Want to know what it is like to live in the ‘fast lane’ of retailing? Nosey to know more about how Hallmark has turned a faceless industrial building into an inspiring place to work? Interested to learn how some of the UK’s freshest design talent view greeting cards? Then wonder no longer as the Progressive Greetings August issue is now out and has the answers to all these questions and loads more besides.
PG journeyed up the M6 to Tebay Services to meet Sarah Dunning, chairman of Westmorland, the family-owned company that’s re-invented retail in motorway service stations. It’s an inspiring tale about how her mother and father, John and Barbara Dunning on discovering that the Department of Transport was going to build a major motorway (M6) right through their 700 acre Cumbrian hill farm, decided to create their dark cloud’s ‘silver lining’ by bidding (and winning) against oil companies to build and open a service station. Now, many years on, and with its Penrith, Tebay and Gloucester Services thriving, these retailing emporiums are an absolute joy to visit – with the selection of greeting cards stocked being up right up there. (see pages 58-59).
Flying all the way from Kansas City to pronounce Hallmark UK’s new Bradford HQ open, Don Hall jnr, the president and ceo of Hallmark Cards group, and grandson of the company’s founder Joyce Hall, declared, “This is a very exciting time for Hallmark. This new building exudes the focus we have on creativity, of providing a good service to our customers – and ultimately continuing our mission of igniting interest and delight in greeting cards for the consumer.”
The new set up not only brings all of Hallmark’s creative, sales, marketing and warehousing functions onto one site, Steve Wright, md of Hallmark UK, explains that the internal layout of the main building mirrors the company’s “much more customer-focused organisational design.” (see pages 42-43).
PG August also celebrates another impressive bunch of people who are ‘customer-focused’ – the winners of The Retas greeting card retailing awards which took place last month. “Winning this award is easily my biggest achievement to date and for me to pick up the award with my mum there was just amazing. Every award we have ever won has always motivated and inspired us onto bigger and better things. So we’ll take a few weeks to enjoy this and then it’s heads down and back to the drawing board to make sure we keep things fresh and exciting at Postmark!” exclaimed a proud Mark Janson-Smith, co-owner of Postmark, the progressive London group of four card shops, on winning The Retas ‘top award’, Retailer of the Year. The issue includes all The Retas Awards Winners 2017 (see pages 47-57) and the party pictures from lavish Awards afternoon event. (see pages 44-46).
While The Retas celebrates the best greeting card retailers in the UK, the edition also has a global flavour with international publishers and distributors sharing their views on how the Brexit decision is impacting on their business as well as revealing the market conditions in their neck of the woods.
“It’s clear that Brexit has put pressure on the margins of UK publishers,” states Eulinid Stevenson, managing director of Henderson and Waterlyn, an Australian distributor and publisher. “The good news for our suppliers is that we’re doing more business with them now than before the Brexit vote,” Eulinid adds with her positive views being echoed by others (see pages 27-29).
As ever, the issue has some great pithy from its columnists. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”, stated Thomas A. Edison. Companies fail for lots of reasons – poor business planning, ineffective management, unattainable business model, bad economy, lack of focus or work ethic. These are just some of the common denominators with how things have failed, but the bottom-line is how quickly you change course… how quickly you adapt,’ says David Robertson, Scottish independent card and gift retailer, JP Pozzi, when discussing in his PG column why success begins with failure. (see pages 22-23).
PG was also delighted to catch up with some young talent who are just starting out on their career path.
The New Designers show held last month at London’s Business Design Centre showcased undergraduate and graduate creatives from art colleges and universities from all around the UK.
PG visited the ND show to meet the two winners of this year’s New Designers Hallmark Studio awards, Rihanah Hussain and Lucy Littler, and discover some of the many prospective greeting card designers of the future. (see pages 61-63)
All this as well as lots of great new products, (see Innovations), revelations from retailers as to what is selling for them (see What’s Hot) and juicy news about the developments in this wonderful industry (see News).