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An exciting new range from To find out more call us on: 01949 839898 email: Spring Fair NEC: Hall 4 Stand L46

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On The Cards As far as I can tell, from all the card retailers I have spoken to, from right across the retail spectrum, Christmas went well for most (see News and Viewpoints pages 35-37), which is a mighty relief and means 2015 can be entered into with gusto. While I usually don’t go a bundle on New Year’s resolutions, I was heartened by one that has been adopted by a friend of mine. They confessed: “I have made it my New Year’s resolution to confront an aspect of me that I am embarrassed about - my handwriting!” As I wrote my contact details in the front of my 2015 diary using a shiny Cross fountain pen (a lovely Christmas present!) - I felt an almost guilty sense of pride at the neat dense blackinked information. I then realised ashamedly, that the tower of used journals on my desk adjacent were crammed full of notes taken during interviews over the year that were written in a hasty scrawl, decipherable to only me (and that’s on a good day). And I write for a living! Could this be an issue as well as an opportunity for the greeting card trade - are people so embarrassed by the state of their handwriting that they use it as little as possible or can we reinvigorate that passion? It was great to hear that several greeting card companies - Imogen Owen and Betty Etiquette for starters - are having a good take up of the calligraphy workshops they are running, including from some notable shops. Likewise, Belly Button Designs has been approached by Selfridges to offer personalised Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day cards with sparkly hand-written messages on the front. Even more encouraging was an observation Kelly Hyatt (founder of Lagom) shared with me at Top Drawer about how he had gone into an impressive Apple Store, the temple of technology, to see all the assistants carrying around paper notebooks and pens. THE HOME OF MARKET LEADING TRADE MAGAZINES


Above: PG’s Jakki Brown with Foyles’ buyer Abel Dos Santos in its flagship Charing Cross Road store next to some special stationery items which are displayed under glass. (See pages 94-95) Left: PG’s Warren Lomax with Hallmark’s Tamsyn Johnson-Hughes and PG’s Jakki Brown at the historic Bloomsbury House, one of the publisher’s unusual venues for its Art of the Card trade shows this month. Below left: Have wheels will travel! PG columnist Lynn Tait went to Top Drawer to give encouragement to The Ladder Club members who were exhibiting and when there she caught up with Ladder Clubbie Alan Carter (of Frillybee) and PG’s Jakki Brown.who were visiting the show.

“They told me that it was a new thing - they had to write everything down by hand.” So forget brandishing the latest smartphone, handwriting is the new ‘show off’ skill - the pen is mightier than the sword after all. Our greeting card industry, like so many sectors of our rapidly changing and dynamic retail economy, faces many challenges - and who knows what the future holds. But at least, for the next year, 'the writing is not on the wall'. See you at Spring Fair (we’re on stand Hall 4 F08) and don’t forget your pencils and paper!

PS This industry has a lot to celebrate. So everybody is very welcome to come and toast our collective success and future on our stand at Spring Fair, near the front of Hall 4 (stand F08) where the corks will be popping from 5.45pm on the Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. It will be the perfect pick me up as you head out from the NEC!


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


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What’s Inside

With This Issue:



78 11-29




Industry Spotlight On The Wholesale Market

A Cluster Of Ladder Club Delegates’ Path To Cards



How Technology Is Helping Salespeople

Abel Dos Santos, card, stationery and gift buyer for Foyles Bookshop


Over The Counter With David Robertson 32-33



Interior Stylist Selina Lake’s Collaboration With Abacus



Card Retailers’ Viewpoints On Christmas 2014




Publishers’ Design Inspirations

Art Library Experts’ 2015 Image Forecasts



A Pulse Reading Of Hallmark Cards

What’s Hot?

Spring Fair Innovations

Mike Adam’s Diary 43-50

The Retail Barometer Findings

131-132 81-83

Lynn’s Lines

State Of The UK’s Greeting Card Nation

Face To Face With Klondyke Garden Centres Group





International Industry Focus

‘On The Cards’, An Undergraduates’ Card Design Competition




Jeremy Corner’s Journal



Advertisements Index 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


PG is the official magazine for the Greeting Card Association GCA: Sharon Little 020 7619 0396 Email: Use your smartphone app to scan the QR code to visit our website.

Copyright© 2015. 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.



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the best thing about me, is you...

Life is Sweet occasions & relations designed by icon order online: telephone: 01242 679800 / email:

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Christmas Wishes Granted Festive Trade Stacks Up Well For The Card Industry Christmas 2014 turned out to be a good one for the UK greeting card industry, with many multiples and independents reporting growth, some in double-digits, as increased sales of higher priced single cards more than made up for any short fall on packaged cards. The fact that no days were lost through poor weather, as well as December 25 falling on a Thursday (giving some final bonus trading days as many were on holiday from Friday 18), boded well. Christmas for Scribbler was “great double-digit like-for-like growth”, sums up its co-founder Jennie Procter. “Our pack sales were down, but singles were up - this is a continuing and inevitable trend in my opinion,” she adds. Echoing this, department store Jarrolds in Norwich was up 10% on its Christmas card sales and 14% on Christmas wrap. Buyer Suzie Able said: ”The popularity of boxed cards continues to wane - a consequence of the postal rates, no doubt but cello packs of 6-8 cards, including charity packs, are still very popular.” The Cardzone group of 80 stores was happy with a 5% overall growth, but reported that its sales of packaged cards were down by 5%. Home Counties retail group, House of Cards, somewhat bucked the trend as its sales of boxed cards were up 8%, and that’s on the back of a 27% growth the year previous.

“We had a good Christmas. We were up 5% like-for-like overall, which we were happy with, on the back of a record year in 2013,” said House of Cards’ co-owner Miles Robinson. “We have increased our boxed card sales by 50% over the last three years. Our sales of Christmas singles card were also strong, growing by 6% year-on-year, helped by our central warehouse facility that enables us to stock more niche product from smaller publishers,” he adds. Miles also suggests that its participation in Festive Friday (House of Cards paid for the postage for the 800 Christmas cards its 50 staff members wrote that were posted in early December) contributed. “I really do think it helps if we in the industry get into the Christmas card mood early.” ● For more comments see Viewpoints pages 35-39 Above: The good weather in the run up to Christmas helped all card retailers, including The Lynn Tait Gallery in Leigh-on-Sea, with Father Christmas arriving to open his Grotto in blazing sunshine. Left: House of Cards sold almost 200 cards of one ‘Wife’ Christmas design from Cinnamon Aitch.

Paperchase Chimes In The Times The Times newspaper was among the media to pick up the news of Paperchase’s Christmas trading figures, released at a time when the retailer has gone public about its private equity investor looking to capitalise with a sell out of its shares. The upmarket retailer reported that it was 3.1% up like-forlike on sales year-on-year in the five week run-up to December 27, while its online sales were up by 26% (helped by its revamped website and new click and collect facility). “Paperchase enjoyed a strong Christmas trading period, Above: Christmas cheer for Paperchase. ending a year where we consolidated our position on the high street as a key destination for design-led stationery, cards wrap and gifts," stated chief executive Timothy Melgund. "More of our sales were at full price during the year, proving our customers really understand and appreciate the innovation and value for money of our product offering." Commenting in The Times, he said: 'We've made no secret that we have a current investor who wants to see what options are out there. We'll tuck away the rest of the financial year just to make sure there are no surprises, then look at opportunities." Paperchase’s profits for this financial year are expected to be up from £7.3 to £10 million. Paperchase opened 11 new standalone stores in 2014 and successfully refurbished an additional three stores. For the coming financial year it intends to add a similar or greater number of new UK stores. On the international front, Paperchase opened five concessions in Europe. It has also recently announced a partnership with US stationery retailer Staples.

Christmas Card Sending Is A Today Issue GCA chief executive Sharon Little showed herself to be more than a match for even the best known names in broadcasting in countering any suggestion as to the merits of sending Christmas cards. She put Radio 4's presenter James Naughtie of the Today programme in his place: when it was suggested that Christmas card sending was on the decline, Sharon countered with facts and figures. "We are going to be sending over a billion Christmas cards in the UK alone," she said. "Cards are a tangible expression of people's caring," she stressed.

What A Goat Idea Christmas gifts come in all shapes and sizes, but how about sending - and receiving a goat? Greeting card publisher Think Of Me Designs was quick to respond when the idea was mentioned by Richard Ives, the company's agent for the South West. "At a company gettogether at Spring Fair last year, Richard happened to say that, as much as he appreciated the other goodies that he received at Christmas, what he really wished for was something more meaningful, such as the donation of a goat to a developing country," explains Think Of Me's director Dan Kane. "The idea struck a chord with us, so when it was time to think about our industry Christmas gifts we stared to look into it. We found that Oxfam provides the ability to donate not only a goat but a whole host of other meaningful gifts, such as school supplies, mosquito nets, livestock and water wells, in your recipient's name. You can even purchase a sack of manure for your nearest and dearest!” adds Dan. The publisher donated a selection of different products to its friends and colleagues in the industry. “We were thrilled that these Christmas gifts were so appreciated, and we'll certainly be looking to expand on the idea for 2015!" Commented Richard Ives: "It is the one present that I will remember. Realistically, there are only so many puddings and bottles of champagne you can consume over the holidays!" Above: What a 'goat' idea. Left Oxfam's 'goat' gift card.



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Raising The (Card) Bar Terry Harvey To Clinch A 10 Store Deal As PG went to press, heads of agreement had been for M&P Cards (the retail group owned by Terry Harvey) to acquire 10 Card Bar stores. The deal - “a private sale for cash,” according to Terry Harvey, managing director of M&P cards - is on course to be completed in mid-February which will more than double the size of the Home Counties based card shop group, which currently trades from nine stores. Terry assured PG that jobs had been safeguarded. “All staff will come across to us on a statutory arrangement,” he said. The plan is that these 10 Card Bar stores will immediately be converted to, and trade under, M&P’s Occasions brand. “The methodology will be the same as our existing stores with the introduction of state of the art Epos and stock control systems,” says Terry. ● There have been rumours for some time regarding the ongoing trading of the Card Bar chain, which was trading from 26

Below: If the deal goes through in mid February, some 10 Card Bar stores will be acquired by Terry Harvey (of M&P Cards).

stores (in the South West and Home Counties), though some stores were closed on Christmas Eve. Its two general managers Chris Fisher and Anthony Rundle left the business last autumn. ● Card Bar evolved from Gluvian Arts, a small specialist card publisher which opened its first specialist card shop in Teignmouth, Devon in 1996. The company has been owned by C&MB Holdings (the shareholders of which are Charles Brown and his wife who initially bought into the Gluvian Arts business through the Business Angels scheme).

A GBCC Flag Flier Flying the flag for greeting cards, and especially The Great British Card Company, was its operations director, Chris Wilcox. Interviewed on BBC Radio Gloucestershire last month, Chris took interviewer Dave Smith by surprise when he told him that not only was Christmas growing for the company, representing some 30-35% of the company's business, but that Christmas actually starts in May, with December the time to send out Valentine's Day orders and to get ready for Mother's Day and Easter, with the 42 million cards ready for the off in the GBCC warehouse. "As a nation we are traditional and like to send Christmas cards," Chris told Dave Smith. "It is in our culture to choose cards and write them, and to stick a stamp on and write the envelope. It's part and parcel of what we like doing." Left: A Christmas tin from GBCC.

Moonpig Security Alert Online greeting card publisher has fended off an attack claiming its security procedures have left customers who ordered via its Apps ‘vulnerable’ to their personal details being hacked. This all came about as a result of web developer Paul Price recently giving his version of events to BBC Newsbeat's Amelia Butterly. Paul told Newsbeat that data belonging to millions of customers, to include some of their credit card details, could be at risk. Moonpig countered this immediately, stating that its "password and payments information have always been safe." As a precaution however, as PG went to press, Moonpig was further investigating the claims and disabled its mobile Apps as part of this. A statement, posted on the site to its customers from the Moonpig team, reads: 'We want to reassure you that your password, full credit card number and your 3 digit security code are not at risk. We can also confirm that our investigations so far have revealed no evidence suggesting that any customer data has been leaked or stolen.’ It also stressed that the desktop and mobile websites are unaffected.

Gifts Wrapped The Arona Khan Way Giftwrap guru Arona Khan was in huge demand by TV and radio programmes over Christmas, where she demonstrated how to wrap those awkward gifts, on programmes Daily Politics on BBC2, to ITV News, Good Morning Britain and London Live. At Kiss FM she judged the breakfast team's wrapping skills and also popped along to BBC Radio 2's Breakfast Show, giving Chris Evans' stand in Richard Allinson an early morning masterclass. In fact, so hectic was Arona’s schedule that it necessitated going on three limo bikes in one morning! As the Tesco giftwrapping expert for its 'Every little helps make Christmas' campaign, her demonstrations were streamed live on YouTube from a special event at St Pancras International. And for a third year, Arona helped Royal Mail to spread the word about the last posting dates for Christmas both on television and radio. Arona can next be seen at Christmasworld and Paperworld at Messe Frankfurt on January 30 and 31, where her presentations are a special feature of the show. Visit: Above: It was a busy Christmas for Arona Khan, who is shown giving a gift wrapping demonstration at the Tesco Christmas campaign.

Superheroes All Publisher Color blind Cards recently enjoyed spending the morning with school children (aged 6-11) at Paradise Park PRU school in London’s Islington, having been invited to the Pupil Referral Unit to talk about why and how Color blind Cards began as Above: One of the ‘superhero’ designs a business. Afterwards, the created by the company worked with the school children. pupils to create their own ‘I’m a superhero’ greeting card based on a popular design in the Color blind range.



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Introducing a brand new ge by n a r c i h p a r g photo erior t n i d e n w o n re thor, stylist and au Selina Lake.

Stylishly good cards by

Selina is well known for her pretty use of colour, mixing old & new and forecasting the next big style trends for our home, whether this be via magazine features or in her bestselling books, which are published in a variety of languages and are sold around the world. Now her stylish work can be seen on greeting cards.

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These beautiful cards convey Selina’s classic trade mark styling and sense of colour. Printed in a 160mm square format, the cards are left blank for the sender’s own message and are finished with UV varnish. The cards are presented cello wrapped, and labelled with a “Selina Lake” brand label.

Come and see this brand new range, plus over 300 other new Abacus designs,

on stand H29 in Hall 4 at Spring Fair 2015; where we will be giving away a

Kindle Fire HD 6 tablet on all everyday orders to the value of £500 or more.

Alternatively for more information on these stylishly good cards please contact your local TSM or call our sales office on 01638 569050. The Studio, Oaks Drive, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7SX | Tel: 01638 569050 Web: | Email:

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NEWS On The Paper Trail


A Taylor-ed Suit David Greaves Back In The Cardzone David Greaves, the former co-owner of Emotional Rescue, has returned to the greeting card trade, becoming managing director of specialist multiple Cardzone, owned mainly by Paul Taylor. “I have known David [Greaves] for many years and have always had the utmost respect for his business acumen. I was looking to strengthen our board as we go for growth and David was ready for a fresh challenge,” said Paul Taylor, who has now become chief executive of the retail group. “Given David’s 30+ years of experience in the industry, both on the publishing and retailing sides, it makes good sense.” David has joined the company, both as a board director and shareholder of Cardzone, joining other director/shareholders Paul and Chris Taylor and Jo Hancock. The company now trades from over 80 stores under a number of trading names such as Cardzone, Paper Kisses and Special Occasions. David has taken over the

Right: David Greaves come back into the industry less than a year after he left Emotional Rescue, the card publishing business he co-owned with Tony Spooner.

responsibility for the greeting card buying leaving Paul to concentrate on acquisitions and developing the gift side. “We are aiming to double the size of the business over the next three years,” says Paul, who confirmed that it is taking over three additional shops in January, getting the 2015 growth spurt off to a good start.

The GCA is working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to help card publishers and retailers draft their paper sourcing policies to enable them to show that they are in line with good environmental practice. "We will soon have a great 'pick and mix' document of applicable statements ready for our members to use," confirms Sharon Little, chief executive of the GCA. The WWF has been keen to forge stronger links with the greeting card industry as part of its campaign to clamp down on illegally logged timber and timber products (which can include greeting card boards) from entering the UK market. As part of its quest to ensure that the markets are trading in 100% sustainable timber and wood-based products by 2020, WWF is urging all businesses in the card trade to pledge their support.

Carte Blanche Takeover Rumour Quashed

Sharing his reasons for coming back into the industry, David Greaves said: “Despite the competitive nature of the market, Paul and I feel there are still lots of opportunities for growth and I fancied a bit of fun!”

Carte Blanche Greetings has been keen to quash the rumours that have been circulating that the company is on the verge of being acquired by Card Factory. Commenting on the speculation, Carte Blanche founder and chairman, Stephen Haines said: “This is categorically untrue. As the largest independently owned greeting card publisher in the UK we have an inherent desire to constantly stay ahead of trends and protect our retail landscape, of which our independent account base is crucial. We are now in our 27th year and the key to our success has included the unwavering support we enjoy from our independent customers.”

Above: (Centre) Paul Taylor with his wife Chris and John Charlton (former ceo of UKG) at The Henries last year. Left: The plan is to double the size of Cardzone in the next three years.

Giving Something Back Founder of greeting card business Sabivo Design, Sabina Kovacheva, also finds time to be a business mentor, most recently for the Prince's Trust. As a new Trust mentor, Sabina recently appeared in Business Monthly magazine, distributed with the Leicester Mercury, which featured a joint interview with Sabina and her mentor personal trainer Pod Hektor, about what it means to be a Prince's Trust mentor. "I used to be a tutor before I started my business, and I really enjoyed that," Sabina told the magazine."Having run my own business, I realised that there might be a lot of people who set up their own firms without having any business sense. Plus, as I work on my own, it can get quite lonely. So joining the Prince’s Trust allowed me to combine two things: interacting with people and giving my experience to people who have never run a business before. There is no better joy than seeing someone grow and gain more confidence, and see their business become successful." Sabina is an accredited IOEE mentor and distant mentor through two other charities, Bright Ideas Trust (London) and StartUp Republic (London). Left: Sabina Kovacheva, pictured in Business Monthly magazine.

Sweet Treats From Thorntons Chocolates will be on offer throughout Spring Fair on the Thorntons stand (Hall 4, stand F02), where Han van Reen, franchise D&R manager, is looking forward to meeting potential gift shop franchisees. "We are looking forward to talking with quality retailers who want to boost their sales by adding Thorntons into their store to maximise the opportunity they offer their customers," confirms Han. "We opened the last franchise before Christmas in Ulverston, with two more planned for January in Andover and Leigh. There are pending openings in another eight locations and some 20 refits into the new store concept," he adds. Above: Thorntons is on the lookout for new franchisees this year.



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image: Jenny Wren

Representing leading illustrators who produce Children’s and Decorative work to commission or License. Our key principles are Fairness, Ability, Creativity, Trust and that’s a FACT.

Visit our new site

Meet us at Springfair, Hall 4, Stand 104

Contact us

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NEWS Scribbler Heads Down Under


The Fairytale Continues The Retas Search For Greeting Card Princesses Once upon a time…11 years ago, PG launched its annual awards - The Retas - to find and reward the best greeting card retailers in the land. And aiming for a ‘happy ever after’, this year’s search is about to begin to find the 2015 finalists and winners. The Retas 2015 will culminate in a fairytalethemed lavish event at The Dorchester Hotel in London’s Park Lane on Wednesday July 8. The Retas entry forms will be available on the website by the beginning of February for retailers to self-nominate (visit the website:, while the entire industry will also be canvassed over the coming months for their nominations as to which retailers (from right across the retail spectrum) have excelled in their retailing of greeting cards over the last year.

“Just as Prince Charming never gave up his search to find his Cinderella and those Billy Goats Gruff took the risk in ‘trip trapping’ over the troll’s bridge to richer pastures, so there are plenty of greeting card retail stockists whose activities of the last year are real life fairy stories of success and as such are strong contenders for The Retas 2015,” commented Warren Lomax, co-owner of The Retas. Joining the already strong line-up of loyal sponsors, The Retas 2015 welcomes two new sponsors to this year’s event. Nigel Quiney Publications, celebrating 50 years in business, is to co-host the Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer - East Anglia, with its sister company, giftwrap specialist, Glick. Sensations UK’s wholesale arm, Xpress Yourself, is this year’s sponsor of the Best Greeting Card Wholesaler category. Tables, as well as individual tickets for The Retas, are already available from Clare Davies at Createvents on 01183 340085 or at a cost of £165 plus VAT each. Above: The Once Upon A Time at The Retas will take on a fairytale theme. (Image coutesy of Ladybird/Penguin Random House). Left: Who will be feted at this year’s Retas? Last year Sean Austin (right), owner of Austin & Co, Malvern, won the award for Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer Newcomer - North, who collected the trophy from Jackie Collins of sponsor Cherry Orchard.

Silverstone Grand Prix Anyone? To celebrate the launch of its Silverstone greeting card and gift collection, Star Editions is offering customers the chance to win two weekend tickets to the Silverstone Grand Prix - taking place from July 3-5 - if they place an order on the Star Editions stand at Spring Fair (Hall 4, stand D40-E41), with the proviso that they include at least one item from the Silverstone Collection in their order. “We have worked with the British Racing Drivers Club and Silverstone for a number of years, but it is only now, after extensive negotiations, that they have agreed to release these private images for use onto cards and giftware for the first time," explains sales director Will Marston. "We are extremely proud and unbelievably excited to be launching the collection at Spring Fair and to be Above: A greeting card design in the working with such an iconic British brand at a time when motorsport Silverstone Collection from Star Editions. has never been more popular." The complete Silverstone range includes: greeting cards, art prints, mugs, magnets, stationery, key rings, tea towels, tote bags, coasters and cushions, sold exclusively through Star Editions.

Scribbler’s expansion plans encompasses growth close to home as well as on the other side of the world. In February it is to open a store in London’s Waterloo Station and then a month later, one in the capital’s Regent’s Street. However, in April, directors Jennie and John Procter are heading to Australia. “We’re going to look at opportunities in Sydney and Melbourne,” reveals Jennie Procter. “We are also meeting with printers in Australia to assess the potential of increasing our website presence. We now have an international market with our UK website, which is growing rapidly. Our customers really appreciate the availability of great, alternative cards online.” Below: Scribbler is to investigate possibilities in Australia.

University Challenge The start of term has seen undergraduates from a number of universities and art colleges be educated into the world of greeting cards, thanks to The Art Group/Paper Rose and GF Smith Above: The On the paper company as part of Cards logo. its On The Cards design competition. Instigated to make undergraduates of art and design courses aware of the possibilities in the greeting card world, the On The Cards completion debuts this year, involving a handful of leading art universities and colleges. The judging will take place at House of Illustration in London in May with the winning designs being produced by The Sherwood Press. As Reggie Pugh, creative director of The Art Group/Paper Rose commented: “"Having benefitted from having some young graduates join our studio in the last year, I really feel that for this industry to survive and prosper, we need to encourage more fresh ideas that challenge what a greeting card looks like into our trade.” (See pages 85-87)



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See us at

SPRING FAIR Stand D30/ E31

Noel Tatt has pledged to raise a minimum of

£40,000 for Help for Heroes over 2 years

Multicoloured foiling, flitter & embossing

endorsed product

endorsed product

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Multicoloured Foiling & embossing

T 01227 811600

F 01227 811601


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Revving Up The Countdown To Spring Fair Has Begun A car giveaway, new branding celebrated, milestones marked, promotions offered and new ranges launched will all take place in Hall 4, the Greetings & Gifts Hall at Spring Fair, which takes place February 1-5 at the NEC, Birmingham. As unveiled in last month’s edition of PG, the show will fanfare the official launch of RetroCo (Hall 4, Stand M32) which has evolved from the CDCard Company - with a wealth of nostalgia-related collections ready to be unveiled. Elsewhere in Hall 4, Nigel Quiney Publications will be celebrating 50 years in the greeting card business. “This is an amazing milestone and one of which we are very proud,” enthuses managing director Alison Butterworth. As part of its celebrations the publisher will be holding a drinks party on its stand (Hall 4 F04H03), and will be giving away 50 bottles of bubbly to the first 50 independent customers who place an everyday order at the show. Spring Fair organisers i2i Events

● Among the newcomers exhibiting is April Rose Illustration, which will be debuting in Hall 4 stand E107. Products include the company's Vintage Style brand. April Rose cotton tote bags will be given to new stockists placing an order at the show or new clients making a licensing deal on the stand, according to founder Siobhan Harrison.

Group report that the Greetings & Gift sector has seen a 6% growth this year, with a 50% rise in international publishers exhibiting at the show. “We look forward to welcoming 3,000 of the best British and international suppliers, offering visitors the opportunity to source from hundreds of thousands of superb new products, as well as to gain invaluable business insights and trend information from our content theatres," comments Naomi Barton, i2i Events Group's interim portfolio director for retail. PG will be serving ‘bubbles’ on its stand (Hall 4 F08) at the end of most days.

Fair Enough? Returning to the Spring Fair will be the popular Fashion Accessories Catwalk, featuring three daily runway shows and seminars, along with designGap and Design Lab, both in Hall 6. Elsewhere, Spring Fair New Product locators will highlight Creative Britain, Ethical Products and Bath, Body & Home Fragrance located in Halls 5, 6 and 20. New Product showcases will be located in Children's Gift and Toys & Gadgets in Hall 3, with a second showcase in Hall 9. Spring Fair spans 14 different market sectors: Greetings & Gift; Gift; Contemporary Gift; Children’s Gift, Toys & Gadgets; Christmas Gift, Floral & Seasonal Decoration; Gift, Home & Volume; Home; Table & Kitchen; Fashion Jewellery, Accessories & Luggage; Body & Bath; The Summerhouse; The Party Show; Retail Shop and Jewellery & Watch Birmingham. Visit: Above: Over 70,000 will be attending Spring Fair next month. Left: New from RetroCo.

Listen And Learn PG's columnist Jeremy Corner, md of Blue Eyed Sun, will be giving two seminars during Spring Fair. The first one takes place between 12 -12.30 in the e-Commerce theatre on February 1. It will focus on the digital revolution that's taking place, and will see Jeremy offering innovative ways to market a retail business online. The second seminar will be taking place in the UKTI theatre between 2pm - 2.30pm on February 3, where Jeremy will be discussing the company's export strategy. See Jeremy's Journal on pages 62-63. Left: Jeremy Corner.

● Giving visitors a chance to walk away with a unique painting will be Image Source, who will be holding a prize draw on the company's stand in Hall 4 stand F96, where the artists’ agency (which supplies many publishers with designs) will be giving away three original artworks.

● On the international front, Canadian greeting card publisher Nina Jones, founder and creative director of Jonesy, will not only be exhibiting her cards on stand K07 in Hall 4, but also - following a collaboration with interior designer Ashley Botten - will be there to unveil storage products in the new Toofifteen collection. Above: A Jonesy Bomb design. Below: An inaugural product from Toofifteen.

● A retailing guide will be available at Spring Fair from exhibitor Cybertill, offering retailers advice on how to plan their sales and marketing strategy for Christmas 2015. The guide is also relevant to other holidays such as Easter, Halloween and Mother’s Day. Retailers can also collect guide by visiting the Cybertill stand in Hall 5, K53. ● For greeting card retailers looking for show offers at Spring Fair, discounts of up to 10%, no minimum orders and free deliveries are just some of the deals being offered by The Giftware Association's supplier members to retail members and subscribers. Among the greeting card publishers taking part in the scheme are: Blue Eyed Sun (stand 4L66), Eggnog (stand 3H11), Little Fingy (stand 4J20) and Peartree Heybridge (stand 4L106). Free voucher sheets are available on the GA’s stand in Hall 7, stand F22 – G23 or on the Gift of the Year display stand in Hall 6, stand N49.

Logging On Throughout the duration of Spring Fair, there will be ongoing live demonstrations on the Cardgains Village about its webshop - which now encompasses 23 brands - giving members the opportunity to order a mixed box of products across a selection of suppliers, with a minimum order of only £100. "Members will be able to register and also order live at the show," confirms Penny Shaw, marketing director. This month saw Nigel Quiney Publications join the line up of companies now available via the Cardgains’ webshop. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Coming Of Age Year Long Celebrations For Belly Button The Spring Fair marks the official start of a celebratory year for Belly Button Designs to mark the 21st anniversary of the Manchester-based card company that was founded by Rachel Hare, the managing director and creative head of the business. “We are looking to mark our 21st in many different ways – from holding workshops to creating limited edition prints, as well as publishing a special range of greeting cards (which will launch at PG Live). It is a great excuse for us to celebrate and share our celebrations with our customers,” commented Rachel. A special 21st anniversary logo has been developed and

will appear on the back of all of Belly Button’s cards his year. Following on from the success of Belly Button participating in Selfridges’ Christmas Floor, (offering a handpainted personalised Christmas card service for customers to take away), the publisher is to return to the landmark department store in the run up to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day offering a similar service. For Valentine’s Day, Belly Button is to be located in the fragrance hall alongside acclaimed florist Philippa Craddock. “This takes Belly Button back to its roots it is all very sparkly!” says Rachel. ● Belly Button Designs can be found at Spring Fair Hall 4 stand K70. Above: One of the new designs from Belly Button Designs. Left: Selfridges’ customers will be able to have hand-painted Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day cards made for them while they wait as part of Belly Button Designs’ 21st anniversary celebrations.

Cardgains Revs Up For Spring Fair The Cardgains Village will be a central feature of Hall 4 (stand E20/F21) at Spring Fair, with a host of activities taking place throughout the duration of the show. However, for 10 of its retail members (see below), the nail-biting highlight will take place on Sunday February 1 at 2pm, where, as a key focus of the buying group’s 25th anniversary celebrations, one lucky Cardgains member will receive the keys to a brand new Nissan Juke, the finale of the Car-gains car giveaway. The remaining nine runners-up will be presented with a watch. (Throughout 2014, members earned 'entries' into the draw from support suppliers). The final potential new car owners are: Paul Winder of Ideas, Hythe; Henry Ruddock of J Ruddock, Lincoln; Minal Patel of Mayfair Cards & Gifts, Frinton; David Jones of Greetings Galore, Bristol; Jeff Wright of The Drugstore, North Walsham; Keith Gosney of Cards For All Occasions, Southampton; Minaxi Patel of Hammond Roberts, Pinner; Carl Smith of Southbourne Cards, Bournemouth; Lindsay Neild-Siddall of Cardtalk, Bury and Tracy Ball of The Card Shop, Portishead. Additionally, another winner of a different kind on Monday February 2 at 1pm, Cardgains will be presenting its 2014 'charity of the year' cheque to Mandy Williams representing Peach Cardgains’ chosen charity of 2014 - for children with autism. "The target of £25,000 was reached due to the hard work of the charity walkers and riders and the generosity of friends, family, members and acquaintances," underlines Cardgains' marketing director Penny Shaw. Exhibitors on the Cardgains Village include: Amscan, Espree, Express Yourself, Grass Roots, The Great British Card Company, IC&G, Is It Art, Jacksons, Ling Designs, Paper Rose, Quitting Hollywood, Sarunds, Second Nature, Special Editions, Talking Pictures, UK Greetings, WPL, Xpressions 4U, and new suppliers to Cardgains this year, Deva Debut and We've-A-Gift. Right: Which Cardgains member will be driving off in this fabulous Nissan Juke? Marketing director Penny Shaw is shown with many of the companies’ representatives who have been involved in the initiative.

A Monster Attraction Spring Fair's keynote speaker this year is technology entrepreneur Michael Acton Smith, OBE, founder of online retailer Firebox, entertainment company Mind Candy and creator of the global online brand Moshi Monsters. Michael will be speaking on Sunday February 1 at 12.15 – 12.45 in the eCommerce Theatre based in Hall 2, where he will be advising the UK market on how to achieve international growth as well as how to succeed in online retail. His advice will form part of the UK Trade & Investment partnership with Spring Fair, which is designed to support British businesses looking towards international expansion. Elsewhere at the show, the rebranded Trends Theatre will be located within Contemporary Gifts in Hall 6, and will be home to trend presentations from WGSN as well as other seminars ranging from effective branding and merchandising techniques to specialised marketing techniques. tional-content Above: Michael Acton Smith.

Birds Of A Feather Tony Fernandes Design launched a range of cards at the recent Top Drawer that he says has been “two years in the making”. However, his cartoon art bird range has been in gestation since he was a small boy! “I have been an ornithologist since I was a boy – in fact back in the 60s, at the age of 10, I was asked by our headmaster to take some of my fellow pupils into the woods to see the birds and encourage them to draw what they saw. It was one way to get out of a maths lesson!” he told PG. Above: The Great Crested Grebe design from Tony Fernandes Design’s new range. The rear of the card includes information about the bird.



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Barometer Readings Optimistic Indies Face ‘Challenging’ Year Ahead ‘Challenging’ is the one word that independent card retailers feel best sums up the current state of the UK greeting card industry from their perspective. However, as almost half (48%) increased their business last year (compared to their trade in 2013), many have met those challenges head on, though sadly

20% saw their business decline, according to the findings from the PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer. “This annual survey that we instigate with Progressive Greetings is vitally important as it gives regular insight into the strength of the independent greeting card retailer, benchmarks the growth of specific card categories, as well as highlighting what indies see as real threats to their businesses,” commented Penny Shaw, marketing director of Cardgains. The survey shows that indies are going into 2015 in an optimistic mood with 64% anticipating growth. The big bugbears to an indies' trade are, in equal measure, supermarkets and Card Factory, with 83% of respondents citing them as either a threat or a serious threat. (See pages 43-50)

The General Outlook According to a survey carried out by the BRC, UK retailers are optimistic about business in 2015, with 76% predicting an improvement in sales and 67% confirming that their investment was set to increase. Almost 80% of the retailers surveyed said that they were likely to be employing more staff. “It’s great to see British retailers optimistic about the coming 12 months," comments Helen Dickinson, the BRC's director general. "After a number of years battling against strong economic headwinds and shaky consumer confidence, it seems as though retailers are set for some Above: The reform of business rates cheer in 2015." remains a bone of contention, with There were concerns however, with almost three quarters of David Cameron's government urged respondents (74%) opting for a fundamental reform of business rates. to act to help retailers.

The Art Of The Matter “We are starting to see traction in the independent sector. In 2014 we stabilised the business in this sector and in 2015 we want to build on it,” reveals Steve Wright, managing director of Hallmark Cards UK, with his comment being underpinned by the commitment the publisher is showing to independent customers through its January road show schedule, exclusive products and reinvigoration of the Gold Crown programme. The 15-strong ‘Art of Cards’ trade show schedule takes in diverse venues such as the Baltic Centre in Newcastle down to the Mercedez Benz Museum in Weybridge (as well as venues in Scotland, Ireland and Wales). Among the launches was the Handpicked range developed specifically for independents, as well as the new licensed Disney Baby collection and full Warner Bros range. All attendees to the road show had the chance to win a piece of original art created by one of its in-house artists, many of whom were celebrated on special display plinths. (For more see pages 78-79) Above: The Disney Baby range showcased at the recent Hallmark trade shows. Left: Hallmark’s marketing director (left) Andy Watts with trade marketing support manager Suki Nandra with a framed piece of art by Gemma Luxton (that road show attendees had a chance of winning) at the Bloomsbury House trade show.

● There was plenty of Christmas cheer for Anne Allen in the run up to Christmas, when she was announced as the first recipient of the joint Ling Design/Talking Pictures Area Sales Manager of the Year award. Her trophy was presented to her at the company's December Christmas 2015 national sales conference, held at the Marriott Tudor Park Hotel in Bearstead, Kent. "Although some of her colleagues ran close, Anne ended up a worthy victor," commented md Ian Bant. Above: Ian Bant with Anne Allen, winner of the first Ling Design/Talking Pictures Area Sales Manager of the Year award.

● The Ling conference also marked the retirement of Lyn Benfield, who joined the business in 2000 as an area sales manager, before being promoted to senior area sales manager and finally, to national field sales manager, a position she held for several years. At the end of the conference, which was attended by all area sales managers, speeches were made to Lyn by David Gollop, operations manager on behalf of Lyn's colleagues in Bath and Paddock Wood; Anne Allen and Karen Gallagher on behalf of the independent sales team, and Ian Bant on behalf of the company. "I don't think there was a dry eye in the house!" Ian told PG. Above: Lyn Benfield at the Ling/Talking Pictures national sales conference held in December.

● Carte Blanche Greetings' Steve Blakemore is currently celebrating his 25th anniversary with the company, having started out as a sales executive in 1990. On his appointment as sales director, he joined the board in 1999, and last year was appointed CBG's operations director. "I thank Steve for his many years of hard work and dedication, constantly pushing Carte Blanche to the forefront of the industry," enthused CBG founder and chairman Stephen Haines at a surprise party held in his honour. Above: Steve Blakemore (front) and CBG's ceo Alister Marchant at a surprise anniversary.

● Peartree Heybridge has strengthened its sales team with the appointment of Christina Barratt (right) as the new area sales manager for the North West of England. Mike Partridge, Peartree Heybridge's managing director said: “Christina is joining us at an exciting time with lots of new product launches planned for 2015 to build on the success of our existing flagship brands Spring Chicken and Camilla & Rose. She has considerable experience in our industry and will help us maintain our commitment to first class customer service”. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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PG Live 2015 Registration Is Open, Countdown Begins Plans are well underway for the Progressive Greetings Live 2015 exhibition - registration has gone ‘live’, the list of exhibitors already reads like a ‘who’s who’ and fresh marketing ideas are being progressed. This dedicated greeting card show will take place at the slightly later dates of Tuesday June 2 and Wednesday June 3, in its popular venue of London’s Business Design Centre, for the seventh year running. “The support that has been shown already to PG Live is fantastic. We have all the major publishers exhibiting as well as burgeoning Springboard sections, which will showcase an impressive array of brand new and emerging publishers,” says Warren Lomax, joint show director, adding, “Having missed the show last year, both GBCC and Belly Button Designs are

● Author of War Horse, Michael Morpurgo, recently arranged for the full-sized War Horse puppet ‘Joey’ to visit Iddesleigh village in Devon where the tale originated. And artist David Jones of ARTcards was so inspired that he produced and launched a War Horse greeting card. David's image recreates the visit set against the backdrop of the ancient Iddesleigh farming village and its prospect of distant Dartmoor. A portion of the sales of the cards will be donated to the Friends of St James Church at Iddesleigh, Devon. Below: The War Horse greeting card, designed and produced by David Jones of ARTcards.

Above: Even the meeters and greeters live, breathe and wear greeting cards at PG Live!

exhibiting too this year which strengthens the line up even more.” Jacqui Parr has joined the PG Live team as marketing manager to spearhead the marketing activities for the show. Visit:

A Life On The Ocean Wave A passion for drawing cartoons and writing gags has taken Bob Maher (pictured) from a successful career in the greeting card industry, national newspapers and advertising to a glamorous life sailing around the world, where he is enjoying another phase in his long career, this time as a guest speaker and lecturer on board P&O's luxury cruise liners talking about greeting cards. With a schedule being finalised for this year, Bob’s main subject is greeting cards, specialising in humour, talking on every aspect of the business, from the concept of the gag to retail outlets. “You must make the talks entertaining as well as informative” says Bob, who grew up in Sydney. “It’s always nice to see the audience laughing and enjoying themselves.” His talks take place in the theatres aboard P&O’s cruise ships which sail to the Baltic, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, with Bob happy to do illustrations and caricatures on request for passengers, which are then projected onto cinema-sized screens. He also talks about his experience as a Fleet Street cartoonist for the Sun newspaper, where he drew the daily Livvie cartoon strip for 21 years, with a regular following of 10 million readers. Towards the end of each cruise, a 'tea and cakes' morning is held where Bob’s cartoons are auctioned off for the Macmillan Cancer Charity. “It’s usually a full house, and even I am surprised by the high prices my cartoons go for,” admits Bob, who signs every drawing.

GBCC Trade Site Goes Live Having spent several months testing, trialling, tweaking and further developing it, GBCC has now gone live on its new B2B trade website! “This is all part of us helping our retail customers, making it easier for them to order what they want from us when they want, day or night,” said Fiona Burge, who has been working with the company on a consultancy basis on its online and social media activities. Above: The home page of the GBCC site. “While currently only a small number of retailers use the online facility to order their cards, I see no reason why in five years time some 20% of GBCC orders placed from customers will be through this method,” she added. “It will never replace the sales team, but supports them and our customers.”

● With 15 years experience in the greeting card industry, Stephanie Dyment formerly with Woodmansterne/ Cardmix, who designed the Stephanie Rose range - launched her own eponymous card Above: Among the new company at Top Drawer in card designs from January. "We launched with 52 Stephanie Dyment. designs, through six different looks, mainly birthday and blank, but also some age and special occasion designs too," explained Stephanie. ● Charlotte Hendry was announced as the winner of the first ever UpStArt competition, sponsored by UK Greetings. The competition was open to 1719 year-old A Level art Above: The winning entry to students based in London. the UpStArt competition. As part of the prize, UK Greetings has invited Charlotte to join them for a week's work experience at its Watermark studio and have gifted the budding artist £50 worth of art supplies. ● On a cold, wet Monday morning, the shop door opens and in walks the Queen, followed by David Beckham, George Clooney, Messi, Ronaldo, Mary Portas, Dawn French, Miranda Hart and Barrack Obama - and the sun would come out! These are the celebs who independent card retailers would most like to walk into their shop in 2015. This is just one of the important findings from the PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer (see pages 43-50). Right: A royal welcome would be in order for the Queen from most indies. (Image: courtesy of Lynn Tait).



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Over The Counter

Keeping The

Faith David Robertson, co-owner of card and gift shop JP Pozzi in Scotland, reflects on last Christmas’ retailing landscape and some challenges ahead.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” This quote from the apostle Paul to Timothy in the Bible perhaps encapsulates how I felt this year post Christmas. I originally started writing this column three days before Christmas when I was in that kind of punch-drunk state of tiredness. It’s the situation when you have adrenalin coursing through your veins and you are chasing sales figures and you are excited both in terms of the business and also personally about the festive holidays and spending some time with friends and family. You are in the store totally focused on selling, as everything is in place and you want to drive your team on to get the best from them. Also, in these final few days of Christmas sales the threat of the internet has gone and the general public is forced to the shops where you can not only sell them what they were looking for, but tempt them with other goods as well. Product knowledge and an interest in what you are selling always results in an upsale and it is an opportunity for you to dazzle them with great customer service, which will always be valued and hopefully tempt them to be a repeat purchaser. So the race was run and as I sit here resuming this article, on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year, my mind is awash with questions. Did I buy the right thing? Did I invest in the correct 30


brands/products? Was my strategy for Christmas correct? What will the next year bring? The key question is of course, how did we do? The figures suggest that we did OK. We have matched and slightly surpassed the key five weeks run up to Christmas and the reaction to our stores has been on the whole positive. This year, unlike the last, the general public was looking for larger, unusual Christmas decorations and what we had selected sold very quickly. Eight diamante £150 reindeers were all sold in a week! Did we miss out on not stocking more? Absolutely! But could we do anything about it? Absolutely not. Christmas cards are a product category that we have more flexibility with. The larger card publishers offer credit and uplifts and the smaller publishers’ cards can be sold off if need be. Personally, this year, I received less Christmas cards than ever before. My Mum, who always receives 200+ Christmas cards Above: The Christmas retailing landscape was a bit hairy last year for independents. A card from The Alternative Image Company. Below: Many consumers were shocked at the price of posting all their Christmas cards.

also received far fewer this year, and this trend is something that seems to quicken with each passing year. So why is this the case? Well, here are just a few of my thoughts: ● The Cost Of Postage - sending a lot of cards in one go is a large financial commitment. ● Lack Of Time To Be Writing Them - a huge number of people are sticking messages in a newspaper or on social media with the promise that they will donate to charity rather than send cards. ● Lack Of Good Designs Of Boxed Cards There really were not that many exciting boxed Christmas card selections and the ones that I really liked and were different tended to be own brand Tesco, Paperchase, Next or Marks & Spencer product. I don’t believe that anyone is cutting back on sending cards to close friends and family. In fact, I think that they may be spending more. Conversely, regarding the boxed card designs, I feel that the small card publishers have been the lifeblood of Christmas. Everyone knows about Five Dollar Shake and Belly Button, but it was companies like Bexy Boo, Pango, English Graphics and the Downton Abbey-inspired designs from Frillybee that really made my card displays stand out. These companies were all sourced at PG Live or Harrogate Home & Gift, in environments where up and coming card companies can afford to show and experiment with their designs. These companies had to be sought out, and I cannot emphasise enough that there really is no substitute for actually going out to trade shows and looking at product. Indeed, English Graphics I saw at PG Live and at the time I didn’t buy from them because I had

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Over The Counter

Above: English Graphics created a beautiful Bauble range with diamantes for added sparkle. Right: Sales of the Christmas Silhouette Girls range from Frillybee were a Christmas cracker for Bijou. Below right: Black Friday saw consumers go crazy for bargains.

spent my budget. However, when I put out my Christmas product I didn’t feel there were enough different items. I was lacking a little WOW factor and by adding English Graphics’ Bauble range into the mix I found it. I have spoken before about keeping a folder or box file of product and I continue to do this. I always ask the publisher for a card sample and keep it with the catalogue so that I can make an informed decision. This is especially important with so many companies not printing catalogues any more and only showing their ranges online. I speak to so many retailers who don’t attend any or maybe only go to one trade show in a year and I honestly think that it is like listening to the same album every day. You have got to broaden your horizons and sometimes you have to look and break away from long-established connections, regardless of how good your relationship is with the company or agent/rep. If the product is not good enough or has gone stale you have to be ruthless and walk away. I had a number of these instances this year, including a situation where a company had produced product for a multiple which was selling for half the price that we were selling the same cards. When I pointed this out, the company’s md dealt with the situation immediately, but if I had not been checking out the competition and observing closely what they were doing this would have been missed. Last year was a difficult one and I don’t know many who would disagree. The challenge of bricks and mortar retailing gets more daunting with each passing week and I simply don’t believe that the retail

economy is in growth, despite what the majority of these surveys say. The spike of Black Friday and then the lack of footfall in stores in early December are all trends that worry me and indeed should worry you too. The annual January sales were also not greeted with the huge hoo-ha that is usually made. I believe that this is because the high street is almost permanently on Sale. The consumer simply does not know when to buy or when to wait. This is why Card Factory has done so well. In fact this is why all the value brands have done well. They are growing because their prices are always the same and they offer the public what they want at a price they are happy with. Do I like them or would I shop there? Not at all, but you have to admire what they do. Additionally, in Scotland, we are now having to get used to the carrier bag charge where customers have to buy or indeed bring a bag for their shopping. I am in total agreement with this for food products, but it is simply impractical for our industry. Cards need to be kept clean in bags and often people buy on impulse. You then also have the problem that a great deal of people don’t want to pay for a bag and so carry their product around the store. This can then result in the ‘have they paid, have they not?’ debate! I find it embarrassing asking people for 5p for a bag when they have spent heavily on a gift and I really think that it is an idea that has not been properly considered. If you buy some new clothes for example you are almost forced to buy a carrier bag as you are not going to put a shirt in a bag in which you have carried food. Bags are also one of my key ways of advertising my store. And getting your product in a nice bag adds to the overall experience of shopping. This is something that the internet firms have totally acknowledged, as the packaging of their gifts and the boxes in which they come reflects their ethos. Whether it is branded tissue paper or smart white boxes tied up with white tape, they obviously see the value in it.

Event retailing is something that I can also see continuing to be a trend, with many gift and card shops now offering specific shopping nights where the customer gets added value and even more TLC. This has worked brilliantly for us, and although it is a tremendous amount of extra work it certainly seems to result in increased sales. So how do we ensure that we survive? How do we ensure that we prosper? In one word - Dialogue. Whether it is with your customers, your suppliers, or indeed with other retailers, sharing of knowledge and openness to new working methods and trying different things will be key to long-term success. In terms of your customers, it will not only be face to face communication, but through the internet/social media and email. Many of my Christmas gifts, and indeed many of the products I sold in my shop, came about by looking at what others were doing and reading and engaging with various media. A large amount of things I learnt about, ordered and bought was because I had emails sent to me or online links shared (which increased dramatically over this period), and this is something that I intend to build into my offer in 2015.

I am more determined to get my new website up and running than ever. We must continue with Facebook and embrace the other social media platforms and I also feel that email advertising through Mail-Chimp may be an effective tool as well. The leading retailers obviously have budgets we can only dream of, but they really set the benchmark for catching customers’ attention with emails and in turn getting sales. Retail is changing and challenging and 2015’s race is only just beginning... To contact David email: PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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The Return Of

Takeover Mania?

‘Dear Santa... we have been a good industry all year, please can we have a good year’s trading - failing that, a shiny Aston Martin would do... from Cardsharp’. So, it would seem to Cardsharp that Santa has done his job, (no Aston Martin has been delivered), while the New Year fairy is suggesting more acquisitive activity is on the cards for 2015. Christmas 2014 may not have gone down as a barn door busting cracker for the greeting card industry, but there were plenty of reasons to be cheerful, reflected Cardsharp. The feedback from many retailers - from large to small, from upmarket to downmarket and specialist to generalist suggests a picture of pretty healthy sales. The mild weather, the way the calendar fell (giving a few days extra fillip before the big day) and a general ‘traditional’ flavour to Christmas all boded well. True, that for many cardies (but not all), continuing a pattern of the last couple of years, sales of packaged/boxes Christmas cards were down, but this dip was more often than not counter balanced by an increase in sales of higher priced and better margin individual Christmas cards. The top end continued to grow, with many independents expressing surprise at the rate of increase of higher priced card sales - and niche publishers responding well to the requests for reorders at short notice. So, it would appear to Cardsharp that the obituary for Christmas card sending in the UK was very premature and the much talked about ‘Black Friday’, while rather



disruptive to consumer and retailer behaviours in other product sectors, seemed to have little effect on greeting card sales. With that in mind, 2015 presents a somewhat rosier scenario for the industry than has existed for a long while. Wages, for the first time in a long time, are going to rise faster than inflation, and tumbling food and fuel costs will give many a consumer more disposable income than they have had for sometime; and maybe more money to spend on greeting cards? Cardsharp hopes the industry’s fairy godmother has her magic wand fully charged and at the ready. Since the recession hit in 2008-2009 the greeting card industry has largely battened down the hatches and got on with it. There have been a few retail casualties, such as the Clintons and Birthday’s failures, but it could be argued these were a result of poor management decisions taken in a difficult retail market, rather than a reflection of the industry itself. And in fact, there has been the growth and expansion of many other card and stationery chains Paperchase, Scribbler, Card Zone and, of course, Card Factory.

Inset: Will acquisitions be on the cards for 2015?

But one aspect that has become obvious to Cardsharp is the almost complete lack of publisher acquisitions in the last few years. Of course, there have a few relatively minor ones (Mint acquiring Museums & Galleries and R.E.D. and Ling Design picking up Rainbow and Sarah Warren spring to mind), but the only ones that could be considered ‘major’ were probably Carte Blanche acquiring Wishing Well Studios and UKG acquiring Watermark. And even then these took place near the beginning of the recession. To Cardsharp’s mind it has been all quiet on the acquisition front. How things have changed from the 1990s and the early Noughties. The industry was then still in its pioneering entrepreneurial stage and almost every year there was at least one high profile big money deal. Hallmark and American Greetings (parent company of UKG) were vying for supremacy and market dominance and were snapping up almost any other major publisher that moved. The size of some of the deals were staggering. Some 20 years ago, Cardsharp recalled how Hallmark paid an estimated £200 million for Andrew Brownsword’s eponymous company, and a few years later, spent another £150 million for the Bradford based publisher and manufacturer, Creative Publishing. Then came arguably, the most successful of the Hallmark acquisitions,

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CARDSHARP when it paid around £15 million for Tigerprint, the own brand greeting card supplier for Marks and Spencer. American Greetings spent more prudently, but was equally active, snapping up companies including Gibson Greetings, Camden Graphics, Hanson White and Card Connection. To Cardsharp’s mind AG has been successful on the takeover front (Clintons aside as the jury is still out on that one). All four of these publishing companies are still very strong brands within UKG’s/AG’s portfolio. The return on investment in these publishers, from what Cardsharp hears, has been pretty high. Even medium-sized publishers used to have more of a taste for acquisitions than they have of late. GBCC (in its Paper House days) acquired Royle, Aries and Parnassus. Ling acquired Talking Pictures, and Abacus acquired Clare Maddicott. In the wholesale sector, Petal acquired Kingsley Cards before succumbing to business failure, only to be acquired from the ashes by wholesaler Budget Greeting Cards.

The Simon Elvin group, which has spread its arms somewhat over the last decade or two, encompassing companies such as Nigel Quiney, Glick, Paper Rose/The Art Group and Polytint, seems to have lost the taste for acquisitions for a while. Overall, everything has been pretty quiet on the acquisition front of late, on the publisher side especially. (The Card Factory mega flotation rather scuppers Cardsharp’s theory!) Greeting card publishers was perhaps seen too ‘analogue’ and, as such, became less interesting to would-be outside investors. And the profit margins, squeezed by retailers over the years, were not what they once were. Cardsharp wondered whether the two big publishers, Hallmark and UKG, had

reached such a position of market dominance that meant they saw little incentive to ‘splash the cash’ and acquire a smaller niche publisher when they both had their own respective creative and distribution muscle to achieve those same goals themselves. Multiple valuations of companies dropped, making it less attractive for owner publisher proprietors to sell out. There was perhaps also a belated recognition that without the creative inspiration that made the publisher successful in the first place remaining on board and hungry in any new set up, that the turnover from the acquired publisher could disappear down the drain very quickly. But now in the new world of 2015, Cardsharp predicts that there could be a flurry of publishing takeovers to start happening again. (Indeed there is a bit of activity happening on the retailing side what with Paperchase having gone public on its quest for a new investors to replace its current equity partners, as well as changes afoot at Cardbar). There are certainly a few factors in place that could trigger quite a few deals, and even if they don’t happen, Cardsharp is sure that talk of them will be in the air. Why? The economy is obviously picking up and greeting card sales are holding steady. But for any publisher aspiring for growth it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so organically. The market is so saturated by good publishers, all established in their chosen niches, that there is very little place to go. There are humour specialists, hand-finished specialists, sentiment specialists, licensed specialists, contemporary specialists, many of whom have become very strong trade publishing brands in their own fields. For a hungry, growing publisher to expand successfully into those areas would mean stealing turnover from these specialists. Not an easy task given the incumbents’ dominance and expertise. It may be that the stronger players feel that now is the time strategically for some action. Secondly, many of the middle-rank publishing companies were started in the late 1980s and early 1990s by (then) youngish entrepreneurs who, through skill, ingenuity and drive took advantage of the growing market to build successful £multi-

Above: Since the recession there has been a growth and expansion of card retailing chains. Below: Is global domination in the thoughts of any greeting card publishers?

million companies. However, many of these entrepreneurs are now reaching retirement age or at least might be feeling that they want to capitalise on their efforts, and are arguably looking for a comfortable exit. Some of course may feel they want to keep the business in the family, take a back seat, and let a new generation take their company on. However, second generation businesses are notoriously prone to failure or decline. Either way many, Cardsharp suspects, would be susceptible to a sell-out if the price was right! And thirdly, reflects Cardsharp, there are companies out there who are sitting on a pile of cash. With interest rates so low, these companies might be looking to make a decent return on their money and a sensible publishing acquisition could be a viable way forward. If so, what will be the first deal to go through? Given the strength of the very top end of the greeting card market and the strong trade brands in this sector of the market, perhaps there could be takeover activity in that arena? Or perhaps a large multiple retailer will seek to replicate Card Factory’s hugely successful vertical integration model by acquiring its own publishing operation and therefore cut out a layer of costs. Cardsharp would not rule this one out either. Cardsharp has no crystal ball, but he is in little doubt that the speculation will be fun at this year’s Spring Fair. As Cardsharp and PG readers know, there is nothing the industry likes better than a good gossip! The heady days of the 1990s may never return and the sums of money involved in the deals may be smaller than were changing hands in those days, nevertheless, 2015 may have quite a dramatic effect on the face of the UK’s greeting card industry.



000_PG_FEBRUARY 2015 30/12/2014 11:54 Page 1

Individually hand folded cards produced in the UK. Each card is created from one sheet of board, there is no glue, springs or plastic fasteners, just beautifully created forms.

Paper at the cutting edge

Come and see all our collections at Spring

Fair Birmingham NEC 1 -5 February 2015 Hall 4 Stand J100/K101 T. 0115 850 7490 F. 0115 941 3411 E. The Art File

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Santa’s Footprints With more confidence in their coffers, there seemed to be a steady flurry of festive shoppers making tracks along the high streets this past Christmas, enticed out early by the mild weather, indies’ Christmas events, Black Friday and some dazzling merchandise and displays. PG asks whether card retailers’ Christmas sales were as sweet as the figgy pudding and gingerbread biscuits or as soggy as overcooked Brussels sprouts?

Frozen Frenzy Terry Harvey, managing director of M&P Cards, owner of Occasions Cards & Gifts, group of six stores (soon to be 16) in the Home Counties: “Our Christmas singles’ sales were 'high' throughout the whole season, right up to Christmas Eve – ending 6.8% up on the previous year - and we had some double-digit growth in a couple of locations which boosted this number. Boxed Christmas cards did not perform as well for us though. We opted for a higher priced product range, with a negotiated 33% Off RRP for customers, but we found sales to be much lighter. We don't know exactly why at this stage. The start of the festive buying generally appeared to be earlier than the previous year, with customers thinking ahead about their purchases. The ramping up during the final full week was not as steep as expected, probably because of the three days trading in the Christmas week. Sales were 'dramatic' from the Saturday before Christmas up until close of business on Christmas Eve. High ticket items were the stars of Christmas this year for us, with some exceptional ATVs on products like Charlie Bear (circa £75-£100). We ran the usual advertising campaigns, but most notable were our 'Frozen Days' organised by Xpressions 4U’s Pete Goodman and Mike Apicella. We had a phenomenal response to these, with queues of people eager to meet the Frozen princesses, stretching several hundred yards. Fundamentally, there was a very positive vibe towards Christmas and some evidence that customers were regaining some confidence in their financial futures with fuel prices dropping and house values are increasing even if wages are static.”

Viva La Difference Frances Burkle, head of buying for Paperchase, which has 130+ stores in the UK and 30+ overseas: “Overall we had a very positive Christmas! On Christmas cards we saw a trend back to a more traditional buying pattern where Christmas packs and singles performed particularly strongly - with singles especially exceeding our expectations. And on giftwrap too we had a very strong year across all the categories. Our bestsellers as ever were those lines that were new, a little bit different and more often than not played to our strength of graphic imagery. On the product specifics we had a great year on our charity pack ranges and on our wrap accessories offer in particular. We consciously had less multi-buy promotions on cards this year and we saw no noticeable effect on sales as a result. On elements affecting sales, obviously Black Friday had its greatest ever impact and is evidently here to stay - the result of which was to grow sales early in the season and make the final few days even busier! As for looking ahead and new stores, our focus is very much to continue to develop the UK business at the same rate as last year.” Top: Santa brought some lovely Christmas sales for card retailers: A design from Abacus' 2015 Christmas range. Above left: Queues of people went for several hundred yards right out the store on 'Frozen Day', organised by Xpressions, at Occasions Cards & Gifts. Above right: Black Friday triggered consumers to start their Christmas shopping. Left: Some of the Christmas cards on offer at Paperchase last Christmas.



036_PG_FEBRUARY 2015 10/01/2015 17:40 Page 1


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A Bobby-Dazzler!

Pulled A Cracker

Philip Downer, managing director for Calliope Gifts, Dorking and Alton: “It was a late Christmas. Of course, retailers have been saying that every year since the dawn of time, but this year was given an extra twist of unpredictability by (a) the weather, which stayed mild and autumnal for much too long, and (b), more importantly, the hoop-la surrounding Black Friday. Of course, few retailers in our sector actually participated meaningfully in Black Friday it was essentially a supermarkets/online phenomenon, with a focus on cheap electrical goods but it drained a lot of customers’ purses, sent more of them online and alerted them to the possibility of more discounts to come. Funnily enough, the corollary of all this seemed to be that there was less discounting in the immediate run-up to Christmas – the fashion boys weren’t launching as many early sales as they have in previous years. But, while the week before Christmas was a bobbydazzler, the road that got us there was a bumpy one. Our suppliers serviced us pretty well. There are always a few companies whose sales reps haven’t told their accounts departments about Christmas payment terms, but we had the stock we needed, in the locations where we wanted it. Unlike last year, no one dumped a load of Valentine’s cards on us before Christmas, so we were able to concentrate on driving sales and keeping customers happy. Our new shop in Alton did well, our website Top: Dazzling displays at Calliope Gifts in Dorking was significantly busier than last year, and Alton attracted customers' attention. and we added hundreds of people to Above: Special discounts were offered to Calliope's our mailing lists and Facebook/ customers over the festive period. Twitter feeds. In terms of next year, we share John Lewis’ fervent hope that Black Friday has peaked, and that Next-like common sense will prevail – we shall see! We run special offers for our mailing list members, so we can reward loyalty at the same time as driving the top line; I expect we’ll be doing more of that in 2015.”

Soggy Sales Of Boxed Cards Paul Taylor, ceo of Cardzone, which comprise over 80 stores:

Sara Morris, partner of The Card Emporium and Rhubarb, Malvern: “I’m delighted to report that our Christmas was a massive Christmas cracker! Our sales at The Card Emporium were well up on the previous year, including our Thorntons franchise, and sales in our gift shop Rhubarb were also well up, so we are pretty chuffed with that. I don't think Black Friday or Cyber Monday made any impact on our sales, in fact Cyber Monday happened to be one of our busiest days. And on the day the Christmas lights were switched on in Great Malvern we were absolutely swamped with customers. People started buying Christmas gifts much earlier this year and I thought trade may quieten down over the last two weeks before Christmas, but that certainly wasn't the case. Religious cards and religious postage stamps were in great demand this year, more so than in previous years. I shall approach my Christmas buying as usual. I’m always looking for great new products and new suppliers, as well as continuing to support existing suppliers who have been stars over the crazy Christmas period! But overall I’ll be going out there and buying with confidence… I can’t wait!” Above: Rhubarb and The Card Emporium in Malvern had a cracker of a Christmas. Left: The Card Emporium's Santa shop assistant, Bryony and co-owner Sara Morris (right), got into the festive spirit.

Jingling Tills Gemma Jones, seasonal card buyer for Tesco: “We had our best results ever! Both Christmas boxed/packaged cards showed double-digit growth, as did single Christmas cards. Traditional and cute Christmas greeting card designs continued to dominate sales.”

Right: The cost of posting Christmas cards has taken its toll on boxed Christmas cards.

“Christmas was very strong for us and we ended 5% up overall. While our sales of Christmas singles were up 1% year-on-year, our sales of packaged goods did not perform so well and were down by 5%. While I do think that there is more growth to be had on single Christmas card sales, the changing consumer patterns on Christmas boxes is unlikely to be reversed. A combination of consumers reacting to postal costs and others deciding to give to charity instead of sending Christmas cards have all taken their toll on our Christmas packaged market, as has activity by value retailers (notably Card Factory) and aggressive price promotions elsewhere.”



038_PG_FEBRUARY 2015 09/01/2015 15:28 Page 1

Send it with love, send it with a Yorkshire Envelope!

Please visit us @ Spr Spring ing F Fair, air ir, NEC Bir B Birmingham mingham 1st 1st - 5th 5th February February 20 2015, 15, SStand tand F8 F81, 1, Hall 4 +44 0 01274 1274 5 518890 18890 (Y (Yorkshire Yor o kshire En Envelopes) velopes) +44 0 01202 1202 339960 (Pukk (Pukka a Pad Pad / Concord) Concord) Em: sales@pukk

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“Black Friday - it was essentially a supermarkets/online phenomenon, with a focus on cheap electrical goods - but it drained a lot of customers’ purses.”

Glittering Service Clinton Lewin, managing director of iCandy Cards & Gifts, 14 shops in the South of England: “Retail trading is still very tough, but our December sales were up in all our shops except one. The weather, Black Friday and other special discount days didn't affect trading either way for us and we didn’t find our customers had a different buying pattern from previous years, but the iCandy team excelled in looking after them with great service. Christmas buying for 2015 will involve a reduction of lines on offer to our customers.”

Christmas Singles Sparkled Debbie Pritchard, director for Bookends for Christchurch, Christchurch: “Through December our shop sales were up 15%. Christmas cards overall were also up 15%, however this was derived from increased sales from everyday and Christmas singles, and boxes, packs and cellos were down by 1% on last year. Regarding sales patterns for Christmas cards, the first week of December is the busiest week for the packs and cellos, however the sales of single cards increased week on week. We even sold an amazing amount of cards on Christmas Eve. There were a couple of mitigating factors that facilitated better Christmas sales: Better weather definitely helped footfall this year and deliveries leading up to Christmas were excellent from all our suppliers. And my approach to buying for next Christmas will be cautious with regards to Christmas card packs and cellos, however I’m confident about Christmas singles.” Top: At iCandy Cards & Gifts service was with a big smile. Left: Christmas card sales had increased on last year at Bookends, Christchurch.

Santa’s Big Helpers Suzie Abel, buyer for Jarrolds, Norwich: “We are very fortunate that our Christmas Department - cards, calendars, wrap and decorations - has always been positioned elsewhere in the store and therefore the sales on everyday cards, wrap, tags, tissue etc are not adversely affected. This year was even more exciting as the decision was made to Above: Jarrolds, Norwich beautifully illuminated move it to a larger area on our third with Christmas lights. floor, adjacent to Toys (including Santa Below: A relations Feltipips Christmas card from Paper Rose. and his grotto) and outside our main restaurant, thus turning it into a magical Christmas world. Consequently, (and despite a sluggish start due to the unseasonably mild weather) I've had a fab season with a growth of 10% on Christmas cards and 14% on Christmas wrap. The popularity of Christmas boxed cards continues to wane - a consequence of the postal rates no doubt - but cello packs of 6 to 8 cards including charity packs, are very popular still. Sales of relations and captioned single Christmas cards were excellent again this year, and we do have a reputation for stocking the widest range of these in the city. If there was a card captioned ‘From my cat to your dog’, I'd probably buy it! Successful single Christmas card publishers for us included Nigel Quiney, Paper Rose, Noel Tatt and UKG. Christmas card packs and boxes were great from Museums & Galleries, Ling, Woodmansterne, Mint and Medici Cards (GBCC). And best contemporary Christmas ranges were from Five Dollar Shake, Art Beat, Caroline Gardner and The Art File. We promote the Christmas department heavily in all our store windows; online; in our Christmas Gift Guide and in our store directories, and if in doubt, customers just followed Santa’s footprints on the shop floor!” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


040_PG_FEBRUARY 2015 09/01/2015 16:44 Page 1


Loads of New G

New Card Ranges

Casey Rogers

Sunny Side Up

Come and see us at the NEC Spring Fair. Hall 4 Stand K100 - L101.

41.QXD_Grid 07/01/2015 09:19 Page 41

Mike Adam’s Diary

Mike Adams, founder of the Temptation group of gift and card shops in the Home Counties, discusses how taxation is strangling the economy. Despite what our political leaders say about the economy growing, retail is still flat-lining. It is now seven years since we saw genuine like-for-like growth on our high streets and I can tell you one of the key reasons why the economy is so stagnant. It is because so much money is being taken away in taxation that none of us, whether individuals or businesses, have anything left to spend. So, playing Chancellor for the day, here are three changes I would make to our taxation system: “No representation without taxation”. At the time of the American Revolution, British taxpayers in America rose up with a cry of “No taxation without representation”. They were angry because they were expected to pay taxes, but they didn’t have a vote. Eventually the law was changed. But maybe there is an argument that the same principle should be applied in reverse. Maybe we have now excluded too many people from paying Income Tax, leaving the rest of us with too high a burden. If you don’t have the pain of having some of your wages deducted at source your attitude to how much the Government should spend is distorted. So maybe you should only get to vote if you pay Income Tax and Council Tax. It changes your view on what ‘the Government’ and ‘the Council’ should pay for if you are Above: Is this the reason Britons are taxed so much? A satirical Have I Got News For You card from Woodmansterne. Right: Marie Antoinette’s (alleged) exclaim "Let them eat cake!", could be mistaken for the UK Government's at the moment: A Blocks Series card by Sunlight On Closed Lids. Below: Mike Adams and his Temptation staff at The Greats Awards.

personally providing the funds, and it changes your view on the rate at which income tax should be levied. Income tax does NOT start at 20%. When are we going to stop swallowing the lie that the basic rate of Income Tax is 20%? Under recent governments personal allowances have increased so most people don’t start paying Income Tax until they have earned £10,000. As to whether this is a good thing see my previous view, but at the point at which we all start paying Income Tax the starting level is not 20%, but a mind boggling 32% - 20% Income Tax and 12% other tax, which the Government calls National Insurance, but which goes into exactly the same pot as Income Tax. Take this example of one of my team who earns £24,000. Out of her monthly salary of £2,000 she gets stopped £233 in Income Tax and £160 in National Insurance, so she pays £4,722 in tax annually, which is 33.7% of the income on which the Government claim she should pay tax. That is over £1 in every £3. And on top of this, Temptation also pays another £184 a month to the Government in employer National Insurance contributions, so on this one individual, a girl in her twenties, who is being paid at a rate just below the ‘national average annual wage’, the Government is reaping a fraction under £7,000 a year in Income Tax. Is it just me, or is this not an obscene amount of money for the Government to take from a single individual earning £24,000 a year? National Insurance contributions are no longer ring-fenced to pay for our pensions, so they shouldn’t be separated from Income Tax. I wonder how quickly tax rates would come down if successive governments had to sell a 32% basic tax rate at elections? Business rates are strangling business growth. This year, Temptation paid almost £200,000 in business rates. I would be happy to make an absolute binding promise to any government that if they abolished this tax I would commit to spending EXACTLY THE SAME AMOUNT on business expansion. I would be happy to spend every single penny in opening new stores, refurbishing existing stores, investing in new software, and in so doing I would create lots of new jobs - generating lots more Income Tax, lots more National Insurance, lots more Corporation Tax - and lots more VAT. I might also be in a position to increase wages to my 100+ staff, who would then pay more tax themselves. Is it any wonder that people are fed up with their politicians? Is it any wonder that they are turning increasingly frantically to any Tom, Dick or Nigel who they think might just want to reduce the taxation burden that is crippling entrepreneurialism, crippling the lives of ordinary hard working people and crippling the economy? PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


042_PG_FEBRUARY 2015 09/01/2015 15:35 Page 1

New Gift Range


New Card Ranges


Winsome Tales of Tea and Wonder

Come and see us at the NEC Spring Fair. Hall 4 Stand K100 - L101.

43_45_47_49_50.QXD_Grid 07/01/2015 09:29 Page 43

PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer

Inset: Hairy or Happy, hip cyclist Bradley Wiggins and singer Pharrell Williams.

Happy Or Hairy? The year 2014 will be remembered for many diverse reasons. There was of course the poignant centenary of the start of the First World War, the discovery of the world’s biggest dinosaur, the landing on a comet, the Happy earworm from Pharrell Williams and the hipster fashion for bushy beards. But was last year a ‘happy’ or ‘hairy’ one for independent greeting card retailers and what are their expectations for 2015? The answers are revealed in the findings of the latest PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer. Last year was the one that indies really ‘went for it’. While 26% of respondents attributed the improvements in the UK economy as boosting their business, it was as if, rather than sitting back and waiting for the ‘good times to roll’ they went and grabbed whatever opportunities there were out there, be it by instigating marketing initiatives, diversifying their product offering or engaging with other parties. Most encouraging, 80% of respondents either increased their trade last year (48%) or held the line on the year previous (32%) through nudging up the average spend as well as appealing to new customers. While sadly a fifth of respondents did experience a drop in their trade in 2014 (compared to year before), this is a rosier picture than the 2013 findings painted. While well aware of their challenges (for example, 83% of indies see supermarkets as either a threat or serious threat, 10% more threatening than Card Factory) the findings reveal that independent card retailers are embracing 2015 full of gusto, with 63% predicting that they will grow their business this year - and that’s no hipster shaggy beard story! The PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer is an annual survey that involves Cardgains’ 750 retail members (which account for 1,000 retail rooftops). For the first time ever, the survey was available to be completed online (or via hard copy) which improved response levels. All surveys were completed by early December.

How’s Business Been? How Was It For You? 2014 v 2013

Worse 20% Better 48% Same 32%

Positive Drivers

Average Spend Per Customer

Product led the way to a Increased Significantly 4% better trading year in Increased Slightly 42% 2014 (over 2013) for most Remained The Same 38% indies, with some savvy Declined 14% gift buying helping to Declined Significantly 2% push up the average spend per customer - and coming out tops as the main reason card retailers experienced improvement in trade. However, employees remained vital to the success and growth of an indies’ business last year and in fact when points are attributed to the second and third positive drivers cited in the survey, staff actually come out top. Another year on and the use of social media by independent card retailers is really on the up, bringing the benefits of new customers as well as a cheap and relatively easy way to communicate promotions instore. And, for the first time ever, the proliferation of coffee shops was cited as having a positive effect of an independent cardie’s trade, providing another reason to keep the public out and about in the high street with this increased footfall representing potential sales opportunities. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


044_PG_FEBRUARY 2015 09/01/2015 15:38 Page 1

St Hal an l d 4 E6 0

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PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer

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

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

1st Expansion into gifts 2nd Staff 3rd Upsurge of new customers 4th Promotional activity 5th Shopfit/improvements 6th Social media 7th Local competition closing down 8th Website/online selling 9th Coffee shops opening nearby 10th Improvements in free parking

(Last year’s position is shown in brackets) 1st The UK retail economy (1st) 2nd Expansion of discount/deep value retailers (5th) 3rd Parking issues (2nd) 4th Expansion of cards in supermarkets (3rd) 5th Competition from multiples (8th) 6th General online activity (4th) 7th Charity shops selling greeting cards (7th) 8th Print-on-demand cards (4th) 9th Increase of the minimum wage (6th) 10th Rent review (9th) 11th Lethargy in buying and sending cards (10th)

Festive Feelings It would seem that after a rather dramatic drop in retailers’ perceptions of Christmas card sending in the 2013 Barometer (when some 59% thought Christmas card sending was down), the readings this year seem more palatable - with 64% feeling that they would remain on a par with the previous year and less than a third would be sending fewer cards. Yet, this is of course all relative as the ‘base’ is lower. However, the timing of the Barometer (retailers complete the survey by the first week of December) means retailers’ reactions are based on an early hunch rather than a full picture of their Christmas card sales’ pattern. Certainly last year’s consumer media coverage was much more positive towards Christmas cards than it has been in previous years, plus the general feeling towards a ‘comfy, cosy Christmas’ in which traditions were up-kept are expected to have boded well for more considered Christmas card buying and sending.

How many Christmas cards do you think people sent in 2014 v 2013? Fewer Than The Previous Year 32% Same As The Previous Year 64% More Than The Previous Year 4%

Makeovers And Marketing The marketing mettle was grasped like never before by indies last year with almost 80% of Barometer respondents embarking on promotional activity in 2014 - the most since the Barometer began. This high level of engagement is also mirrored in the collaborations with other retailers, trade bodies, charities, schools and other youth groups with the vast majority of respondents seeing merit in joining forces for mutual benefit or altruistic reasons. In fact, one respondent, rather than remain despondent with the offer from the existing Chamber of Commerce, instigated setting up an alternative in the market town in which the shop is located. Encouragingly for the health of the sector, link-ups with schools and other youth groups was much more the ‘name of the game’ in the last year. Meanwhile, closer to ‘home’, recognising that their own shop environment is the marketing face to their customers, the last year has seen significant collective investment in the fabric of retailers’ stores through partial refits than full-blown new looks.

Have you run promotions and/or advertising for your shop in the last year? Yes 79%

The Real Dampeners Despite the fact that just over a quarter of respondents cited the improvements in the UK economy as having been a boost to their business, the general state of the UK retail economy was right up there as having been the biggest dampener on trade for indies. In second place is something rather more specific with the proliferation of value retailers having significantly jumped up the bugbear list. This is not just due to the continued expansion of Card Factory, but the widespread acceptance of general 99p Stores, Poundland as well as Aldi and Lidl in changing consumer perceptions of pricing of consumer products. Of course the perennial problem of parking issues is still up there (in 3rd position), the potency of this issue reinforced by the consumer shift to more online shopping, which has a direct (ordering via Moonpig instead for example) as well as an indirect detrimental effect (staying in rather going out shopping) on bricks and mortar card retailers.

No 21%

Top Ten Promotional Mechanisms 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th

Loyalty cards & initiatives (1st) Instore ‘money off’/discount promotions (2nd) Social media (4th) Press advertising (3rd) BOGOF (or similar) (5th) Leaflets (5th) Charity fundraising (5th) Gift voucher scheme (8th) Customer events and evenings (6th) Collaboration with other local retailers/businesses (7th) Free gift promotions (10th) Radio advertising (9th) Billboard use (-)

Top: Caroline Gardner gift and stationery products. Left: Value retailers are cause for concern for indies. Right: Calliope Gifts' Dorking shop launch offered customers a glass of wine and special store discounts.

How has your business fared over the last year? PG looks back at the last eight year’s of PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer data. 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%

2007 v 2006 Better 50% Same 31% Worse 19%



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PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer

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

How do you view, Funky or other ‘print-on-demand’ card operators?

(Respondents could tick more than one) Town Centre Retailing Group 42% Charities 38% Federation of Small Businesses 28% Schools 24% Chamber of Commerce 22% Village Associations 3% Youth Groups 2% Church Group 1% Other 8%

Serious Threat 15% Neutral 40%

Threat Bonus

With revamped Clintons stores opening up, how do you view this chain? Serious Threat 4%

Bonus 6%

Threat 28%

What investments have you made in your shop over the last year? 1st 2nd 2nd 4th 5th 6th 7th

Partial refit Computer equipment New shop units Full refit Vehicles for the business EPOS equipment New lighting

7th 8th 8th 8th 8th 8th

Shop extension Card payment facility Stockroom racking New fascia New carpet Display material

Les Bete Noires The picture has not changed that dramatically in the space of a year regarding what indies see as anathemas to their business, but the severity of these threats has increased some what. While previously, some indies were ambivalent as to what impact supermarkets, garden centres, Card Factory or Moonpig had on their business, in every case, the number who ticked the ‘neutral effect’ box has reduced and the percentages of those who see them as a threat or serious threat has increased. Interestingly, while Card Factory comes in for a lot of stick from indies, in actual fact it is the supermarkets than represent the biggest threat to their business (with none viewing their participation as a bonus), with their enormous footfall and increased focus on greeting cards.

How do you view the supermarkets’ expansion on the greeting card front? Neutral 17%

Serious Threat 20%

Threat 63%

How do you view Card Factory? Serious Threat Threat Neutral Bonus

20% 52% 25% 3%

Right: Card Factory is considered one of the biggest threats to indies. Far right: Many greeting card independents feel their suppliers' customer service has picked up.

41% 4%

Neutral 61%

How do you view garden centres on the greeting card front? Serious Threat 14% Neutral 35%

Threat Bonus

47% 4%

Rising To The Challenge ‘Challenging’ is the word that most indies feel best describes the state of the greeting card industry currently. Neither especially negative or positive, the word is more matter of fact. Other strong contenders that cropped up are: Positive descriptors: buoyant, comfortable, diverse, dynamic, electric, exciting, friendly, fun, good, great, healthy, growing, innovative, inspiring, interesting, profitable, progressive, robust, steady, talented, thriving, unique, vibrant. Neutral descriptors: apprehensive, challenging, changing, competitive, incestuous, inconsistent, expensive, experienced, static, transitional, unpredictable. Negative descriptors: crowded, declining, difficult, dire, dying, mess, miserable, over-supplied, shaky, slow, squashed, stale, struggling, tough.

All Part Of The Service Over a fifth of suppliers pulled their socks up on the service front in the last year, while 6% let their standards slip, according to Barometer respondents. It looks like it is going to be a pretty static year on the sourcing front with only 11% of respondents expecting to broaden their supply base, with the vast majority (80%) intending to stick with their current portfolio. Exclusivity of supply remains a bone of contention for 60% of respondents. Indies have also firmed up their views of brokerage in the last year, either one way or another, with only a fifth undecided as to whether it is a possibility for them or not (compared with 41% in the previous Barometer).

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



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delightful new photographic range from Clare Maddicott Publications

Featuring photography by Julie Mosley of

, this enchanting range of

12, 160mm square cards combines affirming quotes with beguiling images of children. Printed on art board, the cards feature de-bossed finishing and are left blank inside for sender’s own message.

Come and see this range in all its glory on the Clare Maddicott stand at this year’s Spring Fair in Hall 4, stand H27 ; where, not only will this new range and over 140 other new products be on display, but spend £500 or more on everyday product and you will walk away with a free Kindle Fire HD 6 tablet .

For more information on ‘Wishing on a Star or any of our other new products, please contact your local TSM or call our sales office on 01638 569050 or visit our website

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PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer

As far as the number of suppliers from whom you order, do you expect to… Increase The Number 11% Remain About The Same 80% Decrease The Number 9%

Would you consider being supplied via a brokerage system whereby a variety of publishers’ cards are supplied to you via a broker? Yes 25% No 55% Undecided 20%

How did you source products last year? (Respondents could select more than one) 1st 2nd 3rd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 7th 8th 9th

Reps and agents (91%) Exhibitions (75%) The Cardgains rep/newsletter (59%) Looking in other shops (59%) Progressive Greetings (57%) The internet/social media (52%) Word of mouth (31%) Feedback from customers (28%) Cards sent by friends (28%) From Cardgains’ website (21%) Cash & carries/wholesalers (2%)

You Have To Laugh Last year was a funny one, but that’s nothing new. Humorous cards secured the top spot for the sixth year running, as the card category that has shown the greatest growth over the last year (compared to the year previous). The other front runners had a little swap round, with traditional words and sentiments taking the ‘silver’ on the growth sales front while other categories which saw promotion in the ‘league’ included licensed and children’s (no doubt bolstered by sales of UKG’s Frozen and Danilo’s Despicable Me).

Which card categories have you seen sales growth in your shop(s) in the last year? (Last year’s position shown in brackets) 1st Humour 63% (1st) 2nd Traditional words & sentiment 38% (4th) 3rd Relations and occasions 34% (2nd) 4th Handmade or hand-finished 33% (3rd) 5th Licensed 27% (11th) Below: The Minions' popularity has soared with kids and adults 6th Male 20% (7th) alike: A card from Danilo. 7th Children’s 17% (15th) 8th Christmas singles 16% (8th) 8th Photographic 16% (5th) 9th Easter 15% (9th) 10th Contemporary words & sentiment 14% (9th) 11th Mother’s Day 12% (6th) 12th Art 11% (14th) 13th Father’s Day 10% (12th) 14th Christmas boxes and packs 8% (12th) 15th Trend, fun or graphic 8% (10th) 16th Valentine’s Day 6% (9th) 17th Cute 3% (9th)

Heartbreaking Sales Sliders For the fourth year in a row, indies were seemingly left brokenhearted by Valentine’s Day sales in 2014, in fact it would appear that it was not a rip roaring Spring Seasons last year, with all four of the seasons being among the main six sliders saleswise compared to the year previous.

Which card categories have you seen sales decline in your shop(s) in the last year? (Last year’s position shown in brackets) 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th

Valentine’s Day 56% (1st) Father’s Day 41% (2nd) Cute 30% (10th) Mother’s Day 25% (4th) Handmade or hand-finished 19% (11th)

Business Predictions For 2015 Independent card retailers feel more optimistic about 2015 than they did about 2014, with 64% anticipating growth in the coming year, though the vast majority are expecting this increase to be marginal. Some 7% of respondents are contemplating opening a new shop in the coming year. While at the start of 2014, some 14% of respondents were bracing themselves for a slight decline, only 6% are expecting a minimal decline in their trade in 2015. However, rather at odds with this more positive short-term forecast, looking ahead indies do not foresee such a rosy picture, with only 42% describing the future of the independent card shop 10 years hence as being ‘positive’ or ‘very ‘positive’, with 21% (4% more than a year ago) viewing it as ‘weak’.

Business expectations for your business for 2015? Major Decline 3% Slight Decline 6%

Significant Growth 7%

Remain About The Same 27% Marginal Growth 56%

How do you view the future of the independent card shop in the next 10 years? Very Weak 5%

Weak 21%

Very positive 5%

Positive 37%

Neutral 32%



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PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer

Into which product areas would you like to further diversify? 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 5th 6th 6th 7th 7th 8th 9th 9th 10th 10th 10th 10th 11th 12th 12th

Gifts 48% (1st) Jewellery 29% (2nd) Stationery 20% (4th) Balloons 17% (3rd) Home accessories 15% (8th) Impulse items 15% (3rd) Chocolates/confectionery 14% (4th) Fashion accessories 14% (5th) Handbags 12% (7th) Partyware 12% (5th) Toys 11% (6th) Giftwrappings 6% (-) Collectables 6% (9th) Crafting products 5% (4th) Calendars 5% (9th) Children’s non-toy products 5% (7th) Gardening products 5% (-) Fashion 3% (8th) China and tableware 2% (9th) Tea and coffee items 2% (-)

A Broader Vision While greeting cards remain a core traffic driver for a store, in order to increase the average value transaction and keep/earn a customer’s interest, it demands an enticing product mix. The all encompassing allure of ‘gifts’ still hold growth potential for cardies, with jewellery remaining the top specific product area for growth. Stationery has gone up the pecking order a bit, standing in 3rd place as the product area indies see as the most ripe for further diversification in 2015, with balloons and partyware still holding their own. Notable newbies on the diversification list were gardening products and tea and coffee related products.



Magical Powers Galvanising the magical powers of Houdini, David Blaine, Harry Potter, Paul Daniels, Derren Brown and Sooty to create an all powerful magic potion, indies have some key areas in which they would like to put it to good use. The number one spell would be to obliterate Card Factory off the greeting card map, closely followed by stopping supermarkets and discount stores selling greeting cards. They hope that the potion would also work in Royal Mail HQ and bring down the cost of stamps (at the very least reduced them to 25p for the month of December). Other popular uses for the magic are a little closer to home: simplifying price codes, seasons’ returns procedures, and invoicing, while looking to improve delivery times – and stopping publishers from selling direct to the public. Other inventive uses include giving everyone two birthdays like the Queen and putting a spell on the younger generation to really engage in greeting cards. Below: If independent retailers could work 1st Close down Card Factory magic there would be quite a few changes. 2nd Stop supermarkets selling cards 3rd Remove all discount stores 4th Bring down the cost of stamps 5th Stop charity shops selling cards 5th Simplification on price codes 6th Offer more support for indies 6th Top publishers selling direct to the public

Logging On There has been a massive increase in the use of technology by independent card retailers in the last year. Some 82% used email regularly for business purposes in the last year (up from two thirds the year previously). On the website front 52% of retailers now have one for their shop (32% of which are transactional, 68% for information only) and of those who don’t, 25% are planning to build one in the coming year and another third may do. 50






Is The Price Right? In the coming year would you like to see the Recommended Retail Prices (RRPs) of counter cards? Go Up 9% Remain As Now 75% Come Down 16%

What would you see as the most crucial price point for greeting cards that you feel meets the most resistance if you go over? £1.50 £1.65 £1.99 £2.25 £2.45

3% 1% 29% 3% 5%

£2.75 £2.99 £3.99 £4.50 £4.99

9% 29% 14% 1% 1%

The Must Haves While retailers are forever on the lookout for the ‘next new thing’ to pep up their product selections, there are also some key ranges that are ‘must haves’, notching up impressive sales with customers time and time again. When asked to highlight their first, second and third choices, some ‘crucial ingredients’ kept copping up, among these Nigel Quiney’s Pizzaz range was without doubt the top choice as the card range indies could not live without in 2014. Other high performing ranges in an indies’ ‘must have’ list included Velvet (from Jonny Javelin), Simply Traditional (from UKG), Quentin Blake (from Woodmansterne), Avec Amour and titled ages (from IC&G), Young at Heart (from Pigment), and Champagne (from Second Nature), among others. Publishers which attracted an impressive clutch of votes across a number of other ranges included Noel Tatt (for Beau Chic, Cube and general), UKG (for Giggles, Recycled and Relations), Five Dollar Shake, Ling (for Rainbow and Sarah Warren), Paperlink (for Bestie, Wrinklies and Bangers & Flash), Carte Blanche (Me to You and Wishing Well), Words n Wishes (general), Clare Maddicott (Harold’s Planet), Grass Roots (Jelly Beans) and Cardmix (Drama Queen).

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State Of The Nation

A Greeting Card

Manifesto It is always rather tricky to get a real gauger of trade in an election year, with political spin making deciphering between the reality of a situation and a feel good smokescreen rather challenging. But with improvements in the macro economy expected to trickle though to the public’s purses, PG delivers its annual manifesto on the health and wealth of the greeting card industry. If an alien descended on to UK shores what would he think about the shape of the nation’s greeting card industry? If he chanced upon the latest copy of the GCA Market Report, his antennae would be wiggling with joy. The single card market alone is worth £1.3 billion (up marginally on the previous year) - and a billion Christmas cards had just been sent, showing this is most definitely still part of British festive traditions.

No doubt he might be a bit bemused by the extensive coverage given over to what approach Britain’s political leaders took on their Christmas card designs this year, but in an election year, this is all part of the vote gaining. And our alien would not have to wander far to appreciate the high visibility greeting cards have on the high

street. Astonishing really that not only are there so many dedicated shops, but also how many others stock them too and diversity of product (and the prices at which they are being offered to the consumer) has never been broader. And while not up to spaceship speed, Royal Mail still provides an effective reliable delivery service, albeit more expensive than it used to be. So, as he sped off to explore other universes and put Royal Mail’s ‘universal price promise’ to the test, Mr Alien would be giving a big green tick against the UK greeting card industry. And while in many ways he would be right to do so - it is still a large, dynamic sector that celebrates Britain’s creative expertise, is an engrained part of social communication, generates income for thousands an thousands of people - yet that does not preclude it from facing challenges in 2015 and beyond.

Predictive Text

Top: The Cameron’s Christmas card 2014 featured the Chelsea Pensioners. Top right: An alien would be pleased with the state of the greeting card industry. Above: The General Elections proceed in May. Above right: A Traces of Nuts card from Hanson White (UKG). Left: The most recent GCA market report on single cards.

The world moves so quickly these days that it is very hard, even at the beginning of the year, to make an authoritative stab at what shape anything in the general UK economy will be in 12 months, let alone in the microcosm that is the UK greeting card industry, but the winds of change are blowing that’s for sure. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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State Of The Nation

Like most industries in the UK, the greeting card trade is subject to the whims of ever changing consumer behaviour. The buoyancy of greeting card buying and sending in 2015 and beyond relies on certain conditions, all of which are subject to real challenges in the year ahead. These can be identified as hand-written communication, a first class postage system, a buoyant bricks and mortar retail economy and of course the general economy. All of these three factors are vital as without them the UK greeting card industry as we know it is well and truly stuffed. Throw into the ring the rise and rise of value retailing and, like many industries borne of the pre-digital age, there is a fair amount of pondering going on about the sector’s future prosperity.

The Bigger Picture Firstly, though the industry does have the very positive UK economic situation working in its favour, although the economists and the statisticians have yet to agree on all the figures yet, it does look as if 2014 delivered GDP growth of around 3% - the best figure by far for the UK economy since that so long ago recession hit the nation in 2008! It makes the UK the fastest growing mature economy in the developed world after the US and in stark contrast to the Eurozone where growth is pretty stagnant. Yet last year many families considered this recovery rather ‘joyless’ with wage rises only just matching inflation in the first half of

2014, so there was little in the way of increased spending power for consumers. But in the last few months all that started to change. Falling inflation, helped by intense supermarket competition on food and plunging petrol prices, have meant for the first time in many a year wages are rising higher than prices, meaning most consumers have more money to spend. And as 2015 progresses things should only get better. The economy in this election year is predicted to rise by 3%, inflation is set to drop below the 1% mark, while wage rises should top 2% with ease. That leaves at least +1% available to consumers in the UK economy. Added to that is the expected ‘feelgood’ uplift of a new Royal baby and for some, the Rugby World Cup.

Upwardly Mobile? This is all hopefully good news for the greeting card industry, but since the industry is very reliant on the traditional form of handwritten communications, there are still questions about whether the industry will benefit. The increasing use of smartphones and tablets cannot be ignored nor can the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But just as the very harbingers of doom that said that emails and ecards would decimate greeting card buying and sending (emailing for social use has declined dramatically and the word ‘ecards’ has become synonymous with email viruses rather than welcome social communication) it would also appear,

for the time being at least, that Twitter and Facebook activity has peaked. The act of humble greeting card sending, although not experiencing so many dramatic peaks and troughs, seems to trundle on regardless. As ever there will be the media arguments put forward that the younger generation (and especially younger males) have lost the greeting card sending habit. But it could be argued it was ever thus! Historically at least 85% of cards have always been sent by women and traditionally the female consumer, having lost the habit when they hit the16-25 age bracket, tend to pick it up again once she settles down into a longterm co-habiting relationship. And although

people are waiting longer before settling down or co-habiting or getting married, at the other end of the scale, life expectancy is rising rapidly, meaning theoretically many extra years of card sending from more mature citizens.

You’ve Got Mail But of course all of this relies on us being able to send our greeting cards to the recipients and they receiving them in acceptable time. Here the industry is very much in the hands of a third party, in Royal Mail. There is no doubt that the now privatised organisation is much more amenable to our industry message than in

Top: The British public will hopefully have some extra money in their pocket this year. Above right: The younger generation are very competent with social media. A card from Rambling Mansions. Above: A new Royal baby is due this year. Featured are new designs from Rosanna Rossi’s Sherbet Dip collection. Inset: This year The Rugby World Cup takes place in England.



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Come and see us for a chat and a chocolate at the Spring Fair Hall 4 stand F02 1st-5th February 2015

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State Of The Nation

“It is estimated that value ‘giant’, Card Factory, probably now accounts for around 30%-35% of the market (by value) and even more in numbers of cards bought.”

its state-owned days, and sees our industry’s importance in that it helps deliver a ‘balanced doormat’, providing a feelgood factor and not just bills and junk mail. But competition, the threat of a cessation of Saturday deliveries and rising charges could affect this detrimentally. Perhaps an even more worrying trend (and one that is tricky to counter) is the lack of knowledge of potential card recipients’ addresses, especially these days when people move properties frequently and communicate more through social media. Indeed, this is one reason that has been cited as why Christmas card sending was down this year. Who would have thought that the Sat Nav function on a Smartphone could be the saviour, as with a postcode and a bit of joined up thinking addresses can easily be retrieved via the website Zoopla.

consumer spending for Christmas, but figures have yet to really prove one way or another whether the internet or bricks and mortar stores saw the benefit. Certainly the traditional bricks and mortar post-Christmas day sales were by all accounts disappointing, however that should not in theory have affected greeting cards’ sales. Like in all retail sectors, all the media talk is about the rise and rise of discount retailers. Hardly a day goes by when there is not a mention of Aldi and Lidl in the grocery sector. But it should be remembered that these two German grocer ‘giants’ still only have a value market share of, at best, 9% of the UK grocery market, and it is estimated that value ‘giant’, Card Factory, probably now accounts for around 30%-35% of the market (by value) and even more in numbers of cards bought. How WHSmith expands its Cardmarket concept (its version of Card Factory) will have an effect. Certainly, the time when Don Lewin,

founder and former chairman of Clinton Cards, commented 18 years ago that “You can’t make money from selling sentiment cheap”, seems like ancient history! Meanwhile though, at the other end of the retailing spectrum, Paperchase’s private equity partners are looking for an exit after what has been a great run. It will be interesting to see what shape this darling of the upmarket card scene takes once the new investors are in place.

Above left: Greeting card sending is very reliant on Royal Mail. Right: Paperchase is looking for a buyer. Below: WHSmith’s new value retailer Card Market. Bottom: Cyber Monday enticed shoppers to buy online over the festive period.

That all important middle ground, the benchmark of which being Clintons, is going forth with the refurbishment of its core estate, though rather tellingly it seems to be expending more focus on its ‘upper value’ brand Simply Clintons rather its premium Jolie Papier concept.

The Retail Detail Then we come to the shape of the UK retail landscape. Some 97% of the UK greeting card industry’s sales are via through traditional bricks and mortar retailing so the high street’s health is a key to its prosperity. But where the UK is at present on this is very hard to judge. With events like Black Friday there was certainly a big increase in

Takeover Makeovers Last year there were very few publishing or retail takeovers (Mint‘s acquisition of RED and Paul Taylor’s acquisition of South Wales discount retail card chain Card World being the most notable) or indeed business failures. In fact, in terms of corporate activity, 2014 must rank as one of the least eventful of the last 20 years. Is this just the calm before the coming storm? With the two major publishers in the UK - Hallmark and UKG - having both successfully undergone streamlining and re-positioning in recent years, they may feel that strategic acquisitions of owner-proprietor mediumsized publishers may be the easiest way to increase their already considerable respective greeting card market shares in 2015. Perhaps that alien would have a better view of what is likely to happen from up on high?! PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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International: Littman’s Papers

Around Robin

Having spent so many years travelling the world in the name of greeting cards, Robin Littman, founder of Paperfile, is a veritable export guru. Here he shares some of his views of “why overseas buyers love our cards so much - if we get them right”, with Robin’s thoughts echoed by some of his export customers who provide insights into their respective markets.

Left Have passport, will travel! Robin Littman at the ready! Below: Americans love letterpress cards. Below middle: Alan Harnik. Bottom left: One of the remaining indies in New York, House of Cards.


id you see that clip of the GCA’s Sharon Little being interviewed by the BBC Breakfast in the Royal Mail Exeter sorting office before Christmas? It was enough to make you puff out your chest with pride! Not only do we send over a billion Christmas cards every year, we also send more cards than any other country in the world. It should therefore not be a surprise to learn that we have the most creative card industry in the world and it is for that reason that buyers from all over the world want to buy them, visiting our trade fairs to meet with existing suppliers and to find new ones. Before we get too jingoistic though, we need to remember that other countries have different market conditions - whether this is to do with a different language, culture, format requirement or wanting text on page 3 when we, in the UK, want it to be left blank. Other countries may also have different economic conditions so this affects the strength of their currency and therefore the price at which they can purchase UK-made greeting cards - however beautiful they may be. In all the years I have been representing UK publishers and travelling overseas to visit distributors, I have come across all these differences, which can be seen as either an obstacle or an opportunity. In fact, the flexibility of the UK publishers makes all the difference between getting a sale - or losing it. It is for that reason I thought it would be really good to hear from the overseas customers themselves. What follows are the expert opinions of some of the world’s leading distributors sharing their views of how their respective market is faring right now - and how UK publishers can benefit from these conditions.

United States

Nicky Burton, managing director of Calypso Cards: “Greeting card sales seem to have improved in the US in 2014 and we are hearing of fewer stores closing and are optimistic that this will continue into 2015. There is definitely a market for UK published cards, especially those with a design focus. We recently started distributing Lagom's Postco range, and the simple design combined with the quality paper stock has been a huge success. Although there is a call for blank cards here to a certain extent, a greeted card will outsell a blank one 10 to 1. In addition to being relevant to the occasion, the greeting has to tie-in with the image on the card. Retailers tend to shy away from square cards, mainly because they require extra postage, but also because they take up more display space. The standard rectangular format is much more accepted here.”

United States

Alan Harnik, owner of Notes and Queries: “We continue to see the erosion of the independent card store retailer in the USA. We are therefore looking at developing alternative niche retail marketplaces for our greeting cards. The market is extremely competitive with many small companies competing with much larger companies. Meanwhile there is a continued love affair in the States with the letterpress technique. As to how UK companies can achieve export business in our marketplace, there are a few crucial elements: (1) The format needs to be 5”x7” or 4”x6” - not square, which is the format preferred in the UK. (2) If you want to sell your Mother’s Day cards in the States, we don’t want the word ‘mum ‘ on them, because we need ‘mom’. (3) There is a big need for more holiday [ie Christmas] greeting cards, which do not say ‘Merry Christmas’, but ‘Happy Christmas’. We’re not supposed to be encouraging people to get too merry... Our market also likes the words ‘Seasons Greetings’ to appear. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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International: Littman’s Papers

(4) Regarding a desire to export and to understand the economics of export, you may have a great product, but if it can't be sold into the export market at a price that allows the distributor to make their fair margin, it won’t work! (5) Lastly, have realistic expectations for export to the USA. It’s true it is a very large country, but it also has a lot more card suppliers and therefore more competition. I would therefore suggest that all companies that seek export distribution and think of their distributors as export ‘partners’ rather than just ‘customers’. That’s the road to success.”


Marcel Jany, managing director of Phenicia:

Above: The lead car at the Tour De France. Below: Marcel Jany.

“2014 was a really positive year for us, even though the economic climate was most unfavourable. Luckily, sophisticated, designled cards are in a market niche that has suffered less than other areas. I think that 2015 will also be good, thanks to us creating our own ranges that go well with those of our English suppliers many of whom we have worked with for many years. We are very keen to receive UK publishers’ new ranges and to work with them, more like a partnership than a conventional supplier-buyer relationship. This relationship includes our requesting a French language print run - or a blank version. This creates the likelihood of really high sales in our market. We are also very keen to find new English publishers who are just starting out and to work with them to develop something that really works in our market. To summarise all of this into one sentence: We love British publishers!”

New Zealand

Deirdre Robinson, director of Image Gallery:

Below: Deidre Robinson in one of Image Gallery’s customer’s shops. Bottom: The New Zealand All Blacks.

“Last year (2014) was an interesting one in NZ. It has been established for some time that the various main retail groups have been particularly demanding in discounts and terms. I am told we are one of the worst in the world in terms of discount versus return which is made only worse by a non-existent independent bookstore/newsagent channel. Hallmark, one of the largest worldwide publishers, decided they wanted to exit the market completely. This would have left only one major player in the market [John Sands, which is owned by American Greetings, parent company of UKG] who would then have controlled all the major retail channels, ie both the gift/books multiples and the supermarkets. So Hallmark approached us in early 2014 to consider taking on their distribution, seeing us as the only card distributor in NZ who had the knowledge and systems to do the job on that scale. We mulled over all the consequences of what this would do to the market - both from a monopoly situation with the other major player and whether we could make it work. There was also the question of what it would do to our current relationships with our loyal suppliers. Eventually an agreement was reached and in August Image Gallery became the Hallmark distributor in NZ, taking over all its existing channels and many of their staff especially merchandisers. After a somewhat stressful transition it is now settling down well. One of our initial concerns was the protection of our UK suppliers - that we continue to support and promote them and our business not suffer - but as we became more familiar with Hallmark’s model we found good openings for our traditional suppliers - so it is now a win-win situation for all. This change in culture will hopefully open doors for the importing of new publishers where they normally can’t give the pricing needed to meet our retailer demands. The truth is that independents need to be supported with great new innovative product. NZ has many expat Kiwis starting to return to NZ to live - eventually they decide home is pretty good after being global Kiwis - and they bring home influences from overseas - they still want the nice things they are used to buying abroad - and will support the innovative and lifestyle product that can be put to the market. The other large publisher (John Sands) down here have made higher priced/value added cards more generally acceptable in our market which we believe will create opportunities for UK publishers in this area. So the bigger guys are looked after, but the little guys still have great opportunities here. We are a little market in the greater scheme of things (only 4 million people) but there are still opportunities for creative innovative publishers to sell here now the draconian trading terms hopefully are a little less onerous. NZ importers will continue to do the best they can to get the best product from around the world into our stores. Little can be beautiful!”



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C R E AT E A N Y ‘ A G E ’ FROM ‘1’ TO ‘99

NEC ng Fair, Fa airr, Spring 1 - 5th th FEB FE 2015: 015: 5 A4/B3 & 4 B08 SEE THE VIDEO

Tel:+44 (0)1133 0)1133 9555 9555 95

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International: Littman’s Papers


Tory Wright, founder and managing director of Paper E. Clips: “Last year (2014) was a good year for our company in which we saw our market share increase. This could be because some of the other major players in Canada have backed away from the stationery market, but it is also down to the range of cards and partnerships that we have been able to secure. I feel confident that 2015 will also be a good year for us. Retail for paper has definitely shifted and many of our new customers are non-traditional, ie toy shops, decor stores and florists. These customers are looking for the additional sales and want greeting cards that complement their stores. The Lagom line is a great example of a UK line that is selling well for us. We have certainly seen a growing trend for cards that are beautifully designed, but perhaps have a humorous take on a traditional sentiment. Publisher, Half Penny Postage is good example and so is Ohh Deer. We have also been seeing an increase in illustration rather than embellishment, The Rifle Paper Company being a great example of the kind of product that resonates for our customers. As our postal rules change we can no longer sell oversized square cards. Unfortunately we have seen a trend coming out of the UK for the large square cards and that is hampering our ability to carry some card lines.”

Above left: Tory Wright. Inset: The Canadian Maple leaf emblem. Below far left: Christian Barraud (left) catches up with Robin Littman in Geneva. Below: US president Barack Obama raised a glass of ‘the black stuff’ when he visited Ireland. Below right: Brian Murtagh and Paul Slater. Bottom left: Switzerland waves the flag for British cards in other languages.


Christian Barraud, director of Barraud SA: “Because we have three different languages in Switzerland, English text is quite a barrier to purchasing UK cards. It is therefore so helpful if publishers can research how to offer low print run quantities for other languages – not just for Switzerland. Any changes in artwork, which do not cost too much, are also very welcome. One examples of how our market is different is that while in the UK you celebrate the 21st birthday, in Switzerland it’s the 20th that is seen as more important. Apart from that, British cards are very welcome - especially as we have quite an international population living and working here.”


Brian Murtagh, co-owner of Watermark Cards: “The year 2014 saw the start of an improvement in Ireland’s economy following the successful exit of our international bailout. After many challenging years there are some signs of economic recovery with our national growth predicted to be the highest in Europe in 2014 and 2015. Consumer confidence is at its highest level since 2007, property prices are seeing very significant growth and unemployment continues to fall every month. While all the economic indicators are favourable, most, if not all, Irish retailers continue to find business very difficult and all of the positive signs seem slow in filtering down to our customers. However my business partner Paul [Slater] and I are confident that the worst of the recession is now over and we look forward with hope to an improvement in business in the coming years. Ireland continues to be a significant market for UK greeting cards and frequently is the strongest overseas territory for many UK publishers. We work extremely well with all of our UK partners and find UK companies excellent to conduct business with. The close proximity of our markets, the similar cultures and language help enormously to forge strong relationships which can be mutually beneficial and profitable for all.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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

Get Your Six

Thinking Hats On

Jeremy Corner, managing director of greeting card publisher Blue Eyed Sun, describes a new way of thinking. If you’ve ever sat in meetings thinking that they could be more efficient or if you often grapple with making decisions with your partner (or as an individual) you may find Edward de Bono’s ‘Six Thinking Hats’ system useful.

The Problem With Thinking The main difficulty with thinking is that we tend to try to do too much at once. Emotions, information, logic, hope and creativity all crowd in on us. Personal agendas, politics, egos and power struggles can also create further confusion. The Six Hats allow thinkers to do one thing at a time, focusing on what can be rather than on what is, and on how to design a way forward - not on who is right and who is wrong. Essentially it is a game that everyone plays to reach a defined goal. It lays arguments side by side, avoids confusion, creates focus, removes ego, saves time and is a neutral, objective way of creating a comprehensive map and making decisions easier.

Using The Hats You can use the hats as symbols on their own to request a particular type of thinking. Eg “I Think we need some green hat thinking here”. The hats can also be used in a 62


Top: 'Wearing' six hats, all with different ways of thinking, can help solve business problems. Above: The Six Thinking Hats book by Edward de Bono.

sequence. You don't have to use all the hats and can use each as often as like. Generally, one minute per person present putting on each ‘hat’ forces concentration and reduces waffle. The leader indicates change of hats.

White Hat Thinking The white hat focuses on objective information. Like a computer, facts and

figures are given as requested, without interpretations or opinions. There are usually two tiers: The first is where the facts are checked and proven to be accurate: “Our shop’s turnover this year was £305,413 and is down 8% on last year”. The second are believed to be true, but need to be checked. Often these are beliefs and should be framed as such: “We believe our shop’s decreased turnover was due to the ailing economy.” Facts also range from ‘always true’ to ’never true’. It’s fine for information to be included under the white hat as long as the appropriate frame is used to highlight the likelihood of the fact. The white hat also defines what information is missing and needed: “We need to analyse our shop’s sales to discover likely causes of the increase”. You must also distinguish between facts and interpretation or extrapolation from facts. All facts are laid side by side on the table, even if they conflict.

Red Hat Thinking Wearing the red hat is short and brisk and gives you and your team a chance to express feelings without the need to explain or justify them. In business we’re not supposed to allow our emotions in, but they often enter anyway - disguised as logic. The biggest challenge when using the red hat is

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Left: Will cutting prices help or hinder your sales? Below: The green hat signifies creativity: A card from Hallmark's Just Smile range. Below right: Solutions can become obvious using the Six Hats method.

to avoid justifying or explaining our feelings as many of us are brought up to do. Feelings can change, so it can be useful to have red hat thinking at the beginning and at the end of a meeting. Red hat is always done on an individual basis and is relatively quick. Manager: “Give me your red hat thinking on lowering prices in our shop.” Staff member: “I feel that lowering prices will not increase our sales and could damage our shop’s brand.”

leave it to green hat thinking to come up with some novel way of exploiting that opportunity. Value and benefits are not always obvious, so be disciplined and thorough with using the yellow hat. Yellow hat: “Lowering retail prices at certain times of the year, like January, is believed to drive 20% extra recorded footfall into our shop and our customers say that they love a good deal.”

Benefits The Six Thinking Hats system simplifies thinking by dealing with one thing at a time. It also allows for a switch in thinking to prevent it becoming bogged down in one mode (usually black hat). Importantly, it does this without threatening ego. One of the most striking things about using the Six Hats method is that decisions seem to make themselves. When you come to the final blue hat, the answer seems obvious to all present. Solutions also present themselves quickly, even after previously

Black Hat Thinking The black hat is used for caution, for being careful. We have to consider risks, dangers, obstacles, potential problems and downsides. Overuse of black hat thinking can limit us. One of the advantages of the six hats method is that it limits the amount of time spent on cautious and critical thinking. “I don’t like the idea of lowering prices” is red hat thinking. Black hat thinking is not emotional, it must be logical. What are the reasons why lowering prices is not liked as an idea? They must make sense. The black hat is the opposite of the yellow hat, which looks for advantages and the upside. The black hat answer is: “In our past experience which I can demonstrate with sales figures lowering prices has not resulted in enough extra sales to offset the reduction in profits.”

Yellow Hat Thinking Yellow hat thinking looks for the benefits. It’s about positive assessment, which can range from logical and practical to dreams and hopes. It’s harder to wear than the black hat as you have to develop ‘value sensitivity’ rather than our more natural tendency towards ‘danger sensitivity’ (black hat). Yellow hat is concerned with the generation of proposals, the positive assessment of them and their development. It is not directly concerned with creativity (green hat). Just as black hat thinking can pinpoint a fault and leave it to green hat thinking to correct that fault, so yellow hat thinking can define an opportunity and

suggests different hats at different stages: “OK, we have some great suggestions for lowering greeting card prices in new ways, let’s ‘red hat’ our feelings on them.” At the start blue hat defines (why, what, goal, direction, sequence plan) and at the end it summarises (outcome, conclusion, design, solution, next steps, etc). Having a structure to your thinking will make it more effective. This is not just about ordering the use of the other hats, the blue hat can also be used to organise other aspects of thinking like assessing priorities or listing constraints. The blue hat pulls into shape what may appear to have been a chaotic discussion. It also provides overview updates and draws together final conclusions.

Green Hat Thinking This is the energy hat. Think of growth, creativity, new ideas, options and alternatives. Under the green hat we seek to modify and improve suggested ideas: “We want to be able to lower prices and grow sales without losing profit, can you ‘green hat’ this for me?” The value of the green hat is that specific time is set out for everyone to make a creative effort. Creativity isn’t just about the ‘ideas person’ at the table while everyone sits ready to pounce on an idea. You may get a lot of green hat ideas and possibilities that are not possible to explore in your meeting. The red hat can then be used to pick out ‘low cost ideas’ and those that are easy to implement. Someone needs to collect green hat thoughts and the ideas then need to be taken through yellow, black and red hat consideration in order to assess what is actionable.

Blue Hat Thinking The blue hat is the conductor of the orchestra. It manages your thinking and

having spent hours considering the subject in question. Even when it seems that decisions can’t be made it can become clear that more information is needed, a path that considers various options is required or a red hat feeling must decide on the way forward. Whichever it is, the six hats method will give you a clearer idea of the lay of the land when you decide. Read more business insights from Jeremy on his blog at Jeremy is speaking on Digital Marketing and Social Media for Retailers at Spring Fair on Sunday 1 February at 12:00 in Hall 4. He is also speaking on Export on Tuesday 3 February at 14:00 in Hall 4 in the UKTI theatre at Spring Fair. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Industry Spotlight

Whole(sale) Grains When Max Publishing started publishing Progressive Greetings 25 years ago, over 50% of the greeting card market was represented by wholesale cards and 80% of PG’s advertisers were wholesale publishers, of which there were around 200, supplying CTNs, market traders and post offices, very significant wholesale greeting card stockists at the time. So now, a quarter century on, in a changed greeting card retailing landscape, how is the wholesale market adjusting to maintain its firm foothold in the industry as it strides into the next generation.


wo and a half decades ago, the wholesale sector of the greeting card market was massive, accounting for over 50% of the volume of the market and 40% of its value. The major advertisers in PG at that time were the likes of Simon Elvin (still a high profile name within PG’s pages and the market), Hambledon Studios (then not a part of Hallmark), and companies that have long since become extinct in their own right like Kingsley Cards, Second Generation, Beaucards, and Giesen & Wolff. There were also around 200 dedicated wholesale distributors/cash & carries that supplied these publishers’ greeting cards to sub-post offices, newsagents and market traders, who at that time accounted for a significant slug of the retail market share for cards. It was all good product and could be sold at keen prices. At one stage the largest wholesale publisher at that time, Hambledon Studios, had a turnover of more than £40 million! In the intervening years much has evolved within the wholesale sector. The pattern of retail distribution changed as more and more greeting card sales gravitated to multiple and independent specialist card shops and supermarkets. Then the rise of value chains, initially the likes of Birthday’s, Card Warehouse and then the more price-aggressive Card Factory, adversely affected the card sales of the wholesalers’ customers. In the same period, direct to retail publishers became more and more aggressive in targeting smaller and smaller independent outlets, previously the wholesalers’ main customers. The wholesale sector has certainly had to adapt and evolve to the changed circumstances. Those wholesale publishers and their wholesale distributors who have survived and prospered have had to be nimble quick on their feet. The largest, Budget Greeting Cards, moved successfully into publishing its own ranges, while some have taken to selling DTR (direct to retail) publishers’ ranges alongside wholesale products. Some have concentrated in developing their cash & carries, while others have strengthened their van sales operations. PG spoke to some wholesale distributors and asked them how they view the market and discovered the steps they were taking to adapt to changing times.

Chris Dyball, managing director for Archway Cards, Norwich: “The wholesale market has shrunk from 25 years ago, but then so has the amount of retail outlets that stocked wholesale cards, such as CTNs and post offices. However, wholesale cards still are a solid range of product for today’s retailers to offer their customers a variety and balance of excellent price ranges. The board quality and design of wholesale cards these days are comparable to DTR cards and at a very good price point. Simon Elvin’s Isabel’s Garden range, for example, is a consistently excellent range of handmade cards of which most retailers are aware and are purchased regularly by our customers. There are some DTR publishers who offer value card ranges, but the quality doesn’t compare to the quality of cards through wholesale distribution... and at the prices available. With depth of selection of product range wholesalers can cater Above: The front cover of PG in 1995 shows an advert by wholesaler Kingsley Cards. Right: A flourishing Simon Elvin design. Below: Retailers can buy product online from many of the wholesalers.



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Industry Spotlight

for a range of outlets, from specialist card shops to CTNs and post offices. We also offer a wide selection of social stationery, gift and partyware - with 2-3,000 different types of foil balloons in stock this market has just grown and grown over the years. As part of our wholesale cash and carry business we now have reps on the road and also sell online ( - trying to cover every avenue available to gain custom. Stocking DTR publishers’ cards is an avenue well-worth pursuing for wholesalers, however many publishers offer exclusivity to retailers and wouldn’t be able to control where their cards are stocked if sold via wholesalers. But for any small house publisher who wants to be represented via a group of wholesalers, such as Impact, this is an excellent way to be represented without all the overheads of a sales force. Overall, there is a positive feel for the future of wholesale. Every sector of the greetings industry has its place to enhance what card retailers can offer their customers.”

Robert Newman, managing director for Rupert Magnus Trading, Acton: “There are obviously loads more DTR publishers around now, their minimum orders are smaller and they seem to be a lot more flexible than they used to be regarding who they will supply to increase their coverage. We've got customers who are buying DTR for the convenience of sale or return and not having to make a choice over what to buy. I don't believe wholesalers are benefitting from the spotlight on value cards. Card retailers cannot compete with Card Factory on price alone, but they can offer better value for money when quality is taken into account. We have customers who've tried multi-buy offers, but all they are really doing is cutting their own margin. The Card Factory multi-buys serve as a loss leader to get people through the door, I don't believe they sell a great deal of them. When ‘David down the market’ offers ‘5 cards-for£1’ he will sell them at the expense of his single card sales. We've brought in a number of small DTR companies to allow our customers to offer a wider selection of cards at a number of different price brackets. This allows them to trade-up and try out new lines with little risk and commitment. We also offer some bespoke ranges in conjunction with one of our existing suppliers to allow our retailers to offer lines exclusive to their town. We've also published a range of cards for the black community (Black Star Publishing) and in 2015 we’re planning to bring in a wider range of gifts, toys, stationery and partyware.” Above: Rupert Magnus' Robert Newman presenting his Retas' Silver Ticket (worth £50) to Davora's Raj Arora at PG Live. Left: Two beautiful Black Star designs created by Rupert Magnus.

Ritchie Shipton, managing director for Crosswear Trading, Enfield: “We opened in 1972, starting selling greeting cards in the 80s, and I have been at Crosswear for about 17 years. The whole market has shrunk over the years but I’d like to think it’s plateaued now and has leveled out and there will be no more wholesale closures. However, value cards in stores such as Card Factory, are eating into our share of the market. It is hard to know what is the future of wholesale suppliers such as Hallmark’s Hambledon, Regent and Simon Elvin, so it’s quite difficult to predict the wholesale sector’s fate as we are quite reliant on them. That said, balloons and partyware are an important part of our business, so we aren’t totally dependent on greeting card sales. Our new website has helped our business reach new customers further afield, but who knows what the future holds for wholesale?” Above: Ritchie Shipton, md of Crosswear Trading, which won The Retas' Best Greeting Card Wholesaler category in 2013.

Andy Daniels, director for Eltham Greeting Cards, Eltham: “In the ‘old days’ manufacturers used to publish two main ranges each year and wholesalers would top up their stocks when necessary from those same publishers. Today there is a brand new range every month from suppliers such as Simon Elvin, Hambledon and Regent. As well as constantly updated ranges, the most notable change is the vast improvement in the quality of the cards. Brilliant designs, top quality board and print finishes put the wholesale product on a par with anything available on the market and at incredible value for money. Wholesale distributors carry a wide range of cards from top quality product down to the lower priced offering. They allow a good margin for retailers to compete with any competition nearby. A visit to your local distributor is always worthwhile as we also carry a comprehensive range of non-card products, allowing retailers to buy a wide range of stock and not have to worry about minimum order values.” Above: A Regent design perfect for all those children's parties. Left: A contemporary look to a relations card from Hambledon.

On The Shop Floor Judith and David Pye, owners of This N That, Bath, suggest some of the advantages that can be gleaned by card retailers by stocking wholesale cards: “Wholesale cards have improved tremendously over the years to include design and quality of board and they have kept up with modern trends. We believe that selling wholesale cards alongside direct to retail cards complement each other and give our customers the choice of varied ranges, both in style and price. To entice more card retailers through their doors/create orders, more wholesalers could possibly look at other small publishers who quite often provide very up to date designs, therefore providing an even greater range of product alongside their normal stock.” Left: wholesale cards complement DTR in This N That's card racks. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Industry Issue

Rebirth Of A


When the American playwright, Arthur Miller, wrote his award winning play Death of a Salesman back in 1949, in keeping with the times the protagonist Willy Loman, always hatted and besuited, travelled laden down with heavy battered suitcases purveying his wares. Fast forward to today and it is not just the hat that has gone! PG considers how technology is playing its part in the rebirth of the salesperson (and the sales role) in the UK greeting card industry. There is no doubt as to the vital role sales reps and agents continue to play in the greeting card industry for independents. The results of this year’s PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer shout it out loudly, 91% of respondents saying that reps and agents are the most common way they source products, with exhibitions being the next most popular choice (at 57%) and even then it will be a rep or agent who will invariably be showing them the products. But now there is a ‘third party’ in the selling relationship between publisher and retailer, it’s called technology! While the greeting card industry has not had to be at the cutting-edge of technology like some other sectors (partly due to the nature of the product, partly due the independent retail base it serves and partly due to the pay back for publishers investing in its development), the last few years has seen the pace quicken in this area inexorably. The changing retail landscape (fewer indies for reps/agents to call on, more ‘house accounts’ dealt with directly), coupled with the rising costs of putting a rep on the road and with no new agents coming on the scene, has seen publishers put greater emphasis on their websites and the B2B ordering aspect of them. (Just look at the list of nearly 30 publishers in the last seven years for whom Skylight Media has developed websites since the company entered the greetings market to specialise in the card trade’s needs). Although it is still the case that not all independent retailers have computers/iPads

in their shops, some 43% of respondents to the PG/Cardgains Retail Barometer said that they do now source products from the internet, something that would not have been an option when the annual survey started in the 1990s. The fact that the majority of responses to the Barometer this year came via retailers taking the online submission option (rather than a paper based version) is telling in itself.

Above: Rather than Death of a Salesman, today’s sales teams are adapting to sharing the job with technology. Below: The brand new Paper Salad trade site (created by Skylight Media) that went live this month. Below right: UKG’s Pat Teesdale (left) with Rachael Smith of Irton Garden Centre, near Scarborough, doing an order using an iPad.

And of course, the launch of Cardgains’ webshop last September (which allows its retail members to create a ‘mixed box’ and order online from a number of publishers) is another notch up on the technology front. Some 300 members now have registered to use the website (with a further 200 anticipated doing so this coming year) and those who are placing orders are averaging £170 (far above the £100 minimum). While this level of retail adoption is unlikely to have sales teams quaking in their shiny shoes it is not going without notice. As Jo Bannister, a well known London/SE agent said: “Technology is wonderful and online ordering helps customers between visits, plus gives us as agents up to date information, but nothing beats face to face communication, when I can advise on the best sellers and, perform another important and interesting role - that of counselor and confidante!”

Pat On The Back A ‘spot the difference’ competition between UKG’s sales teams, taken five decades apart, wouldn’t be too difficult. The fact that the one that was taken at its most recent sales conference features women as well as men is a good one for starters, but another differentiator is in the tools of their trade. Having equipped its independent sales force with iPads for ordering a year ago, the recent meet up saw the software being upgraded to be email enabled. Pat Teesdale, a UKG sales executive in the North of England, has won a Cardgains’ Cyril Service Award for the last three years (voted for by the independent PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Industry Issue

retailer members). She in no doubt that technology and salesmanship are happy bedfellows. “I have been working in the greeting card industry since I left school in 1978, initially on the retail side, before I went on the road 18 years ago as a merchandiser before becoming a rep for UKG 13 years ago. Technology plays a more prominent role – it means I don't have to carry eight cases any longer! But I still think that it is vitally important to have human contact and also to be able to show actual new product samples to customers. The iPad technology is brilliant, giving me so much information at my finger tips, and it means I can inform the customer immediately of what they have ordered before, and have direct access to head office when I am in store as well, but it will never take away from those times when you have a laugh with your customers!” Right: The sales meeting UKG style - 50 years apart!

Technical Talking Point Kevin Wilde, managing director of Exponential: “A good salesman does what it says on the tin, and hopefully gives good and honest service which brings him/her a lasting seller/buyer relationship. There have always been average, good and great salespeople and the better ones will always be required. When I first started in the business at Rust Craft (now UKG) in 1971 as a humble ‘bean counter’, the salesmen carried two huge black cases of samples, which they called “the coffins”. A bit of a waste actually as usually when they made a call they mainly just took out the latest release designs to show. One of our best salesmen always brought the bulk of his Christmas orders in ahead of time, and once on the road with him at a Little Chef I learnt the secret. He had worked out that each year the new designs had odd or even numbers, so once he worked out which, he made the orders up at home, picking the new season designs, thus ensuring that his customers didn’t get any carry-over numbers, and because of this they were all happy to let him make the orders. This is an early case of beating the technology! Our iPad systems now allow the salespeople to carry all the available designs, search, filter and show visual catalogues, and place the order, arrange a customer copy and submit to base using what is now everyday technology. We can’t make a bad salesperson good, but we can help a good salesperson to be better by providing him/her with timely data on stock availability with good visuals, together with their customer preferences and status. This in turn makes more calls possible, which is important as the main challenge for any company employing direct sales personnel is the cost of placing them at the shop door. Our Card Manager software was originally conceived to streamline the logistics and design selection process for planned display systems, to rationalise the design selection to allow a myriad of alternative and complex retailer requirements to be taken into account, thereby making the fullest use of inventory at manufacturer and retail level. In order to allow savvy retailers to place their own orders, they can go online via our integrated B2B web shop, which gives them access to their card displays, and line order design availability. This is particularly valuable in maintaining overseas sales. While this allows participating shops to place orders, the salesperson is still the one who will bring in the new business, and increase potential order size, no matter how good the website, it is he/she who at the end of the day will make or break sales growth. Is the salesman dead? Not at all, he/she just has to work harder as the competition has increased exponentially over the years. My advice is to just give them better and easier to use tools so that they can do the job they are paid for, and let them get on with it!”

Technical Talking Point Russell Kirby, head of commercial sales for Trisoft (SurePak):

Above: Lee Hargreaves from Instant Gifts International using a SurePak system at Spring Fair 2013.

“Gone are the days when sales reps need to carry a briefcase full of catalogues and paper order forms, or even rely on the post or faxes. Thanks to major advances in IT, many sales reps now use portable devices, HHTs that dock with a PC computer and download orders to head office. Further advances have enabled sales reps to use a fully Wi-Fi or 3G immediate synchronise on iPads meaning orders can be picked within a few hours of the rep shaking hands with the client! Overall systems, like SalesPak, have brought far more information to reps, from presenting their catalogue electronically, to viewing past sales order history or running credit checks, and has enabled them to do their job in far less time. And in such a competitive world every second counts - so with that extra time, reps can see more clients and increase sales. We have been at the forefront of this technology, with SalesPak software being made compatible for iPads in 2011. The new App was first trialled by five customers the beginning of 2012 and by the end of 2012 was fully up and running. Since then we have added many new clients and upgraded existing ones. We now support 100 companies and around 1,000 sales people.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Design Focus

The Lake House Celebrated interior stylist Selina Lake is now bringing her creative talent to greeting card designs via a collaboration with Abacus Cards which debuts at Spring Fair. PG found out more about how flicking through a magazine ignited the idea for this gorgeous card collection.

Well-known for her beautiful, colourful and vintage inspired interiors styling for photoshoots for a plethora of glossy magazines, such as Marie Claire, Prima and Real Homes, and with five best-selling home and life styling books under her elegant belt (with a sixth out in the autumn), Selina Lake makes a perfect partner for Abacus to work with to create a range of greeting cards. Revealing how it came about, Bev Cunningham, Abacus Cards’ creative director told PG: “In the Abacus studio we have always enjoyed pouring over interior magazines for inspiration, appreciating interesting use of colour and identifying home trends”. And one in particular that the Abacus team admired was the work of author and interior stylist Selina Lake, having spotted her gorgeous pretty and colourful interior arrangements not only in an array of home and interior magazines, but also in a number of home styling books. “Selina is well-known for her pretty use of colour, mixing old and new and forecasting the next big style trends for our homes.

Interior Insights

Above left: Interiors stylist, Selina Lake. Above and left: Selina beautifully styled the detailing for the photoshots for Abacus’ designs. Below left: Bright pastels on Abacus' Selina Lake cards. Below right: One of the many glossy life style magazines that has featured Selina's work on the front cover.

Her best selling books focus on different decorating styles from Romantic, Homespun to Modern Pastels, and are published in a variety of languages that are sold around the world, so we are fans among many!” says Bev. O n e d a y, w h i l e oohing and aahing over a particular piece of work by Selina, Bev and her creative team had the idea to find out if she would like to extend her designs onto a range of cards. “Selina was thrilled when we approached

Selina’s path into interior styling: “When I was nearing the end of my Surface Pattern Design course at college I contacted interior stylists asking for work experience and I was lucky to land a few opportunities with some interior magazines and freelance stylists. After gaining experience on photoshoots and working in-house on a magazine, I set up as a freelance styling assistant and worked assisting stylists for around a year. During this time I made many contacts and I got together with a photographer to shoot a living room I had designed and styled and the feature was placed within Real Homes magazine. When the issue was released I was delighted to see they had used one of my images as the cover shot. After that coverage, I began getting features commissioned and I have now been styling for over 10 years. I work for commercial clients as well as editorial and I have produced five best-selling Interiors books to date. I also write a popular blog where I share my design inspirations and latest styling work.”

her, and being a lover of greeting cards she was very enthusiastic to venture into the world of cards,” reveals Bev. Initially Selina submitted a number of possible existing images for the Abacus studio to consider, and while a number of these were perfect it was also apparent that some were too ‘magazine like’ to work as greeting card designs. So Selina worked on creating a number of photoshoots specifically with greeting cards in mind: “I had to adopt a new square format as for magazines I usually style shots in a rectangle format which the camera captures. I also had to think more about pretty details rather than rooms or spaces as these wouldn’t of worked as card images,” Selina explains, adding: “I thought of all the items I’d like to see featured on cards, such pastel cakes, vintage china, spring blossom and flowers and then tried to create a range in which each design is different, but is coherent as a collection. It’s been a really exciting project and the end results are fantastic.” The 14, 160 mm square format cards will be unveiled on the Abacus stand at this year’s Spring Fair “and are proof that flicking through magazines is certainly not a waste of time!” claims Bev. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Creative Inspirations

A-muse-ing Aesthetics That ‘light bulb moment’ when inspiration strikes and the creative juices flow for greeting card designs can be stimulated from countless sources. PG asked five card publishing ‘Edisons’ to reveal the original ‘muse’ for one of their ranges and how that inspirational spark was translated on to card designs. Rosie Harrison, creative director for Rosie Made These Things: “Soon after the birth of my first child in 2008, I left my job as a PE teacher and started looking for new hobbies that I could do with a small person attached to me. I learned to crochet and made A LOT of blankets. I bought a sewing machine and experimented with free machine embroidery (fun), patchwork quilting (more fun) and curtain making (less fun). I started creating some very strange looking soft toys for my bewildered baby and developed a passion for funny-looking, naïve, handsewn creatures. Most of them were quite rabbity with ears and hats. I am always amused by animals dressed as people, taking on human characteristics, and I defy anyone not to laugh at a sausage dog in a sweater! I began to photograph my creatures ‘on location’, creating quirky little scenes and hand-embroidered messages and the Stitchy card range was born. I wanted them to have a naïve, 3D quality and to portray feelings in a humorous, honest way. The images depict family life, relationships and sentiments that we all hold dear. This, and dogs in knitwear! Since then, two more children have come along, we’ve moved to a little village and we finally got married! My card designs have reflected these changes. I am influenced by the funnier side of the life of a 30something mum of three - love, friends, family... and wine! I am lucky enough to be good friends with Anna Danielle, the artist behind The Little Dog and Rufus Rabbit card ranges. It is inspiring to see what can be achieved and it’s really encouraging to have her support and advice. And who better to call upon at 11.30pm with a Photoshop question?” Spring Fair stand 4D110 Above and right: Rosie and baby Harrison who triggered the beginning of Rosie Made These Things' Stitchy card range.

Sangita Southgate and Kirsten McNee, co-founders and designers for Fawn And Thistle: “We were asked by the Turner Contemporary to create a range inspired by Helen Frankenthaler's art, that would coincide with its exhibition of Frankenthaler’s work. Frankenthaler's work is very expressive and abstract, so this was one of our main starting points. Our other source of inspiration was the seaside, where we live and where the Turner Contemporary is situated. Being a company that mainly illustrates animals, we wanted to keep this element within the range, so we looked at British sea birds. We started by designing our main piece, which was to be a screen-print and one of the card designs. We created a flock of birds, layered over each other in ochre and grey. This was inspired by Frankenthaler's work and we kept this element of the design loose and expressive. Over the top of this we screenprinted more detailed sea birds in our normal illustrative style. For the other four cards in the range, we used the individual bird drawings, sticking to the same palette of ochre, grey and navy. As with all of our designs, we found it best to just start drawing down our ideas straight away and going from there. We Top and above: Artist Helen Frankenthaler's usually have a solid idea of work combined with seaside influences was where we want to take a the inspiration for Fawn and Thistle's Flock design, so turning the ideas in of Birds range. to designs is generally straightforward. The fact that our main piece was to be screen-printed also helped with this, because screen-printing is a very different medium to how we usually work, allowing us to be bolder and more expressive than usual.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Creative Inspirations

Mark Barber, director of Courgette Cards: “As a musician in my ‘other’ life I know all about inspiration - the creative blocks, ‘that difficult second album syndrome’. For that difficult second album, see that difficult new range of greeting cards. And with the spring buying season just around the corner where is my inspiration when I need it!? My work is all about collections - vintage objects, modern objects, privately cherished objects, publicly displayed objects, anything that I can photograph and display on a greeting card that people can (hopefully) relate to. I seek out people’s collections of snowdomes and Spacehoppers, I travel to Holland to take photographs of bicycle bells, sometimes I get out of my comfort zone and attempt to bake 36 differently decorated cupcakes, and sometimes it’s as easy as going round my mum’s and photographing her teapot collection. Other times it’s not so easy. Sometimes the juices just aren’t flowing and it feels like you’re never going to have another idea again. And then kerrang! I realise that it’s been staring me in the face. All around me guitars, keyboards, fuzz boxes, trumpets - musical instruments everywhere. And so it was that I began to put together Courgette Cards’ latest additions to the Collections of Collections range. With the help of the handy resource of fellow musicians’ instrument collections, as well as my own, I now have a bunch of new cards and co-ordinated wrapping paper to send out to the world in early 2015. Inspiration can be elusive, and sometimes hard fought, and sometimes it’s a 1962 Hofner 172 winking at you from across the room. Oh and in case you were wondering, I’m still working on that difficult second album.” Spring Fair stand 4D108 Top and above: Courgette Cards' Mark Barber on stage in the 90s. His musical background sparked his latest design additions to the Collections of Collections range, including electric guitars and keyboards.

Emily Burningham, director of Emily Burningham:

Becky Brown, artist of The Almanac Gallery’s (GBCC) Animal Magic range: “I have a good working relationship with Nicole Mendelsohn, Almanac’s art editor, and together we would come up with a list of animals to look at and then I would go off and draw them…and some other odd ones she was not expecting! You never know when something might inspire you. We published some of the early images and they went well so we have been adding to the range ever since. There are hippos, armadillos and crocodiles that never made it to print, however, there is a raccoon coming soon as I went to see the film The Guardians of the Galaxy (if you haven’t seen the movie a raccoon is one of the main characters). I’ve also been known to follow a dog down the road to try to photograph it surreptitiously for my artwork. I am really attracted to animals; I love their shape, the way they move and their markings, colouring etc. I enjoy drawing them as I like the challenge of trying to get animals ‘right’. For me it is important that they look anatomically correct enough that they are recognisable but also to have character without being too anthropomorphised or stylised. I draw both from life and reference material. However, once I think I am getting the shape and feeling right, I start drawing from memory and just use the reference material to check details like, ‘should that be five toes or four?’ I try to bear in mind what a drawing will be like translated down to 158mm square as a greeting card. Some of my drawings are actually quite large, larger animals tends to mean bigger drawings, but that works well in the printed greeting card versions as they look quite dense when it comes to the detail.” Spring fair stand 4F40-H41 Above: Becky Brown, artist of the Animal Magic range by The Almanac Gallery, was inspired by some beautiful and sometimes quirky looking animals such as this Nubian goat.

“My principle inspiration from the beginning and still what I come back to time and time again, are the flowers and birds of the English garden. All ideas come to me when I am out in the great outdoors, be it in the countryside, by the sea or simply out in the garden. We are very lucky in Britain for the ever-changing seasons, which provide a constant natural source of inspiration. There are many other influences to my work: I have always hugely admired Japanese design, which is no doubt evident in the pattern and colour of some of the ranges. The Arts and Crafts movement, 18th century fabric, Art Nouveau and Art Deco have all been extraordinary periods in design history that have had a significant impact on my work. The use of pattern and colour is very important to me and hopefully what sets my designs apart from the traditional florals that can be found elsewhere - and ultimately I would venture, is responsible for their success. The same themes and varied colour palette led very naturally to the development of my fabric range, which is now a 22-strong collection of designs.” Above and right: Emily Burningham’s family garden and the starting point for a many a design! PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Face To Face

The Wright Road

“From an industry perspective, there has never been such an exciting time - the dynamics going on are fascinating. You could look at it all and be intimidated, but to my mind, the more dramatic the changes, the greater the blood flow - indication that this is still a very healthy category,” is how Steve Wright, ceo of Hallmark Cards sums up the industry. PG took the pulse reading of this UK publishing giant. “There is movement in every part of the UK greeting card industry - just look at the acceleration of Card Factory, AG buying Clintons and the segmentation approach it is adopting; new people joining on the publishing side; the drive for convenience retail and Amazon’s active pursuit to become more involved in the sector,” says Steve Wright, ceo of Hallmark Cards. “And this high level of activity is an indication that this is still a very healthy category,” he adds. Looking specifically at Hallmark’s response to the changing dynamics, Steve, who took over as managing director of Hallmark’s UK operations (as well as some international responsibilities) in 2011, has steered this ‘big ship’ through a total restructure of the whole company which has involved changing the senior management team,

outsourcing more production overseas, ratcheting up on product development and, notably of late, reinvigorating its commitment to the independent sector. Added to this are the various trials underway with multiple retailers (a new look in Morrisons and one with the Co-op) as well as the launch of the Hallmark branded card shop in Amazon, which had a soft launch with Christmas products, but is now being extended into everyday. “As a business, it is ultimately about making money (for us and our retail customers) and there is money to be made in this industry, but you have to gear yourself up for this. The last few years at Hallmark has been about reconfiguring the company to make it more agile and therefore Top: Steve Wright, ceo of Hallmark Cards UK, feels that all the activity in the market is a healthy sign. Above right: The trials underway in 300 Co-op stores involving Hallmark cards is showing double-digit growth. Above left: Hallmark has recently renewed its licensing agreement with Warner Bros for another three years, enabling it to tap into key characters such as Batman, Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes and Superman. Left: Hallmark, which has been Morrisons’ greeting card category manager for years, is currently trialling a new look department with the grocer.



more successful in the marketplace,” Steve reveals. “The days have gone for a ‘one size fits all’ strategy, different retail channels have different needs. The previous ‘umbrella approach’ from Hallmark wasn’t working, if you, as a retailer, didn’t fit this then we let you down. We have now made significant changes internally to our infrastructure and are now a significantly different business that is so much better placed to help drive our retail customers’ business, whether they are an independent specialist card retailer, a high street multiple, a grocer, convenience retailer or Amazon,” says Steve confidently. “The shopper mission across the retail channels is very different now - and we needed to address that,” he admits. As part of the new structure, the product, marketing and creative teams all now work closely together, developing and building ranges and brands that are tailored to a specific type of retailer’s needs.

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Face To Face

A case in point was the launch of Hall & Co at PG Live last May, a totally new upmarket sub branded range of greeting cards that would sit well in premium gift shops or fashion boutiques. In short, in shops that would probably have previously shunned Hallmark, seeing the brand (and its extensive model line) as too mainstream.

“A consumer going into a specialist card shop is likely to be in a totally different mindset to someone going into a ‘big box’ grocer for a major food shop or dashing into a convenience store to pick up a few bits for tea,” says Steve, elaborating. Having headed up Tigerprint (the Hallmark owned company that supplies Marks & Spencer with its greeting cards and some other products) before moving into the ‘big seat’ looking after all of Hallmark’s UK interests (and some overseas ones too), Steve is well aware of the importance of this tailoring. He recognises that while the Hallmark brand is an asset to many retailers’ offer, in other cases own brand (M&S) or additional brand names (as is the case with Waitrose for whom Hallmark plans and produces the own brand designs) is more appropriate, while some, Tesco for example, are keen for both branded and own brand. “It is all about finding the right ways of adding value to our retail customers’ business,” he stresses. A current trial in Morrisons, which has seen Hallmark develop a new look to the grocer’s greeting card displays, is one example of this at work in the supermarket sector, while another trial underway in the Co-operative demonstrates how the publisher can adapt to a small convenience format. The trail, now underway in 300 Co-op stores, is doing well, “doubledigit growth”, according to Steve, building further on its knowledge of

Above: Part of the new online ‘toolkit’ that was launched last autumn as part of Hallmark’s support for its Gold Crown retailers. Far left and left: Two of the designs in the Handpicked collection that Hallmark launched exclusively for its independent customers. Below right: Showcased at the recent ‘Roadshow’, is this birdcage ‘letter box’. Packaged flat, this easily erected ‘letter box’ can be used at wedding receptions or parties for guests to ‘post’ their cards into. Bottom: At its recent Roadshow events, Hallmark fanfared several of the artists who work in its studio through special feature display boards.

the machinations of the convenience sector through supplying Sainsbury’s Local, little Waitrose and (through Tigerprint) M&S Simply Food. “Convenience is a retail trend that needs to be embraced - there are now around 50,000 convenience stores in the UK - it is in the industry’s interest that their shoppers have access to greeting cards. These shoppers won’t go to a convenience store expecting to find a stunning 100th birthday card, but they will expect to find a selection that meets their general needs,” says Steve. To his mind, in this day and age, all retail customers are important and the product category benefits from high visibility - whether in independent specialists, grocers, convenience stores, online or value retailers. “ We have a five year plan that accommodates the challenges, opportunities and evolution of the market. If any business stays the same while everything around is changing, someone else will come and take your place. However, the good thing about greeting cards is that in the UK we as an industry have been able to retain the consumer engagement - and long may that continue.”

An Independent Stance “We are starting to see traction in the independent sector. In 2014 we stabilised the business in this sector and in 2015 we want to build on it,” reveals Steve, with his comment being underpinned by the commitment Hallmark is showing to independent customers. Last autumn saw the launch of a major marketing support programme for its Gold Crown retailers. Under the banner of ‘Helping you leave your mark on the high street’, a full suite of marketing materials was made available via an online toolkit providing the wherewithal for Gold Crownies to have access to refreshed PoS, a revamped loyalty card scheme, plus a whole range of templates to facilitate localised marketing, be it a discount day, product promotion or in store competition. Meanwhile, the last month has really seen Hallmark put its money where its mouth is regarding the independent retail sector, not only in the impressive list of venues for its 15 ‘trade shows’ (including Manchester’s Chill Factor, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Belfast’s Titanic Museum and Mercedes Benz World in Weybridge), but also products on show that had been developed exclusively for indies, such as the new Handpicked collection. “I spent a day visiting indies last week as by meeting them face to face and listening to what they have to say you gain a real insight to the temperature of the market climate,” says Steve. “They each had a different business story, each needing a different approach to enable them to differentiate their shop from their local competition. Through the marketing support programme that has been driven by Alison Kildunne [head of brand and communications] and ranges that are exclusive to them, like Handpicked, we can help them meet the challenges,” Steve adds. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Retailer Face To Face

Green Fingered


In the green and pleasant land of the UK, recent research has revealed that us Brits spend over £30,000 on our gardens over a lifetime - that’s a lot of trips to the garden centre! PG got ‘down to earth’ with Kerri Sorbie, card buyer of the Klondyke Garden Centres group (reigning 2014 winner of the Best Garden Centre Retailer of Greeting Cards in The Retas) to find out how everything in this group’s ‘greeting card garden’ is growing. Last year was a good one for the 23-centre strong Klondyke/Strikes garden centre group on the greeting card front, but this year looks set to be even better. With a new EPOS system, new card units being trialed in its Carlisle flagship branch, as well as a replanned card selection going into the whole estate, there is seemingly very little weeding to be done in Klondyke’s card department. “Winning The Retas award was fantastic, it was a great ‘pat on the back’ for all the work we have done on improving our greeting card offer,” reveals Kerri Sorbie, card buyer for the independently owned garden centre group (which now comprises six Scottish-based Klondyke centres and 17 Strikes centres, located in England and Wales). “The huge investment that is now being made in installing EPOS will mean that we will be able to gain an even better picture of what is selling, when and where,” she adds. The new EPOS system is going live in four centres this month, with the remaining 19 having the system installed by July.

Above: Part of a NGS design from Woodmansterne. Left: (Right) Kerri Sorbie with Klondyke buying team colleague Jan Knowles at The Retas awards event last July with the winning trophy for being the Best Garden Centre Retailer of Greeting Cards. Below: The group’s High Legh centre near Knutsford has been redeveloped recently, adding a brand new Topiary Coffee Shop & Restaurant, an extended Garden Centre Shop, improved Craft Shop and Clothing Shop and a better outdoor plant area.

While so much of the centres’ sales still come from the living plants and all that is associated with them, Klondyke has long been aware of the potential to ‘grow’ its sales of its non-horticultural products - of which greeting cards have become increasingly important, hence the EPOS system, but that is not to say this will mean an end to some personal green-fingered ‘tender loving care’ from Kerri to keep the card department ‘best in bloom’.

Having been the card buyer for Klondyke for 13 years and at Dobbies Garden Centres for five years previous to this as its buyer of cards and gifts, Kerri is something of a rare cardie/garden centre hybrid! She thinks there are some differences in shopping and buying patterns of a garden centre customer compared to say someone dashing into a supermarket. “When our customers come to our garden centres they often come for a decent length of time. The likelihood is they will be in browsing mode, seeing the visit as an enjoyable activity rather than a chore - and all of this works in favour of greeting cards. The number of cards we now sell is incredible!” admits Kerri. While she has high hopes for the new replanned displays for this year, Kerri says the pivotal point which resulted in the upturn in its greeting card sales was seven years ago when the group made the move away from being supplied its greeting cards via brokerage to planned displays. This change, which saw Kerri work with Noel Tatt PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Retailer Face To Face

on the planning front, is a set up which is still in place today. “Brokerage didn’t suit us or our customers. Whereas working with Noel Tatt, while we have some core suppliers, we now tailor the selection for each centre to suit their customers’ specific tastes and demographics,” explains Kerri. “Our Angelsey centre has to have Welsh language cards, while Scottish humour cards do well in our Scottish centres and our Yorkshire-based centres do better with art cards,” she reveals. Another big change which was part of the planning and has resulted in an

en Kerri’s Secret Gal rerdvelations of Kerri Sorbie:

immediate uplift in its card sales was the decision to price every card individually. “It is labour intensive, but our sales show it’s worth it,” says Kerri. “You have to give customers what they want as otherwise there are plenty of other options out there for them,” she says pragmatically. As far as the current core greeting card line-up for the centres is concerned, Kerri sums it up as: “an attractive selection of middle of the road card designs which retail around the £2 mark, but with a strong selection of handmade cards, at higher price points, being important too”, citing Noel Tatt, Paperlink, Tracks, Nigel Quiney, Belly Button, Five Dollar, Janie Wilson and Think Of Me as being some of the key card suppliers. While gardening images obviously do appear in the selection, it is not

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exclusively so. Kerri carries a wide selection of relations and occasions designs. “We do particularly well with these, with customers forever telling us that they struggle to find such a wide choice,” says Kerri. There is no way that customers would ‘struggle’ to find the card department in each of the Klondyke/Strikes centres as the impressive sales they clock up has earned it a prime position, either on the way to the coffee shop/café or near to the tills thereby unavoidable. “In our flagship centre in Carlisle, we have just moved the card selection near to the book department which again is working well and resulted in an increase in sales,” reveals Kerri. Unlike other card retailers, Kerri has to consider not just the card buying ‘calendar’,

but the ‘gardening calendar’ too. And she always has an eye on the weather reports! “Our cards, gifts and coffee shops have helped pour year round trade, especially in January and February when there are lower plant sales. With spring being an important time for gardeners, we always do well, especially for Easter and Mother’s Day sales. However, when the weather is too hot customers tend to stay at home and enjoy Top: With the addition of EPOS data Kerri will be their gardens. While, if it is ‘ideal planting able to further hone the greeting card selection in weather’ they do flock in, but may be more the 23 centres in the Klondyke Garden Centre group. Right: The contemporary frontage of the focused on buying their plants than thinking Wilmslow centre. about their card needs that day, but I can’t Left: All bar one of the centres has a coffee shop/café/restaurant, the greeting card really complain about that!” she chuckles. departments are often positioned en route to these. With the green shoots of an improving UK economy poking up From One Small Seed Of An out of the soil, Kerri Ide a.. . From a single greenhous e in Kirkintilloch back in hopes that Klondyke the 1980’s, Bob and Dorothy Gault laid down the roo customers will not only ts of what has grown into Klondyke Garden Centres; a comple tely be hoping to make family owned independe nt group of garden centres . improvements to their The couple bought a stru ggling garden centre site from which to run their gardens in the coming camping supplies compan y, but their green-fingered skil year, but also to nurture ls and vision came to the forefront and the garden centre beg an to flourish. their friendships and Klondyke now operates 23 garden centres family ties with some throughout Scotland, Nor thern England and Wales. ‘evergreen’ greeting cards. The six

Scottish based centres trad e as Klondyke Garden Centres, with the 17 garden centres in Eng land and Wales operating under the name of Strikes Garden Cen tres.



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Industry Issue

AnEducation Process Art and design undergraduates from Edinburgh to Plymouth are being urged to ‘... walk the line between viable and incredible’ with their entries to On The Cards, a major nationwide greeting card design competition instigated by The Art Group/Paper Rose, GF Smith and Sherwood Press which launched officially this month. PG educates itself about this ambitious project, conceived to raise the profile of the greeting card industry as a viable and credible career choice for the nation’s young creatives.


Top and above: Presenting the On The Cards design competition brief to students at Nottingham Trent University The Art Group's creative director Reggie Pugh, design leader Kate Vines and designer Jojo Norris. Below: The On The Cards logo.

The On The Cards Brief

t last year’s PG Live, Reggie Pugh, art director of The Art Group and Paper Rose had a conversation with Mark Jessett (GF Smith paper company’s greetings specialist) bemoaning a shared frustration. “We both were saddened by how so many art college institutions were either not aware of what huge career potential there was in the greeting card trade for their students or, even worse, had adopted a negative attitude towards the trade, actively discouraging undergraduates from considering it,” said Reggie. “This to my mind was wrong on so many levels. Having benefitted from having some young graduates join our studio in the last year, I really feel that for this industry to survive and prosper we need to encourage

A briefing document has been created for the On The Cards competition in which the brief is clearly laid out: ‘To create a stunning greeting card that can be put into an envelope and posted to a recipient. Our current market thrives on creativity, paper sculpture, formatting, ideas generation - but how much further could this be pushed? Challenge the current perception of cards and think about innovation and new formats. How could technology and social media interface with the product? Consider the final recipient and the sending situation, what occasions might cards be sent for? Are you designing for a toddler or a 100 year old? Most significant events in people’s lives are supported sending a card, milestone birthdays, births, marriage, anniversaries. Think about the card's position at retail - a successful design often has to sell itself to the consumer from the top third of the card, as this is the visible area on a normal card rack display (a lot of designs are now shown full face at retail though, so this should not fully dictate your design.) Size is flexible, but an average square card would be 160mm x 160mm, portrait size 120mm x 170mm. This can go larger but could be limiting for the retailer.’

more fresh ideas, and that challenge what a greeting card looks like, into our trade.” At this year’s PG Live exhibition, Reggie and Mark will be able to have a very different conversation, smiling rather than frowning, as the Springboard Lounge (co-sponsored by GF Smith) will showcase the winners and finalists in the On The Cards design competition, instigated by The Art Group/Paper Rose and GF Smith with support from Sherwood Press. The On The Cards design competition launched officially last month and six art colleges and universities (De Montford University, Nottingham Trent, Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth University, Staffordshire College of Art, and Edinburgh Art College) have pledged their support already. The competition encompasses three award categories - Design (the best use of illustration, character, typography, photography or graphics in a more classic sense of the card; Format (the best use of new innovative ideas in formats, paper engineering or new materials) and Technology (the best use of interaction with new technologies and media). To really bring the competition to life, get the students enthused about entering and, more importantly, seeing greeting cards as a potentially lucrative route for their creative ideas, Reggie and Mark are presenting the On The Cards brief to the students at their colleges. Forming a crucial part of the presentation panel are what Reggie describes as “our greeting card ambassadors”, in the form of Sarah Tanner, Jade Walsh and Jojo Norris, all young graduates who are now working with The Art Group/Paper Rose. (It is Jojo’s artwork on the Magpie range which won a Henries award last October). PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Industry Issue

“It is great to have them there - and include their case studies in the On The Card brief - as their enthusiasm for what they have learned and how delighted they are to have their artwork out in the market is so infectious. Students up and down the country are now underway, creating their winning entries in time for the 20 April deadline and plans are underway for the judging (which will staged at the House of Illustration museum in mid May, judged by a panel of experts). “We all know the greeting card trade is a vibrant, friendly and successful industry in the UK, but it has been overlooked by so many talented art and design students who do not realise the wealth of opportunities it can present,” explains Mark Jessett. “This market thrives on new ideas, different approaches and applied imagination. The UK is worldrenowned for creativity, and our strong greetings industry is testament to this. Bringing in new talent to share their ideas is essential, and in return, the revenue can be really beneficial to young creatives just starting their careers. The On The Cards competition will help in all of this.”

Ambassadorial Endorsement A trio of The Art Group/Paper Rose ‘ambassadors’ share some snippets which chime with undergraduates:

Jojo Norris - “I wasn’t aware of the creative potential in the greeting card industry when I studied illustration at university. When I happened to spot the designer position availability at Paper Rose I thought ‘Wow, that job sounds like so much fun!’ ...and I just couldn’t believe when I got the job! Above left and above: Graduate and one Each day is different. I also really love working in the studio alongside of Paper Rose's designers Jojo Norris amazing creative people. We work on all kinds of exciting projects from with print squeegee in hand and product design to exhibition curation. I’ve also been fortunate enough to (above) some of her designs. be able to maintain my freelance career too and since working at Paper Rose I’ve illustrated two children’s books, alcohol labels, CD covers, all kinds of things!” Sarah Tanser - “I believe

Coates Of Arms

Kathryn Coates, course leader of the graphic design course at Nottingham Trent, is someone who has spotted the potential of the greeting card trade for her students. Here she shares her views: “I really like the On The Cards initiative as the project offers our students a great opportunity to engage with the greetings industry on a ‘live’ brief and furthers their knowledge and understanding of the diverse range of opportunities available to them in the creative industries. We actually have had great success in terms of graduates securing both permanent and freelance work within the greeting card industry. It offers our illustrators and image-makers excellent opportunities in term of their career development and potential employment. We have a large number of students on a very broad based course - illustrators, animators, typographers lots of creative thinkers and problem-solvers, as well as some who are great copywriters, and it is our aim to secure the best opportunities for all of them!” Above: Some of Nottingham Trent University's creative students are taking part in the On The Cards competition.

that the potential of a career in the greeting card industry is vastly underestimated and many universities see it as a non-potential career path, when I believe it is one of the most varied job a designer could wish for. In my three years here, as well as designing greeting cards, I have undertaken building the companies’ two websites, the social media presence, as well as exploring the creative side of licensing our products.”

Jade Walsh - “I exhibited at New Designers after my degree show, where I met Reggie. I worked with Paper Rose on a range Above left and above: Beautifully collaging of cards based on some of my university work, and from there we built a a Paper Rose card design idea, Sarah Tanser. Below and below right: Paper Rose great working relationship. designer, Jade Walsh, has learnt that a card I began by freelancing in the studio, and I’ve recently become an designs' commercialism is very important. employee. It’s great working in the studio, having experienced and talented designers around to discuss ideas with and learn new things from. One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is about commercial awareness. What I like, and what people buy aren’t always the same thing. Our cards are stocked everywhere from little independent shops to big supermarkets, so I’ve had to learn how to adapt to, and understand different customers. Having said that, there are plenty of innovative and exciting cards out there at the moment for every type of person, there’s something for everyone wanting to find their niche (or discover a new niche!) within the industry.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Visit us at Spring Fair 2015 Hall 4 Stand K16 W:

T: 01751 430081 E:

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Countdown To

Springb ard With only a few months left before international greeting card trade show PG Live 2015 kicks off (2-3 June at London’s Business Design Centre), rising card publishing stars are preparing to exhibit in the show’s Springboard section, many of them ‘graduates’ from last November’s Ladder Club seminars. PG asks just a few of these ‘stellar’ card talents to tell their tale of what path led them into greeting cards. Philip Ratchford, owner of Philip Ratchford Photography: “You often sit back and wonder what got you to this point. What started it all off? Where will it take me? I am not sure it was a definite choice. It just happened. I was relatively happy working as Cabin Crew – flying around the UK/Europe and Middle East. I was often out and about whenever time permitted taking photos, with my camera pretty much going wherever I did. Getting into the card business came about when I visited a friend one weekend and sent her a photograph on a card that I had taken of her with her son. Using up the other card blanks in the pack of 10 I had bought with a few other photos I had lying around, I found I had a product that people liked. So I made more, which led to hundreds being handmade, which led to my old manager trialling them in his store, which led to sales – which led to repeat orders and so on. ‘Ta Dah’ a new business was formed! Like pretty much everyone out there I have made many mistakes on the way to having a business that works for me. Some have cost me a fair amount of money, some are still crammed into my bedroom as a daily reminder of ‘WHAT NOT TO DO!’ and some still haunt me because I can’t believe I made THAT decision! But they have all taught me a little about how to run a successful business and a lot more about who I am (and the ability to laugh with and at yourself!). The best thing though about this journey into card publishing is that I am enjoying it! I feel inspired and motivated to move forward, to grow and expand. It’s like being a big kid again - when all you want to do is play the same game again and again. It’s pure enjoyment. And receiving ‘samples’ in the post is like having Christmas every month or so! Who knows what the future will bring (fame/stardom would be nice) - but guaranteed it’ll have cards, envelopes and a mountain of cellowrap in it!”

Catherine Kleeli, creative director for Catherine Kleeli Cards: “I come from a family with a heritage of hard work and entrepreneurial spirit - one of its motto’s being ‘Enthusiasm on fire is better than knowledge on ice’. This enthusiasm is being brought to Catherine Kleeli Cards. Many parents steer their young into ‘safe and sound’ occupations as a means of earning a living, so for decades I duly climbed the business management ladder, limiting my creations to spare-time interest. However, 14 years ago, with a change of direction to achieve a better work/life balance, came the realisation that I should have been doing something creative all along, when I was able to pursue my lifelong ambition to study Fine Art. Since graduating, I have been working as a practicing artist, but my ‘light bulb’ moment came at the end of 2013 when my daughter, Naomi, was preparing to embark on her big adventure to work as a fashion intern in New York for 12 months. Her parting Top: Designers have taken various routes into cards: Part of a design from The Art Group. Above left and left: Philip Ratchford's photographic passion has become an enjoyable journey into cards. Above right: Catherine Kleeli in her studio. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Still with the largest range of in-stock colours 8 Sizes Permanently in Stock Over 400 Bespoke Envelope Sizes 100% Recycled Paper Available Stock & Bespoke Cello Bags Peel & Stick Envelopes Bespoke Service on Request




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gift to me was a ceramic butterfly emblazoned with the words “If you can dream it, you can do it”. This proved to be my inspiration and impetus to live my dream while my daughter lived hers. My range continues to grow and has so far focused on animals. Once I decide which animal to create I draw a rough outline and break it down into sections, trying to capture the character and qualities of the creature. Then the search begins, thumbing through any paper to hand, cutting, ripping and sticking until the essence of the animal emerges. I whizz the result through the sewing machine to add the final touches. This all sounds easy but it actually takes me about a week until I’m satisfied enough to take the collage into the card design process. What has always touched me is when one of my cards remains on display as a treasured memento long after the occasion has passed - ‘a card worth keeping’. This has become the strapline for my business, established to publish quality greeting cards using my own original artwork.”

Zin Matthews, director for PoiZIN Pen: “I am American by birth, a Southerner by the grace of God and a British citizen courtesy of the Home Office. I have been living in the UK since 1990. I have worn many hats in my various careers. I started out as a wine merchant based in Atlanta, Georgia, where I achieved many international qualifications during my seven years in the wine industry. My private pilot flying lessons started out as a hobby and evolved into me becoming an aircraft broker, selling twin, turbo prop and turbine aeroplanes to the corporate/business arena throughout the Southeastern United States for over 12 years. In I998, I moved from Surrey to Edinburgh, where I opened my art gallery ArtiZIN Contemporary Fine Art on Dundas Street. It was


Above: Catherine Kleeli Cards' designs capture animals' characters with torn paper and stitching. Below and below right: Architecture is one of Jessica Hogarth's favourite subjects to draw but that doesn't mean delicious birthday cakes can't be added to the collection.

Continued on page 93 Above and left: Sassy and succinct greetings feature on PoiZIN Pen designs created by Zin Matthews.

Jessica Hogarth, owner of Jessica Hogarth Designs: “I initially trained in textiles, studying Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design at Leeds College of Art. I did work with paper during my studies, but it was really upon graduating that I fell in love with paper products and could really see my designs working on this substrate. I have always loved the coast and feel really lucky to have been brought up in Robin Hood’s Bay. My first few coastal designs were actually created when in art college and I reworked them for the products I launched my business with. Each drawing has a personal connection to me. I know many of the people that own the fishing boats and that live in the little cottages that feature on my popular coastal cottages print. Architecture is one of my favourite subject matters to draw, and the higgledy-piggledy buildings that litter the North Yorkshire coast really are unique. I have lots of good memories of running up and down the narrow cobbled streets in ‘Bay’ and am so pleased to be able to showcase what the area has to offer through my artwork. I first launched my business in April 2012, excited to work for myself and build a brand that was personal to me. I’ve enjoyed experimenting with products, and attending different trade shows over the past couple of years, as well as building up my portfolio for licensing. A nomination for a Henries award in 2013 was a very proud moment for me. I’ve recently started working with a distributor and increased my range for 2015. I now have quite a clear idea of where I see myself sitting within this innovative and exciting industry, and can’t wait to build awareness of my designs further in 2015.” Spring Fair stand 4H115 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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while living in Edinburgh that I became a radio ‘shock jock’ known as Dr. Ruthless, a phone-in talk show presenter from 10pm to 1am on Edinburgh’s Scot FM. Some of my advice was t tha s It’s the girl ir the pretty ruthless, but it all ty pret e wer made great radio! lives who find it the Running a fun and hardest when it comes to losing their looks dynamic gallery during and embracing their the day and being an birthdays… outrageous radio host by night was an amusing balancing act, keeping my real identity a secret, until News of the World rumbled me. In 2013, after much encouragement from friends, I decided to take my sassy way of speaking and turn it to greeting cards. I write the way I talk so it just seemed a natural transition for me. PoiZIN Pen cards are like a slap across the face with a kiss inside to make it better. PoiZIN Pen’s tag line is quite simply: ‘Your Heart Is In The Right Place... But Your Mind Went Somewhere Else!’”

Evie Collis, sales director for Niche Designs:

“I am a Piscean, creative, sensitive and caring, but found myself working in the Telecoms industry as a corporate acquisition manager, surrounded by P&L’s, contracts, projects and people management, travelling 300 miles and working 15 hours a day for 12 years. I was left exhausted and vowed never to work in such an industry again. My grandfather was in the Cavalry in WW1 and my parents brought me my first pony when I was 12. My partner for the last five years is a 17.2h chestnut gelding called Squirrel, and with me only being 5’ 0” you can already see the funny side; my stepladder travels everywhere with me. It made sense to me to combine my commercial skills with my love of all things equine. At this point, I decided to start my own business called Niche Designs. I met two wonderful artists (Jane and Ruth), and I immediately loved their designs. As anyone ‘horsey’ will tell you, in our sport we need to be able to laugh at the predicaments that we often can find ourselves in! - and the cards capture these. I attended The Ladder Club in November, and was welcomed into a very different environment than I was used to everybody was friendly and very approachable and having fun. We are building a great relationship with Riding for the Sarah Kelleher, owner of Disabled, and supported their Annual Gala Event, as well as Sarah Kelleher: the individual groups “I have always been madly enthusiastic about designing throughout the UK. We and making things and I'd do nothing else as a small also sell cards to one of the child. Often I'd be found tinkering away at making a new top equestrian wholesalers, pair of unwearable shoes or decorating my guinea pig's country stores and farm hutch. But it was when I was seven years-old and my shops, and have spread our teacher used the bookmark I had made for her that I wings into Ireland. began to think this was my future. I now love what I am After leaving Loughborough University with a degree in printed textiles I doing and I am looking secured a job at Sock Shop as a designer and very happily worked there for the forward to growing the next seven years until they relocated to the Lake District. business and I am enjoying Along came my first child and with that the perfect opportunity to freelance every moment of it.” as a textile designer from home. With my obvious expertise in the design of Top right: Evie Collis and her gelding Squirrel. hosiery from my Sock Shop days, I then freelanced through two more children for Above and right: Equine adventures on two Niche Designs cards. a sock manufacturer. I did this for 16 years! The position enabled me to work directly with most of the main players on the high street designing ranges for BHS, John Lewis, Debenhams and Tescos to name a few. I loved every minute. So here I am now, my children are teenagers and more able to look after themselves, so I've decided to have a go at designing and creating my own products. For years my design limitations have been set by knitting capabilities and all created solely with the use of a computer, so my first aim is to get back to basics. I always start with oldfashioned methods, original paintings, lino-cutting and wood block letters, then use my computer. This method allows me to follow my rustic creativity but also create artwork and tweak designs, if needed. I have attended one trade fair so far, PG Live, which was a fantastic experience. I have gained several greeting card orders and met some wonderful people.” Left: This beautiful range of cards by Sarah Kelleher have a lovely rustic woodland feel.



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Retailer Focus


Abel-Bodied Abel Dos Santos is wiling to make a few confessions:“I have become a stationery snob” and “If I see an untidy card rack in someone else’s shop, I have to do something about it”. There is a probably a book he could read to cure him of both of these conditions if he wanted - and the chances he’d find them on the shelves of the idiosyncratic Foyles bookshop, in London’s Charing Cross, won’t be too tricky as he is based there as the card, stationery and gift buyer for the group. Six months on from the opening of this new flagship store, in which greeting cards and stationery are located right at the front, PG reads beyond the prologue to find out more about the importance of non-book products to this five store group. In an age when Amazon is not just thought of as the longest river in the world and Kindle is not just shards of wood with which to start a fire, when news broke that Foyles was to close its world famous landmark store in Charing Cross Road, where it had resided for over half a century, due to its lease being up, there was a sharp intake of breath. But oxygen flow resumed on learning that it was to relocate into the adjacent building and create a new flagship. The expectations were high, but when that 37,000 sq ft store opened last summer they were met on every level - all four floors!

Right: Abel Dos Santos in the greeting card and stationery department of Foyles’ flagship store in Charing Cross Road, London. Below: Foyles at 135 Charing Cross Road in 1906 a couple of years after William and Gilbert Foyle set up business. The flagship store remains on the same street over 100 years later!

The Page Turner It seems fitting that a bookshop of Foyles’ standing has a great story of its own - as well as a modern day sequel that is still being written, in which unusual greeting cards and stationery feature in the plot. The ‘story’ starts in 1903 when two brothers, William and Gilbert Foyle failed their entrance exams for the civil service. So, they offered their redundant text books for sale and were inundated with offers. This was the inspiration for them to start a second-hand book business from home. Then, encouraged by the reaction to this, they opened a small shop in the London suburb of Peckham and soon after a store in London’s West End, before moving into Charing Cross Road, the very street where Foyles still has its flagship shop. While Foyles has lacked the high branch numbers of other bookshop chains (it currently trades from five shops), it has always done things its way. The Literary Luncheons it staged from the 1930s are legendary, hosting more than 1,000 authors and 500,000 guests, from Prime Ministers to royalty is a fine example.



But with four miles of shelving displaying the 200,000 different books in this one store alone, any non-book products have to work hard to stand out, and that’s where Abel Dos Santos comes in. “In the last year we have increased our greeting card sales by 12%, I believe by making sure that we stock different cards that you wouldn’t normally expect to find in a bookshop. A main goal for me is for customers to come into a Foyles store specifically to buy a greeting card or some stationery from us. By moving away from stocking card brands that are widely available elsewhere and supporting the smaller Below: A delve into Foyles’ rich photographic archive includes a woman doing some hard bargaining selling her second hand books to the bookstore, William Foyle with ‘Snakeman’ Constantine Ionides in 1960 who was in to sign copies of his biography (when one of his snakes bit a shop assistant and she had to be rushed to hospital)!

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publishers and more exclusive brands, we are on our way to our goal,” says Abel. Having worked in retail since he was 14, Abel, a Portuguese South African, came over to the UK in 2000 and spent his first nine years working for the Borders bookstore chain (on the shopfloor) before he took on the challenge to create and run the Discover Greenwich Store at the Royal Naval College in London’s Greenwich. “This experience really opened up my eyes to what is possible in gifts and stationery,” he reveals. So when in 2011 he spotted the opportunity to join Foyles and head up the buying of its cards, gifts and stationery, he jumped at the chance. Apart from its Bristol’s Cabot Circus store, Foyles’ other branches are all in London - two in shopping centres (Westfield Shepherds Bush and Westfield Stratford), another is in the Festival Hall and then last year an impressive one opened in Waterloo Station. Working within the respective space constraints of each store, Abel has set about putting together a potent mix of products (across children’s, homewares, impulse, stationery and cards). On the greeting card front, recalling back to the early days with the company, Abel says, “My remit was to increase sales - pure and simple.” The last few years has seen him achieve this by completely changing the tone of the selection. “I took out the ‘commercial, glittery, jewelled’ cards from brands that sell in lots of other places and have replaced them with more unusual designs. In most of our stores I only have spinners on which to display them and even in the Charing Cross

Australian Tmod (whose wearable party hat cards are doing well), PaperWhale, Have A Gander and Pompadour Press. Although Abel has merchandisers to look after four of the stores, he fulfills this function himself in the Charing Cross flagship. “Merchandising is so important, you need to see what the customer is seeing and create a display that will encourage them to view the entire selection, whether by using colour theming or complementary design-styles, as these encourage multiple purchases. I am based here anyway, so it is easy for me to pop down, watch people shopping and tinker with the displays,” says Abel.“In fact, if I go into other people’s shops, I can’t help myself but to start tidying up the racks there too. It has become something of an affliction!” While greeting cards are the biggest profit contributor of all the areas

store I only have a few bays, so that card selection has to be very strong and continually improved through a complete overhaul three times a year to spice it up,” he reveals. The card selection in each store differs, there are some core publishers (such as Urban Graphic, 1973 and Archivist) however that are stocked throughout the estate. Among the publishers Abel highlights as chiming with what he is trying to achieve with Foyles are Top and left: There is an open, contemporary feel to the Foyles’ flagship store which has over 4 miles of bookshelves, but also tables where gifts are sold, a great coffee shop and a gallery which showcases photographic and art exhibits. Above: Some of the unusual designs at Foyles from (left to right) Pompadour Press, 1973 and PaperWhale. Below: Some of the stationery in its ‘curated’ selling space in the new Charing Cross Road store.

under Abel’s responsibility - “it is astonishing, for example, the number of cards we sell from the three 72 pocket spinners we have in our Waterloo Station store!” stationery too is a burning passion. “I love stationery. I didn’t until I really got into this job, but there are some products out there, in the medium to high-end market, sourced from Europe, South Korea and Japan, that are just wonderful,” he reveals, pointing to an array adjacent to the greeting cards and giftwrap. To elevate their specialness some products (like the sought after Hobonichi Techno Planner diary) are displayed under glass, while others, like the Japanese paper Washi tape reels are enticingly displayed like sweeties, inviting customers to pick them up. With a year of impressive growth on which to build, Abel has no truck for any suggestion that books, stationery or greeting cards have had their day. “Just look at our sales and customers’ reactions to them. Books, cards and stationery are all going through changing times, but is it not all bad - or else why are our card sales growing?” So, the story continues... PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


Products: Present Time, Burgon & Ball, J-Me, Suck UK, Present Time, Burgon & Ball

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A selection of Animal card designs launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

Fantasy Felines Rose Hill is extending her Lovely Cat collection with six new cards designed in her signature playful British Pop Art style. All the cards are sized 150mm square and available either as blank or with a Happy Birthday caption, all sold wrapped with bright yellow envelopes. Rose Hill Designs 07742 347603 Hall 4 Stand J94

In The Pink Flowery critters is a bright contemporary animal range new from Pink Pig. There are 15 joyful doggy and cat designs with bright colour pops and splashes of flowers, all illustrated by Mabel Forsyth. Who can fail to be made happy by this handsome fellow? The cards sized 150mm square, are printed on beautiful intense white eco board and presented wrapped with white envelopes. Pink Pig 07583 088596 Hall 4 Stand H117

That Fluffy Feeling

Cat About Town There will be new cards galore on Tomcat’s stand at Spring Fair this year. There are eight new cards each from Erika Oller, with her humorous observations of everyday life, and Vicky Mount's fabulous cats taking everything in their stride. Also look out for Vicky's new cards for Mother's Day and prepare yourself for some feline pampering! All the cards are sized 150mm square, blank inside and come with a crisp white envelope. Tomcat Cards 01243 837300 Hall 4 Stand J16

New Look Claire Louise has revamped and is re-launching her Whimsical range. There are ten magical cards covering a beautiful selection of wildlife, floral and fauna, all with birthday captions. The cards are now a smaller 130mm square format, beautifully finished with a high quality bronze foiling and sold wrapped with pretty coloured envelopes. Claire Louise Hall 4 Stand H108

Tiddly Pom Poms is Paper Rose’s super cute new range of charmingly sweet little pompom animals, created by the very talented artist Eleri Fowler. The designs are enhanced with a beautiful hand calligraphy greeting, adding that extra bit of sentiment. This open birthday collection comprises nine designs, sized 158mm square, sold wrapped with white envelopes. Paper Rose 0115 9860115 Hall 4 Stand K04

Rural Pursuits Country Cards is extending its sports, farming and country life designs for 2015. With bright and vibrant eye-catching images, there are many artistic and photographic designs on offer including more wonderfully appealing works by well-known artist Richard Macneil. Country Cards 01835 822485 Hall 4 Stand K93



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A selection of Animal card designs launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

Soft Focus Bug Art’s Jane Crowther is adding 12 new watercolour portraits to her successful Critters range. Like pages from a sketchbook, the images are loose and painterly with notes and colour swatches purposefully included. New animals in the range include a red squirrel, a fox, owlets, a pig, garden birds and a rabbit. Printed on quality textured board, these blank designs are supplied wrapped with ivory coloured envelopes. Bug Art 0115 907 8420 Hall 4 Stand J75

Arts And Crufts

Up Hill Down Dale

Three new animal ranges will be on show from Emma Ball - Woof! Meow and Nibble. Woof! is a range of 12 doggy illustrations, Meow has six feline designs and Nibble is a little mini range of four cards with rabbits and hamsters that fits in well alongside. All the cards are printed on glossy board, sized 6" square and sold wrapped with coordinating envelopes. Emma Ball 0115 9858081 Hall 4 Stand L70

Award winning publisher Wrendale Designs is launching 12 new designs into its Fur, Feathers and Whiskers occasions range. Hannah Dale’s quirky illustrations and clever captions are sure to raise a smile. Sized 170mm x 138mm, the cards are printed on high quality, textured board and are supplied wrapped with a kraft recycled envelope. Also on show will be new tinware and stationery items including a beautiful range of gift pens. Wrendale Designs 01652 680253 Hall 4 Stand L20

Feeling Foxy

Hands Up! A stunning new collection of hand paintings by award-winning artist Guido Daniele is being launched by Redback Cards. Using the most unconventional 'canvas' of the human body, Daniele transforms fingers and palms into any animal, from elephants to zebras. Perfect for anyone with a passion for wildlife and all that's different. There are 24 cards in the range, all sized 150mm square and come wrapped with a premium quality envelope. Redback Cards 01803 712793 Hall 4 Stand J46

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve is a new Valentine’s and general romance range from Tache Crafts. Tache has given eight of its well known die-cut animal characters brand new heart covered jumpers and they take pride of place hand-mounted onto brown recycled board. The cards are sized 135mm and sold wrapped with matching heart-patterned envelopes. Tache Crafts 07446 983221 Hall 4 Stand D116

Spirited Wildlife Natural Partners has reworked its popular card range by talented artist Andy Broderick, whose beautiful paintings capture the spirit of his wildlife subjects. Eight new designs are being added to this extensive range, which is now printed on textured board to bring greater depth to the images. The cards are blank, sized 127mm x 178mm and come wrapped with a complementing envelopes. Natural Partners 07714 768956 Hall 4 Stand J21 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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A selection of Birthday card designs launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

Lie Of The Land Inspired by the top British tourist destinations, Landmarks from Jonathan Glick reflects our wonderful landscapes, city streets, famous buildings and stylistic icons. There are initially 24 birthday and everyday occasions cards covering London, Yorkshire, Scotland, Newcastle, Manchester and York. There is also an associated mini card range available. Jonathan Glick 01780 461260 Hall 4 Stand K37

Oooh... Betty! Betty Boop has recently taken on a whole new boudoir look in six new designs being added by Hype to its existing range. This star of the silver screen now sashays across get well, congratulations, birthdays and adult’s age birthdays (18, 21, 30, 40 and 50!) and a number of loving designs. There are different sizes and formats such as die-cuts, stand up cards and button badge cards and giftwrap. All the cards are sold wrapped with either a white or red envelope. Hype Associates 0151 7027788 Hall 4 Stand J45

It’s A Blast! Be Bop is a new vintage retro range from Rocket Press inspired by American diners of the 50s and 60s. There are 12 birthday cards, all sized 147mm x 112mm, beautifully letterpress printed in Northumberland on high quality board and sold wrapped with textured envelopes. Rocket Press 0115 9078420 Hall 4 Stand H105

Heads Up The popular tongue-in-cheek Talking Heads range from Coulson Macleod is being expanded for Spring Fair with Victorian ladies now joining its pompous Victorian gentlemen. The range now comprises 30 everyday occasions cards in a muted colour palette all printed on the highest quality white recycled board. The cards are 150m square, blank inside and sold wrapped with matching white envelopes. Coulson Macleod 01536 482771 Hall 6 Stand K34

For The Girls Rush Design is excited to be launching Flower Power, a new female birthday, ages and relations collection. There are 30 bright and colourful designs printed on a crisp white background and finished with foiling and diamantes. The cards are all sized 150mm square and sold wrapped with complementing envelopes. Rush Design 01788 521745 Hall 4 Stand H96

Child’s Play The Almanac Gallery is releasing a new range of juvenile cards by talented artist Angela Rozelaar. Angela has created five simple but charming designs for ages 1 to 5. She draws all her designs by hand, using brush and ink and creates textures with gouache, rubbings and prints. Once she has all the elements in place, everything is scanned in and collaged digitally. The designs have been embossed for added texture, are sized 158mm square and sold wrapped with quality yellow envelopes. The Great British Card Company 01452 888999 Hall 4 Stand F40-H41 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Spring Fair Mother Tongue Pili Pala (Welsh for butterfly) is a brand new range of Welsh language cards being launched at Spring Fair by Davora. There are 30 initial designs covering everyday occasions including birthday, weddings, new born, congratulations and more. All the cards have an English translation on the reverse, are sized 150mm square and sold wrapped with complementing envelopes. Davora 0845 299 0186 Hall 4 Stand J30

Write Now

Four Square

One of the new ranges being launched at Spring Fair by Urban Graphic is Matthew Taylor Wilson. These beautiful calligraphic cards are debossed and printed in limited colour to give a beautiful letterpress style. There are 12 150mm square cards in this range, printed on matt textured board and wrapped with a natural coloured envelope. Urban Graphic 0117 944 5050 Hall 3 Stand U37

Sandscript Cards have added a selection of new Grid design cards covering birthday, romance and special occasions. Each card features four of Sandscript’s most popular designs in a 150mm square format, all presented wrapped with white envelopes. Sandscript Cards 01803 752869 Hall 4 Stand H88

Fairweather Fonts Brainbox Candy is exceedingly chuffed to release its latest age range, Milestone, for ages 18 to 80. Brightly coloured wording in fun fonts are on displayed on weatherboard effect backgrounds in this tactile range of eight designs. Printed in the UK on eco board, the cards sold are wrapped with coloured envelopes. Brainbox Candy 01702 716643 Hall 4 Stand F88-H85

Treasured Memories All Sorted! Dean Morris is launching Allsorts, a new occasions range for the spring in the usual colourful Dean Morris Cards style. There are 16 cards in the range, all very bright and using eclectic mix of font styles, perfect for loads of occasions such as new home and family birthdays to name but a few. Dean Morris Cards 01902 560247 Hall 4 Stand J80

Inspired by their own personal bereavements, Helen Lawson and Sophia Lucop-Leech are launching Inspired Goodbyes, a new business producing ranges of innovative sympathy cards, gifts, memory books and remembrance jewellery. Many of the cards and gifts encourage the sender to write a memory or story from a special time with captions such as ‘let me tell you something about your lovely mum’, ‘my favourite memory of them’ and ‘did I ever tell you about the time?’ Inspired Goodbyes 0161 667 5760 Hall 4 Stand H32 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE



A selection of Font or Word based card designs launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

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A selection of Gifts launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

Gift Of Love Debuting at Spring Fair, Wendy Jones-Blackett is the latest sentiment license from Widdop Bingham. With a simple but striking style, images from Wendy’s successful card designs have been translated onto a range of giftware for baby, wedding and Mother’s Day occasions. Widdop Bingham 0161 6881200 Hall 5 Stands H04-J03 and J04-K03

Artistic License Over 30 of the hottest licenses will be on display on the Amscan stand including new ranges for Frozen, Avengers, Minions, Fireman Sam, SpongeBob and Littlest Pet Shop. Other exciting additions to come and see are four new first birthday ranges with eye-catching vibrant designs and coordinating accessories. Amscan 01909 288500 Hall 3 Stands S20-T21 and R20-S21

That’s Life Joe Davies has combined the current trend for messages with lime wash and cream wood to create its new Lifestyle collection. The series features frames, plaques, tea-light holders and cushions to create a range that looks great in any shop and home. Joe Davies 0161 975 6300 Hall 5 Stand C30/D31

Suck It And See The Retro Style range from Lesser and Pavey now has new designs including these Mr Right and Mrs Always Right drinking jars. With a screw top lid and straw, these fun gifts are innovative, practical and ideal for cocktails and other drinks. Lesser & Pavey 01322 279225 Hall 5 Stand C04-D03

Collective Giving

Number Cruncher A new contemporary gift range will be on show at Spring Fair from Really Good. Bingo comprises quality ceramics, tins and even napkins, using bright colours and an iconic number font, reminiscent of a Bingo card. From tea towels to tape measures, bottle stops to biscuit tins, this collection is sure to be a winner! Really Good 01235 537888 Hall 4 Stand K100-L101

New card designs and a host of new gift products are being launched into Perkins & Morely’s best selling Collective Nouns range at Spring Fair. The range will now have matching tea towels, coasters, cushions, clocks, key rings, fridge magnets, bags and… a 2016 calendar. All proudly designed and made in Britain. Perkins & Morley 015395 64247 Hall 4 Stand H100

Puppet On A... Pencil Little Fingy is excited to be launching a range of Puppet Pencils at Spring Fair. The miniature hand-knitted puppets are exceptional quality and have all the detail of their standard finger puppets. Mounted on an ecofriendly pencil the puppets make a beautiful gift. Little Fingy 0113 2047644 Hall 4 Stand J20 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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A selection of Handfinished card designs launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

Big Up The Happiness Fun typography, beautiful textured board, embossed foils and bows galore make up Wendy Jones-Blackett’s latest range, Happy. There are 20 large 180mm square designs to start with and this is one of them! Wendy Jones-Blackett 0113 2888468 Hall 4 Stand F77

Step Into My Garden Garden is a new range being launched by Sabivo Design at Spring Fair. Featuring flowers, butterflies and birds, this range has soft pastel palette and is hand-finished with cup-flower jewels, polka dot bows and spot gold glitter. There are 24 designs covering occasions, birthdays and ages 65, 75, 85, 95, 100 in a 145mm square format and wrapped with coordinating envelopes. Sabivo Design 0116 225 8 255 Hall 4 Stand J05

Button Up

Sweet Treat Butterscotch is a new cute everyday and occasions range from The Handcrafted Card Company. This range aims to play the heartstrings with endearing characters embellished with paper flowers and sparkling gems. Printed on smooth eggshell white board, each card is sized 160mm square and comes wrapped with a kraft envelope. The Handcrafted Card Company 01782 639733 Hall 4 Stand J74

Arty-Krafty is a new range of 30 handmade cards from Laura Sherratt Designs. Bright line drawn designs covering occasions, birthdays and special relations, are printed on a brown kraft background and enhanced with handattached embellishments, including new wooden buttons in various shapes. All the designs are sized 150mm square and come wrapped with colour coordinating envelopes. Laura Sherratt Designs 01538 384566 Hall 4 Stand F132

Word Count Bexy Boo Design is launching Scrabbley Scribbles Spring, comprising Mother’s Day and Father’s Day designs. Each card is hand-finished with an original wooden letter tile, glittery cut out shapes and genuine Swarovski Crystals. There are 12 designs for each, sized 155mm square and sold wrapped with either a fuchsia pink envelope for mums, or a Wedgewood blue envelope for dads. Bexy Boo Designs 01565 830546 Hall 4 Stand E109

Bright Spark Simply Sequins is a new range of hand drawn images from Image Plus, printed onto white pearlescent board and finished with an array of translucent sequins. There are 32 cards in the range covering all occasions, all sized 150mm and sold wrapped with a lilac envelope. Image Plus Cards 01424 893345 Hall 4 Stand K39 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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A selection of Occasions card designs launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

Sugar Frosted Rosanna Rossi is releasing further additions into its gorgeous Sherbet Dip collection with 21 occasions titles and eye-catching age 18-90 birthday designs. The range features a gorgeous array of colourful illustrations including decorative love owls, stylised nesting birds, a pretty anniversary floral tree and a cute Mr & Mrs wedding cake. All cards are finished with striking foil and exquisite emboss detail and presented with matching hot pink pearl envelopes. Rosanna Rossi 07900 698 522 Hall 4 Stand J90

All Grown Up

Gone Dotty

Jodds has added new occasions designs to its popular Kids Stuff range. There are now 64 designs in this range with new home, wedding, engagement, congratulations, anniversary, new baby, Best Mum, Dad and Valentine’s designs to choose from. All the cards are die-cut and glittered, sized at 120mm x 166mm and come wrapped with white envelopes. Jodds 01869 278550 Hall 4 Stand H01

Spring Fair sees exciting new releases from Caroline Gardner with lots of new card ranges. The Kaleidoscope range (pictured), features lots of dots, fun occasions captions and coloured metallic foiling. Another launch is Ooh La La, a range of 10 designs with stunning copper foiling techniques teamed with bright neon and blind embossing. Caroline Gardner Publishing 020 8288 9696 Hall 4 Stand L49

Free Hand There is great excitement at the Lynn Tait Gallery with the launch of its first commissioned range in 20 years, Taylor Made from new card designer Esme Taylor. Lynn commissioned Esme to design this romantic range of 20 everyday designs after Esme entered and was successful in all three of Lynn’s recent card designing competitions. The Lynn Tait Gallery 01702 480180 Hall 4 Stand H60

Say So New from Saffron is Nicely Said, a range of hand-finished occasions cards designed by Vicky Foster. Drawing inspiration from current trends using craft boards and pastels, the cards are finished with sparkling coloured gems and feature very nicely said contemporary captions and wording on page three. Saffron Cards and Gifts 01932 888338 Hall 4 Stand L32

Clear As A Bell Clare Maddicott is launching twenty-eight new occasion designs across its Lemongrass and Bell Jar ranges. The Bell Jar designs convey an air of Victoriana, are created using a mix of photographic and illustrative imagery, feature multi-level emboss finishing and are bordered by a rather pretty die-cut deckle edge. Presented in the 160mm square format the cards are sold wrapped with complementing envelopes. Clare Maddicott Designs 01638 569050 Hall 4 Stand H27 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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A selection of New Products launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

Sporting Classics

Easy Does It

Sports & Hobbies is the latest range by Julia Hook who combines illustration, collages of painted textures and different materials to create this bold and contemporary range. All the cards are printed on 150mm square textured board and sold wrapped with a crisp white envelope. Julia Hook Designs 07903 535295 Hall 4 Stand H86

Time To Party

Lux-Wrap will be revealing its brand new Speedy giftwrap range at Spring Fair. Available in lots of styles and colourways, this new product enables users to giftwrap a wide range of awkwardly shaped gifts in seconds - no scissors or tape required! Lux-Wrap 01908 522810 Hall 4 Stand H28

Among the many new lines being launched at Spring Fair by Pioneer Europe is a range of birthday badges and banners designed by award-winning publisher Rachel Ellen, in her unique style that appeals to all ages. Other party products include candles, with popular polka dot designs in a variety of colours, milestone age badges and holographic effect banners. Pioneer Europe 0800 281215 Hall 3 Stand U04 - V05

The Full Set

Colour Therapy Pocket Typewriter’s new creative collection of stationery and gifts features its signature vibrant prints and illustrations. Bold colour, eye-catching patterns and distinctive drawings create a strong impact across eight notelets, 12 notebooks and new gift bags, complementing its existing ranges of cards. Pocket Typewriter 0115 931 2772 Hall 4 Stand K73

Good Luck! Congratulations! I Love You! are the new occasions based themes this spring at Courgette Cards. Latest offerings in the expanding Collections of Collections range include Horse Shoes, Love Locks and Celebratory Cocktails, as well as some new coordinating giftwrap designs. The cards are all sized 135mm square and supplied wrapped with recycled envelopes. Courgette Cards 0117 9091864 Hall 4 Stand D108

Mad Elephants And Englishmen Portfolio is going back to its roots with one cool photographic range called NW10. Designed by Roderick Field, there are quirky images and captions across 24 occasions, birthday and humorous designs. The cards are sized 165mm square, printed on textured board and sold wrapped with silver envelopes. Portfolio 020 8960 3051 Hall 4 Stand L100 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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A selection of New Products launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

The Cute Quotient A brand new range of gorgeous cute designs is being launched by Cherry Orchard. Tired Ted is a little bear with a big heart and his little companion is Stanley the wooden duck. Covering major occasions and relations and 14 open birthday, there are 48 designs printed on a linen board with an array of finishes including, foil, embossing and die-cutting. Cherry Orchard Publishing 01684 295500 Hall 4 Stand F06

Textural Delights

Man Made

There are lots of new cards on offer from Olivia Goddard, including new additions to the Simply Country range with new children’s ages 1-10. The Fun in The Sun range, depicting seaside scenes, is also being expanded. All the designs are blank inside, sized 127mm x 177mm and all taken from original paintings by Olivia, showing the textures of the original canvas. Olivia Goddard Designs 01206 304815 Hall 4 Stand J35

Peartree’s latest range presents the world through the eyes of humorous Yorkshire artist Tim Bulmer. This male range covers cars, sport and wine and his images never fail to draw comment from all and sundry as so many enjoy his off beat observation. There are 18 cards in the range, all sized 125mm x 175mm and sold wrapped with white envelopes. Peartree Heybridge 01423 876311 Hall 4 Stand L106

Attached To You The Badge Cards for Friends range from Lucy Monkman has been designed as a way to send a little message to a friend with an additional gift. There are ten tiny designs featuring Lucy’s fun animal characters on badges, all sized 55mm x 85mm and supplied wrapped with white envelopes. Lucy Monkman 01904 630043 Hall 4 Stand J07

Baby Love Rib Tickler Fraser is a new humorous range launching at Spring Fair from Twizler. With 18 cartoon cards for all occasions, Fraser is designed to make people chuckle all the way to the tills! All cards are sized 165mm square and sold wrapped with matching coloured envelopes. Twizler 01959 533567 Hall 4 Stand J08

Nigel Quiney is launching a brand new range called Baby Boutique this spring - 14 new themed designs featuring artwork from talented artist Tina Ramsbottom. These fabulous new designs celebrate the birth of new baby boys and girls and subsequent christenings. They are embellished with fluted foil and embossing and complemented by pale pink and blue coloured envelopes. Nigel Quiney Publications 01799 520200 Hall 4 Stand F04-H03 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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A selection of New Products launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

Streets Ahead

Magnetic Personality

The Great British High Street is a celebration of the high street - the core of British culture, where we go to meet, do business, relax and watch the world go by. This timeless new range of illustrated cards from Fiona Hart depicts a charming array of shops including sweetshops, bookstores, greengrocers, boutiques and cafes. This range of nine designs is 150mm square, printed on soft white uncoated board and sold wrapped with kraft envelopes. HartDeco 07894 354320 Hall 4 Stand J17

Tales Of Romance Linda Wood is adding six new designs to her popular Botanica range, bringing the collection to 12 everyday designs with beautifully illustrated flowers, birds and romantic Chateaux. All printed on a lovely fine art board, the cards are sized 150mm and sold wrapped with white hammered envelopes. Linda Wood 01376 562535 Hall 4 Stand K55

Brand new this spring from Pango comes Jelly Tales, a bright and colourful range of 22 everyday and occasions cards. Each is a lovely work of Pango art, with a unique collectible jelly magnet attached. The cards are sized 150mm square and sold wrapped with coordinating envelopes. Pango Productions 0207 993 8668 Hall 4 Stand F135

Away With The Pixels One of 12 fabulous humour ranges Tillovision is showing at Spring Fair. ‘Celebrity Pix’ is hot off the press and stars favourite celebrities in fabulous pixel art form! Designed by Richard Tillotson, the range comprises six cards in a 5" x 7" format, supplied wrapped with bright envelopes. Tillovision 07934 430029 Hall 4 Stand H119

I Love Candy Candy is a new range of female relations cards being launched by Paper Salad at Spring Fair. There are 12 super bright designs in this range, printed on textured eco board using a special ink process and finished with flitter. This range is sized 120mm x 138mm and supplied wrapped with a special bespoke Paper Salad patterned envelope. Paper Salad 0161 427 0001 Hall 4 Stand J107

Character Reference Whale and Bird is launching a brand new illustrated range by Derbyshire based artist, Katie Abey. The range features 18 quirky new designs and includes cards for birthdays, several occasions as well as general humour. All of the cards are sized 4” x 6" and are sold wrapped with brightly coloured envelopes. Whale and Bird 07914 707832 Hall 4 Stand D101 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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A selection of New Products launching at Spring Fair, NEC Birmingham 1-5 February 2015

In The Picture

A Little Chat

MeeZeeGee Images is launching a new range of new 5” x 7” photographic cards taken exclusively from photographs by Maresa and Chris Crook, whose work is rapidly gathering new followers. The range comprises more than 50 floral and other appealing general interest subjects and covers a variety of occasions. All the cards a beautifully glossy and sold wrapped with white envelopes. There will also be a range of 36 postcards available. MeeZeeGee Images 01892 668668 Hall 4 Stand J22

Just In Time

Launching at Spring Fair is Conversation Pieces, Frillybee’s latest range of everyday cards. Each of ‘Mrs Frillybee’s’ eight charming silhouette designs depicts the costumes and furnishings of past eras and shows two friends having a lively catch-up. The 150mm square cards are printed on quality white board and sold wrapped with white envelopes. Frillybee 07950 088739 Hall 4 Stand F110

The Stitchy card range from Rosie Made A Thing comprises 12 quirky very cute hand-sewn designs, with characters photographed ‘on location’ in order to give a 3D look. The images depict family life, relationships and sentiments that we all hold dear. Blank and suitable for any occasion, the cards are all sized C6 cards and supplied wrapped with white envelopes. Rosie Made A Thing 07971 426556 Hall 4 Stand D110

Floral Delight

All Things Nice Abacus Cards is unveiling an exclusive photographic range by renowned interior stylist and author Selina Lake at Spring Fair. Selina is well-known for her pretty use of colour, mixing old and new and forecasting the next big style trends for our homes. This range of 14 cards beautifully conveys Selina’s classic trademark styling and sense of colour. Presented in a 160mm square format, the cards are finished with UV varnish and are clearly branded. Abacus Cards 01638 569050 Hall 4 Stand H29

Netherton’s is very excited to welcome the topselling artist Amanda Dagg and introduce a range of 18 of her stunning paintings as blank art cards at Spring Fair. Amanda’s original floral designs come alive as they sweep over the canvas and transfer beautifully into card format. These 150cm square cards come wrapped with white envelopes. Netherton’s 01872 321470 Hall 4 Stand H10

Help At Hand Noel Tatt has expanded its Help for Heroes range, with a further 38 birthday, occasions, ages and relations designs. The cards feature embossing and vibrant cold foil treatments are mainly sized 7” x 5”, with some in a larger 9" x 6" format and all are presented wrapped with complementing envelopes. Noel Tatt 01227 811600 Hall 4 Stand D30-E31 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Innovations A Collection Of New Product Launches From Non-Exhibitors

Feeling Folksy New publisher Lorraine Stylianou is releasing the Vibrant Vase range based on her original folk art paintings. The range is bright and joyful, with a slightly retro edge. Launching with eight designs initially, this range is sized 150mm square and sold with complementing envelopes. Lorraine Stylianou 07826 117938

Country Living Barleycorn Designs is releasing a range of six cleverly designed Card Cottage Kits, with easy to make collectable cottages. Each card is a specially painted watercolour landscape or garden to make a perfect setting for displaying the completed cottage. The cottage kit is sent with the card for a friend to make. Simple and fun to make, and suitable for ages 8 to 80! Sticky tabs are included, so no glue is required. The cottages can be lit up with little LED lights, which are sold separately. Barleycorn Designs 01692 630530

Bake Me A... Card Twice as Nice is launching its first distributed card range from UK based hand-finished card company Little Paper Baker. There are 36 birthday, occasions, relations and age designs with hand-attached illustrations, all finished with Swarovski crystals. The cards are 155mm square and come wrapped with kraft envelopes. Twice as Nice 01689 823 137

Make Believe Dressing Up is a new range of children’s birthdays from Alice Palace. Designs include a superhero, a cowboy, a ballerina, a princess, an Indian, a pirate, a cat and a rabbit. Sized 114mm x 178mm, the cards are printed on uncoated eco board, sold wrapped with white eco envelopes. Alice Palace 01386 424977

That Fuzzy Feeling Curious Pencil Cards is releasing A Woolly Hat cosy, funny and touching cards designed to brush the dust off the traditional and bring a smile to your loved ones’ face. There are 12 hand-drawn designs with carefully selected words covering various occasions, including thinking of you, get well soon and Christmas. The cards are sized 7” x 5”, printed on beautifully textured silkweave board and sold wrapped with Wedgwood blue envelopes. Curious Pencil Cards 07971 334401

Cat's Eyes is launching a new range called CATS! that will definitely be keeping their eyes on you and taking purrfect advantage of the 4sided card shape and size. There are eight cats making up the range, all photographed by the 4sided team. All the cards are sized 125mm by 175mm and sold wrapped with a sticker showing the card when easily assembled. 07803 501983 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Mint Publishing presents...

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Innovations A Collection Of New Product Launches From Non-Exhibitors

Reet Grand Cards Dialectable continues to expand its Yorkshire card range to cover the Spring Seasons 2015. There are 38 175mm x 125mm designs within this quirky and humorous range, in a bright retro colour palette, covering masses of Yorkshire captions for Mother's and Father's Day. This range is sold wrapped with ivory envelopes. Dialectable 07766 734885

Magic Eye The Floral Collection from Philip Ratchford Photography is an ever-changing range, with new designs constantly being added throughout the year. The range captures the extraordinary natural beauty that surrounds us in our homes, gardens and parks. There are 20 blank designs being added, in a 5" x 7" format on quality board, with a gloss finish and sold wrapped with a crisp white envelope. Philip Ratchford Photography 07981 787049


Making It Special The Original Poster Company is refreshing its Special Occasions range with 40 new occasions, relations and age designs, including this cute daughter card by illustrator Clare Thompson. The new designs are a mixture of 7” x 5” and 9” x 5” sizes, printed on textured board and supplied with a high quality white envelope. The Original Poster Company 01932 267300

The Food Of Love New additions to the Muzzic range are being added by ZZ Designs this spring, with new Spring Seasons and birthday captions. As well as this Mexican guitarist, there are boy and girl violinists, boy and girl classical guitarist and many more. Made to order with ZZ’s trademark pipe-cleaners and cut-out attachments, special orders for personalised text are welcome. ZZ Designs 020 8882 2511

Tealicious! On The Edge Flowering Hearts is one of the many ranges being launched by new publishing company Deckled Edge. There are 21 designs featuring hand illustrated watercolour images by Janna Cossettini, all with a deckled edge effect on the edge of the card. The cards are sized 150mm square, printed on heavy board and supplied wrapped with matching envelopes. Deckled Edge 0800 771 0771

New designs are being added to The Teapot Dude’s Time for Tea collection which features real teabags with special holders, designed to add extra fun to special occasions, celebrating with the nation's favourite cuppa. There are now six sets of four teapot/teabags for any occasion, including birthdays and weddings. Each teapot holds a teabag containing a breakfast blend of tea. Measuring a tall 300mm x 105mm or 550mm x 105mm, the cards are sold wrapped with white envelopes. The Teapot Dude 07826 843596 PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Art Source Design Focus


Palace A programme of social and cultural ‘major productions’ are taking place within the UK this year, inspiring and influencing design, artwork and of course greeting cards. Looking at events occurring in the year ahead, some image library ‘projectors’ predict some key image trends for 2015.


ne of this year’s biggest ’features’, inciting patriotic pageantry, will hopefully see Queen Elizabeth II surpass her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria as Britain's longest-reigning monarch. Another British ‘royal’, but of the catwalk kind, will be the focus of a large retrospective at the V&A this spring - the 'enfant terrible' of couture, British fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Meanwhile ‘fashion-ing’, reflecting the recent trend for make do and mend, is the focus as London’s Imperial War Museum explores the challenges of Fashion on the Ration during WWII (commemorating 70 years since the war’s end). Other leading art exhibitions include modern sculptors Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Alexander Calder, abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, Pop Art, Rubens and his influences, and Chinese political activist and artist Ai Weiwei. This will also be the year the politicians will be ‘scrummaging’ for our votes with the UK’s General Elections looming in May. Then in September, hosted by England, the 2015 Rugby World Cup tournament begins. In a galaxy far far away… (this December) one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will see an even greater interest in space, recently re-ignited by films Gravity and Interstellar. And from one curious realm to another, Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland will be celebrating its 150th anniversary.

Left: The White Rabbit illustration by John Tenniel, from 'Alice in Wonderland' by Lewis Carroll, licensed by Bridgeman Images. Below: ‘Me and You’, 2014, (digital collage) by Olga Snell from Bridgeman Images. Below middle: ‘Banana sat in chair’ by Katie Edwards from Bridgeman Images. Bottom right: ‘Iris’, 1987 (watercolour on paper), by Claudia Hutchins-Puechavy, from Bridgeman Images.

Annabel O’Connor-Fenton, marketing manager for Bridgeman Images: Inspirations & Influences: “The WW1 centenary commemorations will continue and it will also be 70 years since WWII came to an end. Art and design will continue to be influenced and inspired by a wartime vintage aesthetic and heroic icons such as Winston Churchill will be visible on products, possibly alongside a pithy quote. The Rugby World Cup is hosted by England in 2015 and this is sure to ignite patriotic feeling and a demand for iconic British image-led designs. Other cultural happenings include the release of the first film of the 50 Shades epidemic, as well as Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland sequel, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of when Lewis Carroll's classic tale was first published. Big blockbuster exhibitions of artists in the UK include Goya, Sargent and Rubens.” Key Trends For 2015: Contemporary Vintage: “There is a trend for products that look both heritage and contemporary. The imperfections of these techniques bring a hand-crafted feel to these styles and are indicative of the pre-digital print era. Katie Edwards joined Bridgeman Studio recently and uses traditional photographic techniques to produce screen prints. Her work is largely influenced by the animal world and often has a humorous outcome. Her illustrations have been used for greeting cards but also interior textile products, t-shirt and bag designs.” Photomontage And Futuristic Nature: “These styles were strong in the fashion world in 2014 so it is likely to filter through to be an artwork trend of 2015. Trygve Skogrand's digital photomontages “express a longing for harmony and serene beauty”, mixing religious iconography with everyday scenes, and artist Olga Snell mixes beautiful vintage images with her own to create whimsical digital collages” Watercolour Paint Wash Textures: “In the fashion world notable print trends on the Spring/Summer 2015 catwalks included over-scaled watercolour florals, and watercolour paint wash textures also seem to be a key trend for interiors, providing a subtle print for homewares. In this machine age the handcrafted element is very appealing. Artist Claudia Hutchins-Puechavy specialises in charming watercolours of flowers and cats should translate well for licensing.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


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Art Source Design Focus

Emma Gray, sales and creative manager for Image Source: Inspirations & Influences: “The need to feel ‘inspired’ in a busy world is an increasingly important role in building our sense of ‘a unique self’ and helps shape us as personal and emotionally responsive individuals. Sources of inspiration and influence are drip-fed into our everyday lives, some we are conscious of and others (surprisingly) we aren’t, but this process happens by our exposure to all things that shape our lives. 2014 saw an emotive connection to storytelling in Christmas TV adverts, giving a sense of connection to our core family values and community, which will undoubtedly influence art and messages of sentiment for the greetings industry for 2015.” Key Trends For 2015: All Tied Up: “In search of a new application of ‘line’ and innovative method of mark making, ‘String Art’ is starting to be developed as the new trend of creating bold artistic and typographical designs, while allowing you to unleash your inner DIY enthusiast. Creating and reinventing a different ‘quality of line’ can be a challenge for any artist and this trend creates an impactful and edgy drawing method - pushing new boundaries and creating a sense of movement, interactivity and a beautifully delicate, handcrafted technical aesthetic.” A Cut Above: “This collage inspired trend offers a bold approach for those with a penchant towards anything ‘off beat’. A mixture of abstract cut papers, overlaid textures, camouflage patterns and striking graphics are made up of bold shapes mixed with spontaneous colour choices to demonstrate a daring, impulsive modern approach. Harmonious colour blocking and clashing brights define function, shape and form to create a truly expressive wow factor!” Scrummy Designs: “This year sees the third largest sporting tournament in the world - the Rugby World Cup 2015! The tournament will be hosted by England and it is scheduled to be the eighth Rugby World Cup. Sporting imagery will feature heavily in ‘male’ ranges for 2015, in a variety of current art styles from humour, retro/vintage, modern graphics and typographical designs to beautifully executed fine art pieces.” Top: String artwork by Paulo Viveiros; image available to license at Image Source. Above: A collage creation by Claire Coxon, available from Image Source. Right: ‘Scrummy’ artwork by Simon Treadwell, from Image Source.

Luci Gosling, business development manager for Mary Evans Picture Library: Magic And Maximalism: “Folklore has been a massive trend on the catwalk last season, and together with a move towards an Arts and Crafts eclecticism in home décor, we are predicting a taste for a look we’d describe as ‘magical maximalism’, a style that draws on many elements from decorative Edwardiana, such as the flowing lines of Mucha’s Art Nouveau posters, to the mystical fairy illustrations by the likes of Arthur Rackham and Margaret Tarrant.” Power Dressing - Back To The 80s: “The newlyopened ‘Women, Fashion, Power’ exhibition at the Design Museum throws the spotlight on how prominent women have used fashion to define and enhance their position in the world. The 1980s has always been the definitive era for power dressing and our Air Kiss Collection imagery by internationally-renowned fashion artist, Anne Zielinski-Old, captures the spirit and style of this era brilliantly. The Air Kiss Collection has an aesthetic which is hip and current for a new generation, but will also push some nostalgic buttons for an older fashion-savvy female market.” A Retro Christmas: “Mid-century design and style is everywhere, with stores such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis tapping into the trend for their furniture and homeware ranges. Consequently, there’s a growing enthusiasm for festive illustration from the 1950s and 60s. Our best source for this style is work by artists such as Kris, Esme Eve and Veronic Venus. Bold and graphic, these retro images feature cute cartoon cats, mischievous mice, rotund robins and stylish Santas!” Above left: ‘Magical maximalism’, partly influenced by artist Mucha, available from Mary Evans. Above right: Edgy and glamorous, 80s artwork by Anne Zielinski-Old (from Mary Evans). Left: Capturing a Christmas kiss, retro festive illustrations are growing in popularity. For more details contact Mary Evans.

Natasha Harding, UK, AUS and NZ publishing and licensing agent for Advocate Art: Inspirations & Influences: “In the past we have seen the influences of major movies, sporting events and momentous occasions (such as a new royal baby), as well as global and local trends. Parallel trends in clothing and homewares also transfer by osmosis to stationery design, so we always look to these markets to help predict upcoming themes.” Key Trends For 2015: “We have identified four key looks for 2015, which will be featured in our MaG publication this month. Plaid Trad: “Currently, plaid is featuring heavily across fashion and homewares; we predict it will feed through into stationery and decorative products in 2015, both for Christmasspecific products and everyday designs.” Totally Tropical: “This trend has been hovering for a while, but with the upcoming Rio Olympics in 2016, it is set to trigger a big influx in tropical patterns, fruits and animals - one to watch for sure!” Fairytale Forest: “With the huge success of Disney's Frozen this year, alongside the 150th year anniversary of Alice in Wonderland next year, we are set to see this trend Above right: Plaid Trad has been being strongly present among licensing products. influenced by the plethora of events happening in Scottish culture in 2014. Currently strong in Christmas, which were seen through Image available from Advocate Art. the beautiful window displays in Selfridges last Christmas, Above: A totally tropical taste will it is a trend likely to move into everyday artwork/design influence design in 2015. For more tropical treats contact Advocate Art. throughout the course of next year.” PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


000_PG_FEBRUARY 2015 02/01/2015 12:40 Page 1

127_129_46-47 10/01/2015 17:10 Page 1

PG asked a selection of card retailers for their ‘hot’ card sellers. Elisabeth Radcliffe, owner of Truffles, Lymington, Hampshire A small shop in a picturesque town with a loyal locals and tourists customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range



Two Bad Mice

Across The Board


Peartree Heybridge

Spring Chicken


Aline Shearing






Art Angels Off The Water

General Best In Show

English Graphics

Dean Russo Art

Peartree Heybridge

Spring Chicken coasters The Country Set teatowels, tins, calendars, notebooks (and mugs from Portmeirion)

Everyone loves them; we just keep ordering and ordering. Great characters drawn very well and the humour isn’t rude or offensive. A local photographer who takes beautiful images of the surrounding area, such as the New Forest, Lymington and the coast. The publisher is always introducing new ranges, they’re always fresh and up to date and they appeal to the age of our customers. A very strong contender in our shop. A lovely male orientated range using strong gardening/grow your own images sprinkled with gentle humour. The artist imports images of cats and dogs and highly colours them, but the eyes remain the same, catching the animals’ character. They match and complement the cards. Our biggest success, they Top: 'Hardy Perennial' from Off The Water's Best In Show range. have been phenomenal. Above: Wrendale Designs' gift lines, including this pencil tin,


Wrendale Designs

pens and pencils, complement beautifully its cards. Below: Carte Blanche's lenticular Me To You range has stunning 3D effects.

Hana Garrett, director of Expressions, Calne and Devizes, Wiltshire Two small shops in small market towns with a loyal locals customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range



Noel Tatt

Across The Board


Carte Blanche

Me To You 3D


Emotional Rescue (Distributed by Is It Art)

On The Ceiling




Nigel Quiney

Paw Prints and Posies & Petals Pizazz

We can’t fault them! There are a wide variety of design styles to suit everyone and the prices are good. People love the cards’ quality and the 3D effect is just amazing! There are quite a few card ranges out there about getting older, but this range has a nice variety of funny themes and subject matter. Lovely bright images and the price is good for photographic cards.


Medici Cards (GBCC)

Blue Label Art



Frozen and Minions cups, coasters, plates

Sales just don’t slow down! They absolutely fly out the door and the designs appeal to a wide age range of people. The older generation love them, and they like the smaller sized cards that are part of the collection. We’ve never sold anything so fast! And the gifts are useful.



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127_129_46-47 10/01/2015 17:11 Page 47

Steven Milne, manager of Cards Galore (New Brighton), New Brighton, Wirral A medium shop in a coastal resort with a loyal locals customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range



Carlton (UKG)




Midget Gems


Kel Images



Berni Parker Designs

Ladies Who Love Life


Jonny Javelin




Relations & Occasions

Grass Roots

Relations & Occasions

UK Greetings

Beast Wishes

UK Greetings


The concept of Boofle being created from granddad’s old cardigan into a bear adds an extra cute dimension. They’re popular because they are funny without being smutty. We have a more mature clientele who don’t like rude cards. A local photographer who captures landmarks, wildlife and landscape scenes. We offer images from the surrounding area. Attractive, well-drawn designs at a good price. Outstanding designs on quality board. The Christmas range sold incredibly well and the male designs are very good. The publisher has such a wide variety of age and relations captions, many that no one else seems to do, and the designs are good, especially for the youngsters. The offer includes unique and unusual captions, such as ‘Grandson 1’, on quality and well-designed cards. At an RRP of 39p, 59p and 99p, it’s such a great value animal range, perfect for all those children’s parties. Children have just gone nuts for Frozen!… and this range offers relations and occasions designs.

Top: Beautiful photography from Kel Images: Featured is the New Brighton Lighthouse. Right: The Velvet range from Jonny Javelin has some great male designs.


Jayne Lewin, partner of Burford Woodcraft, Burford, Oxfordshire A small shop in a historic town with a loyal locals and tourists customer base. Category

Name of Publisher

Product/Name Range



Two Bad Mice



Clare Maddicott Peartree Heybridge

Harold’s Planet Pam Ayres





Wrendale Designs

The Country Set


Art Angels

Mark Hearld’s Menagerie

Handmade/ Finished

Wendy Jones-Blackett Clare Maddicott

Quicksilver A Card To Treasure


Wrendale Designs

Notebooks, magnetic note pads and notecard packs.

The collection is a good all rounder for many card sends and new designs are often added. They are well-known too; customers have quoted the cards’ words to me! Lovely quotes that are spot on. There is a whole generation aware of Pam’s poems and she is also local to us; she even came in the shop once to thank us for stocking her cards. Really good ‘for anything’ cards because of the smaller size format. A big, big seller from a very talented lady. The artwork and subject matter is perfect for our store because we are in a rural spot. Customers also frame them. Hugely popular, a landscape shaped folded, double-sided cards featuring British wildlife. Good size top quality cards, whose designs are slightly embossed. The glittered and bejewelled cards come with a mount to hang it on the wall. Top: There is a strong following for the adorable Two Customers like the animal images. Bad Mice card range. Above: Clare Maddicott's A Card To Treasure collection They have quite a big following. arrives with a frame mount to hang it onto the wall.



130_PG_FEBRUARY 2015 09/01/2015 12:43 Page 1

thankyou To all our customers, who make our every day no ordinary day. Your wonderful, imaginative creations are inspiring - they bring the very best out of us. Lets make more magic in 2015!

131-132_v8_Grid 07/01/2015 15:42 Page 131




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

The Times They Are A-Changin’ Most people have an aversion to change and go by the adage ‘if it ain't broke don’t mend it’. However, in retail and publishing it is very easy to be left behind if you don't keep up. It's not just trends, shopping habits, external forces and the economy that have to be taken into consideration, in both card retailing and publishing, but how the generations evolve have to be thought about. I had my children very young (married at 21 with four children by my 30th birthday) and us 1980's mothers didn't go back to work when the children started school. We met our children from school and were on the PTA and helped out at the school when needed. I opened my first shop when my youngest was seven and I had staff to run it. Today there are a huge number of successful 30-something mums with careers as greeting card publishers and retailers. It means that the greeting card industry is kept young, modern and vibrant, with the more established companies kept on their toes with the young’uns snapping at their heels. This is great for the industry and now the new card publishers get so much advice and help we are not losing them from the trade

as much as we did a decade ago. Also trade fair organisers are much more aware of the needs of these new publishers and don't treat them like the poor relation. Ten years ago the industry was dominated by the big boys. Now there is a generation of middle-sized companies who have survived a decade or more in business and have stood the test of time, such as Rachel Ellen, Wendy Jones-Blackett, Trumper’s Top: New changes are a foot for the card industry. Above right: Publisher Laura Darrington with her partner Ross and son Luca. Below: There is an exciting mix of different card publishing generations within the industry - Paper Salad is over ten year's old now (left), while Coulson Macleod is a newbie favourite (right).

World, Paper Salad, White Cotton Cards and Belly Button Designs, to name but a few. We now have, added in to the mix, the new generation of very successful Ladder Club entrepreneurs who are making a mark with their carefully branded innovative and eye-catching ranges, winning Henries Awards and catching the attention of the big greeting card retailers. Those include Rose Hill Designs, Tache Crafts, Coulson Macleod, Berni Parker and Wrendale Designs, who has knocked the socks off everyone. All these companies have one thing in common. They all have their own distinctive style. The designs are not copied and are easily recognisable and totally original. This is the formula for success - no copying, doing your PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


131-132_v8_Grid 07/01/2015 15:42 Page 132

LYNN’S LINES “In recent years the buying culture has changed with website ordering, more caution from retailers who are battling a difficult economic climate and more competition.” Left: Lynn's Santa's Grotto helps draw customers to her shop. Below: Change is natural as your company evolves and grows. Bottom: When sending off card orders to retailers add a Thank You card or even a lollipop so that your customers remember you: A Hype Bagpuss card.

our customers what they don't get online, things such as good and friendly service, fun, a retail outing with fantastic display ideas, and retailers who are interested in their customers and know what they like. I have had to up my game even more than others because we are

own thing and carving a style that springs from your own DNA. Copy these innovators at your peril because they are all so distinctive that in such a close-knit community of publishers you will soon lose your credibility. Surely half the fun of being creative is finding your own style and evolving it into your own range that you can hold your head up high and be proud of. A decade ago there was a lot of samey products on offer and nobody really batted an eyelid as we all got used to the same but different designs. Although it is a very competitive industry you are so much more likely to succeed if you use your creative skills to make your mark in the industry. There are much stiffer laws now about copying to protect the originator and I think 2015 will be the year of clamping down on copying. Plans are in-hand to invite an expert on copying to the second day seminar at The Ladder Club. Over the last 15 years The Ladder Club has made changes to its agenda and its speakers to reflect how the industry is evolving. Topics like brokerage, social media, third party warehousing, licensing and exporting are all subjects eagerly anticipated by the delegates. Branding and PR are also hot topics for this year. Also, as retailers, we have to fight even harder for our share in the market as we battle against internet shopping, supermarkets and big shopping centres. We have to think in an innovative way. We have to give 132


located in a tiny dead-end road with no other shops in a tourist area. We do this by displaying exhibitions, charity events, competitions, a Santa’s grotto and carefully sourced unusual stock innovatively displayed. It is hard work but rewarding. I am sure if we had not taken these measures to stamp our mark in the retail arena we would have been long gone. As a card publisher, when we first exhibited at trade fairs we were busy writing orders most of the time. In recent years the buying culture has changed with website ordering, more caution from retailers who are battling a difficult economic climate and more competition. To m a i n t a i n y o u r position in the market you have to fine tune everything. Service is one of the most important aspects where you

can get one over on the competition. The relationship between you and your customer is a long-term partnership. You have to meet them half way, not be a stickler for the rules, and try and be accommodating. So what can you do to endear your customers to you as a card publisher? Well, here are a few of my ideas: 1. Keep a low carriage paid order however big your company may be. Retailers don't like to be dictated to how much they have to spend and they will inevitably spend more if they don't have to meet a target. 2. If you do pro forma make sure you have all the stock ready to send out the minute the money arrives. Retailers hate credit notes. 3. Do try and recognise your customers at a trade fair. 4. Try and personalise your order with maybe a hand-written thank you note or a few freebies. 5. Ask customers about their shop and take an interest in it. 6. Don't over promise and under deliver. 7. Have stock ready to send out straight after a trade fair. Once someone has fallen in love with your cards they won't want to wait a month for them while you get them printed. 8. Send the invoice at the same time as the delivery. There is nothing more annoying than cards arriving on Friday and not being able to put them on the racks until Monday when the prices arrive. So what am I going to change in 2015? I'm not going to hang on to slow selling stock. The sale I had last January was very successful and encouraged a whole different set of customers; I'm going to improve communication between myself and the staff and I am launching a totally different look to my cards for Spring Fair, of which I am very excited. I am also reviewing every part of my life. Sadly I am back to Barts Hospital for more treatment - a clinical trial. So my message to you all for 2015 is ‘Carpe Diem’ and don't be frightened of change. See you hopefully at Spring Fair, Stand 4H60.

133-140_Product Directory_JFebruary 2015_PRODUCT DIRECTORIES 10/01/2015 16:29 Page 133








The specialist buying group in the independent greeting card and gift retail sector‌ ‌Celebrating 25 years of Service to Members.

in the

For information: Web: Tel: 0845 166 2054 Post: 25 Carbrook Hall Rd Sheffield S9 2EJ

art of greeting cards

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tel 0203 2344011


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Product Directory please contact

Make every occasion count with greeting cards from

Warren Lomax on 020 7700 6740

Abacus Cards Limited, The Studio, Oaks Drive, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7SX t: 01638 569050 f: 01638 569051 e: w:

Spring Fair - Stand 4H82


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Sales software softwar re solutions iPad catalogue ordering handheld order capture trade/retail eCommerce SOP/stock control

Design led, contemporary, quality greeting cards.

New Collections for 2015 For more information visit or call us to arrange a meeting on:

01794 500200 To appear in the Product Directory please contact Warren Lomax on Tel: 01844 216 589


133-140_Product Directory_JFebruary 2015_PRODUCT DIRECTORIES 10/01/2015 16:29 Page 134






Stylish Art Cards

PO BO BOX OX 2161 Boulevard The Boule vard Watford W atford WD18 1BJ TTel: el: 01923 200633 FFax: ax: 01923 200636 inf 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.

Witty, gritty, switched on humour. Cards and gifts with a real difference.

Also Photographic & Contemporary Cards order online at: www

Unit 1, 45 Morrish Road London SW2 4EE Tel: 0208 671 2166 Fax: 0208 678 1119 tel: 01993 868533 fax: 01869 868048

Sales agents wanted


Caspari Ltd Linden House, John Dane Player Court

East Street, Saffron Walden Essex, CB10 1LR Tel: 01799 513010 Fax: 01799 513101 Email:

Products: Everyday cards - birthday, blank & occasions, charity Christmas cards, gift wrap, bags, tissue, ribbon, hankies, napkins, paper plate, candles, placemats, melamine trays, crackers, invitations, placecards, notecards,diaries, calendars, address books, journals, advent calendars, bridge gifts and jigsaws. Licenses: Annie Tempest - Tottering by Gently, Kym Bowles - Lollysticks, RHS, Matthew Rice, National Gallery, Alzheimer's Society, Barnardo's, Macmillan Cancer Support. Method of Sale: Direct to Retail

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

One of the UK’s UK’s leading suppliers of Greeting Greeting Cards Cards since since 1995 1995 Products: cards Products: High quality greeting greeting car ds with superb finishes. All major and minor titles, covering covering traditional traditional to to the latest latest in innovative innovative design, both Everyday Everyday and Seasonal. Brands: Forever, Petals, Brands: Always Always & F orever, P etals, Lazy Days, Days, Letters Letters from from the Heart, Precious Precious Times, Times, Street Street Kidz, Thoughts, Thoughts, ‘Have ‘Have a Larff’ Larff ’ and Not So Innocent! Innocent! Direct to to retail. retail. Method of Sale: Direct Designers welcome, welcome, contact contact

Method of Sale: Direct to Retail

To appear in the

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


Product Directory please contact Warren Lomax on 020 7700 6740

BG_PG_Directory Ad_2013.indd 1




13/2/13 15:05:28




Cherry Or Orchard chard Publishing LLP Unit 10 Duddage Busines Businesss P Park ark Brockeridge Brockeridge Rd Rd T Twyning wyning T Tewkesbury ewkesbury GL20 6B 6BY Y t0 01684 1684 29 295500 5500 e www. www.


133-140_Product Directory_JFebruary 2015_PRODUCT DIRECTORIES 10/01/2015 16:29 Page 135




Colneis Marketing

The T he UK No. No. 1 in Licensed Lic ensed Greetings Greetings etings

Art, Photographic, Occasions

York House, 2-4 York Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk IP11 7QQ T: 01394 271668 F: 01394 275114 E:

Ov err 30 licenses licenses nses including: including Over Disney, D Disne y, Peppa Peppa Pig Pig, He Kitty Hello Kitty, Mr Men Men Kitty, Birds and Angry and A Bir dss

and Relations cards offering

t: +44 + (0)1264 388400 e: enquiries@gemma-interna national. ti w: gemma-international. ona

development opportunities.



Online Shop

Market leaders in Humour,

a full planning service with merchandising and retail






Colour House Graphics York House, 2-4 York Road, Felixstowe, Suffolk IP11 7QQ T: 01394 271668 F: 01394 275114 E: Online Shop

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

G RASS R OOTS INTERNATIONAL 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



Bespoke design service for retail products



133-140_Product Directory_JFebruary 2015_PRODUCT DIRECTORIES 10/01/2015 16:30 Page 136






ic icg c&g

60 years


! dep d end on e you can and Servic Quality

ICG are are specialists in quality greeting greeting car cards ds at fantastic prices! One of very few publishers who design, manufacture manufacture and despatch all fr from om their Head Office in Dorset. New products products launched every four weeks! weeks! Also a specialist in everyday rreligious eligious / Christmas car cards. ds. METHOD OF SALE Dir Direct ect and Expor Export

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

BRANDS Pintura Ne Pintura New w cr creation eation Fun he moment Fun House House Treasure Treasure tthe Jazzy J azzy Fizzle Fizzl e Compassion Compassion International Car Cards ds & Gifts ltd Unit 4 Haviland Road, Ferndown Industrial Estate Wimborne, Wimborne, Dorset, BH21 7RF

Tel: T e el: +44 (0) 1202 897 494 Email: sales@icgcar

Web: Web: www

The eco-friendly card co. [t] 01626 369269

..Gorgeous, fun & cheeky Greeting Cards, Keyrings, Mirrors, Chocolates, Tattoos, Badges, Mugs, Mints, Luxury Soap & Smashing Stationery!

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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

Produc ts: 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.


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:

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:

Lin g Des ign Lt d 14-20 Eldon Way, Paddock Wood, Kent TN12 6BE Tel: 01892 838574 Fax: 01892 838676 Email: Website:

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150mm x 150mm and packed in 6s

Made in the UK

To appear in the Product Directory please contact

Warren Lomax on 020 7700 6740



133-140_Product Directory_JFebruary 2015_PRODUCT DIRECTORIES 10/01/2015 16:30 Page 137





environmentally friendly contemporary & vibrant paper products.


greeting cards, notebooks paper pens, boxed notes

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.

t. 01243 780501 e.

We replace slow sellers and damaged stock free of charge.

We merchandise regularly, so you don’t have to.

agents wanted


01932 267 300

Cards made with love...

Three great publishers, all under one roof, contemporary, graphic, humour, cute and photographic ranges with a fantastic range of occasions and relations cards.

To appear in the

Key brands: V&A, Portobello, Spirit, Daisy Patch, Sugar Pips, Marzipan Toybox, Born to Stitch, Idols, Life, Sweet Tooth, Brights.

Product Directory

Method of sale: Direct to retail, Export and Licensing.

please contact

Riverside House, Centurion Way, Riverside Business Park, Nottingham NG2 1RW Tel: 0115 986 0115 Fax: 0115 986 0116 Email: Web:

Warren Lomax on 020 7700 6740 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

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

356 56 Kennington Rd London SE11 4LD T 020 7582 8244

Suppliers of humorous & contemporary Birthday, Christmas, Spring Seasons, Occasions & Relations cards 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 Paperlinkcards Paperlinkcards @paperlinkcards @ paperlinkcards PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


133-140_Product Directory_JFebruary 2015_PRODUCT DIRECTORIES 10/01/2015 16:30 Page 138






To appear in the Product Directory


please contact Warren Lomax on 020 7700 6740

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


Greeting Cards that are unique & special with creative wit. Looking for top-notch agents to join our expanding team. 01992 536461

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: Website:

The Robertson Collection 45 Wombourne Enterprise Park Bridgnorth Road, Wombourne South Staffordshire WV5 0AL Tel: 01902 324243 Fax: 01902 324824 Products: Fantastic range of contemporary fine art and illustrative greetings cards, blanks, birthdays, occasions and Christmas. Notelets, social stationery and giftwrap. Brands: Robertson, Alfresco, Rose Pavilion Method of sale: Direct


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

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

holy y cow!

RICHARD SELLMER VERLAG Freepost RRZH-KLSL-HYBY Richard Sellmer Verlag KG Stourbridge Tel/Fax: 01384877755 Email: Products: Richard Sellmer Verlag is producing Advent Calendars for more than 60 years.

it’ss your birthd it hda ay y

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



133-140_Product Directory_JFebruary 2015_PRODUCT DIRECTORIES 10/01/2015 16:30 Page 139






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

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

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

Method of sale: Wholesale Distributors

Simon Elvin Limited

To appear in the Product Directory please contact Warren Lomax on

Wooburn Industrial Park, Wooburn Green, Bucks HP10 0PE Tel: 01628 526711 Fax: 01628 531483

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 Ltd 14-20 Eldon Way, Paddock Wood, Kent, TN12 6BE

Tel: 0845 450 1815 Fax: 0845 450 1816 Email: Website:

020 7700 6740



+44(0)1983 209 590 hello@sec w

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: 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.



133-140_Product Directory_JFebruary 2015_PRODUCT DIRECTORIES 10/01/2015 16:30 Page 140



To appear in the Product Directories

w: e: t: 01243 837300

TEL: 01480 435562 FAX: 01480 450599 UNIT 2, 12 BLACKSTONE RD, STUKELEY MEADOWS IND EST,

01923 200600 |

Top-notch British Greeting Cards for Thoughts that Count


To appear in the Product Directory please contact Warren Lomax on 020 7700 6740 140


simply contact Warren Lomax on:

020 7700 6740 or email on or contact Tracey Arnaud on:

07957 212 062 or email on

141_PG_February 2015_whole sale dirSeptember 2004 10/01/2015 16:41 Page 141

Directory of wholesalers Directory of wholesalers DIRECTORY OF WHOLESALERS l




CROMWELL CARD COMPANY Greeting Card Distributors

Greetings cards, Stationery, & Party lines Cash and Carry Unit C Coppen Road, Dagenham Essex RM8 1HJ Mon-Fri 9.30-5.00 Thurs 9.30-9.00 Sun 10.00-2.00 Tel 0208 592 2764


Merseyside Greeting Cards Ltd

Merseyside’s Largest Greeting Card Distributor

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


Due to our massive buyer power, we are able to offer you the best prices and also take a pride in our friendly service. Greeting cards * Gift ranges * Pocket money toys * Balloons * Badges * Banners * Soft toys * Stationery * Collectables , including dolls * Photo frames

magnus RUPERT

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



Greetings Cards for all occasions


OPEN MON, WED, THURS 9.00 - 8.00pm TUES, FRI 9.00 - 5.30pm CLOSED SAT SUN 10.00 - 4.00 UNIT 2, CHAILEY INDUSTRIAL ESTATE, PUMP LANE, HAYES, MIDDLESEX, UB3 3NB, ENGLAND TEL: 020 8573 2975 / 1768 FAX: 020 8 561 2349 Email:

SUMAN BROS Stationery and greeting card wholesaler

Crown House Otterspool Way Watford WD25 8HL T: 01923 200 900 F: 01923 200 909 Great deals Great location Plentiful parking Just off the M1 Junction 5 140



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

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


142-145_PG_February 2015_Layout 1 10/01/2015 16:40 Page 142












Polypropylene & biodegradable bag specialists


FOR FOR ALL A 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

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

ORDER ON LINE AT: AT: 01274 583000

Specialists in high clarity bags for Greetings Cards, Prints and Calendars

Quality bags and a friendly service

Call Now 01228 560526 Email: Web:

Quality Bespoke Envelopes! From 5,000 quantity to many millions we can produce excellent quality envelopes for you. Plain, printed, coloured & textured finish. 100% recycled & FSC available. Please call us on 0843 5066684 with your enquiry or visit our website We will be delighted to help!





142-145_PG_February 2015_Layout 1 10/01/2015 16:40 Page 143











(London) The Capitals only Greetings card printer

at PJ Print we pride ourselves on great customer care, and the greeting cards

Award winning specialist printer for the greeting card industry

we make are pretty smart too.

To discuss how we could work

For Award winning Print

with you contact Simon King: Tel 0115 928 7766

look no further than


PJ - PRINT E-mail: The Print Works Colville Road, Acton London W3 8BL tel 020 8993 5160 fax 020 8992 8421

The home of greeting cards nd e nt g indepe r in d a le The UK’s rd manufacture ca d greeting heZkY j_e

Do you find you need to quickly top up your popular stock lines, or would like to trial a few designs before committing to longer runs? Then the Windles Group FlexiSheet is perfect for you. With a turnaround time of just 5 days and 1,000 cards at litho rates, the Windles Group once again delivers useful solutions to you. In order to support our other production methods, we are also now offering the FlexiSheet with our integrated ColdFoil, allowing you to develop a highly creative range of greetings cards.

]YWhZf ]h[[j_d \eYkied b _W Y [ f _Y[i š I ki[i[hl e\_d#^e [ ] d W h bb š <k [Z ]kWhWdj[ š GkWb_jo Y[ i j_j_l[fh_ š 9ecf[ Zh[b_WXb[ d W b W _ed š Fhe\[ii Wbb $ [hjeeic ZkY j_ed š DeehZ ;Wijfhe h W < Z d W A K j^ š 8e services, ur unique ation on o 250 1150 rm 14 fo in 01 n re For mo les team o sa e th ct nta please co sales@loxl or email:

PEFC / 16-33-794




142-145_PG_February 2015_Layout 1 10/01/2015 16:40 Page 144











The Specialist Greetings Card Printer

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

Litho Print

Die-cutting Flittering

Digital Print Foiling

UĂ&#x160;Ă&#x20AC;iiĂ&#x152;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;}Ă&#x160;V>Ă&#x20AC;`Ă&#x192; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; UĂ&#x160;Â?Â&#x2C6;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x152;iĂ&#x20AC;]Ă&#x160;vÂ&#x153;Â&#x2C6;Â?]Ă&#x160;iÂ&#x201C;LÂ&#x153;Ă&#x192;Ă&#x192;]Ă&#x160;`Â&#x2C6;iÂ&#x2021;VĂ&#x2022;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x160;wÂ&#x2DC;Â&#x2C6;Ă&#x192;Â&#x2026;iĂ&#x192; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; UĂ&#x160;Ă&#x20AC;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x153;Â&#x153;Ă&#x20AC;Â&#x17D;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;}Ă&#x160;>Â&#x2DC;`Ă&#x160;`iĂ&#x192;Â&#x2C6;}Â&#x2DC; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; UĂ&#x160;-Â&#x2026;Â&#x153;Ă&#x20AC;Ă&#x152;Â&#x2021;Ă&#x20AC;Ă&#x2022;Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x160;ÂŤĂ&#x20AC;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x152; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160;



UĂ&#x160;*Â&#x2C6;VÂ&#x17D;]Ă&#x160;ÂŤ>VÂ&#x17D;Ă&#x160;>Â&#x2DC;`Ă&#x160;`Â&#x2C6;Ă&#x192;Ă&#x152;Ă&#x20AC;Â&#x2C6;LĂ&#x2022;Ă&#x152;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160;


UĂ&#x160;*Ă&#x20AC;Â&#x153;Â&#x201C;Â&#x153;Ă&#x152;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC;>Â?Ă&#x160;Â&#x2C6;Ă&#x152;iÂ&#x201C;Ă&#x192; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; UĂ&#x160; iĂ&#x192;ÂŤÂ&#x153;Â&#x17D;iĂ&#x160;}Â&#x2C6;vĂ&#x152;Ă&#x192; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; UĂ&#x160;>Ă&#x20AC;Â&#x17D;iĂ&#x152;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x2DC;}Ă&#x160;Â?Â&#x2C6;Ă&#x152;iĂ&#x20AC;>Ă&#x152;Ă&#x2022;Ă&#x20AC;i Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160;

Tel: 01274 531828 Email:

UĂ&#x160; Ă?Â&#x2026;Â&#x2C6;LÂ&#x2C6;Ă&#x152;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC;Ă&#x160;}Ă&#x20AC;>ÂŤÂ&#x2026;Â&#x2C6;VĂ&#x192; Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160; UĂ&#x160;-Ă&#x152;>Ă&#x152;Â&#x2C6;Â&#x153;Â&#x2DC;iĂ&#x20AC;Ă&#x17E; Ă&#x160; UĂ&#x160; Ă&#x20AC;Â&#x153;VÂ&#x2026;Ă&#x2022;Ă&#x20AC;iĂ&#x192; Ă&#x160; UĂ&#x160;>Â&#x2DC;`Ă&#x160;Â&#x201C;Â&#x153;Ă&#x20AC;i°°° Ă&#x160; Ă&#x160;




07974 133735


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

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

Herbert Walkers Ltd The one stop shop for publishers large and small



   â&#x20AC;˘ Litho printing â&#x20AC;˘ Digital printing â&#x20AC;˘ Embossing â&#x20AC;˘ Die-cutting

â&#x20AC;˘ Hand made and hand finished greeting cards â&#x20AC;˘ Boxed sets and acetate packs of cards / envelopes â&#x20AC;˘ Giftwrap and tag packs â&#x20AC;˘ Individually open and closed wrapped cards â&#x20AC;˘ 'Pop up' and cardboard engineered products â&#x20AC;˘ Notelets and social stationery â&#x20AC;˘ Specialised printing on plastics & lenticular

â&#x20AC;˘ Flittering â&#x20AC;˘ Foiling â&#x20AC;˘ Folding â&#x20AC;˘ Packing

For production enquiries, estimates etc., please contact our UK Agent:

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


Producing greeting cards for over 30 years 188 Forstal Road, Aylesford, Kent ME20 7DB

t 01622 710 759 144


142-145_PG_February 2015_Layout 1 10/01/2015 16:40 Page 145











The Professional and Caring Approach.. 

Hand assembly and contract packing specialists ... 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.

• • • •

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:-


Saunders Displays We would be happy to talk to you and provide further information please contact either: James Smithies on 01449 778360 e: Tracy Davies on 01449 778363 e: Please visit our website at for further information.

Your Success Is Our Success

LB Warehousing (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.

With over 40 years experience in manufacturing point of sale (POS) display stands we understand the needs of the retail market to produce robust and cost effective units. We have a wide range of wire stands in stock for immediate delivery or we can design and manufacture bespoke display stands to get your products displayed in the best possible way. Tel: 02085947221

Tel: 01929 550085 Email: Web:

Home of the Wire Spinner Stand

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

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. PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE


146_Appointments_Layout 1 15/01/2015 11:38 Page 79








AGENTS WANTED Are you, committed, professional and self-motivated with an established customer list? Are you seeking to extend your portfolio and substantially increase your earnings? The Romansleigh Group is undergoing sales agents to carry: Our superb range of greetings cards, ‘something for everyone’ Edition Gollong, an excellent range of German greetings cards Various territories available. Full support provided.

Take a look at our internet shop and then contact Mike Gregory on 01398 341327 or 07585445628

Saffron Cards and Gifts

FIRST CLASS SALES AGENTS WANTED Locations: East Anglia inc Essex South West North East Scotland Generous Commission - Paid Monthly + Bonuses Saffron is a leading independent publisher designing & selling a wide range of top quality cards, including many beautiful & unique hand-made & hand-finished ranges. Our markets are high end gift, card & stationery retailers, department stores & garden centres. We have a regular release programme throughout the year, including seasons, and we support you by exhibiting at several major trade fairs every year. We are looking for four very special, experienced & well connected agents to carry our gorgeous ranges exclusively within their respective areas, starting from January 2015. Please send us details of your agency career to date as well as details of main agencies carried already. Successful applicants will be contacted for interview or please come and visit us at the Spring Fair Hall 4 Stand L32.

Contact: Viv Barlow Email:


Greeting Card Publisher

FREELANCE ARTISTS REQUIRED Heartstrings publications are currently looking to increase their portfolio of freelance artists and are inviting interested parties to submit examples of their work for consideration. We would prefer to hear from artists who are proficient in the use of Illustrator and Photoshop but who also have the ability to combine Mac knowledge with traditional artistic skills. Our preference would be to hear from freelance artists who already have experience and knowledge of the greeting card industry but we are also open to view portfolios of any artists who have had little or no exposure to the greeting card market. However, we would suggest that viewing our greeting card ranges on is recommended to enable interested artists to gain a ‘feel’ for the type of designs we publish.

Please e.mail your portfolios and details to :John Morris (Art Director) Heartstrings Publications Ltd, Media House, Hockney Road Industrial Estate, Hockney Road, Bradford, BD8 9HQ

EXCESS STOCKS TO CLEAR? We specialise in purchasing excess inventory in GREETING CARDS, GIFT-WRAP and allied products. Small or large quantities considered. All restrictions honoured. For an immediateDQGFRQÀGHQWLDO response please send samples and information to: N.E WHOLESALE 92 Station Road, Willingham, Cambridge, CB24 5HG T: 01954 260728 E:



Advertisers Index_v8_Layout 1 14/01/2015 15:55 Page 159

Advertisers Index Company Abacus cards Advocate

Page (s) 14-15

My Word



Noel Tatt


Alternative Image company


Oliver Preston


April Rose


Paper Rose


Art Press


Paper Salad





Badger Converters







Blue Eyed Sun








Brainbox Candy


Rachel Ellen designs

Belly Button





Real and Exciting Designs


Card Manager


Really Good


Redback Cards




Cherry Orchard


Regent Envelopes


Clare Maddicott


Roger la Borde


Classic Candles


Second Nature





Dean Morris


Simon Elvin


Emma Ball






Special Editions


70, 72

Fayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Studio


Spring Fair


Fedrigoni/Imaging centre


Stationery Show



The Art File


Hart Deco


Think of Me


Icon Arts





Image Source


Tom Cat Cards


Imaging Centre



68 90

Janie Wilson



Jean Barrington



Jo Davies


Wendy Jones Blackett

2 -3 6

Jonny Javelin


Willow and Co


Laura Darrington




Leonard Smith


Woodmansterne Publications

1, 18

Lesser and Pavey






Xpressions 4 U




Yorkshire Envelopes


Museums and Galleries Marketing


OBC_PG_FEBRUARY 2015 07/01/2015 14:03 Page 1

Progressive Greetings Worldwide February 2015