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Cardgains is busy village

Big charity reveal, big birthday, and big list of new suppliers all at Spring Fair


There’s plenty going on for Cardgains at Spring Fair as the buying group marks its 35th anniversary, makes the big reveal of the total raised by the Look Out London charity challenge, introduces the latest raft of new suppliers, and officially welcomes its new finance director and sales manager.

Joining the Cardgains supplier list for 2024 are Letterbox Love, Lucilla Lavender, Pink Pig, The Gifted Stationery Company, Ohh Deer, Sooshichacha and Toynamics UK, bringing their products to the 1,000-plus retailer member rooftops.

Above: New finance director Helen McManus, left with md Penny Shaw on the Look Out London walk, has thrown herself into the Cardgains ethos and Charles Dyson is the new sales manager
Above: New finance director Helen McManus, left with md Penny Shaw on the Look Out London walk, has thrown herself into the Cardgains ethos and Charles Dyson is the new sales manager

And visitors will be able to congratulate Helen McManus as she’s joined the Cardgains board as finance director, while Charles Dyson has taken over as sales manager for the north and Scotland from the long-serving Jim Girvan who retired at the end of 2023.

Penny Shaw, managing director of Cardgains, said: “Happy anniversary to us! We’re celebrating 35 years of supporting independent retailers up and down the UK – and we’re thrilled to have great relationships with so many loyal members and suppliers, many of whom have been our partners for many, if not all, of those 35 years!

“I’m looking forward to a positive year with the Cardgains team and that includes the amazing people behind the scenes who keep everything running as smoothly as possible.”

Above: There’s a special logo for the buying group’s 35th anniversary
Above: There’s a special logo for the buying group’s 35th anniversary

With Spring Fair kicking off on Sunday, 4 February, the Cardgains Village will be at the heart of the Greetings section, with stand 3M10-N11 including its suppliers such as IC&G, Cherry Orchard, Jacksons, Rainbow Designs, Sarunds, UK Greetings, Word ’N’ Wishes and Woodmansterne, while newbies Letterbox Love (3R46), Ohh Deer (3Q10-R11), and The Gifted Stationery Company (3K31) can be found on their own stands at the show.

As well as marking the anniversary of the group’s founding in 1989, Penny and the team are looking forward to presenting the final cheque to the Motor Neurone Disease Association, where the initial £25,000 target had been well and truly smashed before the 25-mile walk around the capital had even finished back in June.

The group’s annual charity challenge saw 50 cardies trek through London on what Penny described as “a fantastic day – fundraising has been beyond anything we could have imagined” as greetings folk pulled together in memory of industry legend David Hicks, founder of Really Good and Soul, whose life was cut short by MND.

Above: Look Out London’s triumphant challengers
Above: Look Out London’s triumphant challengers

The presentation will be on Monday, 5 February, at 1pm on the Cardgains stand with everyone invited to find out the final total – and sign up for this year’s challenge will also be on the cards as people are already keen to take part, with the location and details to be revealed.

New sales manager Charles will be on hand to meet retail members and said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Cardgains on its 35th anniversary, especially with such an exciting year planned.

“Having been in the industry for nearly 15 years, I’m hopeful that my knowledge and contacts will help the membership thrive. I’m looking forward to getting out and helping the members and building strong partnerships with them and the suppliers alike.”

And Helen, who joined the business in May with over 30 years accounts’ experience, has already made significant changes to the systems at Cardgains, and has now been promoted to finance director.

Above & top: Cardgains’ Penny Shaw, Start Licensing’s Ian Downes (centre) and Danilo’s Daniel Prince with a couple of the walk’s interesting sights
Above & top: Cardgains’ Penny Shaw, Start Licensing’s Ian Downes (centre) and Danilo’s Daniel Prince with a couple of the London walk’s interesting sights

“I’ve had such a warm and welcoming introduction into the card and gift industry,” she said. “Everyone I have met at the trade shows and events has been generous, positive, and welcoming. I look forward to working closely with Penny, the Bridewell UK directors, and the friendly team here in Sheffield in order to continue to manage the finances for the benefit of our members and shareholders.”

The new suppliers bring a breadth of product and designs to Cardgains’ portfolio, with Letterbox Love founders Kerry and Liam Bilson getting on board after speaking to Penny at Autumn Fair.

“We both loved hearing about how Cardgains formed and the loyal members they have,” Kerry explained. “As a relatively new gifting business, it has opened up some amazing opportunities to work with shops and garden centres who we would have previously struggled to get in front of.

“The team are lovely at Cardgains and are always on hand to help us out. We hope to be able to give a new gifting experience to members, with our unique and sentimental jewellery, we are best known for our affordable wish bracelets and have an ever-expanding range, so it really is brilliant to have an immediate audience to showcase our products to.”

Above: Kerry and Liam Bilson run Letterbox Love
Above: Kerry and Liam Bilson run Letterbox Love

Ohh Deer was founded in 2011 by partners Mark Callaby and Jamie Mitchell to showcase both their own creativity and that of other talented artists and designers.

Known for humour and contemporary designs, it has exclusive licences with artists and collaborations with brands such as Cath Kidston, and has just published 400 new greeting card designs as well as offering a stationery range of planners, notebooks and diaries.

Lucie and Philip Chadderton have been running Sooshichacha since 2008 producing quirky and humorous designs including the Tattoo Cards range incorporating a transfer covering children’s ages and cheekier ones for grown-ups.

The bright cheery greeting cards from Pink Pig offer a burst of colour on retailers’ shelves as founder Mabel Forsyth celebrates 10 years in business.

With over 50 ranges, including Welsh and Scottish titles, Christmas, occasions, and spring seasons, there are more than 1,000 designs to choose from, including the bestselling fun Three Up range featuring male and female sports and hobbies, and it’s been extended into the new Oneupmanship collection of fun titles and silly puns, plus there’s fresh giftwrap in zingy colours.

Above: Ohh Deer offers a wide range of humour and stationery
Above: Ohh Deer offers a wide range of humour and stationery

Lucilla Lavender is focused on creating popular and memorable greetings card designs with 24 everyday ranges, plus a varied selection of children’s and adult age ranges and occasions designs.

In 2023 they also launched a collection of five ranges of smaller-sized cards under the Petite brand umbrella along with a selection of smaller-sized spinners to accommodate them.

The Gifted Stationery Company creates a wide range of stationery, annually introducing new, on-trend designs, developed by the in-house team across notebooks, calendars and diaries.

And last but not least is Toynamics UK, the latest supplier to join the Cardgains roster, offering a one-stop shop from the largest global wooden toy manufacturer, currently distributing eight brands of educational, and fun toy and game products to the UK and Ireland markets.

With a commitment to enhancing the play and learning experiences of children, Toynamics works closely with a variety of international toy manufacturers to provide engaging and imaginative playtime solutions, inspiring creativity, promoting cognitive development, and providing hours of entertainment.

Above: Wooden toys are Toynamics UK’s speciality
Above: Wooden toys are Toynamics UK’s speciality

Samia Waller, key account manager at Toynamics, revealed: “We’re thrilled to join the Cardgains supplier portfolio and, as a company, we’re excited to be on board and see how the partnership grows.

“We are confident that our diverse brand range and our high-quality products, alongside our support and the teams’ dedication to developing strong relationships, will align with the needs and values of the Cardgains group.”

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