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6 Giftware Review July/August 2014 *

GRNEWS. Fresh demand for cards and stationery

Independent retail advisor, Henri Davis has been installed as vice-chairman of the Giftware Association bringing a wealth of experience to the organisation. Henri advises businesses in the cards, gifts and stationery industries and combines 30 years of retail experience with her knowledge of trends and consumer motivation to analyse markets and identify new opportunities. She has worked at Habitat, Next, WH Smith and the National Trust. She now works with small and medium-sized businesses, including multi-site retailers, national and international manufacturers and suppliers. In this issue of Giftware Review she examines the potential for stationery and greetings and predicts the current, promising revival will continue.

“The demise of some familiar multiple card and stationery retailers over the last seven years has changed the face of these markets. For those still trading this means massive opportunities to move in and take up their market share, a situation you could not have dreamt of previously. Supermarkets, multiples, discounters and independents are benefiting from these changes where they are prepared to rise to the challenge. Some companies are entering the

stationery market with new retail propositions including Tinc, Blott, Smiggle at the bright, colourful end and Fabriano and Campo Marzio with more premium ranges. There are new card chains opening too. But as things

have started to settle down, one of the most positive endorsements for stationery in particular is the growth of John Lewis’s stationery department with

a clear and distinct look targeted at children, teens and adults. As consumer spending habits

have changed and technology has advanced, the stationery offered has to change too. In 2007 address books were a popular product format, but they are now only relevant to a very small group of consumers. It has taken manufacturers a while to catch up but now they are in a strong enough position to invest in

developing new ranges and

product formats that are relevant to stationery users in 2014. I think stationery is in vogue

at the moment because it allows us to keep in touch in a more personal way than a text or email and for those special occasions we have seen an increase

in the sales of good quality and handmade papers. There has been a

strong increase in fine writing too because good pens encourage nice handwriting and currently this is seen as something to be cherished. Brightly coloured inks make a strong statement and are also on the increase. Design-led stationery

as a fashion accessory is

often thought of as a very female domain and a significant proportion of the designs and colours are very feminine. For me the most noticeable thing is the increasing number of suppliers offering stationery within their product portfolio, often targeting the mid or premium end of the market where pricing is still robust and margins are not being eroded away. One of the trends we have

seen emerging as a whole is that products given as presents need to have a function and be useful

...they have found their place in the electronic world...

rather than a waste of money. Stationery is very useful and there is a big focus on stationery products that help you organise – for example for time-poor mums this is all about keeping on top of family activities What is really encouraging is

that new products are being launched in all the key positionings and with the resilience of the luxury end of retail there are higher quality, premium products being launched, often in fantastic colours that make them highly desirable. In greetings cards there have

been some major developments. The meteoric growth of ‘print on demand’ led by Moonpig, but followed by many others, the increase in the use of mobile communication devices and the massive rise in stamp prices were

thought to be the beginning of the end for greeting cards. But a recent survey showed the market is very resilient and we are still sending about 33 cards per adult per year. Cards are a great product category to

stock, being very affordable at between £2 and £3, in most cases and the use of spinners making them very space efficient. Despite the changes in the market and

the advances of technology, I believe stationery and cards have found their place in the new electronic world – it is when only a handwritten note will do.

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