



Clapperton Agencies 30 McDonald Place Edinburgh EH7 4NH Tel: 01315 579009

Sunrise Business Park Higher Shaftsbury Road Blandford, Dorset DT11 8ST Tel: 01258 452125 Fax: 01258 486109

Greeting cards * Gift ranges * Pocket money toys * Balloons * Badges * Banners * Soft toys * Stationery * Collectables , including dolls * Photo frames Always something different Check us out now!!! Mon-Fri 9.30 to 5.30 Sunday 10 to 1 Late night Thursday till 8pm Freephone 0800 0279072770 Fax: 0151 207 1564


Unit 7 & 8 Devon Street, Liverpool, L3 8HA

R J’s Greeting Cards Ltd


Greeting Cards from 5p Contact R J Walkden on 0753- 9679-700


Stationery and greeting card wholesaler

Crown House Otterspool Way Watford WD25 8HL

magnus RUPERT

T: 01923 200 900 F: 01923 200 909 Great deals Great location Plentiful parking Just off the M1 Junction 5




Trading Hours Our Opening Hours are: MON, TUES,WED & FRI 9.00 - 5.30pm THURSDAY 9.00 - 8.30pm SAT CLOSED SUN 10.00 - 4.00pm UNIT 4, THE ARGENT CENTRE, SILVERDALE ROAD, HAYES, MIDDLESEX, UB3 3BS TEL: 020 8573 2975 / 1768 FAX: 020 8561 2349 Email: info@abbeycards.com

As of Monday 27th July our new address will be: Crown House Otterspool Way Watford WD25 8HL



C A P S Card & Party Store Ltd

    Mon/Wed/Fri: 8.00 - 5.00 Tues/Thurs: 8.00 - 8.30 Sat: 8.00 - 12.00 Sun: 8.00 - 2.00

The North West s Largest Supplier to the Independent Specialist Card & Gift Shop

Massive range of Cards, Partyware, Gifts, Gift Bags, Gift Boxes & Gift Dressings

574 Manchester Road, Bury, BL9 9SW

0161 796 7353

Order online at www.card-party.co.uk

To appear in the Wholesale Directory simply call WarrenLomax on 020 77006740 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Polypropylene & biodegradable bag specialists


F FOR OR A ALL LL Y YOUR OU R E ENVELOPE N V ELOPE N NEEDS! EEDS! Largest L argest rrange ange of iin-stock n- stock ccolours olours Over 400 Bespoke Envelope Sizes 8 Sizes Permanently in Stock RECYCLED


100% Recycled Paper A vailable v Available

Over 40 years quality service to the trade Hotfoiling also available

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

Stock & Bespoke Cello Bags Peel & Stick Envelopes Bespoke Service on Request

ORDER ON LINE AT: AT: www.regentenvelopes.com www.regentenvelopes.com 01274 583000 sales@regentenvelopes.com sales@regentenvelopes.com




Quality Bespoke Envelopes!


From 5,000 quantity to many millions we can produce excellent quality envelopes for you.


Plain, printed, coloured & textured finish.

01228 560526

100% recycled & FSC available. Please call us on 0843 5066684 with your enquiry or visit our website


www.ukenvelopecentre.co.uk We will be delighted to help!


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



Unit 1, Industrial Estate East Hanningfield Chelmsford Essex, CM3 8AB

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

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Producing greeting cards for over 30 years


01622 710 759 www.offsetproductions.co.uk

188 Forstal Road • Aylesford • Kent ME20 7DB


PJ Print (London) The Capitals only Greetings card printer Guess what what ? We now offer a short run digital print service to the greeting card industry

That’s handy if you only want 100 copies


Specialist UK and Global manufacturer for the greeting card industry To discuss how we could work with you contact Simon King Tel: 0115 928 7766 Email: sales@sherwoodgroupuk.com


E-mail: sales@pj-print.co.uk The Print Works Colville Road, Acton London W3 8BL tel 020 8993 5160 fax 020 8992 8421 www.pj-print.co.uk

Hadden Court, Glaisdale Parkway, Glaisdale Drive West, Nottingham, NG8 4GP



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The home of greeting cards t penden ing inde d a le r ’s e r The UK n ufa c t u card ma g in t e e r g Y j_ed

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YOUR MANUFACTURING PARTNER FOR VALUE ADDED PRODUCTS English speakingproduction team,pricesquoted insterling...andonly 3daysdelivery toTHEUK...

Really... andtheres noVATtopayor customsprocedures either...that'sa greatdeal!

• Hand made and hand finished greeting cards • Boxed sets and acetate packs of cards / envelopes • Giftwrap and tag packs • Individually open and closed wrapped cards • 'Pop up' and cardboard engineered products • Notelets and social stationery • Specialised printing on plastics & lenticular For production enquiries, estimates etc., please contact our UK Agent:

Rob Pearson 07710 132 232 rob@solutions-polska.com FSC accredited (BV-COC-002485). Audited member of SMETA. Printing to ISO12674-2 standard.



Digital Di it l P Print i tS Specialist i li t for the greeting card industry What we offer:



• Greeting cards

GREETING CARD DISPLAYS • Artworking and design • Short-run print • Pick, pack and distribution • Promotional items • Bespoke gifts • Marketing literature • Exhibition graphics • Stationery • Brochures • and more...

• Manufacturers of

quality Display Units for over 25 years

• PVC Interlocking Tiers • High Impact 2mm Edging

• Vast range of colours available

• From one unit through to full shop refits

07974 133735 paul.watson@sherwoodgroupuk.com



INNOVATIVE DISPLAYS TO MEET YOUR NEEDS www.universalshopequipment.co.uk Tel: 0151 546 4525 (Showroom)

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The Professional and Caring Approach..

... to 3rd Party Warehouse, Distribution and Hand Finishing needs. With over 25 years experience in the Greeting Card and Gift Industry, we specialise in providing a very fast yet efficient and friendly service to all of our customers. Our close links to the port of Felixstowe allowing excellent access for both UK and overseas business.

Hand assembly and contract packing specialists • • • •

Greetings cards, hand-packed and hand-finished Low to high volume card cello bagging Gift wrap and gift product packing. Warehousing & fulfilment services.

Call us and we will get you packed up! Tel: 01226 206116 E-Mail:- info@mypackcompany.com www.mypackcompany.com We would be happy to talk to you and provide further information please contact either: James Smithies on 01449 778360 e: james@setinhand.com Tracy Davies on 01449 778363 e: tracy@setinhand.com Please visit our website at www.setinhand.com for further information.

Your Success Is Our Success

LB Warehousing

WIRE SPINNERS Tel: 01929 550085 Email: sales@westminsterwire.com Web: www.westminsterwire.com

Home of the Wire Spinner Stand

(Women in Transport & Logistics Finalist)

S AME DAY order turnaround A CCURATE fulfilment and same day turn round V ALUE ADDED only as you sell the product E XCLUSIVELY Greeting Cards D EDICATED Account Managers With an excellent reputation we work as an integral part of your TEAM bringing much more than fulfilment. Our costing structure is SIMPLE and TRANSPARENT. We carry out ALL aspects of hand finishing and assembly and provide whatever ADDITIONAL services YOU need Our select team of outworkers carefully hand wrap any size or format of cards urgently, OVERNIGHT! We CARE about your product as much as you do. Attention to detail, QC Issues and IT supported by a comprehensive paper trail for all stock movements are our hallmarks. Our CAN DO approach means that WE solve your problems. Outsourcing your warehousing operation releases your time to CREATE/MARKET/SELL/ MANAGE/GROW THE BUSINESS YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS, please visit our web site and see what OUR customers say, then to find out more call Lynda Raymond and perhaps we can arrange to meet and discuss your needs I am sure that we can help. LB Warehousing, Units 1, 2 &3 Wayside Warehouses, Toseland, Near St. Neots, Cambridgeshire. PE19 6RX Tel 01480 880800 Fax 01480880900 Mobile 07889 399341 lynda@lb-warehousing.co.uk

The Wire Spinner is proven to be the most cost effective method to display and enhance products. We also offer sheet metal, wood, acrylic and cardboard solutions or a combination of materials. FOR SALE

A worldwide database of card and stationery distributors. Based on over 25 years of export business on behalf of some of the most successful greeting card publishers, a listing of top overseas buyers worldwide is now accessible for others. Complete listing available for £1500 + VAT For more information call Robin Littman Experienced selection advice also available +44 (0)1278 671679/+44 (0)7767 797858 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Paying top rates of commission promptly plus BONUS!

Good Sales Agents required to sell a fresh new greetings card concept ideal for Independent Greeting Card Shops offering a simple one-stop service for great new designs. Card designs can be viewed on our website: www.showcasegreetings.co.uk

Apply by email to: info@showcasegreetings.co.uk or telephone 01394 271668 Please note our new address: 3 Manning Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk, IP11 2AS

Advertisers Index Company

Page (s)


Page (s)


Abacus Alternative image Company Art Press

14-15 136 148

Icon Arts Image Source Imaging Centre

12 142 150

Retro Co, Roger la Borde Rush design

Badger Converters Belly Button Belly Button Bubble Bernie Parker BGC Blue Eyed Sun British Craft and Hobby Fair

130 76 68 94 20 66 80

Janie Wilson Jean Barrington Jo Davies Jonny Javelin

28 100 116 84

Laura Darrington Laura Sherratt Designs Leonard Smith Lesser and Pavey Louise Tyler

140 132 130 132 136

Second Nature Sensations Simon Elvin Soul Special Editions Stationery Show


146 134

Caltime Card Manager Cardgains Caroline Gardner Carte Blanche Group Cherry Orchard Creative Party

Outside Back Cover 138 120 42 IFC and 3 26 -27 118

Danilo Davora Dean Morris Emma Ball Emotional rescue Enveco

72 92 106 126 24 96 106

Glory Moon Greeting Cards Co Ltd Grass Roots International

88 56

Hallmark Cards Hammond Gower Hearts Design

34 4 114



Noel Tatt Oliver Preston One World Original Poster company Paper Island Paper Salad Paperlink Peel Cards Pigment Pioneer Europe Pyramid International Rachel Ellen Real and Exciting Designs Redback Cards Regent Envelopes

22-23 148 146 100 34 64 50 52 92 16 94 128 78 134 106 150

Talking Pictures The Art File The Art Group Think of Me Thorntons Tomcat Cards Twizzler U.K.G UK Envelope Centre Unique Paper Company

Page (s) 62 18 112 58 48-49 124 8 60 Inside Back Cover 44 46 36 122 30 -31 130 136 10-11 138 38

Wendy Jones Blackett 6 Widdop 110 Willow and Company Greetings 86 Windles 140 Woodmansterne OFC and 18-19 Words ‘n’Wishes 54 Wrapid 132 Xpressions Xystos

82 102

Yorkshire Envelopes


Save the date! The London Stationery Show makes stationery buying a pleasure with hundreds of great brands and thousands of products from around the world, all in one place. Beautiful pens… wonderful wrap… stunning notebooks and diaries… gorgeous gift and social stationery… stylish storage… this is where fashion meets function! Be part of it.

RSVP to stationeryshow.co.uk for free entry

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Progressive Greetings February 2016  

Progressive Greetings February 2016