What employs 100,000 people around the country, has sales of £1.6bn and is stocked by one in six retailers around the country? No, not booze, it’s greeting cards.
One of the biggest players in the sector, The Card Factory, this morning unveiled plans to float on the stock market.
The company has used the British love of cards as a key selling point for potential investors ahead of the float, highlighting the “ingrained culture of sending physical greeting cards in the UK”.
British people send more cards than any other nationality on earth, according to figures from the Greeting Card Association (GCA), with the average person sending a whopping 31 cards every year, despite the advent of email and text messaging.
Apart from the fact that many scientific studies suggest sending greeting cards fosters positive signals in the brain to help fend off depression, the greeting card industry has a sizeable economic presence.
The industry itself has two peak seasons – Christmas, and what it dubs the Spring Season, which comprises a roster of ceremonies in spring like Mother’s Day, and easter.
The Christmas singles market is worth around £164.4m, according to the GCA, while the Christmas boxed market is worth around £200m. The Spring Season is little behind, with sales of £147.1m. Mother’s Day accounts for the biggest card-buying occasion during the spring season, with sales of £55.3m.
Interestingly, the GCA says the average retail price of a card in 2013 was £1.42. The Card Factory, a fixture on many high streets, could be considered a budget retailer in this context – it offers cards worth 29p, 59p, 89p, 99p or seven for a pound.
Card Factory has decided to launch its initial public offering just a day after the easter holidays ended, no doubt in time to impress its sales figures on potential investors when it goes out to meet them in the next few weeks.
Whatever happens to The Card Factory one thing is certain – the British love of cards will be a major factor in helping stock pickers decide whether to invest.