Progressive Greetings October 2019 Issue Out Now 

The chills and thrills of autumn are upon us as the leaves brazenly shine their last golden hurrah and Halloween taps its boney finger on our shoulder. And along with this new season is the October issue of Progressive Greetings, sharing the industry’s news, views, current happenings and new greeting card ranges, plus a Focus on the Words & Sentiments market.

The big news of the last month was Swan Mill bringing the Great British Card Company into its fold, having acquired the assets and goodwill of the publisher and its brokerage distribution side, Waterwells, for £1.4 million from the administrative receivers, BDO. “I really want to make GBCC great again. It has always been a decent business with a strong heritage, but has just been cash-strapped for so long,” says David Byk, Swan Mill’s group ceo.

Until four years ago when Swan Mill acquired Ling Design, and Penny Kennedy some years prior, the business has historically been in own brand, producing and supplying all manner of products, from billions of napkins to container loads of crackers to leading multiple retailers and catering corporations. However, with GBCC’s acquisition, it sees Swan Mill double the size of its grip in the direct to retail card and giftwrap scene in one swoop, becoming a £22 million greeting card and giftwrap publisher.

David Byk, the man at the top, shares some of his plans and thoughts on his GBCC takeover and its integration into the business (click to pages 32-33).

Also, discover how brokered publishers, printers and other trade suppliers are still reeling from the £4 million debts GBCC left when it went into administrative receivership (click to page 9).

Above: GBCC is to continue to be run as a separate brand, from its Gloucester premises.
Above: GBCC is to continue to be run as a separate brand, from its Gloucester premises.

“The British public spent over £1.7 billion in the last year on greeting cards,” confirms Ceri Stirland, president of the GCA (and UK channel and customer director of UKG), delivering the good news in the preface of the soon-to-be-published UK Greeting Card Market Report.

Commissioned by the GCA, the research project was undertaken once again by award-winning data company, Echo Research. The Report’s facts and figures detail how sales of greeting cards have held up well, in both value (ie the amount the public spent on cards) as well as volume (the numbers of cards bought) – with an astonishing 911 million single greeting cards bought in the UK in the last year. As Ceri points out, “cards remain an important, highly profitable product category across all retail channels.”

Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA, adds: “This Report is especially poignant as it is published as we celebrate the centenary of the GCA. We as an industry have so much collectively of which to be proud, not just of our heritage, but how we continue to stay relevant as a great way of marking life’s events and reinforcing relationships. The 911 million cards that were selected and bought by the British public in the last year alone is wonderful proof of that.”

To discover more about the findings of the UK Greeting Card Market Report (click to pages 30-31).

Above: The UK card market has shown its resilience.
Above: The UK card market has shown its resilience.

“I would give trade this year a B grade, though with the right product mix and hours this could easily be an A by the end of term,” Jon May, co-owner of Mooch Cards and Gifts, Stourport on Severn and Bewdley filed in his ‘school report’ of business so far. As for what has been the plucky retailer’s most ‘testing’ subject he proffers  “Brexit – uncertainty is not good for trade, you can just see some people holding off from some purchases as they are not sure what is round the corner in regard to job security or interest rate increases, all of which has had a knock -on effect on larger luxury purchases.”

Discover more leading indies’ ‘grades’, tricky subjects and ‘Thank you teacher’ industry messages in Viewpoints (click pages 26-29).

Above: Mooch launched a ‘We love Stourport’ initiative in its windows.
Above: Mooch launched a ‘We love Stourport’ initiative in its windows.

With the growth of social media and the mindfulness wave there’s no denying that greeting cards with heartfelt words at their core are evolving and changing, whether it’s the emotional tone, graphics or font style.

Focus on Words & Sentiments asks the finalists of The Henries 2019 Words & Sentiments categories – both Contemporary and Traditional – to share their thoughts on transformations and movements in the market (click to pages 41-45).

And discover a plethora of words & sentiments new launches (click to pages 47-49).

Above: A words and sentiments design from Poet & Painter’s Well Said range.
Above: A words and sentiments design from Poet & Painter’s Well Said range.

And, of course, October PG also includes new product pages Innovations (click to pages 34-39); wise words from regular columnists, card publisher Blue Eyed-Sun’s Jeremy Corner, who examines some of the greeting card designs over the last 100 years (click to pages 55-56), and David Robertson of Scottish retailer JP Pozzi, takes a look for the right words to describe the changes in the retail landscape (click to pages 22-23).

Above: A 1950s card design from Hallmark examined in Jeremy Corner’s column.
Above: A 1950s card design from Hallmark examined in Jeremy Corner’s column.

Plus, what’s currently the hottest card product for retailers (click to pages 52-53), Cardsharp (click to pages 24-25) and the industry’s latest news (click to pages 9-21).

All this in the pages of a lovely glossy magazine and online too!

Click here to read the whole PG October 2019 edition online.

 

 

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