“Without card publishers like you, we are nothing,” Timothy Melgund, deputy chairman of Paperchase told delegates at The Ladder Club Day 2 seminar, which took place on Wednesday (November 7) in Westcliff-on-Sea.
With a presentation title of ‘The key is cards’, Timothy reinforced the importance of greeting cards to the Paperchase business and to human beings.
“If you ask anyone they are likely to say that greeting cards are expensive, but they also rate very highly on being seen as great value for money. There are not a lot of products out there that are seen as expensive as well as value for money, but that is because they have real value to a consumer’s life.”
Addressing the audience of entrepreneurial publishers, Timothy looked back 22 years when, together with Robert Warden, he acquired Paperchase, which at that time was only trading from nine stores, through an MBO.
“We thought that we would only be able to grow it to 25 stores – now look, we have 250!” he said amassing the company-owned stores, the concessions in runs in other retailers (such as Selfridges and Next), international stores and the growing franchised operation in the Middle East (with four more stores in the pipeline there).
As he stressed, that despite Paperchase now selling a wide variety of products that greeting cards remain the key traffic driver in all its stores. They account for 30% of its sales overall, but that percentage rises to 40% in its station stores.
Firm in his belief that greeting cards are still incredibly important in the human psyche, Timothy revealed: “We are selling more cards than ever before, despite the fact that footfall in the high street continues to fall.”
While he explained that Paperchase has a “fast growing online presence” he does not believe that greeting cards’ online sales will ever reach the same levels as that experienced by other product areas, notably fashion as people still enjoy the physical act of selecting the right card instore.
He shared that Paperchase has experienced the greatest growth in its relations cards, but all of the ‘sub categories’ continue to grow.
Sharing some Paperchase research he says that its card buying customers fall into three camps:
- Cardaholics – who buy cards purely as they love cards. They may or may not ever send those cards, but keep them safe
- Planners – who come in to the shops with a specific intent to buy a card for someone.
- Last Minute Merchants – who buy a card ‘just in time’ or even ‘just too late’, seeing merit in buying a card, even if it is after the event.
Praising the UK publishing fraternity as a whole, Timothy said “The UK has an extraordinary base of incredibly creative publishers – who are 15 years ahead on design of anywhere else in the world. This is a fantastic business to be in that is all about imagination and emotion.”
Top: The title of Timothy Melgund’s talk was The Key Is Cards