The Giftware Association CEO Sarah Ward recently attended a recent Genesis Initiative meeting at Westminster, to discuss new proposals for making tax digital. The HMRC’s ‘Making Tax Digital’ programme will compel all but the smallest businesses to self-manage their tax affairs in a real time online environment. These plans will affect the everyday running of our members’ businesses but hopefully with advantages in terms of efficiency and reduced stress that will see an increase in productivity. Sarah Ward was in attendance representing the home and giftware industry.

Under the new initiative, from April 2019, businesses registered for VAT that have a turnover above the VAT registrations threshold of £85k will be required to keep digital tax records for VAT purposes and submit VAT tax returns through suitable software. The initiative has been delayed from July 2017 but will come into force next April in stages.

The Genesis Initiative has had concerns about the digital skills gap in SMEs, for the MTD programme to be successful there needs to be a considerable amount of upskilling on specific systems. The Genesis survey and focus group process suggest:

  • That at least 40% of SMEs are not adequately aware of MTD and the advantages it offers
  • Leaders respond, the digital tail tends not to. This means that the proportion of SMEs unaware of MTD could be higher than the stated 40%
  • At least 25% of SMEs still use primarily manual systems, without the assistance of accounting software, particularly at the smaller and self-employed end of the business spectrum
  • Less than 15% of those with awareness of MTD have become so via government sources. Trade bodies and online sources appear to have greater reach
  • Over 90% of SMEs would point to advice from their accountant or a software provider as the best way to become more digitally resilient, but 7-% think HMRC should provide specific MTD training
  • The potential advantages of MTD is as yet unclear among many small businesses, with equal proportions seeing negatives as those who see positives.
  • Genesis focus groups suggest trade association members have real concerns about the potential complexity of complying with MTD even with compatible software, but in contrast the same groups pointed towards some positive individual experiences. This may reflect fear of change as a factor in the run-up to implementation.

Sarah Ward said “It’s amazing to be a part of these talks and these meetings as we really want to represent the industry that we serve and having stronger ties to government. We feel really privileged to be a part of this historic decision and how it will affect our industry and our members.”

Sarah will next be attending Westminster on Friday, again with the Genesis Initiative to discuss businesses access to finance. If you have any questions regarding our government trips or if you have anything that you would like to raise, then please get in touch with a member of the team.

To find out more about making tax digital, check out the official government site here –



Created by The Ridleys, the brand to go to for Scottish themed personalised handmade gifts have added an impressive new customer to their list of stockists – Harris Tweed and Knitwear Ltd. The company, which is owned by the Campbell family are the most dominant Harris Tweed presence on the Isle of Harris and also where Tracy from Created By The Ridleys buys the tweed from “so for them to buy from me is probably the biggest compliment I could receive.” Say Tracy.


Harris Tweed and Knitwear Ltd was started by Marion Campbell, BEM who was born in 1909, the same year that gave birth to the Harris Tweed Association.  She oversaw and conducted the entire process herself, from raising the sheep that provided the wool, spinning and dyeing the yarn for her loom right through to the finished tweed length.

Marion was a one-woman marketing campaign for the Islands, a fact that was recognised not only locally but nationally too. Her decades as an ambassador for Harris Tweed and the Western Isles earned her a British Empire Medal in the 1985 Queen’s New Year Honours List. The honour was to mark her lifelong service to the Harris Tweed industry.
The company is now ran by Marion’s great niece Catherine Campbell and it is Catherine herself who visited Tracy in January.  Since receiving their first order they have extended the range that they buy from Created By The Ridley’s and order on a monthly basis. Tracy Continues “When I asked them why they were buying from me as there are cheaper versions of my products on the market, there answer was simply one word “Quality””

All of the products from ‘Created by the Ridleys’ are hand-made by a small team in their own workshops therefore they can tweak any of their products to suit their customers needs.

TK Maxx Wraps Up Deal with British Gift Industry

TK Maxx has wrapped up a deal to introduce more independent British gifts to its stores.

The retailer’s collaboration with The Giftware Association and British product sourcing specialist The Great British Exchange will provide a platform for innovative home, food and drink products from up and coming British producers.

Initial discussions began earlier this year and the project took less than four months to finalise, from first meeting to putting products on the shelves.


The Great British Exchange works closely with The Giftware Association to support the growth of innovative British brands and both organisations helped TK Maxx develop relationships with UK-based designers and manufacturers.

Keir Hayter of The GBE said: “This initiative is designed to promote some of the most exciting British brands and offer TK Maxx customers something that is really new and different.

“We have enjoyed working with the buyers to provide the support needed to turn this project around within just a few months.”

Sarah Ward, CEO of the Giftware Association, said: “The range and quality of British giftware that has been considered and selected during this process has proved just how much talent exists amongst our members.


“We are delighted that a major retailer like TK Maxx has recognised the potential in the UK giftware market and we are grateful to The Great British Exchange for their support with sourcing, logistics and bringing everything together within such a tight timeframe.”

The British giftware range will feature a constantly changing selection of brands and products.


We are working away through Meet The Buyer season and meeting plenty of exciting new suppliers and buyers. We have had events with Boots, The National Gallery and Bonkers gift shop. Which were all hugely successful to those involved and positive feedback. We have plenty more upcoming events over the next few weeks.


We are excited be working with innovative online card supplier “Moonpig’. Starting out in 2000, they pride themselves on having 100 million moments where people have bought cards and sent them through their easy to use service. 2018 sees them branching out from just cards and looking for giftware specifically Alcohol, soft toys, beauty and food and general gifting. Moonpig are all about bring their company motto to life “we’re all about making peoples days brilliant”



We are again working with the Shakespeares Birthplace Trust. The Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites in Stratford-upon-Avon. They will be looking for Shakespeare related, bespoke products, food gifts, children and licensing opportunities.



Our last event of the year is with two huge household names, John Lewis and Ocado. They will each be bringing who two buyers who will be looking for innovative gift ideas to stock in John Lewis 50  UK stores and massive and to feature in Ocado’s massive online retail presence. The John Lewis buyers are looking for stationery, time planers, gift-wrap and partyware and gifts and candles. The Ocado buyers are on the lookouts for beauty and gifting.


For more information on these events then please get in touch with a member of the team on




As we come to the end of the year, with all the major trade shows over…it’s time to start to start planning for next year’s events:


Scotland’s Trade Fair Spring takes place over 3 days from 20th to 22nd January 2019 at Glasgow’s SEC. Over 500 companies exhibit thousands of products to 5000 trade buyers from department stores, multiples, mail-order, online, tourist attractions and independent retail outlets who attend the show.

The show incorporates the following 4 specialist areas:

Home & Gift

Fashion & Accessories


Food & Drink

Showcase Scotland

In addition to the four main product areas Showcase Scotland covers approximately one half of the show and incorporates approximately 250 of the very best Scottish companies creating a focus for UK and overseas buyers of both new and established Scottish brands. Showcase Scotland boasts some of the most internationally recognised Scottish brand names.



The East Anglian Gift & Toy Fair is taking place within St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich, between the dates of Sunday 6th January and Tuesday 8th January 2019.

EAGF19 is organised by a fellow exhibitor and will introduce you to decision makers from independent retailers, garden centres, heritage sites, tourist attractions and department stores looking to secure all the new and exciting products for 2019.

Some regular exhibitors of the East Anglian Gift Fair include JonPaul Gifts Ltd, Bramble Foods, Norfolk China Ltd, Xystos, Moo Cow Studios, Lark Rise Designs, Little Spring Ltd & DS Hobbs & Sons Ltd.


GIFTS Isle of Wight is taking place at the Gracellie Hotel, Hope Road, Shanklin between the dates of Sunday 27th January and Tuesday 29th January 2019.

The show will introduce you to decision makers from independent retailers, garden centres, heritage sites, tourist attractions and department stores looking to secure all the new and exciting products for 2019.

GIFTS Isle of Wight is organised by fellow exhibitors and floor space costs just £49.00 per m2 (space only) along with an additional cost of £10.00 for electric.

Some regular exhibitors of the GIFTS Isle of Wight include SDL Imports, Sydney Bunce, Western Counties Wholesale, Jon Paul Gifts, Larkrise Designs and Norfolk China Ltd.


If you’re looking to get your products to maret – this is your open door to the South West buyers.

Giving and Living will introduce you to decision makers with purchasing power from independent retailers, multiple retailers, holiday parks, garden centres, heritage sites, tourist attractions, e-commerce and department stores. Buyers are attracted to the unique product mix, set in an easy to get to and manageable location. Spread over four days it’s less frantic than many other shows and certainly more enjoyable.

With a wealth of experience within our team of industry professionals, we work closely with you from the time of booking to arriving at the show. We will endeavour to make the whole experience run smoothly and ensure that product awareness is maximised to buyers before you arrive at the show. Exhibitors often receive orders before the show from our extensive and targeted promotional campaign.


Top Drawer is the perfect platform for UK and international lifestyle brands to present new ranges and best sellers in the curated and complementary worlds of Home, Gift, Fashion and Craft.

With each world showcasing an expert sector edit, this is where the leading brands, designers, suppliers, manufacturers and distributors come to do business with the most successful creative retailers and contract buyers from across the UK and beyond.

SPRING FAIR, BIRMINGHAM – 3-7 February 2019

Start your year off on the right foot and be a part of Spring Fair. Give your business the best possible chance; to build lucrative new partnerships, to meet buyers who are looking for products that will make their year. This is where retailers come to find the most diverse selection of the best, most innovative and exciting new home and gift products. Right people, right time, right place.


if you make, supply, license or distribute a gift or home product then it’s likely that this is the show for you. Exhibitors across the 16 show sectors include:

Inventors / Start-ups / Rebranded companies
Licensors / Companies launching new products
Brand owners / Manufacturers / Distributors and Agents


Farm Shop & Deli Show 2019 is on-track to be the biggest show yet and continues to grow from strength to strength, with increased stand space and a new ‘Healthy and Natural’ area.

The show is taking place next April 8th – 10th at NEC Birmingham. To support their fellow Giftware Association members to help you to be part of this unmissable event, they are offering preferential rates to members who wish to exhibit, supported by marketing campaigns to highlight giftware products and exhibitors at the show to the 1000s of independent retailers who attend.

Exhibitors can demonstrate their products and services to thousands of key buyers from the speciality sector, including farm shops, delicatessens, food halls, butchers, bakers, garden centres, greengrocers, online retailers, gift shops and so on.