Greeting card retailers are holding their own on the bigger retail stage, not only speaking at the recent Retail Week Live symposium alongside other retail greats, but also featuring in the line-up for the retail industry’s general top accolades.
Oliver Tress, co-founder and ceo of Oliver Bonas featured as a panelist for the popular session about creating a workplace where people love to work. Now trading from 70 stores and employing 1,000 people, Oliver confirmed that the retailer, who is selling an increasing number of cards, is to open another 10 stores this year.
Oliver was invited to participate as his store group is in the finals for the Retail Week Awards (announced Thursday 22 March) in the Best Employer category.
One of the first to pledge to paying the National Living Wage, Oliver said that key to a happy workforce is clarity. “I believe every company needs to have a clear philosophy and set of values that are communicated to the team.”
The retailer self-checks by surveying the staff “to take the pulse of the business,” explains Oliver, but also told the audience of the “importance of employing people who personally love the brand and the products we sell which builds the sense of belonging.”
The Works’ ceo Kevin Keaney was also on same panel. He shared how, despite employing 3,000 people, he always makes a point of meeting the new starters. The value retailer has very successfully introduced badges of honour for those who have worked for The Works for five, 10, 15 and 20 years.
He said the retailing heritage of the company’s senior team – which includes Dean Hoyle, co-founder of Card Factory – was also a strength. “Some 75% of our board started their careers working in the stores, which means we have a great understanding of life on the shopfloor.”
The Works is up against Card Factory in the Best Value Retailer category of the Retail Week Awards, alongside Aldi, Lidl, Poundland.
Card Factory has also reached the finals in the Speciality Retailer of the Year category alongside online operator Moonpig, Birchbox, Conviviality Retail, Dreams, Holland & Barrett, Screwfix, The Entertainer, The Perfume Shop and T.M.Lewin & Sons.