Gift Market

The War on Plastic

The War on Plastic

Pictures from Indonesia showing  ‘solid rafts’ of plastic bags and bottles in local rivers, talk of the 965,000 square miles of plastic in a region of the South Pacific created by circular currents and Blue Planet 2 showing images of delicate seahorses holding cotton buds in their tails have all raised the profile of our use of and disposal of plastics in recent months… But as consumers, are we ready to change what, and the way we buy, and take responsibility for disposing of it?

Radio 4, daleks, sheep... and the GA Trend Talks

From gift trends and Dr Who icons in Birmingham, to the sheep drive in London - last week was non-stop!

On 27th September, the Giftware Association hosted a trends seminar day - with key speakers Marrianne Shillingford from Dulux sharing the global colour trends report (ahead of its official launch) and David Cartwright, from Birmingham's top social media agency, discussing digital trends and what’s happening in the world of social media right now.

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Whilst in Birmingham at the seminar (held at the Giftware Association’s Federation House), I also called into the BBC studios to record a live interview with Peter White for the Radio 4 You & Yours Programme - more on this in a future blog! There are some great Dr Who icons on display at the studios, and I couldn’t resist a picture with the Tardis and a Dalek!

And then on Sunday 30th September, I headed to London for the annual Sheep Drive, representing the Stationers’ Company ! I, along with other Freemen of the City (including Alan Titchmarsh) gathered together to exercise our right to drive our sheep across London Bridge.  We did this for charity rather than agricultural purposes, but this event is a great platform for communicating agricultural issues!

Organised by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen the event raises thousands of pounds for the Lord Mayor's Appeal whilst also providing an opportunity for Londoners and visitors to learn about the City's historic traditions.

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To find out more about this fantastic event, visit: sheepdrive.london

I’m passionate about what I do, and enjoy the variety of work I have the opportunity to experience every single week - but last week was especially fun, and extremely busy!




Are you brave enough to open a retail shop at the moment?

Are you brave enough to open a retail shop at the moment?

I expect most of you reading this headline would say ‘NO WAY’ - who would be daft enough to do something like that this in the current economic climate? Well the truthful answer is ‘plenty of people’. Both small independents and larger multiples. But why are they doing this when so many outlets are closing; what do they know that we don’t?

What does no more gratuitous gift-buying mean for homewares?

What does no more gratuitous gift-buying mean for homewares?

Anyone involved in retail knows just how hard it is to maintain sales at the moment. Now more than ever, every little bit helps and offering relevant and related products to supplement your homewares offer could be one way of increasing sales by driving up your average transaction value. So with this in mind what type of ‘gift’ products would be relevant to stock in a homewares shop?

What does 2019 hold for independent retailers?

What does 2019 hold for independent retailers?

In just 2 days - Autumn Fair opens it's doors attracting exhibitors and visitors from across Europe (and beyond!) who want to see, touch, play with and purchase exciting new products ahead of the 'Golden Quarter'. And I'm delighted to say that as Deputy Chair of the Giftware Association I've been asked to speak twice this year on The Main Stage, where I’ll be sharing my take on what 2019 has in store for independent retailers...

Let's Make A Date!

Let's Make A Date!

I am going to show my age now by admitting that I am one of the Filofax generation. I started work in the 1980’s when they were the thing to have that showed you had a ‘proper’job and had to plan because you were so busy and needed to be organised. Then it was electronic organisers, Blackberrys and the rest, and we were told that paper diaries were going to be a thing of the past! But here we are in 2018 and there are still racks and racks of diaries in WH Smith and Paperchase and Calendar Club’s whole business model is based on selling hundreds of thousands of paper calendars and diaries. So it is fair to say the sector is still thriving… and here are some of the latest big trends.

My greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement?

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…

Do you have eligible product?

Do you have eligible product?

Why doesn't every supplier or manufacturer enter at least one eligible product for an industry award... every year? With the many, many category options across the various industry awards, nearly every supplier or manufacturer has an eligible product - which means any buyer or retailer can stock award-winning product! It's time to embrace the fact that wherever you are in the supply chain you can use this year’s industry awards to your advantage. Here's how:

Celebrating the Big Day

Celebrating the Big Day

The great thing about weddings and anniversaries is that they drive a whole tranche of linked events that are card giving occasions. As retailers we need to consider whether these present an opportunity for us in terms of the products we offer. Once Easter is over it could be a strong product focus for you if you believe it is relevant to your customers and there would be enough demand to justify the space and stock investment needed. And if you decide to go for weddings ‘big time’ - here are my top tips for making your wedding range profitable…

Interview: How to make the most of exhibitions

Interview: How to make the most of exhibitions

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of being invited to speak to Small Man Media about the season's tradeshows and how to prepare for them with my top tips: '3 Musts' and '1 big Must-Not!'...

I was also asked some really insightful questions about trends in the industry... For the answers to all these questions and many more - check out the full Small Man Media article >