“The last year has certainly made for a challenging retail landscape, but greeting card stockists right across the spectrum have demonstrated true flair, tenacity and customer focus. The Retas 2018 will celebrate these champions,” commented Warren Lomax, joint managing director of Max Publishing, which owns and organises The Retas and publishes Progressive Greetings.
Entry forms are available by clicking here.
The winners will be announced at a lavish afternoon awards event – on an oceanic theme – which will take place at the Dorchester Hotel, London Wednesday 11 July.
Last year’s winner of The Retas’ Greeting Card Retailer of the Year (as well as the Best Retail Initiative award for its Feel Good Friday programme) was presented to Postmark, the London based mini group. It has been a whirlwind 12 months for Postmark’s co-owners Mark and Leona Janson-Smith, with more growth on the cards, with a new store set to open in Kingston in a month’s time.
“Winning Retailer of the Year at last year’s Retas was amazing,” says Mark. “It really boosted our confidence in terms of pushing the business forward and taking Postmark to the next level. We’ve had some lovely feedback from suppliers and customers since we won, it’s crazy how far the news has spread! We’re not sure if we’ll ever beat the feeling of winning the big one but we’re definitely up for trying!”
Postmark’s new Kingston store is set to open its doors on April 12 in the historic town square, right next to Lush. It is the fifth shop for the London-based independent card and stationery retailer.
“We are very excited about the new shop, but equally nervous as it is our first venture in to a real shopping destination,” admits Mark. “We have tried to maintain the brand style while making the store look different from the others. One half is a totally new style of unit for us and we have gone with lots of clean straight lines with quite neutral colours. We are lucky enough to work in an industry where the real stars of the show are the products. Bursting with colours and design excellence. Our in-store branding is going to be stronger in this one and something we plan to work on across the stores this year.”
A real eye-catcher in its Greenwich store is a tree in the middle of the shop, and although Mark says there will be no foliage in the new store, he has a few ideas up his sleeve. “The tree is a one off for now due to the size of the last store. I have some pretty crazy ideas for the future should we find any more big sites but this one will be back to a ‘normal’ styled shop. I am very excited about the fit as we have come up with a new style of unit and I am also very excited about our pen and Washi Tape station which I hope looks as good in reality as it does in my head!”
In terms of expanding the product offering, Mark is wary about moving too far away from the core categories of greeting cards and stationery. “We are very strict about what we stock to make sure we stay true to the brand. I know we miss out on sales but it has seen us good to this point so have no plans to change this. Once you start diversifying, it can be hard to stop and before you know it you don’t really know what you are anymore. The only exception is Jellycat which we have sold since day one and are all rather fond of them. It would be like getting rid of the family pet if we stopped selling Jellycat!”
As for future plans, Mark has his sights set on more shops. “We would like to open one more shop this year and then potentially three more in 2019, but we are under no pressure to grow so will only do so when it feels right and in the right locations. After that, who knows! We have been toying with a few areas outside London but for now we will be staying within the capital. There are so many great areas within London, we don’t feel the need to branch out just yet.”
And although the retail landscape continues to be challenging, Mark still feels there is opportunity for growth if you stay true to your brand. “It is undoubtedly tough out there but there are opportunities. Having a strong brand is definitely helping as it was knowledge of the brand that helped us to secure our last two shop units.”