GCA members came together in Leeds for the annual GCA Conference and AGM on 28th September 2023. The Conference celebrated our wonderful industry and also the launch of our #Cardmitment campaign to share the joy of cards, in addition to hearing from a series of inspirational speakers, plus there was lots of opportunity to network and catch up with industry friends.
GCA members come from all corners of the UK and Ireland, The event took place at Royal Armouries in Leeds, a fabulous location near to the City centre where many congregated the night before for drinks, hosted by UK Greetings.
The day included discussions about the key issues affecting our industry, plus details from the latest annual Market Report – with the UK continuing to spend £1.5bn on greeting cards each year, along with consumer insights from consumer specialists Kantar.
Summary of the day
CEO Amanda Fergusson welcomed everyone to Leeds, reflecting on past year and the work the GCA were doing to support members and protect and promote the greeting card industry. Including sharing the news that Radio Live 5 were also attending the Conference as part of our #Cardmitment media campaign, see here for media coverage.
The GCA also said thank you to long serving Council members Rachel Hare of Belly Button, Carolyn Verderame of Caroline Gardner and Adriana Lovesy of Mrs Lovesy, who are all standing down from the council. Although Adriana is continuing in her role as GCA Membership and Marketing Manager.
The GCA also thanked out-going President Chris Bryan for his commitment and leadership over the 2 years of his Presidency. Chris took to the stage and updated the Conference on the latest accounts and reflected on his time as President, thanking CEO Amanda and the Council members for their support and hand work on behalf of the industry, before handing over to new President Darren Cave from UKG.
Darren took on the role of president, and Karen Wilson stepped up as vice-president. See here to find out more about how the GCA Council works.
Amanda thanked our sponsors, who are all GCA supplier members so already working with, and recommended by, other GCA members: Fedrigoni, Skylight Media, Graphite Creative, Hyve, N-Smith, McDaniels Law, Instant Confetti, Enveco, Loxley’s and Aspin. All are also specialists in providing the services that they offer, during breaks members had the opportunity to meet and speak to the sponsors.
Amanda, addressed the Hyve team who attended, thanking them for supporting the Conference and saying how pleased we are that they have taken on board our points about the issues with Connect at last, saying how frustrating it was that these weren’t properly considered last year when we highlighted all the issues which subsequently transpired. She also spoke about the importance of Spring and Autumn Fair to the industry and that we want to work with them to grow the shows as ‘it’s in all our interests that they are successful’.
The work being done with others who had an interest in our industry, such as Royal Mail Ofcom, IRC was also highlighted – with a reminder to sign up for the GCA monthly newsletter to keep up to date with activity. Along with reading PGBuzz, Progressive Greetings and Greetings Today.
New president Darren Cave spoke about our #Cardmitment campaign and also the work planning to engage the next generation of card senders.
Adriana, Membership and Marketing Manager (pictured above, middle, with Darren and Amanda) spoke about the large number of GCA Events now running – and how you, or members of your business, can sign up to learn from others and share knowledge to help grow the industry. She also outlined the many new and important benefits of membership.
Amanda also launched GCA Podcasts series – Talking Cards, now available from major podcast platforms. These are a look at key greeting card designers, publishers and individuals whose passion, drive and talent has influenced and shaped the history of our industry. To listen search Talking Cards or visit the GCA website Podcasts and Webinars section.
Delegates were treated to a broad range of speakers, sharing insight into their businesses and their personal journey, along with fascinating statistics and consumer insights. All sharing ideas and top tips that many were noting down to take back to their businesses.
Sarah Laker – Ideas for Getting Customers in front of your cards!
Inspirational independent retailer Sarah Laker shared a wide range of ideas for increasing card sales.
Sarah looked at marketing and charity initiatives that had increased sales in her stores, and why some weren’t so successful. She also spoke about shop window displays and local community competitions that had brought new customers into her business. Her fascinating talk inspired many to get in touch with their suppliers/customers to look at emulating some of her promotional ideas.
A copy of Sarah’s presentation will soon be available in the members library.
GCA Market Report and Consumer Insights
Interesting insight into both the greeting card industry sales for 2022, and latest consumer activity on the High St was shared over two presentations:
David Falkner, co-owner of Cardology and GCA Council member shared the latest GCA annual Market Report figures, with the UK card consumers continuing to spend £1.5bn at retail on greeting cards in 2022. The full Market Report can be downloaded from the link.
Consumer Insights Kantar’s Moneeba Baloch and Ni Wang sharing some fascinating Consumer insights, looking at changes in shopping patterns, and how the current cost of living challenges are impacting how and where people shop, with card sales for the recent months in 2023 showing a 3% rise.
Adam Dury – the Market, Suppliers and Card Factory
A few days after some great market results, Card Factory’s Chief Commercial Officer, Adam Dury, shared his passion for the card industry.
He spoke about changes Card Factory are seeing on the High St, and how they work with other publishers. He also shared some interesting consumer insights – including an encouraging picture of young consumers engagement with greeting cards.
Wendy Jones Blackett and The Hobby that got out of hand!
Wendy gave an engaging and humorous insight into her entry into the greeting card market. She talked about her journey and what she learnt along the way as she build up her eponymous brand, with husband Steve and team.
Wendy has now joined the GCA Council, and in the run up this had helped organise the Conference and designed the Conference logo.
Members enjoyed catching up and talking cards over coffee breaks and lunch. 180 from across the industry attending, making this the biggest GCA Conference yet!
For the latest on our #Cardmitment Campaign see link.
Minutes of the GCA AGM 2023 and some of the presentations from the day will be added to the Members’ Library on this link
For report on our 2022 Nottingham Conference and AGM click the link
For report on our 2021 Manchester Conference and AGM click the link