Warming your cockles on a wintry day, the February issue of Progressive Greetings shares the industry’s news, views, current happenings and a raft of great new greeting card ranges.
February is the month of discovering ‘the next new thing’ that will make the tills jangle, as well as catching up with industry friends and building bonds with new faces at Spring Fair. But it’s also time for the bumper issue of the February publication of Progressive Greetings.
And with this issue, Focus On Calendars, shares all the news and new 2021 calendar launches.
After what will go down as one of the most unsettling times in recent British history, with the queasiness affecting personal and business lives, including those in the UK greeting card trade, certainly high on the New Year wishlist is for a period of calm seas to settle the stomach and the nerves so that we can all get back to ‘normal’, whatever that might look like. What made 2019 so tricky in the greeting card world was that the choppy waters came from all directions.
In a State of the Nation article, PG loosens its life jacket slightly to test the temperature and buoyancy of the water in the UK greeting card industry as we start a new decade (click to pages 33-34).
Almost now a year into her role as Waterstones’ senior card, wrap, calendars and diaries products buyer, Hazel Walker, is happy to report that card sales are up almost 10% for the book multiple with plenty more potential to grow.
Hazel flicks through the pages of how the story is unfolding (click to pages 74-75).
While having long been seen as a ‘serious’ mainstream greeting card specialist retailer who’s in it for the long-haul, it was two years ago that Paul Taylor, md of Cardzone, stated the ambitious goal to double the size of the business within three years, taking it to a chain of 200+ stores.
Including Northern Ireland and Eire (where it now trades from 16 stores, two new ones opening just before Christmas) as an area of expansion for the retailer, Paul, his son James, who joined four years ago as trading director, and fellow director Jo Hancock have grown the chain’s estate to 135 stores with a considerable broadening of Cardzone’s geographical reach, including a move into Scotland (where it now has seven stores, five premium and two outlet stores as part of its takeover of Hallmark’s factory outlets).
Read more about the growth of Cardzone, the Nottinghamshire-based specialist card retail group (click to pages 56-57).
Defying the current pressures and cost struggles of running a bricks and mortar store, some savvy card and gift indies are determined to buck the gloomy retailing trend and growing their business.
“We have been planning to expand for a while, as we believe that the consumer will respond positively to something different,” reveals Adam and Harriet de Wolff who six years exactly to the day since their first Indigo Tree card and gift shop opened in Streatham, South London, on November 10 2019, ‘branched out’ with a new shop in Crystal Palace.
“People still have birthdays and babies in good times and tough ones. We believe as long as you offer a product choice that inspires customers, at the right price, then they will spend,” believes Harriet.
Read more on how indies’ are bucking the trend in February’s PG (click to page 77-80).
Out there on the front line, the important conduit between publishers and retailers, are the industry’s independent sales agents, whose respective and multifarious talents see them overcoming hurdles and delivering glory for the companies they represent and their retail customers (click to pages 51-55).
Meanwhile on the publishing front, quietly, but surely, the Mint Group (owned by husband and wife team Debbie and Alan Williams) has earned itself a sizable presence in the greeting card industry. Its three companies – Mint Publishing, Museums & Galleries and Real & Exciting Design (RED) – have a wide reach with little overlap.
While the last few years has seen Museums & Galleries rather hogging the limelight, justifiably given the impressive roll call of licensing signings and expanded product portfolio, now it’s Mint’s turn to be centre stage, with fresh new branding, reflecting an anewed focus on humour, to make its official debut at Spring Fair.
Ben Dorney, now group creative director of the Mint Group, gives a taster of the new Mint-y flavor (click to pages 59-61).
While staying on the publisher front, Ohh Deer’s co-owners, Mark Callaby and Jamie Mitchell admits at the start they were ‘faking it to make it’. Now, nine years on, they admit they “do have some idea of what we are doing, but that is not to say we will follow the same path as others,” sums up Mark.
While the upstairs is Ohh Deer’s Loughborough home is its office, the ground floor is divided into a retail shop (selling Ohh Deer merchandise as well as other card, gift and homewares brands), the fulfillment for its own consumer-facing online operation, as well as the warehouse for its retail customers, both in the UK and overseas.
And even though the trade side of the company is the main focus (Ohh Deer is well-known for its fabulous humour ranges created by a smorgasbord of incredible illustrators) and accounts for 70% of turnover, Mark and Jamie still believe that its B2C side brings benefits over and above the sales it generates.
PG caught up with the ‘Deer boys’ in their Loughborough HQ before they jetted off to trade shows in New York and Paris (click to pages 71-73).
As the world’s anxieties grow regarding climate, as well as political and social chaos, it’s significant that ‘Classic Blue’ is the calming and comforting hue chosen as Pantone’s Colour of the Year in 2020 for designers. Other key visual trend influencers this year include the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, triggering a fervour for Japanese culture, while allusions to the mystical, magic and the cosmos will draw curiosity. And the use of natural materials, forms and textures in design and illustration is already being triggered by a huge priority, that of caring for the environment and protecting endangered animals.
Discover more design trends and key influencers for 2020, revealed by image library experts, in PG February (click pages 113-117).
And, February’s PG also includes plenty of feedback from retailers, including the verdict on Christmas trade (click pages 36-39), new product pages (including Spring Fair launches) Innovations (click to pages 81-103); wise words from regular columnists, card publisher Blue Eyed-Sun’s Jeremy Corner, who shares a few of the secrets to successful marketing (click to pages 105-107), and David Robertson of Scottish retailer JP Pozzi, who bristles over the unfairness of business pre-pack administrations (click to pages 28-29).
All this in the pages of a lovely glossy magazine. Wouldn’t you like to hold a copy in your hands so you can flick through it and read it wherever takes your fancy. To SUBSCRIBE NOW go to www.max-subscriptions.net
However if you can’t wait, you can click here to read the whole PG February 2020 edition online.
And here’s the link to read Progressive Calendars online, but it really is better in the flesh!