Boris Johnson is more au fait with the greeting card trade than most Prime Ministers as Leona Janson-Smith, co-owner of the London-based Postmark mini group worked alongside him as part of his press team for over seven years before leaving a few years ago to join her husband Mark in running their greeting card retailing business.
“All politics aside, Boris was a great boss. He was always very interested in Postmark and how things were going with the business, and the card industry in general, while I was working at City Hall, often commenting that ‘small businesses are the backbone of the British economy’,” says Leona of her experience with Boris when she worked with him when he was Mayor of London. “As far as I could see Boris had a real knack of making people feel included in his Mayoralty and did a lot to build a very open and inclusive environment at City Hall where you felt comfortable sharing your opinion, popular or not. Now that he’s Prime Minister I’d really hope he does the same at No.10 as the country could definitely do with some unity and a more inclusive form of politics.”
As to what she would like to see Boris do as Prime Minister, Leona accepts there are a couple of top priorities: “Clearly sorting out Brexit should be the main early focus of his time at No.10 but it would also be good to see, as promised in his speech yesterday (24 July), a renewed focus on domestic issues that have been neglected during the last three Dantesque years as we’ve gone round and round in Brexit hell.”
However, as co-owner of greeting card retail business, Leona has specific requests of her former boss who is now running the UK. “If I did have a line to the top, and sadly I don’t anymore, my top ask as a business owner in the retail sector would have to be a complete rethink on how business rates are set, with a shift away from rateable value. There is, it seems, universal agreement that our high streets and shopping habits are changing, so it seems only sensible and practical that business rates, one of the biggest tax faced by small business owners, should change too.”
When asked by PG Buzz what was easier, working in politics with Boris or in the card trade with her husband Mark, showing her political media training Leona said: “They both have their challenges, their ups and their downs. Just as in retail, working in the press office was of course stressful at times but it was also very exciting and it certainly was never dull!”
And as to the final vote – Boris v Mark. There is a landslide victory for Leona’s husband: “Mark’s hair is always much better cut than Boris’!”
Top: Leona Janson-Smith has swopped politics for card retailing.