Greetings Today magazine, giving you the bigger picture

Bank on growing industry

140 members meet new GCA president Ceri and hear speakers on economy, Just A Card and Sainsbury’s


THE economy, the growing greetings card sector and how to help independent businesses were the subjects that kept publishers, suppliers and retailers interested at yesterday’s (Tuesday, October 24) GCA AGM.

The event in Birmingham’s Council House was one of the most successful yet with 140 publisher and associate members attending to meet new Greeting Card Association president Ceri Stirland, and hear the keynote speakers from the Bank Of England, Just A Card campaign and Sainsbury’s.
Having thanked predecessor Ged Mace, from The Art File, for being “an excellent ambassador for our industry,” UK Greetings director of marketing Ceri started her tenure by explaining that at 485 GCA membership is at its highest as they prepare to celebrate the association’s centenary in 2019.
Ceri ran through the GCA Market Report, covering 2015-16: “I’m pleased to say that sales have reached their highest level at a value of £1.75billion at retail.
“Despite all the economic uncertainty the greeting card Industry remains relatively stable with the overall single card market worth £1.52bn, growing 2.5 per cent year on year.
“Everyday cards, the engine room of our business, have growth by 2.4 per cent, with positive growth coming from Christmas and spring seasons
“Since 2011 our market has grown 10 per cent in terms of value growth. This, of course, is good news for retailers, publishers and investors in our industry.
“We know from work undertaken by UKG that the incidence rates for our category remain high –
93 per cent of all adults in the UK have bought a greetings card in the last 12 months, with a similar level of incidence of purchase as bread and chocolate, and a higher incidence rate compared to those who use a mobile phone, which is 90 per cent.
“As everyone knows, we are undoubtedly in a period of economic uncertainty following Brexit and, over the next two years, I’m sure the UK and our industry will go through a great many changes – if only we had a crystal ball to help guide us!
“The challenge we all face is how we adapt to the changing retail landscape, encouraging shoppers back into store and to drive footfall.
“I’ve worked in the greetings card industry for over 25 years as both a publisher and retailer and I’m passionate to ensure that this Industry remains relevant and strong.
“I see my role as president as two fold – firstly, working with CEO Sharon Little and the council to promote and protect the industry both in the UK and globally and, secondly, enriching and promoting the experience for all our members.”
Ceri (pictured with Sainsbury’s Carly Pearson) also asked for ideas on how to mark the GCA’s 100th birthday, and more of her vision for the association and industry can be read in the upcoming November/December print issue of Greetings Today.
Following the official AGM business where new council members Leanne Ainger, of Hallmark, and Moonpig’s Sarah-Jane Porter were the 2016 minutes were unanimously approved, along with the finances presented by treasurer Jeremy Corner – who explained the £6,500 loss was due to extra spending on PR over the year but will be countered by the increased membership fees – it was time for the speakers.
Glynn Jones, Bank Of England’s deputy agent for the West Midlands, gave insights into how they expect the interest rates and the economy to pan out over the next few months and leading up to Brexit.
Then A Paper Passion was the presentation from artist, designer and publisher Sophie Hamilton explaining how she came up with the Just A Card campaign to highlight how buying “just a card” could be the difference between a independent business surviving or not. The full video is available below.
Carly Pearson is the senior buyer responsible for cards and wrap at Sainsbury’s and she spoke of recent developments which have improved the offer at the UK’s second largest supermarket chain.
She said they see 450,000 customers each week in the greetings departments across their 605 supermarkets and 809 convenience stores, with 67 per cent being female, and they buy on average 5.9 cards each per year. The full video of Carly’s Sainsbury’s Sweep presentation is available below.
After the traditional delicious AGM lunch, the afternoon was divided into a series of Meet The Experts workshops:
● Agents with Rosie Trow, SW agent and Robin Hill, NW agent
● Brokerage with Chris Houfe, sales director of The Great British Card Company
● Business Strategy & Planning with Nigel Willcock, sales and marketing director of Paper Rose and The Art Group
● Copyright with William Miles of Briffa
● Creative Development with Rachel Hare, founder of Belly Button Designs
● Export with Ged Mace, MD of The Art File
● Social Media For Retailers with Greetings Today columnist Chris Fox, of Gift Shop Hub
● Websites & Ecommerce with Raj Arora, MD of Davora.
More images from the day can be found on the Greetings Today Facebook page.

Tomcat’s live and kicking

Social Links