• New Year - new cards at Postmark!

    Posted by postmark on 14/01/19

    Hello 2019!

    Hard to believe that two weeks of 2019 have passed us by already!

    We had a super busy Christmas here at Postmark and as much as I love the festive season it's always so great to get to January and see all the fresh, new card ranges hitting the shelves.

    This year is no exception.

    New Hulabaloo greeting card range from The Art File . Humourous cards for birthdays.Art File have surpassed themselves with a whole host of new ranges hitting the shelves this January. First up is Hulababoo.  Great puns and stylish designs they're great for everyone's birthday.

    Next up is 'Squeeze the Day' with it's fun, food based humour. Who says you can't play with your food! Again these are great birthday cards with some really good funny birthday cards for women.

     

     

    SZ03_resultMoving away from birthday cards they've also published a beautiful new range of art cards from Parisian designer, Michael Callioux, who has worked with some of the leading fashion houses. Each card is individually die stamped using vibrant neon inks onto a soft, tactile cotton mixed board and is finished with detailed debossed lines. Simply stunning.

    Paperlink have also got a fab new range of birthday cards for men out. This is a notoriously tricky side of the card market but the last few years we've seen a real growth in terms of quality and design in men's birthday cards. The new 'Axel' range with it's muted bold colours and a die cut finish makes these card stylish yet subtle. A real winner!

     

    That's it for now but look out for more great new designs coming soon!

    Mrs P

     

  • Introducing....Emily Coxhead, creator of The Happy News

    Posted by postmark on 13/09/18

     

    At Postmark we are incredibly lucky to work with talented designers and illustrators in the card industry. We often get asked by our customers how these people got started in this industry, so we thought it would be a great idea to try and find out how these talented people started.

    This month we have asked the exceptionally talented Emily Coxhead creator of The Happy News a few questions. Emily's cards are are bright and sparkly, sprinkling tiny pieces of happiness all over the planet.

    In the world’s tiniest, most rainbow-filled office, in a little village in Lancashire

    When you design a card, do you plan it out or is the process spontaneous?

    A bit of both really, there’s always a plan in terms of which occasions/relations I’m working on and then I usually think up the words first and often talk through these with my card publisher, Pigment and then the fun bit is doing the artwork which I sometimes sketch as rough thumbnails first and then illustrate/design each individually. Sometimes I will just have an idea or an illustration/sentiment that I’ll sketch which ends up being a successful card so it’s a good mix of both.

    What is your favourite card/range and why?

    Is this mine or somebody else’s? If mine…
    I’m loving the brand new range of open birthday cards I have recently designed, it’s a fresh new look and colour palette that fits very well with my products launching in Spring.GF71_BIRTHDAY_FIZZ1478094923.jpg
    If somebody else’s…
    Rosie Who Made A Thing (birthday card below by Rosie), I love her stuff so much it really tickles me and after meeting her at a few tradeshows I have the pleasure of calling her a pal (I think?! We haven’t really confirmed that so this might sound strange to her).

    Have you always worked in the card industry? If yes, what did you do before setting out on your own? If no, what were you doing before?

    I have always made my own cards, literally as soon as I could stick beads and glitter on card I was making them for anybody who would accept them. When I was at JN802AManchester School of Art, I set up an Etsy page which I used for several years to sell my cards and happy products. I graduated in 2014 and in 2015 I was approached by Martin Powderly at Pigment who wanted to help produce my cards on a larger scale, they saw something in my words and style before anybody else did really and they have been amazing in more ways that I could’ve imagined in terms of opening more doors for me and my brand …and the rest is history, as they say.What was your motivation to go into business?

    What was the biggest hurdle you had to jump to set up your business?

    Having zero money. As anybody knows, these days graduating from university doesn’t leave you in the best place financially, I had worked part-time at Topshop the whole time I was at university, so I could buy food, basically. I knew that if things didn’t work out after uni I’d have to get a part-time job which I was fine with but I didn’t get to that point, I lived off as little as I could, still living at home, not socialising very much and definitely not going on any holidays and slowly but surely things started working out, one small freelance job and card sale at a time. A lot of people who work for themselves or ‘go freelance’ have had a stable job and income before so it can be very difficult to step away from, I didn’t have that – I decided to do it straight JN805Aout of uni so I had nothing to lose really.SPARKLE

    Describe your business in less than 50 words

    JN805AThe Happy News aims to sprinkle a tiny bit of happiness all over the planet, it's a platform to share positive news and wonderful people as well as making people smile through the cards and gift/products they receive. We basically want to make you smile!

    When it comes to business what would you say is your biggest weakness and your greatest strength?

    My biggest weakness is absolutely, definitely delegating… I’m terrible at it and I know I need to get better at it as quick as possible. My theory is, if I can do the job, even if it takes me until 5am, I will do it, which doesn’t always need to be the case. I’m starting to realise there are amazing people who have their own amazing thing going on, stuff they are passionate about which can help different sections of my own business… whether that be my virtual assistant, my accountant or web developer… I got myself in to such a pickle trying to do all of these things when there are actually people who can do it ten times better and faster than you. My greatest strength.. eek this is a tough one! Possibly not giving up, I feel like when I want something or when I’m super SPARKLEpassionate about something I won’t stop until I get there, and probably won’t stop even then.

    If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?

    If you asked 4-year-old Emily she wanted to be a vet until she realised it wasn’t just cuddling fluffy animals all day. But in all seriousness, I don’t think I could not be doing at least something very similar to what I’m doing now. I have always wanted to just draw, create and make stuff, I’ve always been a little entrepreneur at heart and I think all of those things combined have created what I do today.

    Who would play you in a movie of your life and why?

    the-happy-newsI actually have no idea?! I’d love somebody like Renne Zellweger, but I think she’d be too old by the time the movie’s out (it is happening, isn’t it? Haha)… Maybe Amanda Seyfried?! She’d be a good fit I think, My mum always thought she was similar to me in Mamma Mia so that’s literally all I’m going off.

    What’s your favourite way to relax?

    Either a little walk to my secret happy place, a little waterfall near my home or the classic bubble bath always helps me relax… followed by a homemade cookie and cup of tea if I’m really pushing JN801Athe boat out.

    What’s your idea of food heaven and food hell?

    Heaven: doughnuts, cake, biscuits… basically anything sweet and sugary. Hell: (I don’t have much food hell) I tried caviar once, it was hideous… never again, thankfully

    And finally what advice would you give someone thinking of getting into the card industry?

    70028-doughnutsResearch, talk to people in the industry, go to events and tradeshows, email people and ask questions… Never think what you’re wondering is a silly question, because we’ve probably all thought it before and there really are a whole heap of people who are willing to help and give you advice. You might send 20 emails and get only one reply/spark of interest, but that one person could change everything. I’d suggest starting off my showing people some of your designs, make/sell some yourself on Etsy and at craft fairs etc and slowly build interest from there. If you’re passionate enough about anything and want it enough, you can make it happen!

    Thank you Emily for answering our Q&A! It's been great finding out more about you! If you would like to see more of Emily's work then pop into one of our London stores, Balham, Chiswick, East Dulwich, Greenwich and Kingston or have a look online. Emily's cards will definitely bring a smile to you face and warm your heart.

    Until next time,

    Mrs PM

     

  • Congratulations on your exam results! Yippee!

    Posted by postmark on 08/08/18

    alevelsIt's that time of year again and we have two very important dates coming up.....on the 16th of August we will be able to congratulate our young adults on their A Level results and our school leavers on the 23rd of August on their G.C.S.E results. Exam Results!  So here we go.... Fingers Crossed!

    Our young students have worked tirelessly preparing and sitting their exams so I bet they are super excited or massively nervous to find out what's in that little brown envelope.  As they rip open that envelope to find out their fate, there will either be screams of joy or tears of sadness.  prod_37122They will either want to jump for joy or drown their sorrows!  So please remember to be kind to our young adults at this life changing time. Whether they have passed with flying colors or not quite secured their desired university place we need to congratulate them for all their hard work!  No matter what their results are be ready to offer them a hug, a high five or a sympathetic ear.

    gcse If your young adult needs some advice regarding their exam results they can call the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 900, their lines will be open from the 16th of August to the 30th of August.  The advice offered is free of charge from a team of career advice experts.  The advice given will be specialised information, offering help and guidance to students who have higher or lower exam results than expected and want to know what to do next.  Students can expect to be given advice on: skills, qualifications, subject choices, re-sits, re-marks, sixth form, college, university, higher education, further education, gap years and moving away from home.  The bulk of callers will be from worried students, however parents can also call to review the options for their young adults.

    So as result day(s) draw closer have a browse online at our fantastic congratulations cards or pop into one of our London stores, Balham, Chiswick, East Dulwich, Greenwich or Kingston and pick up a card or two.

    Until next time, Mrs PM

    you did it

  • Thank You Teacher

    Posted by postmark on 03/07/18

    sunCan you believe another school year is nearly over!!  The sun is shining and it feels like we may be lucky enough to have a sunny summer this year (fingers crossed)!

    big thank youSo let’s start off by saying a really big THANK YOU to all the teachers and teaching assistants out there who have survived another year with our children.

    We have a wonderful selection of thank you cards for you to choose from, online and in store at one of our London branches – Balham, Chiswick, East Dulwich, Greenwich and our newest kid on the block Kingston.

    JESChoose from one of our hundreds of brands, from the fun filled confetti cards of James Ellis Stevens, or one of Caroline Gardner's striking embossed designs, or a beautiful modern design by the super talented Claire Giles, or a funny card from Pigment Productions. GN1017B (1)

    Why don't we have a little history lesson?  Let’s take a look back and see when it all started.  Around 1200 BC in Egypt boys from well off families were taught reading, writing and arithmetic.  Moving across the seas to Britain and the Roman invasion around 100AD, young boys and girls were taught reading and writing.  Free education in the UK was mandatory from 1179 and mandated by the church.  Fast forward to 1870, boys and girls are being given an education provided by the state.  By 1918 the Fisher Education Act, raises the school leaving age from 12-14!  Can you imagine our children leaving school at 14?  However by 1972, the leaving school age has risen to 16, phew.  In 1986 G.C.S.Es are introduced to replace O-Levels and C.S.Es.   Education as we know it today has come a long way and offers a multitude of opportunities for our little people.

    GTPom

    As well as thanking our super teachers and teaching assistants this summer, sometimes we may also have to say, ‘sorry you’re leaving’ as ourteachers decide to leave one school for another, or we may have to say Happy Retirement as that wonderful age confirms the end of an era.

    To all the teachers out there, THANK YOU!

    Until next time, Mrs P

  • Staff picks! Favourite cards from our lovely staff

    Posted by Mark on 23/03/18

    In order to work at Postmark you have to like cards, better still you have to LOVE cards!! One of our longest serving members Rob really likes cards!  So we asked him to choose his top 5 and here are favourites!

    Underground by Lagom Underground by Lagom

    Underground (Lagom)

    I love this card! It’s a timeless, vibrant depiction of subterranean London life!  Paul is an award winning illustrator living in London; his work is bold, colourful and graphic.

     

     

     

    Incredible Birthday – James Ellis (Shakies)

    Incredible birthday - Shakies Incredible birthday - Shakies
    From James Ellis Stevens Shakies range, this Card is a perfect piece of bold, comic book design. It looks Classic and colourful, and the shake-able glitter adds to its explosive dynamism!

     

    Tell me! Will McPhail Tell me! Will McPhail

    Tell Me – Pigment – Will McPhail

    As an animal lover, I have always found watching dogs chase their tales endlessly fascinating! What do they think they are going to achieve??  This card I feel provides a hilariously unexpected answer to that question!  A unique humour card from Will McPhail’s ‘Colourful Mind’ range for Paperlink.

     

     

    Epic Birthday – Cath Tate

    Hello Lucky - Epic Birthday Hello Lucky - Epic Birthday

    This card is a funny and playful rendering of ancient Greek myth. The Minotaur, Zeus and Aphrodite all surround Mount Olympus in camp, action packed stance. A beautiful gold embossing collides with its cartoonish design to connect the classical with the new. Designed by the clever guys at Hello Lucky.

     

     

     

    Counting Stars - Bacon Counting Stars - Bacon

    Don't go Bacon my heart – Counting Stars

    This card is genius!! It has a tiny miniature frying pan attached to it, and inside that, three rashers of streaky bacon! Its message that the recipient makes everything better like bacon is high praise indeed!

     

     

     

    Thank you Rob for your top 5 cards!

     

    Mrs Postmark

  • Independent Thinking....Mark Janson-Smith on slaying the ‘doom mongers’

    Posted by Mark on 06/03/18

    What a couple of weeks that was!

    All the snow, cold and general chaos brought by the 'beast from the east' at least gave us some time to sit down and get round to penning another of our regular articles for PGBuzz.

    Enjoy!

    Mrs Postmark

    This year started with so much doom and gloom about the future of the retail industry, in both industry and national press, that even I, the eternal optimist, couldn’t quite stop that voice in my head whispering ‘Is this the beginning of the end of the high street and greeting card industry?’ 

    A handful of trade shows later, both home and abroad, and I am delighted to say that ‘the voice’ has been happily silenced, largely down to the quality and commitment to design that I’ve seen.

    Wandering around the shows it was incredible to see the volume of great new designs and products on offer across the board, but I have to give a special shout out to The Art File which continues to go from strength to strength with 13 new ranges on offer as well as numerous range additions already this year – impressive stuff.

    In the weeks since the trade shows orders have been placed and I’m eager for the new arrivals to begin rolling in so we can recharge our collections and bring something fresh to our customers, keeping them interested and more importantly coming back for more!

    Zongshuge Bookstore, China is a great example of exciting retail – the kids section is amazing Aesop new London flagship store in Chelsea is such a beautiful shop design.

    This fresh outpouring of designs from our publishers throughout the year is truly what enables us (and other indies) to give our customers what they want and ultimately keeps us in business. Clearly it’s a two-way street, given that it would be difficult for publishers to reach the same volume of customers without retailers, but it’s inspiring to see them keep pushing the boundaries and coming up with fresh products and ideas, even when there are rumblings about the future of the high street.

    As retailers we should be aiming to do the same as publishers and keep refreshing our product – ie our store environment – keeping it as exciting and interesting as possible for our customers, enticing them back again and again.

    It’s no secret that the way people shop is evolving and as retailers we simply have to keep pace with these changes or we’ll be left behind. Customers today are far more discerning then they were even 10 years ago and will more often than not expect their shopping experience to reflect the quality of the product they’re buying.

    While online sales continue to grow, the physical thrill of picking, buying and taking away a product you love there and then means the high street still has a lot to offer and is a long way from being deserted. From my experience this is especially true for smaller items like cards and stationery.

    That said, while customers still want to shop instore they do also expect a smooth journey across all shopping channels – offlineonline and social – and want to be able to look or buy from anywhere. Browsing at home online before hitting the high street is now the norm for many customers who can now be left perplexed to find a bricks and mortar retailer without a website.

    While you may never sell very much online, I do believe that having an online presencedoes add value and increases your visibility, leading more people instore. Once instore, as retailers we

    Zongshuge Bookstore, China is a great example of exciting retail – the kids section is amazing Zongshuge Bookstore, China is a great example of exciting retail – the kids section is amazing

    need to go all out to engage with our customers, understand what they want and keep them interested.  Great layoutlightingand product range are essential, as well as, of course top notch customer service.

    Larger retailers are fast cottoning on to these changes with many offering online ordering instore for home deliverycafesbars and even gyms so customers can socialise while they shop as well as the ability to buy from anywhere (be online or via social media channels).

    Realistically smaller business can never offer this level of interaction but it’s not necessary as this really isn’t what our customers are looking for from an independent. Here they want to feel part of their community, that they’re involved in something unique, and that their support is making a difference to the local vicinity – but they also want a pleasurable shopping experience and great products.

    For me creating this kind of exciting and inspiring shopping environment is the part of retail that really excites me the most, even before making a profit. Getting people excited about buying cards is the key to all of this and we’re always thinking beyond the shopfloor, trying to come up with ways to engage with our customers and not just about our shop but about the industry as a whole.

    Perhaps counter-intuitively our campaignsare not driven by a desire to increase salesinstore as I think we need to be really careful about over commercialising our industry and putting people off the simple pleasure of sending and receiving a handwritten note in the drive to make a penny or two.

    As retailers, I really believe we are far better off, creating great retail spaces and promoting the joy a card can bring in a non-commercial way as the natural benefits for us all will follow.

  • New Year - New cards!

    Posted by Mark on 25/01/18

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Yes, yes I know i'm a bit late and  just about still able to say that by the skin of my teeth but things have been super busy here at Postmark so the first few weeks of the year have just flown by!

    Christmas was really great for us, with some fab feedback from customers online and instore about how varied and inspiring they found our Christmas ranges. We love hearing this kind of feedback as it means a lot to us to know that our lovely customers like what we've sourced for them and keep coming back for more!

    But there's no rest for the wicked as we're back to the grindstone sourcing out new and exciting cards. January is the start of a glut of trade shows for us. Last week we were at Top Drawer, this weekend it's the Paper World in Frankfurt and the first weekend of February will see us, and about 8 million other retailers, descending on Birmingham for Spring Fair.

    So far we've been really impressed by what we've seen and picked up some great new ranges.

    Kendra Dandy 

    US based artist and illustrator Kendra Dandy is known for colourful, vintage inspired work. Her instantly recognisable work has lead to collaborations with a wide variety of brands including Anthropology and VANS. This is her first range of greeting cards brought to us by the lovely people at Pigment.  A real pop of colour to blast away the January blues!

    Hey Birthday Girl by Kendra Dandy Kendra Dandy

    Nutty Neon

    Pure tongue-in-cheek humour these new funnies from Pigment (again!) have had us in rolls of laughter!

    New funny Nutty Neon card from Pigment Nutty Neon

    Cool for Cats

    Another exciting new collection from the Art File featuring cats for cat lovers everywhere. Cool for Cats is a fun range, featuring embossed lines and hot foil finishes. The envelopes are pretty cool too, printed with a frame of pawprints around the edge!

    New Cool For Cats cards from The Art File Meow!

     

    Hello Lucky!

    This is technically not a new range as we used to stock Hello Lucky a few years ago, ordering them straight from San Francisco where the company is based, but we had to drop the range due to problems with delivery and rising costs. So we were delighted to see the range back in the UK and looking better than every thanks to the very clever guys at Ohh Deer!

    Hello Lucky cards from Ohh Deer Hello Lucky

    I'm really looking forward to hitting the ground in Birmingham. Will let you know what we find!

    Till next time

    Mrs Postmark

     

  • Top five charity Christmas card packs

    Posted by Mark on 27/11/17

    With December 1st later this week Christmas is officially about to begin. Although we've been preparing for months we only start putting out Christmas stock in early November with Advents and Christmas card packs first.

    Charity Christmas card packs are hugely popular, and rightly so, as they are not only great to give to friends and family but also support a huge number of brilliant causes across the UK.

    Choosing one can be hard when you're faced with a big selection so here's our top ten.

     

    Woodmansterne - Conducting Christmas 20 pack of Christmas cards

     

    5. Woodmansterne - Conducting Christmas

    A fantastic box Christmas cards, designed by Quentin Blake, with proceeds supporting Childline UK.

    Great value too at £7.99 for 20

     

     

    ArtPress are incredibly proud to be launching their Royal Academy Collection. The Royal Academy is an independent institution led by distinguished artists and architects whose purpose is to promote the creation, enjoyment and appreciation of visual arts through exhibitions, education and debate. This wallet contains 10 cards with matching envelopes of Ian Ritchie's Mary on a Mule with Joseph.4. ArtPress - Ian Ritchie 'Mary and Joseph'

     

    A very popular charity Christmas card set at Postmark, this simple yet striking design is from Ian Ritchie and is in support of the Royal Academy of Arts

     

     

     

    Art File are immensely proud to support CLIC Sargent and their outstanding work they do across the UK for children with cancer. For every Charity pack sold, 48p will be donated to CLIC. Each pack contains 6 cards and 6 matching envelopes.3.The Art File - Festive Llama

    Next year's big thing, Ilama's have made an appearance this Christmas including this fun and festive pack from The Art File. Supporting CLIC Sargent this pack of six cards retails at £4.99

     

     

     

    2: Caroline Gardner - Christmas Tree Caroline Gardner's wonderful Christmas charity packs are a great way to help support Meningitis Now. For every pack sold 30p is donated to the trust. 5 cards are included in each pack with 5 matching white envelopes. The cards are printed on FSC board with a foil and embossed finish.

    This wonderful Christmas charity pack supports the work of Meningitis Now and impress family and friends this Christmas with each card enjoying a foil and embossed finish. £5 for five cards.

     

     

     

    An exceptional Christmas card charity pack from The Almanac Gallery, helping raise much needed funds for The Royal Marsden Charity. 8 high quality cards are included this pack with matching white envelopes1: The Almanac Gallery - Collection 

    The Almanac Gallery produce a fantastic range of charity Christmas cards each year including this wonderful traditional set. Supporting a wide range of charities they card packs come in a variety of sizes 8, 12 and 20 and range in price from £5.50 - £8.50

  • Independent Thinking.......Spooky thoughts with Postmark

    Posted by Mark on 01/11/17

    Hi all,

    Hope you all had a fun Halloween.

    Here's the latest in our 'Independent Thinking' article for PG Buzz

    See you next time

    Mrs PM

    Independent Thinking: Spooky stuff from Postmark

    Leona (centre), Aoife and Dannan Janson-Smith,
    all geared up for Halloween – no sign of Mark!

    Mrs Postmark (Leona) is a huge fan of Halloween. In fact as I’m writing this she’s happily decorating the house with bats, huge fake spiders, skulls and a whole host of other spooky creatures ahead of our annual Halloween get together with neighbours and friends before we head out ‘trick o treating’ with the kids who share her demonic enthusiasm in equal measure.

    I honestly couldn’t understand her passion for it when we first met until she explained that growing up in Ireland Halloween was a really big thing. “American rubbish” I’d say, but of course, as she happily pointed out, I was very wrong. Halloween is in fact deeply rooted in Celtic culture and has its origins in the Irish festival of Samhain, all of which found its way to the US.

    Postmark is a fan of this Pango Productions’ Halloween card.

    Postmark is a fan of this Pango
    Productions’ Halloween card.

    She’s got a whole stash of stories about hacking Jack O Lanterns out of turnips (very hard apparently, no pumpkins in Ireland in 1982), wishing for the ring in the Barm Brack and always getting the rag (don’t ask me, it all sounds a bit crazy) and roving around collecting money and sweets dressed in a variety of costumes which seemed to be almost entirely based around a black bin bag sprayed with left over Christmas snow and a cheap plastic mask.

    However, her enthusiasm for the 31st of October is a bit infectious and since we’ve had the kids it’s become a very fun time of the year for us. And we don’t seem to be alone. Halloween has really taken off as a calendar event for UK retailers in the last five years, with consumers expected to spend almost £500m on decorations, food and costumes this year alone.*

    The stockrooms are piling up with Christmas cards ready to go out on display when the time is right.

    The stockrooms are piling up with Christmas
    cards ready to go out on display when the time is right.

    There still isn’t much call for Halloween cards, and I doubt it’s ever going to be a huge card giving event, but in solidarity with Mrs Postmark’s love of the scary season, this year we decided to stock a very small selection of the cute Pango Halloween cards, which have gone down really well with our customers.

    Aside from all the spooking goings on this is also the time of year when many smaller retailers start thinking about putting out Christmas stock. We’re pretty traditional at Postmark and try to wait until the week of November 1, but in the last few years we’ve seen an increase in requests for Christmas stock in some of our shops from about mid-October onwards.

    I know for a lot of retailers the decision of when to put out Christmas stock can be really tricky and getting it right is a real art. Go too early and you risk annoying those customers who are fed up with Christmas lasting four months, go too late and you’ll lose out to competitors.

    Timing it just right to turn the shop festive is something Mark Janson-Smith wrestles with. Seen here (right) with Scribbler’s Eliot James (left) and House of Cards’ Nigel Williamson at the judging for The Calies, UK Calendar Awards.

    Timing it just right to turn the shop festive is
    something Mark Janson-Smith wrestles with.
    Seen here (right) with Scribbler’s Eliot James (left)
    and House of Cards’ Nigel Williamson at the judging for
    The Calies, UK Calendar Awards.

    We hold back mainly because that is what the majority of our customers want. They are pretty clear that they’re happy to wait and will actively say how nice it is to come into the shops and not have to look at Christmas in October. However, as already mentioned, there is a small, but significant, number who are asking for Christmas cards, sometimes as early as September.

    To help balance all these needs we’ve started to direct any early Christmas shoppers to our website where we open our Christmas shop in late September. Plus, we also keep a selection of Christmas cards to hand for them to browse instore if they ask.

    This does mean getting our Christmas orders in and processed as early as we can (late August/early September) but this online/instore division seems to be working well for now. However that’s not to say in future years we won’t find ourselves staggering our Christmas roll out at different dates in different stores to ensure our customers are happy.

    Christmas is coming… to Postmark.

    Christmas is coming… to Postmark.

    Apart from customer feedback, one of the other major reasons we don’t put Christmas stock out until as late as possible is the impact it has on everyday card sales. Shelves packed with Christmas stock may generate interest but unless they are selling through it means less space for everyday items, which people are keener to buy there and then. Getting that fine balance right – gauging the point when a Christmas bay will generate more revenue per day than everyday stock in that same space is always front of mind for me at this time of year.

    To my mind, whenever you decide to set the Christmas ball rolling is really down to when you think you can start selling it. For me I’m happy to hold back as long as I can and then see the sales come through right from day one of the roll out. Admittedly, this can be hard to do when you’re facing a stock room full to bursting, but I think it’s a decision customers appreciate it is one that will benefit in the long run.

    Halloween may be when you are supposed to be spooked out, but for me ensuring you get Christmas right is far more scary!

    https://www.retail-week.com/data/data-halloween-retail-spending-poised-to-hit-472m/7013345.article

  • Independent thinking......Getting to grips with HR

    Posted by Mark on 12/10/17

    Our latest article from PG Buzz on getting to grips with HR.....

    Judging by the amount of stock amassing in the stock rooms at Postmark, Christmas is well and truly on the way. Which also means lots of time organising everyone to be where we need them to be, making sure the shops are looking good and well stocked and customers are filling their baskets. It’s not rocket science, but as we all know any tasks that involve staff, rotas and holidays always takes time and a little (absolutely tiny) bit of swearing!

    In my previous life I never had to worry about rotas or managing the needs of more than two or three team members so I had no idea how much time I was about to start spending doing jobs like this when I started at Postmark.

    The Postmark team celebrating winning two Retas awards.
    The Postmark team celebrating winning
    two Retas awards.

     

    Now don’t get me wrong I love spending time with the team but any sort of formalised HR seemed a bit OTT for a business of our size and besides as long as the shops were open everything was fine. Right? Well not exactly.

    Like lots of other small businesses by being a bit relaxed about how we managed our staffwe were in danger of breaking a few laws and harming our business by not having full control over what our employees did and how they did it.

     

     

     

    In fact the top five HR pitfalls that business like ours face are:

    1. Employing the wrong people (a costly mistake I’d think we’ve all made).
    2. Not creating clear job definitions or job descriptions.
    3. Ignoring performance issues.
    4. Not understanding basic employment law (shared maternity anyone?).
    5. Owners not acknowledging the need for HR (insert little red face here).
    Leona Janson-Smith travels by bike between Postmark’s shops to visit staff.
    Leona Janson-Smith travels by bike
    between Postmark’s shops to visit staff.

    I personally would add another, which I think is above and beyond the five mentioned above – time. With so many other things to do you ask yourself why bother and if you do want to bother where do you start? It can really seem daunting but it seems to us, the best thing to do is keep it simple otherwise you’ll never keep it up.

    Communication is King. Which is where I started. It helps that we love a chat at Postmarkso it didn’t take much to formalise it a little bit. We did this by putting in regular catch-ups with senior staff and encouraging our managers to give feedback as soon as possible – positive and negative – as this nips any staff problems in the bud or praises great work when it is still fresh. Those who felt nervous or unsure about this process I spent time going through various scenarios with them, which was both very funny and eye opening at the same time.

    Formalising HR matters has reaped rewards for Postmark.
    Formalising HR matters has reaped rewards for Postmark.

    We also put in place an appraisal planand wrote up some proper jobdescriptions for everyone. It is time consuming, but it really does make a huge difference. Staff now feel looked after, listened to and in return we get a chance to encourage development and think about delegating more responsibility to those who are keen, which can only be a good thing.

    We’ve recently also put a performance-related bonus scheme in place to reward great performance and encourage our staff to go that extra mile for our customers. It’s all new and worked out using something that I can only describe as the ‘MJS equation’ (MJS = Mark Janson-Smith), but acknowledging the great work our staff do is something Mark and I feel very strongly about and we hope will have a really positive impact on our business.

    It also helps to get organised. When I first joined Postmark the HR files were… well, they didn’t exist. So, one of the first things I did was spend a bit of time sorting out a very simple contractwhich everyone now signs that clearly sets out their hours, wages, holiday allowance and notice period and making sure we recorded evidence of right to work. On the training front we worked out a checklist for new starters, which has really helped our managers ensure everyone is given a proper induction and trained to maintain standards.

    Of course all this extra HR was all a little bit weird for everyone at first, as it wasn’t something we were used to doing. However it has really taken off. Our managers now feel more confident dealing with any staff issues that come up; everyone has a clear idea of what they are supposed to be doing and to what standard and there is lots of feedback and support.

    The MJS (Mark Janson-Smith) Formula for a good start to the day – a cuppa!
    The MJS (Mark Janson-Smith) Formula
    for a good start to the day – a cuppa!

    For us it’s meant we now have a clearer line of communication with our staff and some of the things they’ve fed back to us have been really interesting and surprising. Sometimes it can be hard to hear but it’s important that they feel they can tell us when things are going right and more importantly, when they’re not.

    The changes we’ve made over the last few years haven’t been revolutionary, but they’ve definitely had a big impact on how we all work. Looking after the team can be frustrating at times but it’s definitely worth it, especially when we get feedback from our customers about how great the service was or how fab the shop looked. It makes us very proud of all the hard work the teamput into our businesses and for that we think they deserve the best we can give them.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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