Budget Greeting Cards Gears Up To Open Five More Branches

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.

Above: Paul Lavery (centre) with Allan Dunn, director of strategic development with Sarah Hartley, studio manager in the showroom of Budget’s Manchester HQ.
Above: Paul Lavery (centre) with Allan Dunn, director of strategic development with Sarah Hartley, studio manager in the showroom of Budget’s Manchester HQ.

“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.

Above: A trio of the 1,300 greeting card designs BGC Studios creates.
Above: A trio of the 1,300 greeting card designs BGC Studios creates.

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.

Above: Budget sells almost 100,000 greeting cards every year.
Above: Budget sells almost 100 million greeting cards every year.

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.

3E. Paul Lavery P1060279 copy
Above: Paul Lavery still sees every one of the greeting card designs the company creates in-house.

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.

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