Penmark, the Midlands-based greeting card and gift retail group is branching out into becoming a supplier to other retailers, with the launch of two home fragranced brands at the Harrogate Home & Gift show (which starts this Sunday and runs until next Wednesday July 18-21).
Bob Harper, the well-known and highly respected industry executive (who for many years headed up the Hallmark Gold Crown programme) has come on board as commercial director to run the new Henry & Co fragranced business which is debuting with two ranges of reed diffusers, wax melts and candles (Stand DP1-B74).
“The launch of our home fragranced ranges is just part of a major transformation across the whole business, including the plans and ambitions for our retail side, the company structure, appointment of key personnel, investment in the infrastructure and installation of an EPOS system,” Mark Rees, managing director of Penmark revealed to PG Buzz. “I suffered a blood clot on the lung which meant I was out of action for a few months while I recovered. This gave me the time to reflect on the strategy and future structure of the business as well as re-evaluate my own strengths!”
As part of this, the company has appointed Sharon Green as retail director. Sharon joins following 27 years with Thorntons where she was involved in their retail operations. In this new role, Sharon will oversee the day to day running of the retail estate, which currently includes seven Penmark stores, three Henry & Co shops, four Love Aroma branches and a We Are Cards outlet store.
“As Penmark was a Thorntons franchisee, I was lucky enough to get to know Sharon. She is not only hugely experienced, but dynamic, a strategic thinker and good with people. She will be a fantastic asset to our business and we will work closely together on the strategic direction,” says Mark.
Also joining the team is Sarah Clowes, who has come on board as retail marketing manager while experienced buyer Michael Laybourn, who joined the Penmark team last year on a project basis, has expanded his remit by taking on the buying for greeting cards, gifts and fragranced products for the retail group. (https://www.pgbuzz.net/former-hoopers-buyer-michael-laybourn-joins-the-penmark-team/)
“Retail most definitely has a positive future. That said it is ever more location-driven and proposition-driven,” sums up Mark. “We will be looking at expanding through acquisition, though organic growth if the right deals are to be had with landlords,” says Mark. Plans include refurbishing Penmark’s Ashbourne and Trentham based stores to the new Henry & Co concept, converting the Allenton store to another We Are Cards outlet while the Love Aroma shops will become Henry & Co Home Fragrance stores.
Through the experience with Love Aroma as well as selling large volumes of home fragranced products through the other Penmark shops, Mark was well aware of their popularity. In addition, Joanne Stubbs, store manager of Penmark’s flagship store in Meadowhall has also been manufacturing her own fragranced products.
“With Joanne’s fragrance knowledge, my background in marketing and branding, our retailing experience, as well as the ability to test products through our shops and online, means we have many bases covered. Having Bob Harper on board, someone who has huge business knowledge is the icing on the cake,” said Mark.
The inaugural collection being launched at Harrogate Home & Gift will be under two brands, Henry & Co (with the products featuring an abridged H&Co logo) and Echo Fragrances.
“We are very much aiming at independent gift and card retailers as well as garden centres, giving them new brands of quality products,” says Mark.
While the Henry and Co collection of wax melts, reed diffusers and diffuser refills will feature 16 popular smells – from fresh linens to red raspberries – the Echo Fragrances range will feature scents that are inspired by the most popular perfume brands. The Echo range will launch with 12 fragrances at the Harrogate show, across candles, wax melts and reed diffusers.
Samples will be given away at the show while signed up customers will receive a goody bag.
Top: The first Henry & Co store, which opened in Nottingham last year.