Chris Wilcox takes over as managing director as Peter retires
“I have had the time of my life, but it’s time for old farts like me to make way for the new generation,” Peter Reichwald, the ebullient founder of GBCC told PG Buzz about his decision to retire, aged 75, handing the running of the business over to his long-time co-director Chris Wilcox who has become managing director. Peter is to continue as chairman and remains the majority shareholder of the company.
June 30 was an auspicious date for the UK greeting card industry, as three stalwarts – Ian Bant, md of Ling, Chris James, sales director of Danilo, plus Peter – all retired from the day to day the running of the companies on that day.
Peter stresses this really is the end of a era for him – he tried to retire once before, 10 years ago, but had to step back in when the incumbent md did not work out. “Yup, this time it’s final. I’m too bloody old to keep my fingers on the pulse! Chris is a good guy and he and the co-directors will do a great job.”
Peter has been involved in the greeting card industry since the 1970s, starting his career with Camden Graphics. Following on from setting up Phin Publishing (a book publisher) he then went on to set up Paper House in 1980 (which became Great British Card Company). In the ensuing years GBCC has acquired The Medici Society, Almanac Gallery become the UK distributor for Avanti Press as well as setting up Waterwells, its sibling brokerage arm.
Sharing his highs and lows of his four decades in the industry, Peter, a well known colourful character who has contributed greatly to this trade said:
“One of the highs would be acquiring The Medici Society. It was an iconic brand and we have kept it as such.” As for the lows: “That would have to be becoming a father again (of twins), aged 56 on top of the four children I already had. It meant I definitely had to keep on working! They are worth it though!”
As for the advice he would give to his younger self starting out as a card publisher:
“Don’t try and build your business too big too quickly. Keep it small, tight and profitable. Do not go for empire building,” purports Peter.
Illustrating the longstanding close working relationship between Peter and Chris Wilcox, in his announcement upon taking over as managing director, Chris said: “Peter has decided to retire from GBCC permanently. I have to read that sentence a few times for it to sink in, but yes, it is true.”
He said he was “honoured” to take over as md of one of the largest independently owned card publishing companies in the UK. “I am confident that I can reward the faith shown in me by Peter and the other shareholders, and am much encouraged by the support of my fellow executive directors, whose professional qualities, friendship and respect I value in equal amounts,” he added.