Last month, I stepped down as chair of the Giftware Association - and in doing so, was asked what I felt my greatest achievement was. It took me a while to come up with the answer! For those who didn’t make the AGM, here are my notes from my handover speech, and the answer to the question…
When I took over from Michael Pape in June 16 I said that as the first Retailer chairman of the Giftware Association I specifically wanted to understand what we had to do to grow the retailer membership - not to alienate our supplier members but rather to give them a stronger network to do business with.
In my mind I had various ideas about how to do this and therefore this was a realistic goal. What I hadn’t anticipated was the impact of some of the big market changes we have seen over the last few years that have hit retailers particularly hard - including the increases in the minimum wage, the introduction of work place pensions having now been extended to all businesses, and of course the B word. BREXIT.
So my Plan A wasn’t going to be a realistic one but what about Plan B… our ‘Meet The Buyer’ events have been more effective than we dared hope. I don’t take any personal credit for the success of these events. The GA team, with Simone driving this initiative, are making these such great events, and they are proving to be so popular with suppliers and retailers alike.
The popularity of these events signals two things to me:
They are effective because they are bringing together carefully curated collections of product that are relevant to a selected groups of buyers with similar needs and this match-making by the GA means that the time that buyers and suppliers are spending together is a good use of their time.
It also highlights the importance of being flexible, whichever sector you are trading in. The dynamics are changing fast and we need to be able to ensure we remain relevant to our customers wherever we are in the supply chain.
The Giftware Associations mission is to
· help members make money,
· save money
· save time by offering a wide selection of services and support.
And our MTB events are one way we are able to do this for our members.
Gift of the Year is another way that suppliers in particular can highlight their new products to buyers and the awards judges have a great way of viewing a curated group of fresh new products in 15 markets - some of which they may have less expertise in so it can be very useful.
So to answer the question I was asked, the thing I am most proud of is the development of the MTB programme which is now going from strength to strength because it epitomises everything we are about - helping our members to be more successful in their businesses be they suppliers or retailers.
I would like to thank Sarah and the team for their hard work, enthusiasm and professionalism. The work you are doing is helping to build the GA’s reputation as an organisation that businesses want to be part of.
I would also like to thank Michael Pape and Jeremey Corner for their advice and support and the National Committee many of whom you will see involved in todays events for giving their time and expertise to support our work and broaden our skill set.
And now I need to hand over the role of Chairman to Jeremy Corner and at the risk of sounding too much like Love Island I asked Jeremy if he would consider being my Vice Chairman because of his particular strengths in marketing and social media because I felt these would compliment my skills as a retailer which are much more product focussed.
As I become Deputy Chairman, I look forward to being able to support Jeremy in his roles as Chairman.