In what comes as sad news for the greeting card community, long established specialist multiple, Cards Galore has gone into administration, unable to ride the storm of the pandemic which has decimated footfall in London’s city centre.
Established over 30 years ago by Rajesh Shah, and been run day to day by his nephew Rumit Shah, Cards Galore has been a beacon greeting card retailer in the financial City area of the capital as well as in prime West End sites and stations.
Cards Galore was trading from 60 stores, but the effects of the coronavirus hit the chain early and hard. Having fought its corner behind the scenes, in the media and with politicians, it found itself with no option but to appoint administrators.
“It is sad, that after 30 years of coming to the rescue for millions of people wanting to buy greeting cards for their loved ones and friends that Cards Galore is now in administration,” Rumit Shah admitted to PG Buzz. “Our turnover dropped off a cliff from the beginning of March last year, even before the first lockdown, as people started working from home and they have never returned to their offices. The centre of London, where our shops are based, has become a ghost town”
Although never ones to usually court the limelight, Rumit and Rajesh made an impassioned plea on BBC News last July for customers to return. (https://www.pgbuzz.net/cards-galore-owners-send-out-a-cry-for-help-on-the-bbc-2/)
‘Dear customers, I face ruin, please come back’ was the urgent message Rumit wrote in his open letter that was shared by the BBC.
“Unfortunately, Covid-19 has brought us to our knees. Central London is a ghost town,” said Rumit on air. “Even though non-essential shops have been allowed to re-open, there is absolutely no trade. We cannot open the vast majority of our shops as it is not economically viable to do so.”
Last November Rumit spearheaded the Greeting Card Shops Are Essential campaign during lockdown 2, that was backed by so many in the greeting card community, which saw an official Govt petition gaining thousands of votes and a collective letter being sent to the then Business Secretary Alok Sharma from the GCA.
While Cards Galore did take up the offer of the first wave of Government grants, it was not in a position to do so in the last round as the business was then not solvent.
Insolvency and debt recovery specialists, Edge Recovery have been appointed as administrators with the company’s partners, Robert Cundy and Bijal Shah now running the business and exploring options. It is unknown as to how many and which of the Cards Galore stores will open on Monday (12 April) when non-essential stores are allowed to trade following the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Rumit is thankful for all the support Cards Galore has received from its suppliers over the years.
“Boris Johnson’s Work from Home message is what has killed our trade. The hybrid working pattern will change the fortunes of many more businesses than just Cards Galore. Just look at all the banks that are closing their high street branches. Footfall will come back, but when and by how much no one knows,” says Rumit. “There should have been more support from the Government for city centres.”
Top: Cards Galore has been the ‘go to’ cardshops in London’s City for decades.