Paul Steele RIP

Former owner of Hotchpotch, Saffron, and Anything Goes has passed away

 

Paul Steele, one of the great entrepreneurial publishers of the last 40 years, passed away yesterday, 28 November, at the age of 72 after a long illness.

His connection to the industry straddles several greeting card companies that he started, notably Hotchpotch and Saffron Cards & Gifts, along with the wide circle of industry friendships he forged and maintained over the years.

Above: Paul Steele (left) at the Steampunk-themed memorial event for David Hicks in June with (right-left) agent Rosie Trow, M.E.G’s Michael Gray and John Lewis’ Branca Neto
Above: Paul Steele (left) at the steampunk-themed memorial event for David Hicks in June with (right-left) agent Rosie Trow, M.E.G’s Michael Gray and John Lewis’ Branca Neto

Paul’s connection to the industry goes back to the late 1980s when he set up Anything Goes, a company specialising in supplying banners and badges to card shops and newsagents.

In the late 1990s he moved into greeting card publishing by setting up Hotchpotch, a company that built a reputation for unearthing talented young greeting artists, many of whom have gone on to greater things.

Despite suffering bouts of serious ill health, Paul built Hotchpotch into a major publishing force, supplying most of the major UK retailers. Then, in 2011, he sold the company to Carte Blanche Greetings where the brand and business has retained its distinct identity and gone on to achieve great success.

Above: Paul Steele (centre) in 2011 when the Hotchpotch deal was concluded with CBG (right-left) Steve Blakemore, Alister Marchant, Roger Murphy and John Coda
Above: Paul Steele (centre) in 2011 when the Hotchpotch deal was concluded with CBG (right-left) Steve Blakemore, Alister Marchant, Roger Murphy and John Coda

The negotiations for Hotchpotch sale were so amicable that Paul built a lasting friendship with the-then CBG md Roger Murphy which a year later resulted in them joining forces, along with fd John Coda, to acquire cookware company Eddingtons. A serious back problem subsequently restricted Paul’s day-to-day involvement in the company, but he remained committed.

Yet Paul was not one to drift into a comfortable retirement. After a brief sabbatical, in 2014 he acquired publisher Metropolis from the administrative receivers, later renaming it Saffron Cards & Gifts. “I really missed the trade, especially the creation of product,” he said at the time. He resurrected its fortunes before selling it to Ling Design in 2018.

“Paul’s drive, determination and passion for the industry, and life itself knew no bounds,” commented Viv Barlow, who worked closely with Paul for several years as national accounts manager for Saffron. “I remember him spotting a young woman just off our trade show stand sketching one of our Saffron card designs. He quietly went up to her and said in his kind, but authoritative, voice: “Can I give you a few words of advice. In this industry you need to do something different. Create your original designs and you will do much better. That was Paul – a very good man to have known.”

Paul was ever generous in offering his wisdom and experience and fostered numerous industry friendships that he remained in contact with right up until the end of his life. He will be sorely missed. Our condolences go to his wife Sarah.

Top: Sad loss of Paul Steele

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