House of Fraser

In what is surely another blow to the high street, Hosue of Fraser has announced that it will be closing 31 of its stores, leaving only 28 stores open in the UK of the departmental chain.

If the plan is approved, 2,000 House of Fraser jobs will go, along with 4,000 brand and concession roles. The stores scheduled for closure, which include its flagship London Oxford Street store and Birmingham will stay open until early 2019, House of Fraser said.

The retailer needs the approval of 75% of its creditors to go ahead. The Creditors will vote on the insolvency plan, which involves company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), on 22 June.

Frank Slevin, Chairman of House of Fraser said the company was adapting to the retail industry’s “fast-changing landscape in order to give it a future and allow it to thrive”.

He said the HoF stores currently present  “an unsustainable cost base” which “presents an existential threat to the business”. So whilst closing stores is a very difficult decision, especially given the length of relationship House of Fraser has with all its locations, there should be no doubt that it is absolutely necessary if we are to continue to trade and be competitive. Our immediate focus is on our colleagues with whom we are communicating openly and supporting at this time.”

Full List of Hosue of Fraser Stores under threat:














Edinburgh Frasers,



High Wycombe,


Leamington Spa,


London Oxford Street,

London King Willam Street,


Milton Keynes,








As well as the store closures, House of Fraser’s restructuring deal will also see the rents slashed for a further 10 stores that will remain open.




The Giftware Association AGM and members day is just around the corner featuring a day of education, networking, and fun. The event will be held on the 20th June at the Mockingbird Cinema, in the heart of the creative quarter of Digbeth, Birmingham, a fitting area for our industry. Timings for the day will start from 10.30am and approx finish at 3.30pm

The theme surrounding this year’s members’ day will focus on preparing your business to be fit for the future, whether that means keeping up to date with the latest compliance and regulations or your journey to introducing your product range to market. We will have the experts, competition winners and member companies talking about their experiences in the home and giftware world. We will also be appointing our new Chairperson.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided, networking with your industry peers as well as a wealth of knowledge shared with you, and we are even offering you a treat and a chance to sit back and relax at the end of the day with a discounted screening of a new film,Studio 54: the Documentary. Please note this will be charged separately on the day, for only £3.

Tickets to the event will be £25 only for members and £50 for non-members.


Michael Weedon established Exp2 to carry out research and transformation projects for businesses. His background encompasses journalism, publishing, data analysis, IT development, board-level trade association roles, media commentary and lobbying – also, helpfully, public speaking.
Born over the shop that his Dad ran, he has a lifelong fascination with retail, an industry central to commerce, the economy, communities across the country and society in general.
He says: “Retail is changing fast. It spans cash-in-a-till shops and artificial intelligence and robotics. Paradoxically, Britain leads the world in the adoption of ecommerce, yet retail lags all other industry sectors in the share of business it does online – so there is much more room left for change to happen.”

The rest of the day will feature panels allowing you to ask experts and fellow members your questions on topics such as GDPR, Marketing and PR, entry to Amazon and the importance of entering industry awards. Make sure to book your place now.

For more information about the day or

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Meet The Buyer - June 8th

The Giftware Association invites you to attend our Meet the Buyer event with John Lewis, Oldrid’s and Unique Items.

After listening to our members and interviewing previous ‘Meet The Buyer’ attendees, this event, held in Birmingham at our offices in the jewellery quarter on June 8th, will feature a panel discussion from department stores John Lewis, and Oldrid’s as well as independent gift store Unique Items. A team of buyers from John Lewis headed up by Sara Allbright, buyer for Gifts and Candleshop, Buying Manager Lauren Wilson from Oldrids and Michelle Smamos, Buyer from Unique Items.

Whether you are attending the ‘Meet The Buyer’ event to showcase your products, or would just like to learn more about the buying process and have burning questions that you would like to ask the featured buyers.

John Lewis Logo     Oldrids Logo     Unique Items

This event will be for members only and will offer you the exclusive chance to learn more about what buyers are looking for and how to approach them. We will have limited space available for the full ‘Meet The Buyer’ event.

Meet The Buyer and Buyers Panel – £85.00
Buyer panel only – including lunch – £40.00

Spaces will be limited, so be quick to book your space on this exclusive event.

For further information, please contact

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M&S Store Closures

In sad news to a high street giant, this morning, Marks and Spencer has announced that it will close 100 stores by 2022, accelerating a reorganisation that it says is “vital” for the firm’s future.

M&S has revealed the locations of 14 stores that will be closed, adding to 21 that have already been shut. These locations include Basildon, Falmouth, Stockport and Andover.

It is part of a revamp that was started in November 2016, after posting a fall in profits of 5.3%, where is was announced the 100 lowest performing stores will be earmarked for closure. The decision to accelerate its programme was reportedly brought about after early results from store closures led to an increase in sales at newer out-of-town stores.

Last year, retail veteran Archie Norman took over as chairman. He said the retailer had been “drifting” and promised to speed up changes.

In January 2018, M&S announced plans to shut 14 stores, a move which put nearly 500 jobs at risk.

Six outlets were shut by the end of April with a further eight being considered for closure.

The retail giant is said to be focusing on more successful parts of its business such as food and moving away from areas such as clothing and homeware.



Shopping Decline

According to BBC news reports, the UK economy has grown 0.3% at the start of the year, its slowest growth yet since the first three months of 2016. Should this be worrying for our members?

Economists have predicted growth to slow down as consumers tighten their belts in the face of rising inflation, but had hoped for figures higher than from last week’s reports, even though these results are an estimate from  The Office for National Statistics and could be revised in the coming months with more accurate numbers.  Chris Williamson, Chief Economist, HIS Markit said “ The message is clear: The start of the year saw the weakest pace of growth for a year as rising prices have started to hit household spending.

Consumers have been suffering from the cause of inflation from the beginning of 2017. With inflation sitting at its joint highest level for more than three years at 2.3% in March. This has led to less of a household spending power and has in turn led to weaker retail sales, which recorded their biggest fall for seven years in the last three months. This is cause for concern for our retails members which will have a cause and effort for our supplier members.

This hails as a five year low before the Brexit budget a couple of months ago, and now Article 50 has been triggered, we have to wonder what this has in store for us. British retailers have seen non-food sales fall to their lowest levels in over five years as higher inflation begins to eat into the pockets of consumers. Though food sales have resulted in people buying more British produce in recent report from YouGov, but only if the price is right, again a sign that people are being very wary. One in five are more likely to buy British to help the economy whilst one in seven would favour any goods if they are British made but if the price is higher then they will look for cheaper foreign alternatives.


As inflation continues to rise, the caution in the pockets of consumers is expected to persist as shoppers focus on essentials such as food and fuel. Helen Dickenson chief executive of the British Retail Consortium( BRC )said “tougher times are expected ahead. The impact if inflation on consumer spending will add further intensity to an already fiercely competitive environment in which the ability to adapt and innovate will be the key to survival.”

It’s this survival attitude that is affecting our high streets as people turn to online stores for cheaper alternatives and use the high street less and less. Even with Interest rates at an all-time low consumers still want to hold onto their money in preparation for the future? And the unknowingness of stepping into the Abyss of Brexit.

Rising prices were at least in part responsible for the highest growth in spend on essentials in nearly five years, with the phenomenon ‘Shrinkflation’ where people get less product for their money, also prompting consumers to hold back on some areas of discretionary spending.

Dickenson has urged the government to support retailers and entice consumer spending.

With a General Election around the corner and Brexit negotiations already underway, any changes to the economy bring further risk adding more uncertainty and caution businesses, which also has a domino effect on business confidence and employment.

The Giftware Association would like to hear your views on this issue and if you are feeling the pinch or are actually celebrating success during these uncertain times, please get in touch at