The Eclectic Lifestyle Company
St Eval Candle Company
Blue Poppy Art Ltd
The Candle Brand

A mixed picture - on and off the high street

GA chief executive, Isabel Martinson, stresses that what the national media presents as the retail picture in the UK isn't necessarily a true reflection of what's actually happening nationwide.

Isabel states, "It's important to remember that the surveys on which newspapers and broadcasters sometimes base their stories aren't representative of the gift and home industry. Nor are articles about failing phone retailers and disappointing supermarket results. "The Managing Director of a large and well-known giftware supplier has written to me to dismiss downbeat headlines about failing retailers as misleading 'rubbish'. My own feedback suggests a very mixed picture on and off the high street.

"There's no doubt that quite a few retailers are still struggling. But there are certainly strong sales for those who have an online element to their business and are prepared to go that extra mile by providing fantastic service and a memorable shopping experience. I have to agree with one of our members, Neil Coxon, of from you to me, who says that if you do the right things, retail success is still there for the taking.

"As for suppliers, many of those who are offering newness and well-designed and well-made products are growing their markets."

GA asks agency to 'take a look at what we do' The GA's appointed Barley House Group company Kanga Marketing to examine the association's position in the gift and home industry and provide clear direction to help it fully reflect the dynamic creativity of the market. During its research the branding agency will question existing GA members and other stakeholders, including trade fair organisers and lapsed members. Isabel says, "The GA took this initiative because our industry is now evolving so fast that it's vital we not only fulfil the existing needs of members, but also anticipate what these might be in the future.

"We aim to discover their perceptions of The GA and find out if they're aware of all the services that we offer. To this end, there'll be a comprehensive examination of our communications strategy to see whether there are any gaps that need to be filled."

Isabel urges GA members should answer any questionnaire they receive from the agency, and asks, "Please help us to help you. We only have your interests at heart - and your views will shape how we try to look after you in the future." Web traffic up: Retailers seek out new product as Christmas 2015 showroom is planned Traffic on The GA website has increased by 20 per cent since March, with visitors making a beeline to the virtual showrooms to seek out new product. Isabel says the showrooms have become one of the site's most popular features, adding, "This is an easy and inexpensive way for suppliers to offer their products to our retailers and many of them are missing set piece opportunities throughout the year to maximise their sales.

"We're now planning our virtual showroom for Christmas 2015 and already have 50 products from suppliers for display when retailers will be doing the bulk of their buying for the season.

"I'd urge those companies who haven't yet submitted Christmas product to contact Michael from our team, email michael.hardwick@ga-uk.org to book their places in the showroom."

GA boost as it signs up almost 100 new members and 400-plus subscribers The GA's signed up more than 400 retailer subscribers since January 2014, giving the association's supplier members a much larger target audience for their products. Almost 100 suppliers and retailers also became full GA members during the year. Isabel acknowledges, "We worked hard throughout 2014 to give excellent service and present tangible benefits, so it's gratifying that people on all sides of the industry continue to be attracted to what we offer."

Members' Day date The GA will hold its 2015 Members' Day - which will include the AGM - at its Federation House headquarters in Birmingham on Wednesday, 10th June, 2015. Members will again have the opportunity to hear inspirational speakers, attend industry 'surgeries' and network with fellow retailers and suppliers.

Further information For The GA, log on to www.ga-uk.org