Retailer Categories closing date extended to 1 March

Stationery Show 1

Good news for all retailers who sell stationery – you have another two weeks to get your entries in for the inaugural Retailer Stationery Awards, as organisers have extended the deadline until midnight on Friday 1 March 2019.

The Retailer Categories, which are brand new this year, are:

  • Best Specialist Stationery Retailer
  • Best Non-Specialist Stationery Retailer
  • New Store of the Year
  • Best POS/Merchandised Display of Stationery
  • Best Customer Experience Initiative

Entry to the Awards is easy by completing a form on the Stationery Awards website at  Each form also allows up to 8 images or supporting documents to be uploaded to illustrate and support your entry.

“This is the first time the Stationery Awards have been open to retailers – so whilst we have had plenty of Supplier Entries (it is the ninth year for these) we are still getting the word out to retailers that these Awards exist, that they are easy to enter and will be judged by a credible panel of knowledgeable suppliers and retail consultants” said Vanessa Fortnam from the Stationery Awards.

Judges already confirmed for the Retailer Categories include:  George Wilkinson, managing director of Nuco International, Jack Straw, managing director of BrownTrout Publishing, Kerri Middleton, managing director of Busy B, Jane Reucroft and Chloe Bayles from A Gift For The Gods, Gemma Bassett, marketing manager of Sinclairs (and a Thirty Under 30 star nominee), Chris Stott, managing director of Pukka Pads and Rebecca Saunders, independent retail and e-commerce consultant.

For further information please contact:

Vanessa Fortnam,


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SARAH WARD, CEO of The Giftware Association gave an inspiring and positive speech to a captive audience at the 2019 Gift of the Year awards on Sunday 3rd February. Please see a full transcript of the speech below:

Look in the right direction and the future looks bright….

The Giftware Association is the voice of the Giftware Industry and, as we all gather here this evening to celebrate the best new products for 2019, I can proudly state that the industry we all love is in a very good place indeed. This, despite reports about the failing high streets, empty shopping centres, rising operating costs, and the B word. I want to replace Brexit with other B words, which I think are more relevant to this trade show and this evening’s celebration: BOLD, BRAVE, BRILLIANT and BRITISH.


Inside Retail’s authoritative guide to the UK retail market provides us with some convincing reasons for focusing positively on the UK, and I want to address this with my own reflections on what we, as the GA, are engaging with, supporting and providing opportunities for. All, of course, driven by a very positive outlook – if we look in the right direction.

  1. The Economy: The UK remains resilient despite uncertainty and despite retail sales growth slowing in December 2018 compared to the year before.

There is a definite argument to be made that in challenging times, real growth comes with risks, and moving into exporting is a risk worth taking. We have been supporting a significant number of our members with their move into international trade, advising them on this enormous and very exciting step. If it is backed up by a brilliant e-commerce platform, then growth is all but assured.

Equally, for British manufacturers and retailers, the increase in focus on Buy British and Buy Local products presents an additional sales opportunity with foreign visitors and proud Brits. Transparency with regards to the British Made mark of quality are vital now and will provide businesses with the chance to tell their stories and really engage with their customers.

  1. The UK Consumer continues to love shopping: they are harder to please but happy to buy new and interesting products.

What drives innovation, apart from necessity, is retailers being in tune with what consumers want. We have been staggered by the Gift of the Year competition this year. There was a clear sense from some of the most exciting entries of a story being told – of the ways in which these products can benefit consumers: from simply bringing them joy, to helping them relax or creating experiences that they can share with friends and family.

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When businesses know, understand and love their consumers, they bring to market products that ensure the industry thrives. Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium says that: “Fundamentally, successful retailing will always be about understanding the customer. With the support of public policy, it will be the resilience of our retailers, that will see the industry thrive.”

  1. A growth in entrepreneurial independents who know and love their customers

Many lessons can be learnt from those leading the independent sector. They cultivate their own style, and combine products to form a unique buy and give their customers a point of difference. The best independents truly understand who their customer is and how to engage them, always keeping them in mind when creating or buying.

  1. Booming e-Commerce: The UK is leading the world in e-commerce sales which is boosting demand for new products, thus opening up enormous market potential.

Now is the time to update your website. It is vital that businesses stay on top of the digital revolution and embrace change. As daunting as this may seem, it is via organisations such as the GA that you can learn, understand and access resources for supporting this change.

Key to the e-Commerce revolution is understanding that selling is about more than just selling. Consumers by and large make their final buying decisions with their hearts not their heads. Does your imagery, messaging, marketing clearly communicate the WHY? Your WHY. Show passion for your products and your customers and the two will find a way to connect and relate now and into the future.

  1. World Class Retailing: Having learnt how to operate in bad times, UK retail is transforming to be ready for the new retail landscape.

During a celebration such is this, isn’t this exactly the message we want to be shouting from the rooftops about? We are a nation of world class retailers – here right now in front of me are world class retailers. And our innovative suppliers as well – just look at the products we are here to celebrate, born from a unique understanding of your customer and a creativity and retail awareness that deserves all the accolades coming your way.

As Henri Davis writes, “As retailers and suppliers to the retail market, our job is to continue to give your customers a reason to keep spending money by offering a great selection of products that are well priced against the competition. Make sure everyone feels welcome when they contact your business.” Food for thought certainly as we progress further into 2019.

And what is the Giftware Association’s role in this positive future?

Our team spends a good portion of the year visiting every trade show in the country, speaking to our members, understanding what their needs are, offering advice where needed and encouraging them to take on some of the further retail opportunities provided by the organisation.

Make sure you visit us in Hall 5 this year – for the second year we have partnered with Buy-From Britain to bring 10 businesses new to the trade show, here to exhibit for the first time. These new members reflect just how diverse this industry is and features two shortlisted products and two finalists in this incredible 2019 Gift of the Year competition.

We have been on the front line of retail now for over 70 years and totally understand the challenges faced by our members. That is why collaboration and education are key – driven through organisations such as ours, determined to provide opportunities for learning and inspiration via our seminars, workshops and blogs and opportunities to meet buyers and understand market trends via our Meet the Buyer events. Now, more than ever, we recognise how vital it is for us to engage, support and drive growth in the industry we care so passionately about.  The Giftware Association is your voice, your network, your champions. Together we will grow, develop, inspire and engage more than ever before.

It is competitions such as Gift of the Year, that celebrate Independents alongside larger brands, equals in every way. Celebrating the best in home and gift retailing, the Gift of the Year Awards are the most highly-respected industry accolades aimed at recognising the best new products.

So here we are…. Ready to hear who the winners are from this incredible range of finalists. My last point to make to you all is to once again encourage you to keep looking in the right direction. So, congratulations for reaching the finals – you all deserve to be here and we look forward to seeing what 2019 will bring for all of you.

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Tsai x Tsai Main Image.JPG
How did you start your business, Tsai x Tsai?
The brand, Tsai x Tsai, was started after a long family conversation during a trip back home to Taiwan. I wanted to create a brand that shares some of the beauty of Taiwan with the world.
What is unique about your jewellery brand?
Colour and heritage. Our design ethos is all about minimalist chic and colour. We use only semi-precious gemstones because of their connection to Mother Nature. We believe in making a statement without shouting out loud. Tsai x Tsai is about understated design which subtly catches the eye.
Where do you currently sell your jewellery?
At the moment we are selling mostly online and through our stockists across UK. We have also been participating in pop-ups in Paris and in West London – Belgravia, Kensington, Westbourne Grove, Chelsea, Fulham etc. These pop-ups have given us the valuable opportunity to engage with our customers directly.
What are the challenges of running a jewellery brand in the UK?
A saturated market is definitely the biggest challenge. There are so many talented jewellers and designers in the UK that the competition is fierce.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting out in the jewellery industry?
Be passionate about what you are doing. Don’t follow the trend but follow your heart. It is so tempting to change your design concepts to follow the trend but trends change constantly, so you should always follow your passion and inspiration.
If we could help you with one aspect of your business, what would that be?
Getting into more UK retailers. I am aiming to expand across UK and I will need support in managing this growth and expansion.
What news do you have to share with us so we can celebrate your achievements in 2018?
We launched the brand in December 2017 so there has been a lot to celebrate in 2018.
Our first pop up was launched in February at Westbourne Grove; our champagne partnership with Champagne Deutz was announced in March; we had our first overseas pop up in Paris and a brilliant time at House and Garden Festival. We dressed opera singers from London Bel Canto Festival for their performance at the Cadogan Hall.
We started going to trade shows and was also exhibited at Spirit of Christmas while having a shop for three months on Kensington Church Street before end of the year.
There has been so much so celebrate about and we look forward to more achievements to come in 2019.
What are you looking to achieve in 2019?
For 2019, we are looking into expand the brand across UK and France. Our objective is to have stronger brand awareness throughout the UK and not just in London. We aim to have our products stocked in jewellers and gift shops throughout the country.
What trade shows can we find you at in 2019?
We have yet to decide which trade shows to take part in. We are thinking about International Jewellery London and Premiere Classe so far. In terms of retail shows, we will be exhibiting during both Spirit of Summer (House and Garden Festival) in June and Spirit of Christmas in October this year.
Product Spotlight: Please feel free to shine a spotlight on your TOP 5 pieces for 2019.


We are incredibly excited to share this video we made to celebrate our Gift of the Year competition, from previous years winners, current entrants and the awards night.

This year was a great year for us with a record number of entries from over 250 companies.  The opportunities are amazing and we love hearing your success stories from the winners and highly commended,  about how the award evening and the display on our stand at Spring Fair brought people across to their stands and placed orders, which is always great to hear.

Watch the video to find out the real benefits of the competition.




The GA’s 2019 Yearbook is now available

After the success of last year’s Giftware Association Yearbook, we are proud to present the updated edition for 2019, which launched at Spring Fair.

The Yearbook features over 100 GA members and service providers, giving information on their history, products and services. It’s a fantastic directory no matter what sort of gift products you are looking for, or where your business fits into the vast and diverse gift and home industry.


It is a beautiful image-led yearbook with all members featured on a double-page spread to show off their products, and of course all of their contact details. We heard only good things from buyers who ordered a copy of last year’s Yearbook, so we are confident this latest edition will be even more popular. Order yours while stocks last.

Copies of the Yearbook are available for £10; please get in touch with Simone at with your details if you would like to order one.

Participation in the 2020 Yearbook is open to all GA members, so if you’re interested it’s never too early to let us know. Contact Simone today to book your place; there’s no commitment from you at this early stage.