Tributes to Paul Steele

Industry pals remember greetings business entrepreneur

 

A “top geezer and great friend” is just one of the tributes received following the sad news of the death of greetings industry entrepreneur Paul Steele.

PG Buzz revealed on Tuesday, 29 November, that Paul had died the previous day aged 72, after a four-decade career straddling various companies including publishers Hotchpotch and Saffron Cards & Gifts.

Here are just a few of the tributes to this industry stalwart…

Roger Murphy, managing director, Eddingtons

“I first met Paul Steele in 2010, when I was the ceo of Carte Blanche Greetings. We were negotiating the purchase of Hotchpotch, an opportunity only being offered due to one of sadly all too many bouts of serious ill health Paul had to contend with since I’ve known him.

“The spirit in which the deal was conducted was much as Paul was in life – courteous, friendly, open and honest. The detailed negotiation was conducted much as Paul was in life – thorough, blunt and sparing no punches. Quickly understanding these twin facets of Paul’s nature allowed us to become close friends.

Above: Paul with Lincoln Exley at The Henries Awards night
Above: Paul with All Sorted UK director Lincoln Exley and pals at The Henries Awards night

“In 2012 along with our third musketeer John Coda, ex-fd at CBG, we bought Eddingtons Ltd and have enjoyed a decade of sharing a board table together and helping to grow and develop the business.

“It’s a sadness for us all that Paul’s health prevented him becoming actively involved in the day-to-day running of the business. This would have caused many of us to bemoan our luck but never once did I hear Paul bitter or complaining of the unfortunate situation.

“In the time I have enjoyed his company he accepted his physical limitations prevented him from doing many things he’d previously enjoyed. It certainly never stopped him from being an active non-exec director and shareholder, unstinting in his support of everyone in the business and an invaluable sounding board for myself when I needed or deserved it – or, indeed, hadn’t even requested a dose of the unvarnished truth!

“I know he had an ongoing regret he couldn’t be more actively involved but he was always forensic over the management accounts and great for me to bounce ideas and issues off given our long-standing friendship.

“Paul was commercial to his fingertips. There are many in business who wish to be described as an entrepreneur but I reckon Paul’s extensive track record shows more than a healthy sprinkling of the entrepreneurial spirit.

“Given the tally of all the things that Paul suffered from it’s incredible he reached 72 and, despite his failing body, his mind and tongue were as sharp as ever! He will be missed by the Eddingtons business and all the employees, by the board of directors but, mostly, by myself as a top geezer and a great friend.”

David Byk, ceo, Swan Mill Group

“Buying Saffron Cards & Gifts in 2018 was fun as I enjoyed getting to know Paul and haggling over every last card and intricate detail were experiences I won’t forget. He was a true gent of the industry who will be missed.”

Jenny Cummins, managing director, McMillan Cards, Sydney, Australia

“Paul was special in my life, he played a big role in my earlier days, I will always remember meeting him for the first time in a funny little flat I had afforded in Chelsea as a space to have meetings with our suppliers. We were friends from then on.

“I had a real soft spot for this man and admired him hugely during and after working with him and dear Viv Barlow at Hotchpotch. They were excellent suppliers.

“He was generous with his advice always when asked, always prepared to listen and offer the options. A special and honourable man who loved the business of our industry and certainly helped me grow personally.”

Above: Greg and Maranda Warrington with Paul and his wife Sarah on his 70th birthday
Above: Greg and Maranda Warrington with Paul and his wife Sarah on his 70th birthday

Greg Warrington, managing director, Sourcing Support Asia

“Paul loved our industry and has made so many friends from it over the years. My wife Maranda and I are devastated at the loss of our special friend – words can’t describe how much we will miss him.

“While the news was expected, we still thought of our six-million-dollar man as indestructible, having survived multiple health issues over the last 30 years, with a gritty determination no ordinary man could match, not letting any of these setbacks slow him down or reduce his love for life, his family and his business.

“Paul and I first met in 1993 at one of his friend’s Hallmark Gold Crown stores. I’d been referred to him as a potential investor in a scroll idea I wanted to produce – he politely declined, thank goodness! After that, we kept in touch and over the last 20 years became close friends, spending many hours talking business strategies, problem solving, product, and potential acquisitions and business sales.

“He was an incredibly talented entrepreneur who built a number of successful businesses over his career. He had some wonderful stories from the early days – his two-storey discount store in Brixton, his rag trade days, and my personal favourite of going to Apple head office to get his Beatles t-shirt licence signed off, meeting both Paul McCartney and John Lennon!”

Jeremy Corner, managing director, Blue Eyed Sun

“I am so sorry to hear of Paul’s passing. He was a kind and generous mentor to me and will be sadly missed. I remember exhibiting in Focal Point with him as far back as the early 2000s. I always admired his enthusiasm for the industry and his outstanding business acumen.”

Soula Zavacopoulos, founder & consultant, The London Studio

“There were so many wonderful things about Paul, but I’ll always remember and admire his integrity, trustworthiness and how he truly cared about people.

“I worked with Paul some years ago when I licensed him the publishing side of my business. It was while we were negotiating how the partnership would work that I saw how he truly considered and cared about my interests, rather than merely focusing on what would work best for him alone, as many people often do.

“I saw this from him again over the years we worked together and his kindness and fairness are some of the things I won’t forget, together with his honest advice – he would always make time if you needed it and always with a smile on his face. Paul was a wonderful person and I’m so sad to hear of his passing. He will really be missed.”

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