Why Industry Awards make everyone a winner - entrants, judges, retailers and customers!

Why Industry Awards make everyone a winner - entrants, judges, retailers and customers!

As it's the final day of Spring Fair for another year, I've been reflecting on the highlights. Particularly the fantastic Gift of the Year Awards Ceremony on Sunday evening and the attention the winners' display in the Spring Fair concourse has attracted! I've been thinking why doesn't every supplier or manufacturer enter at least one eligible product for an industry award... every year?

5 ways to use your independence to your advantage

5 ways to use your independence to your advantage

This week I have the pleasure of being at Spring Fair 2018 in Birmingham, speaking to independent retailers about how they can grow their brands, maximise their profits and compete effectively against the big retailers in the UK's giftware, stationery and greetings card markets...

10 things to consider if you're thinking of introducing new product categories to your shop

10 things to consider if you're thinking of introducing new product categories to your shop

Are you heading to Spring Fair 2018 taking place at the NEC in Birmingham over the next few days? Perhaps you're hoping to find some giftware to complement your instore range? Here are 10 things you'll need to consider to ensure that it sells and adds to your profitability...

Gifts can make all the difference to your profitability

Gifts can make all the difference to your profitability

With the winners of the Gift of the Year Awards 2018 set to be announced at tomorrow's ceremony at the Vox Conference Centre in Birmingham - here's why you might want to consider adding gifts to your store's range to make it more profitable...

Speaking at Spring Fair 2018

Speaking at Spring Fair 2018

Are you heading to Spring Fair in February (4th - 8th, NEC, Birmingham)? It's set to be a great show - packed with immersive trends installations, seminars, meet the experts sessions, and workshops...! I'm particularly looking forward to joining the speaker line up for the event again this year!

Retail Trends to look out for in 2018

Retail Trends to look out for in 2018

In 2018, we will have to resolve to work hard to grow our businesses; to work with renewed vigour and focus to ensure we are taking away any of the barriers that might stop our customers spending money. Remember to keep calm, hold your nerve and obsess about your customers!

Are you Ready for 2018?

If you’re going to tempt customers to spend their hard earned cash with you in 2018 – it’s time to make sure you’re ready by:

  1. Evaluating the success of your Christmas trading and identifying what you could improve on
  2. Surveying how customers are perceiving your business and fixing anything that’s wrong with your brand
  3. Checking if there are any products or ranges that don’t fit with your brand and quickly replacing them with products that are more relevant to your customers
  4. Concentrating on the ‘special’ elements that will really set your shop apart and make shopping with you a real treat… such as:
    • Implementing great windows and interesting displays that change regularly so customers know what is NEW
    • Employing interested staff who engage with your customers
    • Training staff to provide more efficient and knowledgeable service
    • Offering special discount evenings or a loyalty scheme to reward custom.

All of these things ARE MORE CRITICAL THAN EVER so make sure you put time in your diary in the next week to consider all these points and develop a plan to improve your business in 2018.

Judging on Lord Sugar's Panel

If you were watching the final of The Apprentice on the weekend (Sunday, December 17) - you may have caught a fleeting glimpse of me sitting alongside Lord Alan Sugar, Baroness Karren Brady and Claude Littner at London’s City Hall where we heard the pitches from the five finalists: florist Elizabeth McKenna, recruitment firm owner James White, digital marketing manager Joanna Jarjue, construction magazine director Michaela Wain and confectionery entrepreneur Sarah Lynn...

(Here I am in the far right!)

(Here I am in the far right!)

This is the second year running that I've been involved in the show. Last year I was brought in to advise on whether novelty gifts company owner Courtney Wood or homemade cake maker Alana Spencer should win. (Whilst he didn't win, Courtney’s Bubblegum Stuff company is now well known in the gifts industry!).

The head-to-head challenge this time round was even closer than last year; so much so that Lord Sugar broke his own rules by taking on both “very credible” finalists meaning that James White and Sarah Lynn won a £250,000 investment each.

Of his decision to double his investment for the first time in 13 series of the show, Lord Sugar said: “I’m a gambler, and I’ve always been a gambler in business. Honestly it was so so close, I really could not decide, so I have two really wonderful new business partners. I was torn, I just couldn’t decide one way or the other so the fair thing to do was to choose them both.”

I hope you enjoyed the show as much as I enjoyed being a part of it... looking forward to seeing what next year's series brings!

Paper Diaries and Calendars - is there still a demand?

Paper Diaries and Calendars - is there still a demand?

At the turn of the millennium there was a significant rise in the use of electronic organisers, Blackberries were 'the thing', and mobile phones started to add all sorts of features like diaries and calendars. There was a real belief that Filofaxes, the management tool of the 80’s and 90’s, and paper dairies and calendars would soon be a thing of the past! But as we head towards 2018 I think it is safe to say that there is still a strong demand for paper diaries and calendars and I cannot see them disappearing any time soon; certainly not in my lifetime...