Upbeat GCA AGM & Conference With Environment High On Agenda

“In a time of unprecedented change, the only constant is change,” said Ceri Stirland, GCA president (and UKG’s customer and channel director) in her opening speech of a very successful GCA AGM & Conference, which took place on Wednesday (October 17) at Knebworth House in Hertfordshire. “The storm is the new norm,” she saliently pointed out, highlighting the importance of the industry remaining agile to respond to all consumer tastes, notably the millennials – “they are important, as they are the future” – including their shopping habits, connectivity with technology and environmental concerns.

Above: Ceri Stirland, GCA president (and UKG (customer and channel director) delivered a flawless and impactful welcome speech, which included reinforcing the strength of the industry as well as the collective responsibility to improve its environmental credentials.

Presenting the findings of the recently published GCA UK Greeting Card Market Report, Ceri reflected: “A year ago at our AGM I said that our industry was at an all time high”. While she acknowledged that the findings from the recent annual survey showed that there has been a small 1% decline in value and volume, that there are nonetheless encouraging signs.

“I am pleased to see that Spring Seasons made a come back, apart from in Father’s Day”, the average price paid for a card is up and “what is also encouraging is that we bought over 860 million single cards” in the last year.

In a message that was underlined by Sue Morrish, co-founder of Glebe Cottage/The Eco-friendly Card Co, who spoke after Ceri, the reigning GCA president stressed the importance of everyone in the industry making a commitment to improve their environmental credentials, to reconsider cellowrapping of cards.

“More Brits worry about plastics than they do about Brexit,” said Ceri highlighting the high level of consumer concern.

Her fluid delivery was peppered with potent facts and engaging points of view.

“I estimate that as an industry we are responsible for 900 tonnes of plastic every year just in cellowrapping,” said Ceri before making a strong case for everyone looking to adopt a Reduce, Recycle, Replace strategy when it comes to plastic use.

With retailers such as Asda, Sainsbury’s, M&S having already come out with their pledge to move to ‘naked cards’ or trailing it (with Clintons about to instigate a 10 store trial of ‘naked cards’), Ceri pointed out how unwrapping looks set to become more commonplace in the card trade.

However, while future proofing the industry will involve “ensuring engagement with millennials” as well as embracing environmental improvements (albeit against the frustrating context of erratic Council practice on the consumer/kerbside recycling front), she pointed out that the UK greeting card industry has good cause for celebration too.

“Our industry is still in great shape, it is vibrant and resilient,” concluded Ceri.

* Other speakers at the event included Sue Morrish of Glebe Cottage/The Eco-friendly Card Co, who went into more detail about the pros and cons of different wrapping options; Moonpig’s Geoff Sanderson and Sarah-Jane Porter on the consumer insights it is able to glean from customer’s search and purchasing habits and Karen Hubbard, ceo of Card Factory on her take on the sector and card buying habits generally.

* Among those to comment on their favourite elements of the GCA AGM & Conference are, Gemma’s Tim Rudd-Clarke, Davora’s Raj Arora and Pictur-esque’s Charlotte Gale.

 

PG Buzz paints a picture of the recent AGM through a handful of snaps…

Above: The GCA’s Raquel Lopez (right) welcomed attendees, including Woodmansterne’s Kate Leach and Paul Woodmansterne.
Above: The GCA’s Raquel Lopez (right) welcomed attendees, including Woodmansterne’s Kate Leach and Paul Woodmansterne.

 

Above: There was a cracking line-up of speakers. (Left-right) GCA president Ceri Stirland (customer and channel director of UKG), Card Factory ceo Karen Hubbard, Sue Morrish (co-founder of Glebe Cottage and The Eco-friendly Card Co) and Moonpig’s design director Geoff Sanderson and head of licensing, Sarah-Jane Porter with incoming GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson and PG editor (and GCA general secretary) Jakki Brown.
Above: There was a cracking line-up of speakers. (Left-right) GCA president Ceri Stirland (customer and channel director of UKG), Card Factory ceo Karen Hubbard, Sue Morrish (co-founder of Glebe Cottage and The Eco-friendly Card Co) and Moonpig’s design director Geoff Sanderson and head of licensing, Sarah-Jane Porter with incoming GCA ceo Amanda Fergusson and PG editor (and GCA general secretary) Jakki Brown.

 

Above: Well over 100 members of the greeting card community attended this year’s GCA AGM & Conference.
Above: Well over 100 members of the greeting card community attended this year’s GCA AGM & Conference.

 

Above: No stranger to many, the well respected and much-liked Amanda Fergusson (left) made her first official appearance as soon-to-be ceo of the GCA, taking over from Sharon Little when she goes off travelling. Amanda was presented with some welcome flowers by Jakki Brown (left), general secretary of the GCA who stood in as MC for the event as Sharon was unable to attend due to illness.
Above: No stranger to many, the well respected and much-liked Amanda Fergusson (left) made her first official appearance as soon-to-be ceo of the GCA, taking over from Sharon Little when she goes off travelling. Amanda was presented with some welcome flowers by Jakki Brown (left), general secretary of the GCA who stood in as MC for the event as Sharon was unable to attend due to illness.

 

Above: Sainsbury’s card buyer Carly Pearson (second right) and The Art File’s md Ged Mace (far right) were among those to lead afternoon workshop sessions, on diversity and business strategy respectively. They caught up with Pigment’s sales and marketing director Steve Baker and WHS card buyer Claire Castle in the reception.
Above: Sainsbury’s card buyer Carly Pearson (second right) and The Art File’s md Ged Mace (far right) were among those to lead afternoon workshop sessions, on diversity and business strategy respectively. They caught up with Pigment’s sales and marketing director Steve Baker and WHS card buyer Claire Castle in the reception.

 

Above: Saffron Gurden (left) and Susan Whittaker, of newbie publisher Whitty Goose really enjoyed their first GCA AGM & Conference.
Above: Saffron Gurden (left) and Susan Whittaker, of newbie publisher Whitty Goose really enjoyed their first GCA AGM & Conference.

 

Above: While thanks were given to outgoing GCA Council members, Bill Greeno (of Paperlink), Nigel Willcock (of Paper Rose) and Mark Williams (of Brainbox Candy) there was a warm welcome for new Council members Brett Smith (of Danilo), Marion Hancock (of Art Cards Ireland), Larisa Barker (of Hallmark) and Really Good’s Lisa Shoesmith (pictured far left with colleagues Fiona Burge [seconf left] and David Hicks as well as Woodmansterne’s Kate Leach.)
Above: While thanks were given to outgoing GCA Council members, Bill Greeno (of Paperlink), Nigel Willcock (of Paper Rose) and Mark Williams (of Brainbox Candy) there was a warm welcome for new Council members Brett Smith (of Danilo), Marion Hancock (of Art Cards Ireland), Larisa Barker (of Hallmark) and Really Good’s Lisa Shoesmith (pictured far left with colleagues Fiona Burge [seconf left] and David Hicks as well as Woodmansterne’s Kate Leach.)
Above: The afternoon workshop sessions, led by industry experts, covered all manner of subjects, from Brexit to creative inspiration, from mistakes made to business strategy.
Above: The afternoon workshop sessions, led by industry experts, covered all manner of subjects, from Brexit to creative inspiration, from mistakes made to business strategy.

 

Top: With Knebworth House as the venue, The Sherwood Group went to town creating a 3D menu card for the well attended event.

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