Retail chain, The Works, whose chairman is Dean Hoyle (founder of Card Factory) has employed the former Wishing Well Studios design team, led by creative director Nikki Harrison.
Coinciding with this news, Dean, who has been non-executive director of Card Factory since it became a plc in May 2014, has severed links with the value card chain, “as there is now a conflict of interests”.
Dean moved swiftly to secure the employment of Nikki and her studio team when Carte Blanche Group announced last month that it had closed down the Wigan-based Wishing Well studio, relocating the creative facility to the publisher’s Sussex HQ, and making all staff from the northern studio redundant.
Dean, who also owns Huddersfield Town FC, describes the agreement with Nikki and her studio team using a football analogy. “In football terms this is classed as the perfect free transfer,” Dean told PG.
Commenting her ‘transfer’, Nikki said: “Love him or loathe him…when the opportunity arose to join Dean at The Works and, after hearing the exciting next phase of growth, I knew this was the right move – I can’t wait to get started.”
The Works currently trades from 400 stores, but Dean (who acquired a 30% stake in 2015) has made no secret of his ambitions to expand the varietal value chain quickly. While it currently stocks some greeting cards, its product mix is very diverse.
“I have had to make the sad decision to leave Card Factory after 19 amazing years. I have left on good terms but this was inevitable,” he told PG.
Dean refuses to be drawn as to what products the studio will be developing, but having given ‘conflict of interests’ as the reason for stepping back from Card Factory completely it would suggest that greeting cards will be part of the remit.
When PG interviewed Dean in October 2015, when The Works was trading from 300 stores, he admitted: “Greeting cards account for, at most, only 5% of The Works’ sales. I was informed, however, at one of the first management meetings I attended at The Works that greeting cards and giftwrap were performing badly in our shops. I do think it is a situation I should be able to rectify!”