Earlybird Designs, Fedrigoni UK and Hallmark give their cost insights
It used to be that the 10% increase in the trade price of greeting cards every 1 January didn’t raise any eyebrows.
Nowadays, when everyone’s being hit from all sides with cost increases, there is some trepidation about the necessary rises across in the greetings sector, despite everyone knowing the average cost of a card is a lot less than a takeaway cappuccino, let alone a pint of beer!
PG Buzz canvassed members of the greeting card community for their opinions on pricing for 2023 and the beverage/greeting card economy. Here we speak to Earlybird, Fedrigoni and Hallmark…
Heidi and Dom Early, co-owners of Earlybird Designs publishing and retail business
“Speaking both as a card publisher and a retailer, it’s going to be such a fine balancing act! As a card publisher, we’ll swallow as much as we can on the cost increases front but, unfortunately, due to years of tough economic times there’s very little margin left to play with.
“We’ve had a lot of board, ink, envelope and warehouse price increases but it’s getting to a stage where each part of the process needs to take a little hit. From printers to publishers to retailers. We can’t ask all our retail customers to keep upping their prices, we need to spread the burden among us all!”
Mitigating measures: “As some of our prices went up in the summer we’ve decided there will only be one small increase in 2023 on one of our embossed neon lines. We also live in hope that these costs start to level out so we can all get on with what we love doing, which is designing and selling greeting cards!
“From the retail perspective to help mitigate costs to our customers we’ll rely a lot more on our own designs so for those we do buy in from elsewhere they absolutely have to provide something different either in the design or the finish.
“We’ll play around with pricing and charge more for special-finished cards and take a hit on more standard offerings up to a point. Ideally, with standard cards we want to keep below £3 but some trade price increases mean some have gone up to £3.50. We’re keeping a close eye on those sales but, at the moment, they’re unaffected. In our shop special cards, ie letterpress, laser cut, those with decorations, patches or pins, can stand going to a maximum price point of £4.99.
“We have a strict base margin, as long as the cards remain within that we’ll keep ordering but if the trade price increase means we can’t get the margin then we’ll look elsewhere. The brilliant thing about this industry is that the choice is enormous!
“Being creative will be key to getting through the next year at least as unscathed as possible. We’ll be looking at what we can do via social media and our email list to really engage and connect with our customers.
“In both retail and trade it’s key that we can still offer our customers choice, but it might mean there’s slightly less choice at any one time. I’m confident our customers will understand that.
“In retail we’re going to increase our offering of smaller/mini cards and postcards so there’s always something for everyone. And for our trade customers we have the confidence of knowing how our designs are selling in our shop before we get to the trade shows, which means less risk for them.
“I think excellent customer service for both retail and trade customers will become even more important. Our customers need to know they can rely on us, that we’ll keep bestsellers in stock, that we’re conscious of our environmental impact and are looking to reduce it, that we’ll deliver promptly, and, if there are any problems, we’ll sort them out quickly. Making sure the basics are right is key.”
The beverage/greeting card economy: “Working with others like the GCA to promote why greeting cards is such an important part of our culture and worth every penny, so it’s going to be a key part of our agenda. Since Pret A Manger opened up next to our shop I’ve realised the price our customers are willing to pay for something they love – £3.69 for a basic organic coffee, £5.99 for an iced latte and £6.59 for an iced chia latte. Suddenly £3.50 for a basic greeting card doesn’t seem so pricey!”
Ian Braithwaite, commercial manager of paper company Fedrigoni UK
“At this stage, Fedrigoni has no intention to increase prices in the first quarter of 2023. Having said this, we must be mindful of contributing issues we’ve seen this year. Energy prices – which have been steering the ship of paper price movements for large parts of 2022 – despite stabilising recently, still remain the great unknown. So, events like an escalation in the war in Ukraine, as well as runaway inflation can be compounding factors.
“Outside of this, there is good availability and supply of Fedrigoni products. Nevertheless, if other paper mills were to be placed into administration, like we’ve recently seen with the Arjowiggins Creative Papers Stoneywood and Chartham mills, this can cause a short-term disruption to supply which is difficult to anticipate. However, it’s worth noting, with the acquisition of the Guarro Casas paper mill in Spain, Fedrigoni has additional capacity which helps to resolve any potential supply chain disruption.”
Fiona Pitt, head of commercial at Hallmark Cards UK & Ireland
“Hallmark, like most businesses, is facing into significant inflationary pressures, with electricity, gas and sea freight prices in particular more than quadrupling as well as paper and road freight costs up at least 20% each. We’re working closely with our customers and supply base to mitigate these costs where we can. Inevitably, there will be some impacts on pricing to customers and consumers alike, but any price increases are always a last resort.”
Top: Price increases get everyone into a froth, but a takeaway coffee costs far more than a greeting card