It is oft said that the UK leads the world on greeting cards, but with so much changing on the global front, what does this supremacy mean if the overseas markets they are destined for are hampered or if Brexit creates insurmountable challenges for exporting.
Stefan Hermann, managing director of German-based Taurus-Kunstkarte, which distributes Belly Button, Laura Darrington and Louise Mulgrew shares his views on Brexit as well as a summary of the German card market.
How do you feel Brexit will affect your trade with UK card publishers: “I cannot believe what is going on and find it hard to summarise the consequences for all of us Europeans. But I believe if there was a referendum in Germany lots of people might have voted for it too.
At the moment it seems Plan B becomes Plan A and we here at Taurus are expecting a hard Brexit. And in the best case for this ‘worst case scenario’ importing goods from the UK will involve more paperwork and longer shipments. We do not want to think beyond this right now! However, in the interim we will fill the shelves before 29 March, close our eyes and hope for the best.”
How’s the greeting card business in Germany?: “I have recently returned from our first fair in Munich (January 3-5). Although we had heavy snowfall, up to 40cm, which resulted in many customers not making it, we are satisfied with the results so far.
It is interesting to read how the environment is high on the agenda in the UK card market. I think here in Germany we are a year behind the discussions that you have been having in the UK on the environmental front. We still sell our cards cellowrapped. Some book publishers started to sell unwrapped books last year but we do not expect this to become the norm for cards. We are however speaking with all suppliers in the printing chain about the newest developments in this area.
Our packaging law states that all manufacturers, sellers and importers have to declare their waste and pay a licence for the packaging material they bring into the consumer market. There is an open website (www.verpackungsregister.org) meaning everyone can check company names on this platform. If a company is not registered they are not allowed to operate. The aim is to bring more transparency and to highlight those companies that bring less waste onto the market or change to organic material or more recyclable packaging.”
Taurus-Kunstkarte will be exhibiting at Paperworld, the major stationery exhibition which takes place at Meese Frankfurt (January 26-29).
Top: Stefan with a trio of cards that Taurus supplies.