Supporting Independent Retailers at Christmas by @The_GA_UK #IndieXmas

This guest blog was supplied by Isabel Martinson, Chief Executive of The Giftware Association who are dedicated supporter of independent retailers in general and specifically of the “Celebrate an Independent Christmas” campaign.

Often, when someone trots out the line, ‘The gift industry is worth an estimated £10 billion a year at retail,’ it makes me stop and think what an enormous privilege it is to be chief executive of The Giftware Association…

Who are The Giftware Association?

The Giftware Association is the trade body that looks after the interests of the companies that make up the gift and home industry – a membership that spans retailers, suppliers, manufacturers, designers, wholesalers, importers and exporters.

I’ve been at the helm of The GA now for 12 years – and I use the word ‘helm’ advisedly, having enjoyed a career at sea with the Royal Navy before navigating my way to terra-firma!



Working for the best interests of the whole Giftware Industry

At the risk of sounding like a pastor labouring a point on Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, the two jobs do have some similarities. Aboard a ship, the entire crew is working for the good of whole – and that’s the way it is in The Giftware Association.

My current crew does its best for the whole membership, giving everyone the maximum return on their investment in the association.

How The Giftware Association has evolved in it’s 65 years of existence

Today, The Giftware Association offers many more services than it did when it was launched over 65 years ago.

Now, retailer members enjoy savings on credit card processing through the Streamline scheme; legal fees protection insurance in the event of various inspections and employment law claims, as well as commercial legal help and advice through the Legal Helpline; savings on overheads (via Costwatch) and healthcare and insurance, as well as a newly-introduced scheme that entitles them to special offers at trade shows from GA supplier members. Just go to our excellent website, to discover the full range of what we have to offer.

As part of the British Allied Trades Federation The GA has greater negotiating power and a stronger voice to shout about matters that concern members.

The Giftware Association is a  community that cares about it’s members

We like to think of The GA as a friendly arm around the shoulder – a community where those who belong care about each other and which means more than just the membership fee.

I am proud to be its chief executive because I genuinely believe we take care of our members and help their businesses to grow.

If you are in the giftware industry do let us know. You can follow us on twitter via @The_GA_UK  or contact us via the website I look forward to hearing from you.

Blog kindly provided by Isabel Martinson, Chief Executive of The Giftware Association.

About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email
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