The UK’s largest greeting card wholesaler, Budget Greeting Cards is aiming to open an additional five branches. Nottingham has been confirmed as one of the locations, with an opening planned for this summer, while the other likely spots are being kept underwraps.
This news comes less than two months after Canadian private equity company, Ardenton Capital acquired 51% of the company, that was co-founded by brothers Paul and Martin Lavery.
While Martin has now retired from the day to day running of the business, Paul Lavery remains very much involved with the scouting for new branch locations among his priorities.
“There’s still so much opportunity out there,” Paul told PGBuzz.net, despite the trade’s evolution.
Budget’s current eight branches are in Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Dublin, Dunstable, Gateshead and Manchester.
In something of a swerve, the uproar from customers in reaction to the decision to close Budget’s Dunstable branch (which it opened in 2015 to expand the brand’s presence in the south of England) has seen the decision being overturned with the result that the branch is relocating to a much smaller premises nearby.
Greeting cards have always been key to Budget’s business. Paul Lavery confirmed to PG Buzz that Budget now sells almost 100 million greeting cards through its eight branches annually, accounting for 49% of the group’s turnover.
Significantly, while a major customer of wholesale card publishers, some 70% of all the cards Budget now sells are exclusive to the wholesaler, the vast majority (some 1,300 designs) of which are created by the company’s own in-house studio (which employs 14 people based in its Manchester HQ) and are published under its BGC Studios marque.
In what Paul describes as “the best thing that has ever happened to the business” was the demise of wholesale card publisher Kingsley Cards over 10 years ago, which enabled Budget to acquire many of the assets and stock, thereby providing a sizeable leg-up on the greeting card publishing ladder, providing an extra chunk of margin to the company as well as a USP which independent greeting card wholesalers did not have within their grasp.
Ecommerce is another area ripe for development, a side that is being driven by Allan Dunn, who joined the business from Ardenton and is now director of strategic development, based in Budget’s Manchester head office.
“We don’t want to rush this, we want to do it properly,” says Allan referring to the trading website which is expected to go live in autumn 2020. “We’re in this for the long-term,” he assured.
The May edition of Progressive Greetings includes an an article about Budget Greetings.
Above (top): Budget’s 200,000 sq ft Manchester branch.