Card Connection working with Irish retailers

As the Irish economy continues to face challenges, Irish retailers are increasingly taking advantage of the chance to diversify stock with no outlay through the innovative business model offered by Card Connection.

Card Connection is a franchise which supplies quality greetings cards and gifts to retailers through a team of dedicated franchise owners on a no sale, no fee basis. The company has franchise owners throughout the UK and is particularly strong in Ireland, delivering to many independent stores, plus well known brands including: Barry’s Of Mallow, Gala Retail Services, Mangans Wholesale, ADM/Londis, Musgrave/Daybreak and Topaz.

A full member of the British Franchise Association, Card Connection was established in 1992 and since then it has grown to be one of the UK’s largest greeting card publishers and is the market leader in the franchised distribution of greeting cards. Franchise owners regularly deliver and merchandise a selection of premium-quality greetings cards on a ‘consignment’ basis. This is a little like sale or return, except display equipment and merchandising expertise is available on free loan, allowing retailers to expand stock levels at absolutely no risk.

The Irish greeting card market is significant. There are many seasonal occasions where it is appropriate to send a card such as Easter, Holy Communion and Thank you Teacher as well as for the usual Christmas, Valentine’s, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Birthday celebrations. Franchise owners visit retailers about once a month to remove old stock and deliver new designs to appeal to the target market and ensure the displays are always kept looking fresh and up-to-date. The types of cards that work really well are often the hand crafted and tall hand-made designs which are both unique and special, offering the customer something different.

Gabriel McGeown is Card Connection’s franchise owmer for the County Down, Armagh and South Tyrone territory. Although there is not really a typical day, Gabriel spends most of his working time on the road with his van packed up with Card Connection greeting cards aiming to visit between six to nine retail stores. “The consignment system is very popular,” he confirms. “One of my main focus areas for growing the business currently is to work with new retail customers. New stores that I visit are very receptive to the Card Connection approach as it means they can offer more products to consumers at no extra cost to themselves. Many retailers are finding this particularly advantageous in these economically challenging times.

“Most retail outlets need to be visited at least once per month to deliver the supply of greeting cards and to ensure displays are kept looking fresh and up-to-date with seasonal product,” continues McGeown. “This is an important aspect of my work as attractive displays encourage customers, which of course, leads to higher sales.

“I deliver to small independent retailers and also to larger chains like Cost Cutter, Spa, Vivo and Musgrave,” he adds. “I regularly receive new business leads from Card Connection’s head office and when I have interest like this, I always aim to visit the retailer the following day. I believe that providing this level of service is one of the keys to running a successful business.”

In fact, Gabriel’s business is so successful he was named a Card Connection’s Franchisee of the Year in 2011 because he was consistently the UK’s top performer in average sales per retail outlet, growing his business volume sales 14 per cent in the past year. Gabriel also won Card Connection’s Regional Franchisee of the Year award for Ireland and Scotland as well as the Heidi Sulley trophy for Team Sprit and Tenacity. These awards recognised the help Gabriel gave to one of Card Connection’s new franchise owners in setting up in the region and the dedication he showed continuing to service his retail customers during some of the worst winter weather for many years.

Card Connection has seven franchise owners within Ireland and the team continues to support Irish retailers at a time when it has never been so important to look at new ways to introduce new revenue streams.

Card Connection has limited vacancies for franchise owners who are keen to run an expanding business. Successful candidates would ideally have some management experience as, once established, they would be expected to employ a small team, operate a warehouse and have several liveried vans on the road.

Due to the franchise networks in the UK and Ireland being complete, the available opportunities now consist of acquiring an already-established territory from an existing franchise owner. These vary in price according to their level of development, but start at £20,000 plus stock with earnings potential in excess of £50,000 per annum.

Owning a Card Connection franchise allows you to buy into an established company and a proven business idea. Franchise owners enjoy the flexibility of being their own boss but with the knowledge and dedication of an established and highly successful organisation behind them.

Card Connection franchise owners have their own exclusive territory with an extensive customer base. We offer all franchise owners immediate income and a portfolio of unique products.

Written by Andrew Cutler, Sales and Franchise Director, Card Connection