Spring Loaded: Second Nature’s Chris Bryan aires his views on Spring Seasons

Indie retailer Postmark’s Mark Janson-Smith’s column on PG Buzz on Tuesday (August 15) struck a chord with so many who are fearful that the long term development of Spring Seasons may be hindered by certain publishers seriously considering pulling out of the some of the events, as SOR and brokerage costs make them unviable.

Above: Chris Bryan, general manager of Second Nature on stage at The Retas presenting an award.
Above: Chris Bryan, general manager of Second Nature on stage at The Retas presenting an award.

The GCA has now formed a working sub-committee that is tasked with coming up with ideas to protect and promote these important card sending occasions in the calendar.

PG’s September edition (which is published next week) will also include an extended Viewpoints section on the matter.

Above: Valentine’s Day card sales fluctuate from year to year depending on what day February 14 falls on. (A new design from Second Nature).
Above: Valentine’s Day card sales fluctuate from year to year depending on what day February 14 falls on. (A new design from Second Nature).

To continue the dialogue, Chris Bryan, general manager of Second Nature, and GCA committee member was asked to share his views on the issue:

“Unfortunately, having lost so many card retail outlets from the high street in the last ten years, there are simply too many cards being published for the space there is available. That said, there is still a great market for Spring Seasons product, but for several years these events have been incredibly unpredictable.

In particular Valentine’s Day appears to have struggled while Easter seems to have picked up as a card sending event.

Above: Easter card sales are on the up. One of the new Easter cards from Second Nature.
Above: Easter card sales are on the up. One of the new Easter cards from Second Nature.

Obviously there are a myriad of factors that have an impact eg. Valentine’s Day falling on a week day is never great and maybe Easter is on the up as people may have a growing view that chocolate is unhealthy so are buying a card instead?

Relationships have changed dramatically over the last 20 years, so new captions for step parents partners are a growth area, but I do think the industry is still struggling to find a clear way of identifying the correct terminology to match the sentiment and sending situation… it will come, but retailer/consumer feedback is vital on this.

Above: With good dialogue, Mother’s Day can be even more fabulous, like this Second Nature design.
Above: With good dialogue, Mother’s Day can be even more fabulous, like this Second Nature design.

As a publisher, with a limited selling window, smaller volumes and varying degrees of SOE/SOR agreements, amortising the heavy investment puts immense pressure on margins. Consequently, adding brokerage charges and the discounts that brokered accounts demand does bring into question the viability of supplying Spring Seasons via brokerage. If all Spring Seasons were capped returns, all publishers could at least have some confidence that they weren’t taking the full risk and could calculate a worst case scenario. This would give publishers greater confidence, which in turn would mean more future investment and greater product for the retailers and consumers. Some would argue that this means old stock would block next the seasons’ sales but in the long run purchasing and publishing would both become aligned and in my opinion stronger for it.

With all of that it still comes down to design. Great design will always sell. I am glad to say, that our major new launch of exciting Spring Seasons product has seen orders are up on last year, so we must be doing something right!”

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