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COMPANYPROFILE Ta Take a Now known as Museums & Galleries, the brand has been


reborn in a leaner and more effi cient guise – but with the same great product of licensed greetings cards, wrap, stationery and gifting from mirrors and fridge magnets to bookmarks. “We believe the reason M&G failed was poor running, not poor designs,” Debbie said, “the customer base and customer loyalty has been brilliant, they’ve been so supportive and we can’t thank them enough for hanging on for us. “When we took over we found there were orders that had been due to go out in August that hadn’t even been printed. “Thankfully the majority of people still wanted them so waited until we could get them shipped – they’re pleased someone took over as M&G has some great product. “It was a surprise to everyone but us that Mint bought M&G but we’d been looking for an acquisition although we hadn’t looked at anything that big before.” Alan takes up the story: “What surprised us the most was the customer base, M&G had been going for 30 years but they were just overstaffed and over-expensive. “They had around 30 staff and we kept on four of them, and would have kept on


more if we had stayed in Frome but it wasn’t cost-effective – and the bank owned the premises so there was nowhere to work from. “Ben and Stuart are the two studio guys who are still based in Frome, and the production manager is Jon Morgan who is now here in Corby part of the time, while the licensing guy is Eddie Clarke who’s based in London. “When M&G came up we knew the other


● Knitty Nora - Debbie with her favourite peas (top) and one of the sets ready to be photographed (left) to be turned into cards like these


warehouses were available opposite so it would be very convenient. And having the two companies together allows us to use the back offi ce staff so we can put economies of scale in place. We’ve taken on 19 new


staff and kept the studio separate so M&G do have their own staff as do Mint but when the warehouse is busy we can help out from each side. “Behind the scenes, who picks the orders is irrelevant but on the design side it’s very important that the two companies are separate.” It was a different story when they created Mint back in 2006, taking over the old company on July 4 and beginning trading just three days later. The couple felt most of the card designs from the original company weren’t worth keeping, although there were some that involved wool and needles. Debbie explained: “The best-selling cards were six with knitted characters so we thought we’d do a range of our own and that was what really set us alight. “We sat around and thought about who was going to do the knitting, I used to do a


fresh look


from doing it – then when she came up with the idea of the Knit & Purl cards I made her start again!”


fresh look K


Debbie and Alan Williams have been knitting up a storm in the greetings industry since they created Mint Publishing seven years ago, then this summer everyone took a fresh look when they added to their portfolio by rescuing Museums & Galleries from administration.


NITTING has been a favourite pastime of Debbie Williams for years but when she met hubby Alan, his dislike of the handicraft nearly banjaxed their future together. “I didn’t want a girlfriend who knitted,” Alan said, “so I banned Debbie


Since buying the company out of administration in 2006 and turning it into Mint Publishing, with the Knit & Purl and Knitted Naughties ranges as the mainstay of their offering, Debbie and Alan have gone from strength to strength, moving to Corby four years ago when they outgrew their smaller original premises in Market Harborough. And they proved their growing stature in the greetings and gifts industry in August when they bought the ailing Museums & Galleries Marketing Ltd out of administration – leading to taking over two more units on their industrial estate, making four in total.


● Secrets - Debbie and Alan at Harrogate Home&Gift when they were negotiating for M&G


30 www.greetingstoday.co.uk


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