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..."

harry potter hoodie When did you start up and why? 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.

What prompted you to launch the business? GWCC started via essentially a need to feed a family, then fed into an obsession to do better than what was on offer.

What challenges have you overcome since the company's launch? We have overcome many challenges however the standout one being when COVID hit the UK. With a majority of our business in supply to the gift and tourist trade, this hit around 95 percent of turnover so was a huge hurdle for us and almost defeated us. However, we stayed resilient and have bounced back better Tell us about your product offering. Our product offer is around 70 percent apparel and 30 percent gifts; we have our own family-owned manufacturing unit in Karachi Pakistan in which our ethos of quality and innovation is centred. We also have our own office in China for our gift production. The reason to have all these in-house processes is to keep the control on quality and develop a small number of suppliers with our way of working.

What are your most popular products? Our most popular product is our hoodies, which are crafted from ultrasoft materials and embellished with innovative techniques. These are essential in any gift shops, we have versions for Transport for London™, Warner Brothers™, Harry Potter™ and London England™.

Have any styles taken you by surprise with their popularity? Yes, our gift range for Harry Potter™ has been a real point of difference in bricks and mortar stores as the fans really appreciate the detail and quality, we are very happy with them and look forward to expanding the range.

grey mind the gap hoodie How do you keep your designs fresh and current? Do you follow trends? We are fans of our genres, so this comes naturally to us, when a fan designs for a fan you get fan-worthy products.

What sets you apart from your competitors? Honestly our founders' words are 'don't look left and right, look forward', we have always operated by this. We pretty much do our own thing and let the products speak for themselves.

How are you finding the current climate in the UK? Is it affecting business? The current climate for us has been very good since coming out of COVID – touch wood – we have increased year on year, and we hope to carry on doing that.

How do you view the future of independent retail? We see a very bright future finally independent retailers are taking real pride in presenting their stores uniquely and focusing on an experience for the customers. We feel our products go hand in hand with this.

Are you active on social media? How is this important for the business? We are on social media (@gwccgroup) as we build a following for our quality, we believe this is how we can connect with fans without a retail presence.

Do you have any advice for new businesses starting out in the world of gifts? To be honest we are not known for giving advice as we are learning all the time, however, if there was it would be 'do what you do.'

What can we expect in the future from the company? We are vastly expanding our product offering across all our ranges over the next few months, stepping into categories we have not presented in. Also, we have signed a new license which is LEVC’s London Taxi Brand so look out for that GWCC product range with that!

GWCC T: +44 (0)1582 509 280 | www.gwcc.uk.com

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