PG Buzz’s Most Read Stories Of The Year

It’s the end of another eventful year in the greeting card industry and – while there’s no denying there have been spells of turbulence – there have also been times of celebration.

PG Buzz takes a look at some of the most read stories on the site throughout 2019.

January

Christmas Reports: Cardzone, Paperchase and House of Cards (www.pgbuzz.net/christmas-reports-cardzone-paperchase-and-house-of-cards/) – Despite the doom and gloom dished out by the media, Christmas ended up having more sparkle than anticipated

37% Of Independent Card Retailers Saw Business Increase In 2018, Reveals PG Retail Barometer Findings (www.pgbuzz.net/37-of-independent-card-retailers-saw-business-increase-in-2018-reveals-pg-retail-barometer-findings/) – ‘Tough’ was the word that independent card retailers used to sum up trading in 2018 in the PG Retail Barometer, yet over a third (37%) actually managed growth, while another third held the line on the previous year’s performance.

Woodmansterne To Trailblaze The Seal-Close Mechanism On 200 Card Designs (www.pgbuzz.net/woodmansterne-to-trailblaze-the-seal-close-mechanism-on-200-card-designs/) – Woodmansterne revealed it was gearing up for the switch to its own peelable-label invention (later to be known as Smart-Seal) to hold card, envelope and insert together without the need of cellowrapping.

Above: A prototype Seal-Close label on a Woodmansterne card.
Above: A prototype Seal-Close label on a Woodmansterne card.

 

February 

Hallmark Doubles Its Presence In Ireland In Distribution Deal With P&G Cards (https://www.pgbuzz.net/hallmark-doubles-its-presence-in-ireland-in-distribution-deal-with-pg-cards/)

World’s Oldest Valentine’s Card Auctioned Today For £7,200 (https://www.pgbuzz.net/worlds-oldest-valentines-card-auctioned-today-for-7200/) – A Valentine’s card, dating back to around 1790 was bought at auction by PG’s Jakki Brown. The news was picked up by the media all over the world.

Above: The Valentine message that dates back to 1790-1810.
Above: The Valentine message that dates back to 1790-1810.

GCA’s Speed-dating Event In Thoughts And Pictures (https://www.pgbuzz.net/gcas-speed-dating-event-in-thoughts-and-pictures/) – The sell-out GCA’s Speed-dating with Dragons 3 event saw publishers make quick-fire pitches to retailers.

Restructured UKG Brings Manufacturing Home To The UK For 40% Of Everyday Cards (https://www.pgbuzz.net/restructured-ukg-brings-manufacturing-home-to-the-uk-for-40-of-everyday-cards/) – UKG’s more “customer-centric business” structure sees the publisher switch 40% of its everyday production to the UK from the Far East.

 

March

51% Stake In Budget Greeting Cards Sold To Canadian Private Equity Company, Ardenton Capital   (https://www.pgbuzz.net/51-stake-in-budget-greeting-cards-sold-to-canadian-private-equity-company-ardenton-capital/) – In a thumbs-up for the greeting card sector, Canadian private equity company Ardenton Capital Corporation bought a 51% stake in Budget Greeting Cards (BGC), the UK’s largest greeting card wholesaler.

Paperchase CVA Approved, Trust To Be Rebuilt With Card Publishers (https://www.pgbuzz.net/paperchase-cva-approved-trust-to-be-rebuilt-with-card-publishers/) – Paperchase received the approval from its creditors (which includes many card publishers) for its CVA (Creditors Voluntary Arrangement). For the proposal to go through it had to be accepted by at least 75% of creditors. 

Above: Timothy Melgund, deputy chairman of Paperchase
Above: Timothy Melgund, deputy chairman of Paperchase

Grass Roots Has Ceased Trading, The Company Will Be Liquidated (https://www.pgbuzz.net/grass-roots-has-ceased-trading-the-company-will-be-liquidated-on-april-8/) – The Liverpool based publisher, best known for its Write from the Heart brand ceased trading, after trading for 24 years.

Cards Confirmed As A “Staple Of UK Expenditure” By ONS (https://www.pgbuzz.net/cards-confirmed-as-a-staple-of-uk-expenditure-by-ons/) – Confirming how entrenched greeting cards are in British society, the ONS uses them to measure UK consumer price inflation.

 

April

Mother’s Day Keeps The Spring In The Step Of Card Retailers (https://www.pgbuzz.net/mothers-day-keeps-the-spring-in-the-step-of-card-retailers/) – The good weather, late timing – and of course a love for our mums – all helped to deliver a strong Mother’s Day for most greeting card and gift retailers.

Above: One of the Mother’s Day display in Little Paperie in Ashbourne.
Above: One of the Mother’s Day display in Little Paperie in Ashbourne.

Wrendale Designs Honoured With A Queen’s Award For Export  (https://www.pgbuzz.net/wrendale-designs-honoured-with-a-queens-award-for-export/) – Wrendale Designs, the Lincolnshire-based greeting card and gift brand was honoured with a Queen’s Award for excellence in International Trade

Simon Elvin Group Has Acquired Grass Roots International’s Design And Verse Bank (https://www.pgbuzz.net/simon-elvin-group-has-acquired-grass-roots-internationals-design-and-verse-bank/) – In addition to its creative assets, the Simon Elvin group acquired the de-funked publisher’s brand names, Grass Roots and Write from the Heart.

Above: In addition to acquiring certain Grass Roots’ assets, Simon Elvin, founder of the card publishing group was feted in The Henries, awarded a GCA Outstanding Contribution Award.
Above: In addition to acquiring certain Grass Roots’ assets, Simon Elvin, founder of the card publishing group was feted in The Henries, awarded a GCA Outstanding Contribution Award.

Revealing The Retas 2019 Finalists, The UK’s Greeting Card Retailer Awards (https://www.pgbuzz.net/revealing-the-retas-2019-finalists-the-uks-greeting-card-retailer-awards/) – Thestrong roll call of Retas finalists, the result of a rigorous industrywide nomination and entry process, reveals the best greeting card retail stockists in the UK.

 

May

Trump’s Threat To Impose 25% Tariffs On Greeting Cards From China Are Being Fought By US And UK GCAs  (https://www.pgbuzz.net/trumps-threat-to-impose-25-tariffs-on-greeting-cards-from-china-are-being-fought-by-us-and-uk-gcas/) 

Above: Thankfully on the eve of the December 15 imposition of the tariffs, President Trump announced that the plans had been shelved indefinitely.
Above: Thankfully on the eve of the December 15 imposition of the tariffs, President Trump announced that the plans had been shelved indefinitely.

GCA’s #cardtokeep Campaign Urges People To Share Their Special Card Memories (https://www.pgbuzz.net/gcas-cardtokeep-campaign-urges-people-to-share-their-special-card-memories/) – As part of its centenary celebrations GCA launched an initiative to champion the importance of greeting cards in all our lives, attracting interest from the BBC.

Budget Greeting Cards Gears Up To Open Five More Branches (https://www.pgbuzz.net/budget-greeting-cards-gears-up-to-open-five-more-branches/) – With Nottingham cited as one location, the UK’s largest card wholesaler stated that it is to open four other wholesalers.

 

June

Gemma International To Cease Trading After 34 Years (https://www.pgbuzz.net/gemma-international-to-cease-trading-after-34-years/) – Confirming the rumours that had been circulating, major licensed greeting card, giftwrap and partyware company, Gemma International announced it was to cease trading.

Above: Gemma International’s headquarters and warehouse in Andover.
Above: Gemma International’s headquarters and warehouse in Andover.

PG Live 2019 Is Open For Business (https://www.pgbuzz.net/pg-live-2019-is-open-for-business/) –

8. PG Live Opening 2019_DSC3586 

Waterstones’, Blue Diamond Group and JP Pozzi Reveal Their PG Live Top Picks (https://www.pgbuzz.net/waterstones-blue-diamond-group-and-jp-pozzi-reveal-their-pg-live-top-picks/) – A trio of top retailers revealed what of the many new launches at PG Live really caught their eye.

 

July

The Retas Winners 2019 Revealed At A Frida Fiesta (https://www.pgbuzz.net/the-retas-winners-2019-revealed-at-a-frida-fiesta/) – The UK’s very best greeting card retailers were officially recognised at a Frida Kahlo-themed Retas greeting card retailer awards ceremony.

Above: All the winners of The Retas 2019.
Above: All the winners of The Retas 2019.

Another Seven Garden Centres Add To Blue Diamond’s Sparkle (https://www.pgbuzz.net/another-seven-garden-centres-add-to-blue-diamonds-sparkle/) – Having won two awards at The Retas, the Blue Diamond garden centre group signed a deal to acquire another seven centres.

Lucy Ledger To Join Paper Rose Creative Team And Her Card Company Is To Merge With Avocado Designs (https://www.pgbuzz.net/lucy-ledger-to-join-paper-rose-creative-team-and-her-card-company-is-to-merge-with-avocado-designs/) – The super talented Lucy Ledger, founder of the eponymous card company, joined the Paper Rose creative team as a senior designer and her card publishing business was merged into the Nottingham-based publishing group.

Above: Lucy Ledger, known for the designs inspired by her inherited treasured historic card album is now joining Paper Rose’s creative team as senior designer.
Above: Lucy Ledger, known for the designs inspired by her inherited treasured historic card album is now joining Paper Rose’s creative team as senior designer.

WHSmith Asks Card Suppliers To Strip Off (https://www.pgbuzz.net/whsmith-asks-card-suppliers-to-strip-off/) – WHS became the next in a stream of retailers to announce that it was to ramp up the number of unwrapped cards it stocks.

Above: Claire Castle, WHS’ long-time card buyer pledged the retailer’s move to unwrapped cards.
Above: Claire Castle, WHS’ long-time card buyer pledged the retailer’s move to unwrapped cards.

 

August

It’s happened! Swan Mill Has Acquired GBCC (https://www.pgbuzz.net/its-happened-swan-mill-has-acquired-gbbc/) – Swan Mill Group (which includes Ling Design and Penny Kennedy) finally clinched the deal to acquire the goodwill and assets of The Great British Card Company (GBCC). The announcement came a week after the Gloucester-based GBCC went into administrative receivership.

New Dragons’ Den Star, Sara Davies Pushes The Envelope On Card Crafting (https://www.pgbuzz.net/new-dragons-den-star-sara-davies-pushes-the-envelope-on-card-crafting/) – Greeting card making hit the limelight as it was revealed that plucky entrepreneur Sara Davies was to make her debut as the youngest ‘Dragon’ ever on the programme.

Above: Sara Davies is the youngest ever investor on Dragons’ Den.
Above: Sara Davies is the youngest ever investor on Dragons’ Den.

The Henries 2019 Finalists Revealed (https://www.pgbuzz.net/the-henries-2019-finalists-revealed/) – Over 14,000 cards were entered into The Henries 2019 greeting card product awards, which were all judged by an impressive Judging Panel, made up of 50 top retailers.

 

September

Eddie Shepherd, Clintons’ CEO Assures: “It’s Business As Usual” As Specialist Chain Goes Up For Sale (https://www.pgbuzz.net/eddie-shepherd-clintons-ceo-assures-its-business-as-usual-as-specialist-chain-goes-up-for-sale/) – The industry rumour-monger machine went into overdrive, pontificating on the possible scenarios and outcomes if ‘the likely lads’ of suitors were to swoop in to buy the UK’s second largest specialist card chain. 

Above: The concerns over Clintons stared in earnest in September culminating in the pre-pack deal in December.
Above: The concerns over Clintons stared in earnest in September culminating in the pre-pack deal in December.

Card Factory To Supply 400 Aldi Stores With Cards, Matalan Trial Extended To 15 Stores (https://www.pgbuzz.net/card-factory-to-supply-400-aldi-stores-with-cards-matalan-trial-extended-to-15-stores/) – Card Factory extended its reach through upping the brand’s presence in other retailers’ stores. This included announcing its cards would be on sale in 440 Aldi stores in the UK as well as in Matalan and The Reject Shop in Australia.

Creditors Report Reveals That GBCC Went Into Administrative Receivership Owing £4 Million (https://www.pgbuzz.net/creditors-report-reveals-that-gbcc-went-into-administrative-receivership-owing-4-million/) – The creditors’ report for GBBC showed that the company went down owing over £4 million, with trade creditors (including printers and publishers supplying Waterwells, the company’s brokerage side) taking the biggest hit at over £3 million.

68% Of All Greeting Cards Are Expected To Be Retailed Naked In The UK By January 2020 (https://www.pgbuzz.net/68-of-all-greeting-cards-are-expected-to-be-retailed-naked-in-the-uk-by-january-2020/) – From January 2020 less than a third of all greeting cards being sold at retail in the UK are likely to be sold cellowrapped, signifying a big push forward of naked cards in the last year especially.

 

October

The Henries 2019 Winners Are Revealed (https://www.pgbuzz.net/the-henries-2019-winners-are-revealed-2/) – The winners of The Henries 2019 greeting card awards were announced at an historic awards event, hosted by comedian and TV star Tom Allen, which brought together 700 greeting card industry publishers, retailers and suppliers attended the event to witness the industry’s best greeting card ranges receive the top card publishing accolades.

Above: The Henries winners and host Tom Allen.
Above: The Henries winners and host Tom Allen.

John Lewis & Partners’ Card Replan Sees 65% ‘Newness’ (https://www.pgbuzz.net/john-lewis-partners-card-replan-sees-65-newness/) – John Lewis finalises February card revamp which will see a 65% switch of designs with its humour and photographic selections seeing the biggest changes.

GCA Centenary AGM and Conference Celebrated The Past, Present And Future (https://www.pgbuzz.net/gca-centenary-agm-and-conference-celebrated-the-past-present-and-future/) – Olly Tress, founder of Oliver Bonas, Sainsbury’sbuyer Carly Pearson, Waterstones’ buyer Hazel Walker and House of Cards’ co-owner, Miles Robinson were among those to take to the stage at the trade association’s memorable 100th anniversary AGM.

Irish Publisher Garlanna And Second Nature Clinch Distribution In Leekes (https://www.pgbuzz.net/irish-publisher-garlanna-clinches-distribution-in-leekes/) – Garlanna, the County Wicklow-based greeting card publisher has long had aspirations to move into the UK greeting card market – well now it has, with installations now up and running in Leekes department stores.

 

November

Chris Houfe At Centre Of A Six Publisher Collaboration (https://www.pgbuzz.net/chris-houfe-at-centre-of-a-six-publisher-collaboration/) – Industry exec Chris Houfe fronts Tailored Planning Solutions (TPS), a six-way greeting card publisher collaboration that is to provide a viable greeting card planning and supply option for retailers that is not brokerage.

Above: Chris Houfe, formerly of GBCC, Emotional Rescue and CCA, is now heading up TPS.
Above: Chris Houfe, formerly of GBCC, Emotional Rescue and CCA, is now heading up TPS.

Cardzone’s Acquisition Of Unit 7 Is The Sixth Indie To Join Its Fold In Two Months (https://www.pgbuzz.net/cardzones-acquisition-of-unit-7-is-the-sixth-indie-to-join-its-fold-in-two-months/) – In February 2018 Paul Taylor, founder and md of Cardzone stated plans to double the size of the business over the next three years and made no bones about the fact that acquiring strong indies would be likely to form part of this growth strategy. Progress has been made.

  

December

Clintons’ Pre-Pack Administration Causes Concern To Suppliers (https://www.pgbuzz.net/clintons-pre-pack-administration-causes-concern-to-suppliers/) – Everybody was braced for something to happen at Clintons, but when the news broke that the UK’s second largest retail specialist had effectively been sold back to its owners in a pre-pack administration deal, it was not the early Christmas present the trade had wanted.

Sunday Times’ India Knight And Jonathan Ross’ Programme Gives Thumbs-Up To Christmas Card Sending  (https://www.pgbuzz.net/sunday-times-india-knight-and-jonathan-ross-programme-gives-thumbs-up-to-christmas-card-sending/) – In something of a PR bonanza for greeting cards in the Christmas run-up, the GCA’s ceo Amanda Fergusson made countless media appearances while the Jonathan Ross Programme and leading Sunday Times’ columnist, India Knight also gave card sending the thumbs-up.

Above: Author, comedian and former doctor Adam Kay spoke out in praise of the power of sending cards on the Jonathan Ross programme.
Above: Author, comedian and former doctor Adam Kay spoke out in praise of the power of sending cards on the Jonathan Ross programme.

Cardies Pull Out The Stops For Christmas (https://www.pgbuzz.net/cardies-pull-out-the-stops-for-christmas/) – While the final picture of how Christmas 2019 fared for card retailers has yet to emerge, the indications were that it was more of a cracker than a turkey.

 

The PG Buzz team wishes you a very happy, healthy and successful 2020!

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