Here is a selection of features from Gift Focus magazine.

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Brand Protection

Brand protection is a critical aspect of maintaining the integrityand value of a company's identity in today's digital age. Onesignificant challenge companies face is online theft, particularlyin the realm of design. Whether it's copying product designs,logo infringement, or plagiarism of creative content, such actsnot only erode a brand's unique identity but also undermine itsmarket position and revenue.To combat online theft from an anti-copying in designperspective, companies must adopt proactive measures. Firstly,registering trademarks and designs and designs is fundamental.These legal protections provide a solid foundation for pursuinglegal action against infringers. Additionally, watermarkingimages and incorporating hidden identifiers into digital contentcan deter unauthorised use and help track down perpetrators.ACID members can use the IP Databank, ideal for uploadingdesigns, plans, and copyright works. It facilitates cost effectdocument management and can be used in all sorts of situationsadding to the audit trail as vital evidence of a design's evolutionand the incremental stages.

Gift With Glass

Hannah Walker from Sienna Glass tells Gift Focus Editor Louise Prance about the artisan crafted products and the company's expansion into home ornaments, tableware, and aromatherapy products. We started 10 years ago after searching for a glass product for another project. Through this research we discovered a whole world of stunning glass products, fell in love with them and the rest, as they say, is history. Whilst taking a break from full time work to care for my elderly parents I was able to start a mail order business selling glass giftware. With lots of ideas for new products bouncing around in my head, I eventually found a manufacturer who could turn my ideas into a reality. With the help of my daughter Hanna, who was just finishing her business degree at university, Sienna Glass Ltd wholesale was born.

Female Focus

During the Great Resignation, which sawemployees voluntarily leaving their jobsen masse, recent statistics revealed that 29percent of women thought about leavingtheir current jobs, reducing hours ordropping out of the workforce altogether.With International Women's Day, backin March, gaining more traction than ever,many businesses are continuing to look athow to help more women feel supportedand empowered at work.Caroline Gleeson, CEO at Occupop,leading recruitment software experts, said:"International Women's Day is a day ofcelebration and advocacy for women'srights and equality around the world, butit doesn't have to end there. This spirit ofinclusion can be a springboard to fairerpractices all year round."Here's how businesses can retain theirtop female talent for the future.

Help in a crisis

Employees and workforces across the UK are feeling the strain of the cost of-living, with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) finding that nearly half of households throughout the country have experienced their living costs increasing compared to the previous month. Not only can this have a huge impact on expenses for commuting but can have a significant knock-on effect on mental health and morale. This is where employers and businesses can support their workforces during these difficult times to help keep morale and well-being boosted, as well as providing options that can help relieve some of the financial pressure that they're under. Before providing solutions to the issue, it's important to understand the reality of this crisis and how the ripple effects impact millions of workers in the UK. The rise of consumer goods and services by 9.6 percent in October 2022 and the inflation rate staying at 4.2 percent exiting December 2023 means that workers are forced to reevaluate how they manage their money and the resources available.

Social situations 

Whilst intellectual property (IP) infringement issues are on the increase, help is at hand from many simple, no cost safeguards that can be put in place immediately, to support by implementing expert AI monitoring and enforcement techniques Some of the main challenges include impersonation and account takeover. Impersonation, in other words account cloning, copying, copying brand logos, or using brand identities to click on 3rd party websites and promote scams is an issue as is account takeover, the spurious hacking and taking over dormant accounts to promote scams.

Summer of Sport 

'The Summer of Sport' is almost upon us – and what a summer it's set to be. The UEFA Euros, Wimbledon and of course, the Paris 2024 Olympics are all kicking off over the next few weeks. And with them comes a golden opportunity for independent retailers across the UK. With the world's eyes on Europe, the UK is set to enjoy a substantial uptick in visitors and local celebrations. Consumer confidence and spending is also expected to rise as Brits engage in garden parties, community events and a fair few trips to the local pub.

Take Pride

If there's one thing the independent retail market does well is champion and advocate for marginalised communities. And thanks to living in a liberal society, most months highlight different advocacy events that need supporting. For example, March is Women's History Month, June is Pride month and October is Black History Month. As a staunch advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion, I welcome these events in order to broaden my depth of knowledge, learn how I can do better, and educate myself about the pressing issues still experienced in society.

Smooth operator

National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Martin McTague, looks at how the VAT system operates. Reaching a half century is often a point in life where we take some time to assess our lives, health, and finances, and think about what we want to change. With value-added tax (VAT) having reached that milestone in 2023, we at FSB thought it past time to look at how the VAT system operates – and whether there are ways it could be reformed and rethought, so as to unlock economic potential among the UK's small businesses and the self-employed. There's evidence that VAT is holding back growth among a significant sub-set of small businesses, making an overhaul of the tax all the more urgent as we look for ways to grow the economy.

ACID at 25: What’s next?

Marking 25 years of ACID, CEO Dids Macdonald, shares how the group has become a driving force in empowering designers against intellectual property theft. In the late 1990s, many within the giftware sector and in the design industry, generally, faced a crisis as the rampant culture of copying threatened creative innovation. For designers and designer-makers, the frustration of witnessing their innovative designs stolen, often, by well-known UK retailers and manufacturers prompted action. Collaborating with an intellectual property (IP) lawyer and fellow designers, I formed a group to tackle this challenge, resulting in the creation of Anti Copying in Design (ACID). Over the past 25 years ACID has become a driving force in empowering designers against intellectual property theft. IP isn't rocket-science and our consistent focus has been on education and awareness, to help designers become "IP savvy" and to use IP as a positive force for growth.

A conversational piece

Fine fragrance brand Ampersand Managing Director, David Walker, discusses the genderless, environmentally-friendly scents that are making waves in the market. When did you start up and why? Our Fine Fragrance concept was launched in 2021 – it was really started out of pure frustration towards a very backwards and outdated industry. We've been involved in Fine Fragrance for 15 or so years, and nothing has been done in that time to help consider recycling or to reduce waste – in fact it's pretty much gone the opposite direction. All the fancy bottles cannot be recycled, the coated boxes and cellophane wraps are just landfill, endless vials end up in oceans – and all those things just amount to a larger price tag to the consumer.

Shop local

Local gift cards are driving spend in high streets and downtowns around the world, says fintech Miconex as it shares key insights from its local gift card programmes in the UK, Ireland, Canada and the USA. The range of independent businesses which accept Miconex's local gift cards – usually alongside a range of national brands – makes the cards unique in the sector. A typical 50 percent, and up to 100 percent, of its local gift cards are redeemed with independent shops, restaurants and venues. Retail was top for redemptions of local gift cards in 2023 in the UK. Primark, M&S, Boots, Argos, TK Maxx, Next, Sainsbury's, John Lewis, Dunnes Stores and Aldi were within the top national retailers. New national retailers including Co-op, Smyths Toys and Lidl joined the economy boosting local gift card programmes in 2023.

Pen to paper

A chance meeting inspired the launch of father and daughter business, Studio Pens. Since then the company has been on an upwards trajectory as a key distributor in the industry. Ian has a background in manufacturing and has been in the pen business for many years. Nikki's background is in marketing. Ian became involved in the pen world quite late in his career, as the result of a chance meeting in 1999 with George Kartsotis, the founder of US pen brand Retro 51

Cybercrime consequences

Martin McTague, National Chair, the Federation of Small Businesses, looks into the impact of cybercrime on small businesses. The Federation of Small Businesses' (FSB) research into business crime unveils a distressing landscape for small businesses in England and Wales, compounded by a surge in both physical and cybercrimes over the last two years. Cracking the Case, published in December, estimates that 81 percent of small businesses have been impacted by at least one crime since January 2021. This a significant increase from the 49 percent reported between 2017-2019. The financial burden of traditional crime is considerable. More than half of these businesses (56 percent) have faced losses exceeding £1,000, while 33 percent have incurred losses of up to £1,000. The situation is worse for one in ten businesses, who have lost over £10,000.

Outsourcing opportunities

Outsourcing is a common practice for many businesses that need an extra helping hand and expertise when it comes to business activities – and SMEs are no different. In fact, over one-third of SMEs actually outsource some form of activity.

Owen Campbell, Operations Director at Kura, says: "Any business, whether an established company or a startup just getting into their industry, can benefit from outsourcing.

"It not only helps manage workloads better, but it can ensure that all businesses have the right expertise and people in place to provide high-quality services.

"This can be especially useful for SMEs who don't have the time and resources to create whole teams within their business structure."

But what can SMEs outsource, and what benefit does it have for their business?

Online design

Dids Macdonald, CEO of Anti Copying in Design (ACID) looks at online design theft, and gives some indepth top tips about what you can do about it... With the expansion of global markets emerges the challenges of finding solutions when copying is discovered on social media and online platforms. It can be daunting discovering knock offs and even worse, knowing what to do. Whatever your design sector, content is king and more importantly, your content. This is all underpinned by intellectual property, which needs to be protected. Did you know that nearly 20 percent of UK SMEs have fallen victim to counterfeit product sales, amounting to severe financial losses for 93 percent of them. Moreover, an astounding £13.6 billion worth of fake goods infiltrated Britain in 2020, causing legitimate businesses to lose sales totalling £9 billion.

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.

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