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News ‘Cool’ retailers reinvent themselves

Independent retailers are becoming smaller and reinventing themselves, according to experts, who say the best are setting their sights on exclusive target groups, niche markets and distinctiveness. “In many cities there are already whole streets

with clever concepts and cool, stylish atmospheres, so it’s working,” said a spokesman for Ambiente, the Frankfurt based show that last month attracted more than 130,000 visitors from all over the world. If you haven’t been or visited for a while, put it in

your calendar for next year. As the leading international trade fair for consumer goods, it is one of the best places to see what the future has in store, capture it and serve it up to delighted customers. Nicolette Naumann,

vice president of Ambiente and sister show, Tendence is in no doubt about the show’s focus. “Design, trends, innovations. Ambiente is not only the world’s

‘whole streets with clever concepts’

A fascinating, historic connection to the Battle of Waterloo has led British fragrance house, Heyland and Whittle to launch a beautiful, gold embossed soap book. The founder of Heyland

& Whittle is Paddy Heyland and his great great grandfather, Major Arthur Rowley fought and died during the battle which became the defining event of Napoleon’s military career. It also inspired the logo for the firm – the Heyland family crest which dates back to Waterloo. The book has a moving excerpt of a

letter written by Major Rowley to his wife on the eve of the fighting. He was killed in the last half hour of the battle. “My Mary, let the recollection console

you that the happiest days of my life have been from your love and affection, and that I die loving only you.” As you open the book, a marriage

of fine soaps including Hemp & Walnut & Rose reflects their devotion. Ten per cent of the sales will be donated to Coming Home Charity which provides specially adapted accommodation for soldiers left seriously disabled through conflict. (See David Metcalfe’s column Page 14).

10 Giftware Review & Home Interiors March / April 2015

to focus on Fair Trade and handmade items. Consumers want to know manufacturers are

personally overseeing conditions of production, pay fair wages and look after workers’ families. There is a strong demand for handcrafted items of

the highest quality, made individually and including hand-printed textiles, hand-blown glass, pottery, leather and metal goods and hand-carved products. Traditional craftsmanship is being revived and integrated into modern design. At home, the focus is on how the home can aid

leading trade fair in its field it is also, above all, a five-day experience for all the senses.” This year I had the luxury of three days at

Ambiente, plenty of time to soak up the atmosphere, spot new trends and be inspired by design awards, product demonstrations and a design tour that reminded me afresh of the huge talent in this industry. With nearly 5,000

exhibitors, the scale of the show is

breathtaking but it’s easy to navigate and strong themes soon become apparent. Here at Giftware Review and home interiors we focus on Living and Giving and it was interesting to discover that the high end market for home accessories continues

Celebrating 200th anniversary of Waterloo

relaxation, recharge inner batteries and provide an escape from the mad round of everyday life. The popularity of products related to wining and dining continues, with a powerful trend towards baking and grilling. The kitchen remains a ‘major’ living space within the home. For those buying bags, the trend is for simple and

colourful designs and the demand for recycled materials will see the use of plenty of plastic. Jewellery is much more subtle – excess is ‘yesterday’. Bracelets are delicate and necklaces simple but often worn in multiples. Delicious edible gifts continue to be popular, incorporating quality and unusual flavours. Each year Ambiente has a

partner country – this year it was the USA and oscar winning actress, Helen Hunt visited the show to highlight products from America. Next year the partner will be Italy.

The cost of poor packaging

Damaged packaging is costing small, independent retailers significantly in terms of lost sales, time and profits. A survey of customers revealed 38

per cent of those asked said they had received goods in such poor packaging they would be reluctant to use the retailer again and 40 per cent felt that wasteful packaging would put them off as well. Andrew Woodhead, managing

director of packaging specialist ASC Direct said: “We are a nation with many online sales businesses. Packaging is often an afterthought, but it shouldn’t

be. Cheap, poor quality packaging significantly affects sales and ends up costing more in the long run. It’s detrimental, especially for smaller businesses.” Tina Parker sells French shabby chic

furniture and accessories and said: “Packaging was never a real priority for my business until I experienced a spate of returns for one item which had unusual dimensions. “The time, not to mention sales lost

as a result of this, made me realise I needed to invest a bit more time looking at my packaging requirements.”

Business booming for Portmeirion

Leading British tableware manufacturer, Portmeirion Group has announced it will be investing £1.5 million in a new kiln and other equipment for the factory following a period of strong growth and an increased demand for its British- made products.

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