Over two million people were served up greeting cards for breakfast yesterday as Amanda Fergusson, chief executive of the GCA made the most of an opportunity to promote the industry on BBC Breakfast yesterday morning (November 18) in a prime time three minute slot.
While the news that Clintons is in discussions with landlords over a possible CVA was the hook for the live interview, Amanda superbly deflected any direct questions from business correspondent Sean Farrington, about the specialist retail chain’s situation, instead using it as a platform to highlight the size and scale of the industry and the importance of buying and sending cards.
Having made reference to key statistics taken from the GCA’s Market Report – notably, that we buy more cards per person than any other nation, the UK spends £1.7 billion on greeting cards with 94% bought in bricks and mortar stores – Sean put it to Amanda: “How is it with all those big numbers that you can get an established retailer on our high street selling cards still struggling?”
While she acknowledged the generally accepted view that “there are challenges for all retailers on the high street” right now she then turned the emphasis to cards generally highlighting that it is “an important industry.”
Making a reference to Card Factory’s recent positive trading update, Sean asked about changing card buying habits and whether we are “going cheaper” with our card buying to which Amanda confidently replied that in fact we are spending more on cards for close family and friends and how sales of occasions cards are growing. “If you want to say something special you care about, you put in a bit of effort” by sending a card.
When pressed about the impact social media is having on the card trade, Amanda was ready with a positive spin. “Social media gives more opportunity to send cards as you’ll know if someone’s grandma is ill or their dog has died,” going on to highlight how young people are in fact sending more cards than they were a generation ago.
When put on the spot as to a current trend to end the interview, Amanda pulled a great one out of the bag: “I think people are sending more cards from their pets,” she said with a broad smile. “I am guilty of this as I always sends a card from my cat to my mum.”
With the cameras then panning back to main presenters, Louise Minchin and Dan Walker, there was some extra reinforcement. “I still love opening cards,” admitted Louise.
“It’s a fascinating industry as it seems to be booming,” said Dan. “It seems to be rebelling against everything else,” concluded Louise.
* As if Amanda’s ‘three minutes of fame’ live on BBC Breakfast was not enough, she also had the good fortune to chat to Eddie Jones, the celebrated England Rugby manager who was also in the studio.
“We were ‘in make up’ together and so got chatting. When I told him the reason I was there, he said: “That’s such a nice thing to talk about – what a lovely product.”
Top: GCA’s Amanda Fergusson live on air on BBC Breakfast yesterday morning (18 November).