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Retailers And Publishers Vehemently Support The Retas’ Dorchester Boycott 

“We just wanted to applaud you, The Retas and our industry for joining the fight against injustice and violation of the human rights of the citizens of the world. We have to say this because it really has made us so proud of you all,” wrote Carl Dunne and Oliver Guise-Smith of independent greeting card retailer, Cards & Gifts, based in Sheffield. Carl and Oliver join many other retailers, publishers and trade suppliers who have voiced their support of the decision made my Max Publishing (owner of Progressive Greetings) last Thursday (April 4) to move The Retas greeting card retailer awards from The Dorchester Hotel in protest at the barbaric anti human rights laws that came into force on April 3 in Brunei which includes a death penalty (by stoning) for those in same sex relationships or having committed adultery ( The Dorchester is among the nine luxury hotels that are owned by the Sultan of Brunei through the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Brunei Investment Agency. The Retas will now take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London’s Park Lane on the same date as originally planned, Wednesday July 10.

Carl and Oliver join with many others from the greeting card industry in a growing international campaign that is vehemently against the inhumane laws that are now in place in Brunei.

Carl and Oliver’s shop, Cards & Gifts in Sheffield’s Chapel Walk reached the finals of The Retas last year in the Best Newcomer – North category and were crossing their fingers that they make it through this year again until The Sultan of Brunei’s brutal decisions and his association with The Dorchester came to light. “We were prepared to forgo attendance or association with The Retas when all of the issues surrounding the Brunei human rights violations came out in the press. We are therefore so very, very happy and proud that on behalf of the industry that you, Max Publishing is taking a stand by changing venues,” stated Carl.

Above: Cards & Gifts’ Carl Dunn (far right) at The Retas last year with fellow retailers.
Above: Cards & Gifts’ Carl Dunn (far right) at The Retas last year with fellow retailers.

As Oliver continued, “I have been involved in many LGBT+ organisations over the years, from marching, protesting and fighting human rights violations across the world.  I have been involved in defending people in Zanzibar against persecution for being LGBT+ such as has been introduced in Brunei.  I also lost a very good friend recently who, while in Russia was beaten and tortured for being a homosexual, so any cause such as this is very close to my heart. I’m guessing that to some, what you have done will just seem like a gesture, but to others like myself and Carl it actually made us well up and feel so proud of you and your organisation. If more companies like yours join the fight then it sends a stronger message that change is needed.”

Among those who have been vocal in their support of The Retas’ move has been fellow indie Sean Austin of Austin and Co in Malvern who took to social media to galvanise support for a boycott from within the industry, unbeknownst that the announcement of the relocation was imminent.

Above: Austin & Co’s Sean Austin took to social media to galvanise support from the card and gift industry for a boycott of The Dorchester Group of hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei’s investment company.
Above: Austin & Co’s Sean Austin took to social media to galvanise support from the card and gift industry for a boycott of The Dorchester Group of hotels owned by the Sultan of Brunei’s investment company.

On hearing the announcement of the venue move, Sean exclaimed: “This is great news. I know the UK greeting card industry may not be able to change the laws in a country, but by taking action in this way we at least are making a stand against inhumanity.”

Other retailers to have come forward in support of the move include Timothy Melgund, deputy chairman of Paperchase. “Good call on The Retas! Quite right!” he said while Miles Robinson, co-owner of House of Cards wrote ‘ I have to say I agree 100% with you and well done for taking such quick action. I’m sure we’ll enjoy the event at the Grosvenor just as much.”

Wendy Jones-Blackett, a sponsor of The Retas was one of the first to get in touch with Max Publishing as the boycotting campaign, amplified by celebrities such as George Clooney and Elton Jones, gathered awareness saying that she felt it was important to join the campaign and therefore felt attending an event at The Dorchester would be untenable. The Leeds-based publisher was relieved to discover that the event was to be moved to the Grosvenor House Hotel and would take place on the same day as originally intended.

Posting on the company’s Instagram account, Wendy wrote: ‘I am super proud of the UK’s #greetingcard industry as the organisers move The Retas 2019 greeting card retailer awards event from #theDorchester to @grosvenorhouselondon in protest at the anti human rights laws that came into effect in Brunei on April 3rd.’

The finalists for The Retas 2019 will be revealed by the end of this month (April). Tickets to this lovely industry event that will be attended by 400 retailers and publishers can be ordered by contacting Clare Hollick on or contacting her on 07769 905959.
Max Publishing has also taken the decision to move its Brand and Lifestyle Licensing Awards (B&LLAs) which were due to take place at The Dorchester in three weeks’ time (April 25) to the Hilton Park Lane. The event will go ahead on the same day as initially planned.

Top: This year The Retas’ trophies will not be given out at The Dorchester.


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