Marking a significant step change for long-established greeting card retail group, Penmark is Henry & Co, a brand new greeting card and gift retailing concept, the inaugural store of which is now up and running in Nottingham’s Victoria Centre shopping mall.
The inspiration for the new store concept, which offers a curated collection of cards and gifts in retailing environment which has a very contemporary feel, came out of the family time Mark Rees, managing director of the Midlands-based group, spent with his wife and three children during lockdown.
“This really is a business reset for us,” Mark told PG Buzz. Penmark, which currently comprises 11 card and gift shops and four Love Aroma home fragrancing shops, was started by Mark’s parents in 1991. With them both now retired and the business fully owned by Mark, he felt the time was right to put the next generations’ stamp on it.
It is not just the new brand name that pays tribute to Mark and his wife Katy’s three children, Henry, Lucy and Alice, but the whole vibe of the Henry & Co store.
“We, like so many other families, have spent more time together over the last few months. And a lot of good has come out of that,” Mark told PG Buzz. “Teaming the enthusiasm and compassion of our children, with a desire to rebuild our business seemed logical. Our son Henry had already shown his creative flare with a passion for cooking, and entrepreneurial skills over the summer; opening an outdoor pop-up store (on our driveway) so that his friends could safely buy Father’s Day cards and gifts. While our daughters Lucy and Alice, had talked at length about Daddy’s shops and set up their own store selling pictures to family members for 5p each.”
And so Henry & Co was born, which Mark sums up as “a brand and shopping experience that delivers now and for years to come. At the forefront of our thinking is the essence of Inspiring Togetherness. We want to give a platform that brings people together through emotive cards and thoughtful gifts. If the pandemic has taught is anything, it is the value of being together, nothing can replace the joy and warmth of a hug, but we also know that cards and gifts are a wonderful way to show we care.”
All the greeting cards in the new store are being supplied through a UK Greetings’ brokerage scheme, including designs from many other publishers (such as Wendy Jones-Blackett, Paper Salad, Lucilla Lavender and Nigel Quiney Publications), while IC&G and Second Nature are supplying direct.
“I have been so impressed by UKG’s approach to fixturing, planning, operations and services. Brokerage enables us to simplify things while also having the facility to introduce newness,” says Mark.
Prior to this all Penmark stores have had Hallmark as their main card supplier.
The plan is to roll out the Henry & Co concept into Penmark’s other stores on a gradual basis, with two or three refits planned for 2021.
Top: The first Henry & Co shop, in a 1,000 sq ft unit in Nottingham’s Victoria Centre is now up and running.