New GCA president, UKG’s Ceri Stirland delivers her mission statement

(Left-right) New GCA president, UKG’s Ceri Stirland with Bank of England’s Glynn Jones and GCA’s Sharon Little.
(Left-right) New GCA president, UKG’s Ceri Stirland with Bank of England’s Glynn Jones and GCA’s Sharon Little.

It was a packed agenda matched by the punchy delivery and content of the speakers at the GCA AGM and Conference that is still underway today (Tuesday 24 October), taking place at Birmingham’s majestic Council House.

gca squareWell over 140 GCA members and associate members from the greeting card community – publishers, retailers, suppliers and agents – were all ears as the strong line-up of speakers delivered their insightful, thought-provoking and uplifting presentations.

Ged Mace, md of The Art File handed over the GCA presidential ‘baton’ to Ceri Stirland, director of marketing for UK Greetings, who shared her views on the industry, the concerns and the opportunities.

Retailers Claire Castle of WH Smith and Nigel Williamson of House of Cards checking in!
Retailers Claire Castle of WH Smith and Nigel Williamson of House of Cards checking in!

Ceri told PG Buzz, that she was “really looking forward” to her two years as GCA president, bringing her 25 years industry experience, both on the retailer and publisher sides to the fore. “We find ourselves in a period of uncertainty, we don’t know the total effect of Brexit, the retail landscape is changing, footfall is down and consumer confidence is fragile, but I am confident that the UK greeting card industry can adapt. It is how we respond to these changes that is crucial.”

New GCA president Ceri Stirland highlights how greeting cards are holding their own.
New GCA president Ceri Stirland highlights how greeting cards are holding their own.

For all these concerns, however, Ceri feels the industry should take comfort in the fact that the industry has not only grown in the last year, but is projected to grow by another 2% in the coming year.

Encouragingly, some 93% of the UK’s adult population have buy cards.
Encouragingly, some 93% of the UK’s adult population have buy cards.

Moreover, and even more encouraging long term, “93% of the UK adult population buying greeting cards – this is the same level as bread and chocolate!”

To the packed audience, Ceri delivered her GCA president mission statement. She shared some of her aims for the next two years of her reign to improve the profitability of seasonal sales, initiate more support for independent retailers through the further development of seasonal and event toolkit as well as advice and support, engagement with Gen Y and Gen Z on the greeting card front – as well as gearing up to mark the GCA’s 100th anniversary in 2019. “We need to make it the best birthday year ever!” said an enthusiastic Ceri.

GCA’s Sharon Little and outgoing president Ged Mace at the front of the assembled crowd!
GCA’s Sharon Little and outgoing president Ged Mace at the front of the assembled crowd!

Other speakers included Carly Pearson, Sainsbury’s card and wrap buyer; Sarah Hamilton, artist, founder of the Send a Card campaign and author of the House of Cards book and Bank of England’s deputy agent Glynn Jones.

Commenting, Sharon Little, GCA ceo said: “It has been a great year for the GCA, membership and associate membership is at an all time high, the recent Thinking of You Week had the broadest ever reach – and now a fabulous and well attended AGM and Conference!

Sainsbury’s Carly Pearson at the lecturn delivering a punchy talk.
Sainsbury’s Carly Pearson at the lecturn delivering a punchy talk.

As PG Buzz went out, the afternoon ‘meet the expert workshop sessions’ were getting underway covering agents, brokerage, business strategy, copyright, creative development, export, social media and websites/ecommerce.

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