“I guess we got lucky,” Paul Fineman, ceo of IG Design Group quipped to PG Buzz, in relation to the timing of its acquisition of crafting company CSS Industries last March, with lockdowns sending sales of crafting products soaring with demand outstripping demand.
However, it was not just the performance of CSS that was reflected IG Design Group’s latest trading statement which showed a 35% surge in turnover (taking it to $737 million), an increase in pre-tax profit as well as dramatic reduction in its borrowings.
The fact that the AIM-listed business retail customer base (including in the UK) is largely orientated towards grocers and value retailers that have been able to trade throughout lockdowns saw that revenue from its greeting cards and giftwrappings products held up strongly. The Group creates and supplies bespoke collections of counter greeting cards into Aldi, B&M, Wilko and Poundland as well as other leading grocers.
“Our greeting card business globally is in rude health. It has been one of the most resilient areas for us – and we are particularly pleased with the performance in the UK,” said Paul, who highlighted a very strong sell through, not just at Christmas, but in Spring Seasons too. “Sales were up double digit,” he quantified, predicting that the group will end the year having produced close to 300 million greeting cards.
Commenting specifically on its greeting card business with Aldi, Paul said “the numbers are strong,” explaining that the relationship with the value giant extends to supplying cards to Aldi stores in the US and Australia as well.
Greeting cards and giftwrappings form part of the Group’s Celebrations business, which now accounts for 50% of IGDG’s sales.
Paul also highlighted partyware as “another of our growing categories,” the acquisition of CSS reinforcing its partyware position.
“We feel confident that the next couple of years will further grow in this sector in the UK, Australia and Europe, increasing our product portfolio and design focus,” predicts Paul.
On the licensing front, Paul senses that there has been a return to the classics. “The last year it has not been a case of ‘hot licences’ as we have seen classics from Disney, Star Wars and definitely Peppa Pig still up there in the UK, while in the States, sports licences have done very well for us,” he reveals.
While Paul acknowledges that a year operating in Covid conditions has brought many challenges, he says that “one positive is that it makes you very action-orientated as you have no choice. This last year has not been what anyone wanted, but a strong team spirit has seen us through.”
Top: Paul Fineman, ceo of IG Design Group highlights how Star Wars is one licence that has performed well for the group.