Now that the nail-biting festive season race is on, Progressive Greetings’ December issue is full of shiny ‘baubles’ of industry news, views, product innovations, retailer feedback and cracking columnists’ pearls of wisdom.
It’s no secret (Santa) that high street retailing has been tough this year, so the all crucial Christmas trading season is more important than ever for greeting card and gift independents and multiples.
“As with last Christmas, trading is a bit of a roller coaster… the footfall is certainly down on the high streets, and while the sales do continue to decline year-on-year on Christmas packs, they remain strong on our singles,” reflects John and Jennie Procter, co-founders of Scribbler, one of the retailers to share their Christmas trading predictions in Viewpoints (click to pages 27-31)
And, being an inventive (and charitable) bunch, many retailers are embracing the challenge and taking part in Christmas initiatives and festive events.
Graham Fraser, owner of Alba, Oban is a case in point, helping to feed over a million school children every day in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe: “Following on from last year, we are selling packs and boxes from the Great British Card Company to raise money for our local charity, Mary’s Meals. As part of this, we affix a label in the shape of a 50p piece to show how much from each sale goes to our area’s Mary’s Meals charity, which is run from a tiny shed in a local village but feeds over a million children every day, with a school meal in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.”
Taking over the Hallmark UK reins in early 2019 from popular ‘man in charge’, Steve Wright, the incumbent managing director, Amanda Del Prete, will be the publishing giant’s ‘first lady’ to head up the company.
With 25 years of Hallmark heritage (both in Australia and the States), Amanda is more than up for the job
While acknowledging that there is a need to cater for local tastes, Amanda believes, “a good card is a good card. One test for me is whether a card design can reduce someone to tears or show of emotion in just five words on the card. That is when the card makes that special connection, it’s very powerful.”
PG went to Bradford to meet up with Amanda at Hallmark UK’s HQ. (click pages 43-45).
Crowned The Retas 2018 Best Independent Card Retailer – Home Counties, community focused, Stevenage-based Cardies celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Entreprising indie Jo Sorrell reflects on her unusual retail journey that combines Labrador fostering. “Some customers come in for a card, but leave with a Labrador too,” says Jo, who, over the years, has ‘fostered’ over 400 of the lovable canines.
Since opening Cardies at the age of 21, Jo has always believed that independent retailers are well placed to instigate community initiatives, evidenced by decorating Stevenage old town with poppy garlands (made from painted plastic bottles) to mark Remembrance Day. (click to pages 47-49).
Meanwhile, Sherwood Group’s ceo Jeremy Bacon draws on his wealth of industry experience to predict some possible ramifications of Brexit on the greeting card landscape.
“The big issue is they (the government) have not even talked about trade, which will not start until we have entered the transition period at the end of March 2019,” states Jeremy, adding, “The UK greeting card market is robust and relatively immune to the economic climate. People will continue to give and receive greeting cards after Brexit, but there will be changes. “
Jeremy shares more of his Brexit concerns in this month’s PG. (click to pages 32-33).
While away from Brexit, but related to a certain extent, Cardsharp discusses why he feels Britain’s high streets are having a difficult time. (click to pages 24-25).
Out with PG December is the Focus On Kids’ Cards supplement, spotlighting the ‘Ocean’ trend, this year’s Henries Awards’ Best Children’s Range line-up, the bright young things in new launches, news and retailers’ ‘hot seller’ views… in the children’s card market. Click here to read the whole Focus On Kids’ Cards supplement online.
And, of course, December PG also includes new product pages Innovations (click to pages 35-41); wise words from regular columnist, card publisher Blue Eyed-Sun’s Jeremy Corner, who reflects on The Ladder Club, and its aim to help new card publishers (click to pages 50-51).
All this in the pages of a lovely glossy magazine and online too!
Click here to read the whole PG December 2018 edition online.
Top: Alba in Oban is well in the festive spirit.