The annual GCA Conference and AGM is always a fun and informative day, bringing together nearly 200 GCA members each year to network and enjoy an agenda of key industry updates and discussion.
The 2021 Conference took place at the fabulous Bridgewater Hall, home of the Hallé Orchestra and host to the BBC Philharmonic, a fitting creative venue for an event which also included a lot of Manchester music.
With inspirational guest speakers, coupled with the chance to meet up with industry friends and discuss the key issues affecting our industry, and also to ask questions of our expert panel, it was an event that “scored highly on so many levels” as reported by PGBuzz.
Summary of the day
CEO Amanda Fergusson gave updates on the work the GCA has been doing providing information, support and an industry voice on the key areas affecting members’ during what has been a challenging year with Brexit, COVID-19 and supply chain issues. She also spoke about a number of GCA initiatives to drive the industry forward and also engage the next generation of card senders (attached below).
Amanda thanked our sponsors who are all GCA supplier members, meaning that they are personally recommended by other GCA members. All are also specialists in providing the services that they offer, during breaks members had the opportunity to meet and speak to the sponsors.
This was followed by treasurer Daniel Prince who presented the accounts.
The GCA said thank you to out-going president Rachel Hare and welcomed new president Chris Bryan and vice-president Darren Cave. The GCA also thanked Paul Woodmansterne and Jeremy Corner for the their contributions to the GCA over many years, and welcomed two new Council Members, David Falkner from Cardology and Seth Woodmansterne from Woodmansterne Publications who had come forward and subsequently been elected.
Guest Speaker: Jo Bennett, Card Factory
Our first guest speaker was Jo Bennett from Card Factory: A great big bowl of spaghetti ….some food for thought ….unravelling the slippery future ahead; Jo spoke about changes in consumer mindsets and how this may affect the path ahead for our industry (presentation attached below along with subsequent article in Progressive Greetings).
Guest Speaker: David Robertson, JP Pozzi
David Robertson, from independent Scottish retailer JP Pozzi followed with a lively speech: Rock Star Retailing. Peppered with uplifting Manchester music, he included lots of tips and ideas for building relationships with independent retailers. To get a taste of David’s speech see the subsequent article (below) that appeared in Progressive Greetings the following month.
Incoming president Chris Bryan
Chris Bryan – GCA President shared his thoughts on The Future for our Industry, reflecting back on the past year, and the cards we’ve been sending and also looking at why cards are more important than ever. Chris’s presentation has been adapted into a blog post on How Greeting Cards captured the thoughts of society in 2020 & 2021.
Guest Speaker: David Greaves, Emotional Rescue
David Greaves, co-owner of Emotional Rescue: A Fortunate Opportunity.
David’s passionate speech shared a very personal and inspiring insight into his career. His positive and uplifting presentation included a brutally honest and frank snapshot of his business life and childhood, which can be summed up with the two classic clichés of, “Rags to riches” and “In the face of adversity”. David ended his presentation by giving each delegate a card detailing some charities supporting disadvantaged young people and also those helping young people into the workplace .
Karen Wilson, Paper Salad on GCA Local
After lunch Council Member Karen Wilson from Paper Salad spoke about the importance of building connections to support the growth of our businesses and industry, and how key this had been to the growth of Paper Salad. She then introduced a new GCA networking initiative to connect members across the country: GCA Local.
Hot Topics Panel Discussion
Darren Cave introduced this session by sharing some of the key findings from the Consumer market report, which linked into the three key areas below:
Rachel Hare spoke about changes she has made in her business Belly Button.
Helena Mansell-Stopher, co-founder of Products of Change spoke about her organisation and responded to questions on Sustainability and the Plastic Tax due in April 2021.
Diversity & Inclusion
Sarah-Jane Porter from Moonpig discussed the dramatic switch to online card sells during the COVID-19 lockdowns and spoke about the opportunities offered by selling online as well as through High St retailers and how Moonpig is working with publishers to develop online content.
Close – Amanda Fergusson GCA CEO
Amanda thanked everyone for attending, the inspirational speakers and our Hot Topics Panel.
Ending with some further statistics from GCA consumer research Amanda reminded everyone that our industry produces a product that brings such joy to people, allowing people to express their feelings and sentiment to those they really care about:
- Cards are kept for sentimental reasons often being handed down in families, giving insight into relationships of the past.
- 48% kept cards their partner sent, 46% kept cards from their children. Other cards people kept were from special friends and occasions.
- We also asked consumers what the best thing about receiving a card was – and, no surprises, ‘knowing someone was thinking of me’ and ‘feeling a connection with someone’ was felt by many.
And a final reminder of the fantastic innovation in the UK card industry, coupled with enthusiasm for the product we produce, that should ensure that we continue to work together to support each other and ensure that the UK keep sending cards.