Gifts Today magazine

Everyone’s a celebrity

GA is moving forward with new branding, chairman, CEO and approach to members

Celebrity service is exactly what the Giftware Association are aiming to offer all members with their new branding, chairman, and CEO – handily that was also the title of the headline speech at this week’s AGM and Annual Members’ Day.

The amusing and informative talk from motivational speaker Geoff Ramm pulled together the tone of the 68th AGM held on Wednesday, 15 June, at Pewterers’ Hall in London where Henri Davis stepped up from being the first retailer vice-chairman of the GA to become the first retailer chairman.

And independent retailer advisor Henri, who currently works with Scribbler and is a columnist for Gifts Today’s sister title Greetings Today, has chosen Blue Eyed Sun MD Jeremy Corner as her vice-chairman, while Amanda Fergusson, formerly of Caroline Gardner and now an independent consultant, was elected to the national committee.

Proceedings were opened by Sarah Ward, announcing that her first AGM and Members’ Day since becoming chief executive last October would be a more informal affair than previous years with matters concluded by lunch, followed by a number of informative seminars and workshops.

Explaining that a quarter of the world’s population now use social media, Jeremy then introduced first speaker Thomas Power who described how the traditional world of institutional business, with its closed, selective, controlling way of operating, is being ousted by the emergence of network thinking where companies and people are more open, random and supportive – adding that it can be difficult to embrace because firms need to keep some information private.

Outgoing chairman Michael Papé, of Ravensden, then reported on the GA’s activities over the past 12 months, and his two years leading the association which culminated in appointing Sarah as CEO to take them forward, the revamping of the Gift of the Year competition, which will be further promoted on a stand at the upcoming Autumn Fair, and the rebranding.

He added: “Over the past eight months we have been striving to establish a team that can move the association forward into our next era of growth.

”Under the leadership of Sarah they have all gone from strength to strength developing significantly and producing material of the highest quality such as the new stand at Spring Fair, the Giftware Association Lifestyle app, the Spring Fair promotional video, the At Home Magazine and the business boost days to mention a few.

“The team have visited 22 trade shows so far this year, many of which we haven’t visited before. The objective has been to speak to as many members as possible to find out what is keeping them up at night and if in any way we can help them work through any issues they might have while at the same time raising awareness of the association and our plans for the future.” 

The GA has also formed an informal partnership with DesignGap, bringing their 120 members under the association’s umbrella as a standalone company with the aim of reviving the innovative creative thinking in art brand.

Having explained what brand identity involves, designer Paul Felton detailed the GA’s rebranding – first unveiled in the May/June issue of Gifts Today - with the new contemporary coat of arms logo taking inspiration from the glass prancing horses presented to association founders Elkan Simons and Percy Sweetser on the 25th anniversary in 1972 and a gift crown with ribbons.

After receiving the chain of office from Michael, Henri told the audience of gift industry suppliers, retailers and exhibition organisers: “This is a very special moment for me, I feel immensely proud to have been asked to be chairman.

“I am a retailer and I have worked in the stationery, card and gift sectors for almost 30 years – I’m passionate about building the GA’s retail base while ensuring that, in doing so, we do not alienate our many supplier members.

“We are all part of the same supply chain and, whatever side of business we are in, we all need each other. Each is nothing without the other and, wherever you are placed in the chain as a member, you have far more in common with each other than perhaps you imagine. Many of the services we offer are equally useful to all of our members.

“For me, it’s all about being relevant to our various types of member. My job, working closely with Sarah, Jeremy and the national committee, will be to ensure that our members and potential new members are aware of the very real advantages that belonging can bring.

“Sarah comes from a business background and she is as passionate as I am that we should offer members terrific value for money and that they should be able to see very clearly what their subscription buys.

“I want all our members to feel that belonging to the GA is a truly positive experience so they perceive the value of their subscriptions.”

The meeting was wrapped up by author and speaker Geoff who highlighted how customer care is for everyone: “There is a gap in your service that you don’t realise exists – but if a celebrity walked in to your business tomorrow you would fill it straightaway. That’s the celebrity service everyone deserves.”

Pictured are Michael, Henri and Jeremy, with Sarah cutting the celebration cake and Geoff addressing the audience.

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