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, by Brexit or other challenges for exporting.
Here, three of the leading distributors of UK publishers in Australia and New Zealand share their views.
Jenny Cummins is managing director of Sydney-based McMillan, which distributes many UK publishers including The Art File, Belly Button & Bubble, Berni Parker, Cath Tate, Cinnamon Aitch, Dandelion, James Ellis, Laura Darrington, Me & McQ, Really Good & Soul, Rose Made a Thing, Sooshichacha and Wrendale.
Brexit reaction: “Yes we will no doubt be affected by Brexit – the globe gets ever smaller. However we will have to wait and see how it affects publishers and deal with it when we know what’s actually happening. In the meantime the exchange rates have been a little better, giving us a little relief after a really tough few months hitting our profit margins.”
How’s business in Australia?: “Somehow McMillan has grown in what is a really tough retail market. This has been down to us growing our market share, due in part to the great product our suppliers are giving us. I am however expecting 2019 to be difficult and different. It will be a real wild card.”
Mark Kagan is director of Melbourne-based Scarpa Imports (a business he runs with his wife Sarah). Scarpa imports and distributes, among others, Cardmix, Caroline Gardner, Roger la Borde and Woodmanstrene:
Brexit reaction: “Can’t be 100% sure, but we believe there will be little or no effect on trade between the UK and Australia. In fact it might even be improved as initially there will be less bureaucracy than what the UK will experience at the commencement of the break up.
We are in constant communication with our UK suppliers and the topic has definitely come up.”
How’s business in Australia?: “We had a similar trading year in 2018 as we did in 2017. We expect 2019 to be a bigger and better year as we have made some internal changes within Australia that should affect sales within our second largest market. We do not anticipate Brexit being a drag on our performance.
We do very well with Woodmansterne and Cardmix (especially their humorous cards), also Caroline Gardner with its beautifully finished designs and Roger la Borde, which has the most amazing stationery, that supports its cards and wrap.”
Deirdre Robinson is product director of Image Gallery, based in Auckland in New Zealand. The company includes designs from over 50 different publishers within its portfolio, many of which are from the UK.
Brexit reaction: “New Zealand is in talks with the UK for a free-trade deal post Brexit that could push bilateral trade to higher levels than before. While Brexit may be painful in the UK, if the uncertainty around it is keeping the £pound lower that is good for us for buying more cards from you!”
How’s business in New Zealand?: “The new Labour government here caused business confidence to slump in 2018, which is now having a follow-on effect on consumer confidence. Increased prices of housing, fuel and power have left household disposable income lower than before which has been tough on the retail sector. While we continue to see the decline in independents, multiples are talking about modest rooftop growth this year which combined with early signs of confidence lifts should mean a better 2019.”