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Hallmark President announces retirement

Ian Stuart, President of Hallmark International has announced his plans to retire at the end of this year, as part of a planned succession programme. Hallmark Cards has created a new international management structure beginning in the New Year when Steve Wright, Managing Director of Hallmark UK, will be promoted to Chief Executive, Hallmark United Kingdom and Continental Europe on 1 January 2012.

Steve joined Hallmark 15 years ago and helped to build and lead the Tigerprint business, which is the exclusive supplier for Marks and Spencer. He assumed his current role as Managing Director, Hallmark UK earlier this year.

Ian Stuart joined Hallmark in 2000 as Chief Executive, Europe. He has served as President of Hallmark International since 2002. Under Ian’s leadership, Hallmark’s UK business was consolidated into Shipley in Bradford, which then became the headquarters for all of Hallmark’s global business outside of North America. Don Hall, president and CEO, who was in the UK

to share these announcements, said, “Ian’s numerous contributions will serve the business well for many years to come.”

New shop marks its independence

M&P Cards Ltd has opened a brand new store and is launching a new model of independent retailing to match.

The Royal town of Wootton Bassett has welcomed a new card and gift shop this month with the new ‘Occasions’ store which is now open to the public. It is the sixth shop to join the

group, an independently-run business whose stores span the four counties of Hampshire, Wiltshire, Berkshire and Dorset.

The opening was a special event for the local community with free balloons and giveaways for the children and it was well received in the town.

The launch marks a series of new innovations for the retailer. It includes a brand new Thornton’s franchise which is the fi rst of its kind in the UK, the use of greeting card images enlarged onto canvas to create striking wall art, plus a change to the way greetings cards are sourced and evaluated marking a new direction for this independent retailer. “Thornton’s have upped their game in response to a change in market”, said MD, Terry Harvey. “It is a whole new concept. Thorntons have increased their loose chocolate offering with a larger chocolate counter and brand new look to their merchandising and fi xturing. It is very exciting.” The second major change for this store is the way they will source and supply their greeting cards using

From left to right: Peter Reichwald from the Great British Card Company, Jane Chandler M&P stores director and Terry Harvey, Managing Director, M&P Cards.

a brokerage system more commonly used by larger multiple retailers. The new store was opened by Peter Reichwald owner of the Great British Card Company, who have been chosen to run the greeting cards brokerage for the branch.

“It marks a slight change in the industry as I see it,” said Terry. “There was a time when 70-80 per cent of trade came from greeting card sales, but not anymore. We now get a greater percentage of sales through giftware and other add-on product in all of our branches. If non-card sales are not exceeding 50 per cent then there is a serious argument that the gift offering needs work.” M&P Cards Ltd is working with The Great British Card Company to manage the brokerage for them

in Wootton Bassett, but elsewhere in the other stores UK Greetings has held the greetings control with approximately one third of company purchasing passing through Cardgains. The benefi ts of using a brokerage system is mainly down to convenience, and in-store effi ciency. “It would be arrogant to think we could hand-pick the perfect selection of cards for our stores when

there are clearly better information based systems for monitoring sales performance that are being used by publishers like GBC”. “A broker can do this for us and provide much better monitoring and scientifi c sales analysis than we can do ourselves whilst liberating human resources in the process”. He said. “A few card suppliers have refused to be part of it on principle, and I do understand that individual aspirations of publishers will differ”. Terry said. “Our goal is quite simply to provide the very best environments in which to sell premium cards and gifts. It is essentially an investment in ambience”.

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