A new era for The Giftware Association

The Giftware Association, ushered in a new era at its AGM & Members’ Day at Pewterers’ Hall in London on June 15, during which I was delighted to be appointed Chairman, with Jeremy Corner as my Vice-Chairman.

You can read The Giftware Association’s press release here ­for the full story including the unveiling of the new brand - but in this blog, I’d like to give you a sense of my focus whilst in the Chair for the next 2 years…

As a retailer and having worked in the stationery, card and gift sectors for almost 30 years, I am passionate about building The GA’s retail base while ensuring that in doing so we do not alienate our many supplier members.

We are all part of the same supply chain and whatever size of business we are in - we all need each other. Suppliers need retailers to buy their products and retailers need suppliers to produce the great products that they want to sell to their customers, be they online or on the high street.

Each is nothing without the other and wherever you are placed in the chain as a member you have far more in common with each other than perhaps you imagine; many of the services we offer are equally useful to all of our members.

I am keen to attract more retailers to be members of the Giftware Association, but getting a dialogue going can be particularly difficult. Independent retailers in particular find it really hard to leave their businesses, so it is almost impossible for many of them to attend the very useful seminars and other events we organise.  We need to find ways, other than face-to-face, for them to access the services we can provide and enable them to dip into these in their own time – and hopefully other members will appreciate this approach too.

For me it is all about being ‘relevant’ to our various types of member. I think some people imagine that trade associations don’t really have a role anymore but nothing could be further from the truth, and my job – working closely with CEO Sarah Ward, Vice Chairman Jeremy Corner, and the NC – will be to ensure that our members and potential new members are aware of the very real advantages that belonging can bring.

Sarah comes from a business background and she is as passionate as I am that we should offer members terrific value for money and that they should be able to see very clearly what their subscription buys. I want all our members to feel that belonging to The GA is a truly positive experience so they perceive the value of their subscriptions.

If by the end of my two years in the Chair I have achieved that, I will have succeeded in what I hope to do – and I look forward to meeting and working with many members over the next 2 years to bring about this change…