Hallmark gears up for relaunch of Gold Crown programme 

Graeme Francis, who heads up the Gold Crown programme in the UK is aiming to have 200 Gold Crownies by the end of 2019.

Hallmark is on course for a relaunch of its Gold Crown programme for independent retailers in June, with an aim of building up the network to 200 Gold Crown stores by the end of 2019.

Trials are underway with a new Gold Crown store concept – which has been installed in Philip and Maxine Nield’s Hallmark Reflections store in Nantwich and in the Hallmark Something Special store in Widnes, co-owned by Helen Nixon and Claire Lenton.

“The sales data and customer feedback from both the store trials are very positive,” Graeme Francis, head of the Hallmark UK Gold Crown programme told PG Buzz. “We have not revamped Gold Crown for a couple of years, but felt the time was right to develop a store concept which offers more flexible options through innovative fixturing which enables retailers to easily change the look and layout throughout the year, facilitating more cross-category promotion of both cards and gifts,” adds Graeme.

The new fixturing can be easily adapted to show cards full or half facing.

The new look includes an innovative fixturing system which can which be vertical or angled to show cards full face or half face as well as configured to show cards and gifts together.

The new look debuted in both the Widnes and Nantwich stores last October/November, co-funded by Hallmark and the retailers in question.

Helen Nixon (right) and Claire Lenton, co-owners of Hallmark Something Special Widnes outside their shop.

Helen Nixon and Claire Lenton, co-owners of Hallmark Something Special Widnes, the first shop to the completed said: “When we first walked into the completed store following the refurbishment we were astounded by just how fabulous it looked, the new look really came together and feels really modern and up to date, and not like anything else out there.

The customer feedback has been overwhelming. Only this week one of our customers when entering the store said “It’s not often you walk into a shop, stop and think WOW!” which was great to hear.”

As the Something Special store in Widnes demonstrates, the new look brings together gift, homeware and greeting card products.
As the Something Special store in Widnes demonstrates, the new look brings together gift, homeware and greeting card products.
Philip and (right) Maxine Neild outside their Hallmark Reflections store in Nantwich which also includes a Thorntons franchise.
Philip and (right) Maxine Neild outside their Hallmark Reflections store in Nantwich which also includes a Thorntons franchise.

Philip and Maxine Neild, who own the Hallmark Reflections Nantwich store, which also includes a Thorntons franchise have been equally pleased to have been involved in the new Hallmark Gold Crown store project.

“The new design has given us a completely new look inside and out, the flexible fixture system at the front of store allows us to present an ever changing look to our displays. The ability to change the display to feature cards, wrap and gifts mixed on any given fixture helps create more interest for our customers and is delivering increased sales.

Our customers have been really complementary about the modern new look of our shop and often comment that it is much easier to shop and find what they want.”

There are options to break up the displays with feature areas, as seen in the Neilds' award winning Reflections store.
There are options to break up the displays with feature areas, as seen in
the Neilds’ award winning Reflections store.

At its peak, there were 371 Gold Crown stores operating however as Graeme points out the changing retail landscape has seen “many independent retailers either sell, retire or cease trading. The new revamped Gold Crown programme will appeal to those good independents looking for an up to date store with no slat wall in sight!”

Part of the new Gold Crown look includes central hanging feature (seen here in Reflections, Nantwich) which can be changed throughout the year to highlight different events.
Part of the new Gold Crown look includes central hanging feature (seen here in Reflections, Nantwich) which can be changed throughout the year to highlight different events.

While retailers will be expected to show a commitment to stocking Hallmark product in order to join the Gold Crown programme what that percentage will be has yet to be defined in the new proposition.

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