Here is a selection of features from Gift Focus magazine.

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Capturing economic potential

Martin McTague, National Chair, the Federation of Small Businesses, shares how we need to think more broadly about innovation policy to capture the full economic potential. To many, the term "innovation" is usually associated with big names such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg. But, in reality, the development and use of new ideas and technology is not confined to the tech industry. We need to think more broadly about innovation policy to capture the full economic potential. A new report by the Federation of Small Businesses – titled The Tech Tonic – found that across all sectors, seven in ten (69 percent) small firms have introduced a new form of innovation in the last three years. This includes the development of an entirely new product(s) to their market (25 percent), significantly improved existing or new product(s) (38 percent), and better staff and customer experience (25 percent).

Constantly creating

When three friends combined their skillset, Crumble & Core was born. Seven years later, the company is going from strength to strength. In 2016 Crumble & Core began its life when three friends Jilly, Lucy and Lou came together with a cuppa around the kitchen table looking at Jilly's beautiful artwork. We wanted to find a way that we could use her incredible art to create a beautiful range of Cards and Gifts.

Winning back lapsed subscribers

Sherwen Studios commissioned research data and analytics group YouGov to survey more than 2,000 UK adults about their thoughts and opinions relating to subscription commerce. Here's some of their findings. Retail subscriptions are continuing to soar in popularity, as UK shoppers take advantage of subscription boxes that promise value for money, as well as the opportunity to try new products. But the very nature of flexible subscriptions mean that customers could choose to cancel at a moment's notice.

Looking forward

What makes GWCC so resilient in the market? According to Founder Ali Shaikh, "When a fan designs for a fan you get fan-worthy products...". In 1995, GWCC was established as a distributor of unbranded apparel. However, in 2002, our business underwent a transformation and we ventured into the realm of souvenirs and gifts. This marked the beginning of what our company has become today. We take immense pride in being a family business spanning two generations, with all four family members actively participating in every facet of our operations. Our obsession with quality and innovation led us down the licensing route.

Check out our March/April bookstand

This issue Gift Focus showcases the latest releases in the literary world, from books for weaving enthusiasts to must-haves for children, Pride Power is a guide for young people aged 11+ to introduce them to the power of Pride and the LGBTQIA+ community - there really is something for everyone! Ramadan Mubarak is filled with insightful words and guidance from a wide range of Muslim figures, including female and lesser-known voices, like Turkish female mystic Hatice Cenan Hanim and the South Asian poet and mystic, Hasan Raja to help your spiritual growth and deepen the inner journey Muslims embark on during this most blessed of months.

Reaping the rewards

A new survey by the GCVA has revealed that reward-based incentives are key to customer loyalty in a cost-of-living crisis. Research reveals two in five (40 percent) UK consumers would be more loyal to a retailer that offered modest rewards or incentives, such as a £50 gift card, as people continue to seek ways to reduce the impact of the cost of living crisis. The survey of more than 1,000 UK adults, commissioned by the Gift Card and Voucher Association (GCVA), found that just under half of households are worse off than they were this time last year, with 12 percent experiencing a significant impact on their personal finances. As a result, people are looking for more ways to earn and save.

Diversity matters

Leading experiential learning company,Impact, gives an insight into the benefits of workplace diversity. FTSE 350 businesses are paying more attention to diversity amongst their senior team candidates than ever before. The percentage of seats filled by ethnically diverse directors has risen to 22 percent. When it comes to gender balance, it has been found that 54 percent of new board seats have been taken by women, showing that companies are moving in the right direction. But why is workplace diversity becoming such a priority? One of the most obvious benefits is that organisations can gain precious insight from people with varied backgrounds and experiences. Impact, a world-leading expert in experiential learning, looks at ways in which diversity can enhance a business's operations and how it can be implemented effectively.

Anniversary milestones

Enesco is always asking what's next, with innovation and creativity key to its success. Enesco Ltd is part of a global company. The company started back in 1994 when Enesco, based in the US, bought two significant names in the world of collectibles Lilliput Lane situated in Penrith, Cumbria and Border Fine Arts in Langholm in the Scottish Borders. With the city of Carlisle being of almost equal distance between both locations, this was the obvious choice for the home of the new HQ for Enesco Ltd., Customer Services and Distribution Centre. 2024 sees the 30th Anniversary of Enesco Ltd.

Creative Freedom

Molly Mae designer and director, Jude Kenney, shares her journey creating beautiful greeting cards, having this year become the sole owner of the company. When did you start up and why? I think my journey to becoming a greeting card designer and starting up a business is not typical. I left art college with a degree in graphic design and my first job was working as an in-house Graphic Designer at Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital. This was an amazing first job, I learned so much and met so many fantastic people. At the time GOSH's website was a centred page of links in Times New Roman on a Microsoft cloud pattern background! I was keen to embrace any opportunity and took this challenge on, learning website design and coding, I created their first website, or what we might consider one to look like now....

An exciting path

Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, looks at howstartups are a powerful catalyst for economic growth. The term start-ups can be traced back to the late 1990s, when the early tech wave swept across the globe. These small businesses, filled with massive potential, include now-giants like Amazon, Disney, and Google. All these companies started small, in a climate where taking risks and dreaming big were the rule, not the exception. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has guided small businesses through the toughest of times, from the Covid-19 pandemic and now, the cost of living crisis. Still, it was them who took the wheel during our rebound from the economic recession of 2008. And nine out of 10 people who found their way back from unemployment did so either by rolling up their sleeves at a small fi rm or by charting their own course, through a start-up. The latest Small Business Index (SBI) shows a 5.5 percent growth aspiration increase from Q1 to 51.3% in Q2. FSB's message to policymakers is clear: think small first, encourage start-ups and back the 99% of business population on which our recovery will depend.

Adapt and conquer

How can UK businesses adapt to the lack of warehouse space? Slingsby Group Chief Executive, Morgan Morris, tells us more... The number of business premises used for warehousing and logistics has almost doubled in the last decade, according to the Office for National Statistics. This has been largely driven by the massive increase in e-commerce and online retailers such as Amazon – a company that accounts for a quarter of all warehousing space in the UK. In late 2021, property agent Cushman & Wakefield predicted that the UK could run out of warehousing space within a year. Over 12 months later, demand continues to be at an all-time high, with vacancy rates having been sat at less than 2 percent for the past year. This is way below the rate needed to balance fluctuations between supply and demand, which is 8 percent.

Photo ready

Dids Macdonald, CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID) looks at intellectual property, and what you can and can't do with images and photography. Intellectual property (IP) encompasses a wide range of creations, including images, photographs, and visual content. Whether you're a creator, a business owner, or simply an internet user, understanding how to properly use and protect images is essential in today's digital age. In this guide, we'll explore the proper use of images, common misuses, and tips for protecting your intellectual property.

10 questions about pop-up retail

Charley Crocker, Founder and Lead Agent of The Pop Up Shop Agents, answers themost common questions about pop-up retail. The high street is going through a restructure, as the previous model of long commercial contracts is no longer fit for purpose. An interesting proposition is to open a pop-up shop for a limited period of time in a popular location, to test the market and drive brand awareness. Pop Up Shops in concept form have been around for hundreds of years, if you consider Christmas Markets and other festival market days, when local businesses would gather to show their products. In the current form, pop up shops, or 'guerilla stores' became common in Los Angeles in the 1990's. By the early 2000's brands were using pop ups to create a memorable experience for their customers. A great example is Comme de Garcons, who opened a pop up in Berlin in 2004.

Stylishly practical

Primeur Managing Director, Jenny Douthwaite, discusses the company's heritage, and highlights its sustainable future... The business began in March 1968. The company was originally founded to supply Grattan mail order catalogue with Stainless Steel Tea service sets from Denmark. Whilst these products are no longer in our ranges, they were pivotal in our launch into the retail sector more than 55 years ago. From day one, our ethos has always been to supply products to our customers that add value to their ranges. Over the years, our sourcing has brought many different products categories to the UK and we continually seek innovation to bring to our customers. We began supplying doormats many decades ago and are very proud of the heritage and reputation we have built in this category.

Mission accomplished

Bruce Penson, Managing Director of cyber security and IT support company Pro Drive IT, offers five ways small businesses can lower their carbon emissions by optimising technology. In 2019, the UK government committed to achieving carbon neutrality, otherwise known as 'net zero', by 2050. This target might seem part of a distant future, but research has proven that we're already falling far short of what's required if we have any chance of meeting it. According to the latest update to the UN Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Synthesis Report, a sizable 13.7 per cent increase in global greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2010 is anticipated by 2030. As limiting global average temperature increases to 1.5 °C requires a 45 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, there's a lot more work to be done.

Employee experience

Looking to make a making a positive impact on your business with recruitment and onboarding?Caroline Gleeson, CEO of Occupop, a provider of industry-leading hiring systems, offers expert insight. When recruiting for vacant roles within your company, a huge concern may be how to retain the talent you're bringing in. Especially considering the research showing that 30 percent of new starters leave their roles within the first three months, and the financial impact of replacing them can be as much as £30,614 per research from Oxford Economics and Unum. This is a great example of why a good onboarding program can play a huge role in the retention of top industry talent.

Like Clockwork

Clockwork Soldier's offering covers gardening kits, stationery sets, puzzles, games, and novelty gifts. Discover more about its company journey. Over the years the brand has developed to include holistic learning themes and the use of sustainable materials. Our offerings have covered gardening kits, stationery sets, puzzles, games, and novelty gifts. Now we focus on creative kits that encourage building or making which can also be used to decorate a bedroom wall or desk.

Gorgeous Gifts

In partnership with wholesaler Ancient Wisdom, Agnes + Cat offers beautiful eco-friendly products to market. Here, Account Manager at AW-Aromatics, Radek Wlodarczyk shares their industry knowledge and expert advice. When did you start up and why? Agnes + Cat was created in the beautiful Lake district in the North of England. That's where we started designing our iconic range of candles and bath products, getting inspired by the surrounding nature and scents. To respond to the high demand from customers, Agnes + Cat creators partnered up with Ancient Wisdom Marketing, a wholesaler based in Yorkshire, to promote and produce their products and make them even better.

Occasional art

Simply Mourne Founder Catherine Bradford spotted a gap in the market for a potential work-from-home business to help support family life. Now, the business has a plethora o fin-demand products. "I started in 2016. I initially designed pictures for a hobby but saw a gap in the market. It was then that I could see a potential business from my hobby. I was on a career break supporting our eldest child through a challenging time. I thought if I could turn this idea into a business, I could work from home and be able to generate an income.

Social situations

Do you worry about your employees' use of social media? Here, guest blogger Sue Tumelty from Hr Dept looks at the benefits of implementing a social media policy. TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and now Threads – social media provides employees with a million and one ways to bring a company into disrepute: from posing in uniform and bad-mouthing customers on a personal channel to making an ill-judged comment on their official page. With 98 per cent of workers saying that they have social media for personal use, it is intrinsic to a business that they have legislation in place to prevent any mishaps from happening. Down under, the Nursing and Midwifery Council of New South Wales even had to warn its members about creating (presumably adult) content on OnlyFans.

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