Carte Blanche Group (no. 38)
Tangmere-based Carte Blanche Greetings was formed in 1987, when founder and chairman Stephen Haines launched his company with 12 cards. He always wanted to have a brand and it has since grown into an award-winning company featuring powerful brands, such as blue-nosed Tatty Teddy, launched in 1995 – cute yet more masculine than Forever Friends – and a product portfolio distributed in more than 60 countries and published in 14 languages. Me to You has an annual global retail value of more than US$1 billion and the company has a £59 million turnover.
The greetings card market has matured in two decades, from somewhat staid images and messages to an exciting, stylish and humour-fuelled one, with cards to suit every occasion. In that time, Haines has seen the old buyer relationship alter to one where discounting is frequently a key point. In this fashion conscious industry, Haines is a leader, not a follower and the company has secured a new partnership with Zeon, the UK’s largest watch importer, to develop unique branding on its existing range.
Having undertaken a major management restructure in October, the company is well positioned at a time when High Street dynamics are changing. Haines continued: ”We’ve seen 40% growth in our licensing business, yet products sold directly to retailers have fallen. There’s a £1.4 billion market for greetings cards, yet fewer than 4% are bought online.”
Tatty Teddy products evolve all the time and the Christmas range which is currently in stores includes bears in Santa suits, tree decorations ranging from hanging bears to baubles embossed with bears, bears in stockings, bowl and first cutlery sets, crackers and cards – a widely appealing selection. With pester power and sheer appeal, the gifts are proven best sellers.
Carte Blanche website