Gifts & Greetings Review was pleased to attend the annual general meeting of The Giftware Association (GA), held at the Association’s premises in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and well attended by both supplier and retailer members.
Chief Executive Isabel Martinson opened the meeting with a warm welcome to delegates attending both in person and via the live stream that proved so popular at last year’s AGM.
Isabel was followed by Chairman Andrew Illingworth of major giftware supplier Widdop Bingham, who presented the key activities conducted by the GA over the last year. Recruitment and retention of members is still the key challenge facing the GA, but Andrew was pleased to report that there is 90% retention of supplier members and 81% retention of retailers, with most of the attrition due to financial reasons. Thanks to the GA’s active presence at 15 annual trade events 126 new members were signed up since the last AGM.
One of the biggest campaigns spearheaded by the GA in 2012 and this year was the anti dumping duty initiative in response to the EU directives relating to ceramics imported from China, that Andrew said had: “Enormous repercussions for the UK industry.” The GA’s proactive campaigning in Brussels enabled its members to “make key decisions in advance of regulations,” which came into play on May 16 2013. The GA was greatly supported in this work by W2 Products and Creative Tops.
Other activities included new marketing to potential retail members led by national committee member Mark Jones of Occasions Retail, which has resulted in supplier members offering more great deals to the GA’s retail community.
The GA is also a strong supporter of the Independent Christmas Campaign led by retail champion Claire Rayner, of which Andrew commented: “I think this is really important, we all know the high street is changing,” adding that it’s vital for the industry to keep up with these changes in order to survive and thrive on a diverse, flourishing high street, especially given the high rates of retail vacancies in town centres.
Also of great importance to the GA is the promotion of British-made product, which has led to the creation of a virtual showroom of made-in-Britain items produced by GA suppliers, from which retail members can source new ranges ahead of anyone else.
With great product firmly in mind, Andrew referred to The Gift of the Year competition as the “jewel in the crown” of the Association, and was proud to note that 50% of last year’s entries came from new members. He thanked media partner Progressive Gifts & Home and Spring Fair for hosting the event, saying: “I think [Spring Fair organiser] i2i Events did a fantastic job.” Two new categories will be introduced to the 2014 awards, Gift Food and Home Fragrance, reflecting the growing importance of these categories. The Collect It Award will be changed to Commemorative and Collectible Gift, while Body, Mind & Spirit will be reincarnated as Body, Bath & Spa!
The next Gift of the Year Awards competition will be launched at Autumn Fair International 2013, due to take place at The NEC, Birmingham, from September 1 – 4, and the closing date for entries is December 16.
Andrew also paid tribute to “a remarkable, inspirational lady, Gisella Graham,” winner of the GA sponsored Honorary Achievement Award at The Greats awards hosted by Max Publishing earlier this month, and also David Patling, who won the GA prize at the British Craft Trade Fair.
Finally Andrew introduced the GA’s fantastic new website, the key aim of which “is to bring increased sales to members and be a showcase for the GA and industry it serves, we want it to be the hub for the industry.” He thanked outgoing marketing manager Stephanie Hale for all her hard work on the site and welcomed her replacement Imogen Holmes.
Following Andrew’s update David Simmons, son of the GA’s founder Elkin Simmons, presented the GA’s special Elkin award for “individuals who’ve made an outstanding contribution to the giftware industry to the popular and much admired John Joyce, Director of the British Jewellery Giftware and Finishing Federation.”
“John has been involved in this industry for many years,” said David, ” dedicating a large amount of his time to fellow businesses. Above all, John has been generous with his time and in some cases financial investment with fellow members, particularly those who are new to the market. His help and wise counsel has been very much appreciated by those he has helped, and he was greatly supported by his beloved wife Janet, who he sadly lost last year. I am really delighted to ask him to step forward to take his award.”
A very pleased but somewhat surprised John said, upon receiving the award: “I’m totally shocked, nobody told me about this, I’m glad I came today!” He gladly paid tribute to his industry friends and colleagues, commenting that “most people in our business are really, really nice, it’s fantastic. I’ve been to America and it’s not so friendly but doing business with people in this country really is good and it’s an industry I’m very pleased to have worked in.”
This was a very popular choice of award recipient for GA members and John received a standing ovation. Congratulations for your well deserved accolade from all at G&G Review.
We would also like to thank Elements Giftware for the wonderful incense included in the goody bags, we think it’s lovely!