“Central Hall Westminster is renowned as a place to bring people together, in 1946 the first meeting of the United Nations was actually held in this building,” said Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA in her welcome speech at the recent GCA’s Centenary AGM and Conference. It certainly was a powerful gathering which saw well over 160 members of the greeting card community – publishers, retailers, trade suppliers and affiliates – enjoy all the treats the packed agenda served up, and made the most of the networking.
Acknowledging the appropriateness of the Westminster venue, Amanda acknowledged that the association’s centenary coincided with the 100th anniversary of Nancy Astor becoming the first woman elected to take the oath and sit in the House of Commons, pointing out that the increasing role of women is also very evident in the greeting card industry today.
“We didn’t factor in the Extinction Rebellion currently taking place outside, but this of course also links into our agenda as we review what we can do to improve our environmental footprint later today,” said Amanda.
Amanda’s gave a whistlestop account of the GCA’s activities since she took over as ceo at the end of last year, including how it has built membership to close to 500 members (including representing over 15,000 retail rooftops), maintained a high profile in the media, forged ahead with initiatives including Festive Friday, Thinking of You Week and is all set to leverage the Cards To Keep campaign to a consumer level.
“The UK card industry is vibrant and varied; we’re living through challenging times but with so many young innovative publishers building successful businesses, it’s an exciting time. We estimate that GCA members turning over less than £3m contribute £250m to retail card sales, and that is without including the many large GCA members taking UK designed cards into retailers throughout the UK and across the world. We should be very proud of our industry and its world-leading status,” said Amanda.
Among the speakers and panelists who took to the stage on the day were Olly Tress, founder of Oliver Bonas (see separate story); Julian Royle of Royle Publications and Paul Woodmansterne, md of Woodmansterne who superbly covered the GCA’s history through some of its many achievements and Geoff Sanderson, founder of Celebration Nation shared how the 100th anniversary exhibition came about and his take on the industry’s next 100 years. Sainsbury’s buyer Carly Pearson, Waterstones’ buyer Hazel Walker, House of Cards’ co-owner, Miles Robinson joined Woodmansterne’s Adam Osbourne and The Art File’s Ged Mace made up a panel who discussed environmental issues in the afternoon session.
Here is a photographic flavour of the wonderful day…
Top: Caroline Gardner’s Luca Bridges (left) and Carolyn Verderamesign in with the GCA’s Sharna Walters at the historic AGM and conference reception.