Delve in to the pages of the PG November issue and you will not only discover how indies are gearing up for a sparkling Christmas, but you can relive the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of The Henries Awards 2017 Ooh La La Parisian soiree and see this year’s winners, catch up on the recent GCA AGM, and encounter creatures great and small in the animal cards focus. And it doesn’t stop there! This month’s issue also reveals how UKG is upping its commitment to the independent retail sector, and why publisher Words ‘n’ Wishes is ‘tackling’ some winning changes. Phew! All this in the pages of a lovely glossy magazine and online!
Gathered at Birmingham’s majestic Council House on Tuesday 24 October were well over 140 GCA members and associate members from the greeting card industry – publishers, retailers, suppliers and agents – for the GCA AGM and Conference.
The strong line-up of speakers this year included Carly Pearson, Sainsbury’s card and wrap buyer; Sarah Hamilton, artist and founder of the Send a Card campaign and author of the House of Cards book and Bank of England’s deputy agent Glynn Jones, who seized the audience with thought-provoking and insightful presentations.
In her powerful speech, Carly Pearson delivered the news that Sainsbury’s is upping its pledge to be the UK’s ‘most inclusive retailer’ with the launch of its first ever same sex Christmas cards. The two Christmas designs, published by UKG, go on sale in the supermarket’s entire retail estate of 1,414 stores today (November 7), to cover both single sex male and female sends (click to page 17).
At the AGM Ged Mace, md of The Art File, handed over the GCA presidential reins to Ceri Stirland, director of marketing for UK Greetings, who will be bringing her 25 years’ industry experience to the Association. (Click to page 11).
It was a ‘magnifique’ night of celebrations and camaraderie at the industry’s ‘big night’ of the year – The Henries Awards – last month on 5 October.
Hosted by top comedian John Robins, this year’s Henries had a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’, not just because of the ‘Ooh La La’ Parisian theme of the night, but as all 700 attendees were up for a night of festivities and one of togetherness.
As Jakki Brown, editor of PG magazine said in the opening speech: “There is no denying that it has been a challenging year in the industry, both on the publishing and retailing fronts, but The Henries rises above these challenges and celebrates our collective achievements.”
Independent card and gift retailers are currently in a festive flurry preparing for Christmas sales, so PG asked some of this year’s Retas Awards winners and finalists what they are planning to get the tills jingling.
Carole and Debbie Hatch, partners of Paper Moon in Dore, have “been busy taking deliveries of all our Christmas stock and topping up on stock that is already selling through well. It is always crazy at this time of year making sure that everything’s in place ready for the busy season ahead.”
And then there are the letters to Santa to write and send. Debbie Brown, co-director of First Class Greetings and Plum Green in Hadleigh, is asking for, “health, wealth and happiness please Santa! We’ve been very good and hardworking girls and boys this year!”
See PG November for more indies’ festive views. (click to pages 27 to 29).
Although known for his positive ‘can do’ attitude, as well as his natural salesman ability, even Rod Brown, joint md of Words ‘n’ Wishes, can’t deny the company’s recent achievements are looking pretty impressive.
It has kicked off the distribution arrangement of Quitting Hollywood designs to the independent retailer, jumped up to 5th place in The Henries Awards’ industry service ‘league table’, unveiled its new branding and launched a revamped product portfolio – of 92 new Words ‘n’ Wishes greeting card designs and the inaugural collection of 120 ‘best of the best’ Quitting Hollywood designs – at an annual sales conference that recently took place at the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City FC.
“Without doubt it is a challenging market out there at the moment, but we still see lots of opportunities. Our new branding and extended portfolio reflects the refreshed approach we are taking,” said Rod. (click to pages 70 to 71).
“Independent retailers are massively important to us,” assured Ceri Stirland, director of marketing of UKG, relaying the publisher’s strengthened commitment to supporting the independent retail sector.
UKG has just relaunched its indie-focused Thinking of You brand, committed to a series of customer retail forums, devised a whole programme of initiatives for this sector and is now ‘Going for Gold’, an anewed customer service drive for its 3,000 independent customers.
Recognising that independents are a very diverse bunch, Ceri acknowledges, “Working with Darren Cave, our director of field sales, we need to get closer to understanding our independent customers and their customers so that we can provide tailored products and services that meet their needs and exceed their expectations today, tomorrow and in the future.” (Click to pages 60 to 61).
The card racks are ‘fur-tile’ ground for animal greeting card publishers, and not just the designs featuring tail wagging or purring pets. Feathered and perching personalities, magnificent wild beasts and doe-eyed farm residents are also irresistible to the great British card buying public.
Along with a number of other furry fauna on her animal cards, Laura Clamp, founder of Flying Teaspoons, discovered a number of ‘fowl’ muses right on her doorstep (and in the high street).
“Growing up in the industrial city of Stoke-on-Trent doesn’t quite provide you with the best encyclopaedia of birds from which to draw inspiration. A walk through the town will offer up the occasional seagull and about a 500489 pigeons which have a tendency to wait until the last second before flying up right into your face,” says Laura, adding: “There’s no surprise that my first range of cards featured these rather funny birds with all their strutting and cooing… and it turns out that a lot of people actually love them!”
More animal card publishers reveal their creature close-ups in November PG’s ‘Spotlight On Animal Cards’. (click to pages 79 to 81)
All this, plus The Calies 2017 (the UK Calendar Awards) brochure accompanying the PG November issue, new products, news, and the latest musings from PG’s popular columnists. David Robertson explores how other retailers are approaching Christmas (click to pages 22 to 23), while Jeremy Corner considers how to win at greeting cards (click to pages 68 to 69) and Cardsharp highlights that, amongst all the gloomy headlines, UK consumers still have a love affair with cards. (click to pages 24 to 25).