With only two days to go until the General Election, several leading card publishers who are members of the GCA Council share their pleas for whoever is elected as the new Prime Minister.
Lisa Shoesmith, general manager of Really Good/Soul: “The government needs to champion the independents, smaller shop owners and start putting pressure on the landlords who don’t seem to take note that retail is a challenging sector at the moment, so increasing rents and councils increasing rates doesn’t help the independents to flourish. All of these areas need to be considered, but in my personal opinion, it will be too little too late. The damage has already been done and it will take significant investment to restore the balance on the high street between independents and multiples.”
Rajeev Arora, managing director of Davora: “I’d like to see the new government really help the high street, particularly small independent retailers across all industries. For example, I’d like to see better business rate structures, reduced red-tape thereby lowering admin overheads and making it easier to employ staff. My wish would be to see such steps encourage a new generation of independent greeting card retailers to set up shop and thrive.”
Daniel Prince, managing director of Danilo Promotions: “My wish list would be to have some reassurance around trading with Europe, as like many other publishers we have key customers in the mainland. Also regarding the currency fluctuation, I feel confident that (if) Brexit happens the £pound will strengthen, which in turn, will help publishers in our industry.”
Chris Bryan, general manager of Second Nature: “Brexit – I know people of both side of the debate and many people who have indeed switched either way. I think everyone just wants it done one way or the other ASAP so we can all move on. We need a government which will give clear direction, rather than have its hands tied up in endless gainsaying!
In addition, the whole business rates system seems broken and wholly unfair. It needs to be completely reviewed to take into account the changing retail landscape, including the growth of e-commerce activity.”
Mark Callaby, managing director and co-owner of Ohh Deer: “My top two would be for a radical reform on business rates and how they can impact small businesses. The business rate relief this year did help but it wasn’t enough. I recently went to Electric Avenue in Brixton and was told how empty shops were given to new start-up businesses with a no rent due for X amount of months – initiatives like this can really help drive people back to our high streets and help improve the economy. My second plea would be stopping the rising costs of the postal services and public transport year on year.”
Paul Woodmansterne, ceo of Woodmansterne Publications: “Please let the new government introduce a local tax on online trade based on delivery addresses so as to reduce and replace shop rates. That would even out the current massive injustice that Amazon‘s UK trading raises no tax for our roads, schools, hospitals etc.”
Karen Wilson, director of Paper Salad: “We really do hope that there will be some benefits for people in business. On our wishlist would be reducing business rates; our independents really need this to enable them to compete with multiples, supermarkets and online businesses. Plus free parking for our high street would be another plea.”
Brett Smith, joint md of Emotional Rescue: “A monopolies investigation into brokerage… only kidding!! It would have to focus around a clearer recycling strategy and the public’s education, along with help for the high street.”
Jeremy Corner, managing director of Blue Eyed Sun: “If the new government could legislate for the removal of single-use plastics and drive compostables through that would be massive for the use of film packaging in years to come so that we can transition away from plastics to more environmentally-friendly alternatives. A significant reduction in business rates for retailers would also be most welcome.”
Top: The three contenders for PM (left-right Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson) would do well to answer the pleas of the card retail trade, both on the retail and supply side.