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GA News: July 2015

July 2015: We bring you the latest news from The Giftware Association

Pitch to Rich boost for GA members
Although GA members who took part in the Virgin Media Business #VOOM initiative won't be walking away with part of the £1million prize fund, they've spoken enthusiastically about how the competition has helped to publicise their companies. Steve Barton who, with his wife Katrina, started Krasnaya in 2010, and developed Painta Pets craft kits, which they started selling through trade shows and trade magazines while "all the time keeping costs to a minimum". Steve commented, "We do everything ourselves and have established a brand in the UK, but we now need to go into volume sales and export. "We saw the Pitch to Rich Richard Branson as an opportunity for finance and expert advice. Our pitch has given us the chance to tell our story and promote it on social media. And although we didn't progress, we've had some great feedback and exposure."

Steve and Katrina use genuine Russian dolls for the kits - Krasnaya means 'beautiful' or 'red' - and two of its product characters are named after daughters Zoe and Ellie.

It took Keep This Cracker three weeks of hard work to prepare its pitch video. Be a Thackeray, owner/designer of the reusable alternative to the disposable party cracker, entered the competition with realistic expectations and saw it as "a great way to spread the word".

She said, "The support we received in the first round was amazing. Who knows how many hundreds, if not thousands, more people have now heard about Keep This Cracker?" All the support wasn't enough to get the company on to the final shortlist of around 90. "But coming in the top third out of more than 900 entries in the New Things category does feel like an achievement and every vote was very much appreciated," added Bea.

Business card invitation to enter Gift of the Year
Talent spotters will be on the lookout at Home & Gift for high quality products that are suitable for The GA's Gift of the Year 2016 competition, which will open for entries on September 6th - the Sunday of Autumn Fair. Gift of the Year judges and GA retail members and subscribers are being invited to hand special business cards - available from The GA's stand KS10 in the King's Suite - to suppliers of products they like to encourage them to enter. These talent spotters will then fill in a form with the appropriate details to enable The GA team to make follow-up visits to exhibitors' stands.

The GA doesn't anticipate that any new categories will be introduced for 2016, although there may be some refinements. No changes are being made to the judging line-up. However, people interested in joining the panel will be considered to ensure that the featured categories - spanning everything from gift and home products to gardening items and jewellery and fashion accessories - are assessed by a wide cross-section of retailers, from those online to independents, multiples and garden centres.

Home & Gift offers
The GA's member-to-member scheme will again be operating at Home & Gift. Retail members and subscribers will receive their vouchers for a variety of offers from exhibiting suppliers before the show. Those wishing to join the association or subscribe while they are at the fair will also be entitled to the vouchers and can collect them from The GA's stand.

The GA's stand will feature this year's winning and highly commended products. Outgoing Chief Executive Isabel Martinson reminds suppliers that the 2016 winner of The Judges' Choice category will be awarded a free stand at Autumn Fair by show organiser i2i Events, headline sponsor of the competition.

Networking opportunity
The GA and show organiser Clarion Events will hold a get-together for the association's members and subscribers at the close of the show on Monday, July 20th, at the barbecue area in the grounds of the Majestic.

It's 'business as usual' at The GA
Outgoing GA Chief Executive Isabel Martinson will make her final appearance as chairman of the Trade Association Forum (TAF) at London's Glaziers Hall on July 9th. She hopes to be joined at the annual conference, general meeting and awards by BATF president and former Chairman of The GA Kate Owen, as well as current Chairman Michael Papé and Vice Chairman Henri Davis.

Isabel explained, "Apart from networking, they are keen to engage more with the TAF and find out what conference believes might be the impact of the new government on business. This is good news for The GA and is part of the plan to ensure continuity: it sends out the message that it'll be business as usual after I leave."