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.

Do Buyers need Summer Trade Shows?

Do Buyers need Summer Trade Shows?

Have you seen the countdowns to Christmas doing the rounds on Facebook this week? (Just 22 weekends apparently?!) Thinking about Christmas during June, July and August isn't everyone's cup of tea - but today this blog looks at what influences the timing of trade shows and what 7 things influence a buyer's decision to attend (including 'last minute' top ups for Christmas/Spring stock)...

2018 Trends: What's hot in Journalling, Organisation and Stationery

2018 Trends: What's hot in Journalling, Organisation and Stationery

Following on from my last article on the Top 3 Stationery Trends of 2018, I promised to share some of my favourite examples of 'on trend' stationery that may be of interest to your customers. From Diaries and Journalling products to Social Stationery and Calligraphy sets - it's all covered in my blog this week...

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…

Stepping down as GA Chair...

At the Giftware Association AGM in Birmingham on 20th June 2018, I stepped down as chair, and handed over to Blue Eyed Sun founder Jeremy Corner.

Having worked hard in this role for the past two years, during my handover speech, I mentioned just a few of my personal highlights, including:

  • Improved engagement with our members
  • Launching the Meet the Buyer initiative
  • Exceptional growth of the Gift of the Year Awards
  • Lobbying at Parliament on behalf of members, and 
  • The GA's new look and feel with fresh branding.

I also talked about the fact that the Giftware Association IS its members. Sarah Ward [GA chief executive] and the team work incredibly hard to make sure that our collective voice is heard. Last year we travelled to over 60 trade shows throughout the country to speak to as many of you as we could, and Sarah spent time with members both at our office and at theirs.

As I become deputy chairman I look forward to continuing this great work and being able to support Jeremy in his role as chairman...  Along with Gert Schyberg of home fragrance brand Sebnini who will be vice chair (set to take the reins from Jeremy in 2020) we'll head up the GA’s current National Committee, whose members span the giftware sector.

I'm delighted to be handing over to Jeremy who I know will do a great job - and wish him all the very best in his new position...

For more information including notes from Jeremy's opening speech as chair, visit: www.stationerymatters.news

Are these 3 Stationery trends relevant to your customers?

Are these 3 Stationery trends relevant to your customers?

Every trade show you go to, industry magazine you pick up or website you read will tell you what is 'on trend' - but as retailers and suppliers our role is to decide which trends are relevant to our customers and how we can tap in to this to maximize the opportunity it presents for us to grow our businesses by satisfying our customer’s needs.