“I don’t want to strike a gloomy note, but there is no point in putting our head in the sand – retail is in a sorry state and this is also affecting the calendar world,” was the attention-grabbing start to David Pike, group director of Calendar Club and keynote speech, and he kept up the pace.
With his many years of experience running Calendar Club/Carousel Calendars, overlaid with his background as a economist, David delivered a ‘no holds barred’ insightful summary of life in the UK calendar world over the last decade as well as the single thing that would make the future altogether more positive – notably, in his mind, retailers weaning themselves off the “drug” called “discounting”.
Setting the scene, David acknowledged the “never ending trail of bad news of businesses restructuring, stores closing and retailers going out of business,” with some 250 national chains having disappeared from the UK retailing landscape over the last decade partly due to the hangover from the over expansion previously as well as the well documented competition from online and drop in high street footfall.
Looking specifically as shifts within the calendar arena, David highlighted how, in line with the general retail picture, “most of the new entrants or growth in our sector has been at the value end, with the likes of Card Factory, Wilko, The Works and The Range coming into or increasing their exposure to our sector.”
And this activity has not surprisingly resulted in a downward pressure on the retail price of a calendar, which in turn has resulted in many calendar publishers falling out of the market.
“Over the last 10 years we have seen 9 of the top 50 publishers in the UK disappear completely and another 11 have been swallowed up by other players. That is a total of 20 publisher imprints out of the top 50 that have gone,” David quantified.
He then went on to uplift spirits, revealing that this year, in which Calendar Club is celebrating its 20th anniversary, trading from some 275 stores that it is “set to have another successful year”.
Championing the USP of calendars, David crystalised their special qualities: “Where else can you buy a gift that is personal to the person you are buying for, that lasts a whole year and costs less than a £tenner.
Calendars are great value and like the old liquorice all sorts advert said, ‘everyone is someone’s favourite’!”
Having superbly demonstrated his natural ability to analyse data, demystify complicated graphs, David ended on an emotional plea that David ended. “I would urge other retailers to get off the drug of discounts, rebuild your calendar ranges and celebrate calendars as a fantastic gift product.”
David set the scene for what was, as he acknowledged a “celebration of calendars and calendar publishers”, describing The Calies as “so important” in that they “support the creativity and diversity of publishers within our industry.”
Top: David Pike, group director of Calendar Club and Carousel Calendars gave a thought-provoking first speech at The Calies 2018.