Greetings Today magazine, giving you the bigger picture

Henri’s all sheepish

Freeman joins Alan Titchmarsh in historic tradition after BBC R4 appearance


HENRI Davis has had a busy few days driving sheep across London Bridge and meeting Daleks while talking about stationery’s continued popularity and rising sales.

The Giftware Association’s deputy chairman and Greetings Today columnist was in good company taking up her rights as a Freeman of the City Of London as this year’s leader of the annual sheep drive was TV personality Alan Titchmarsh.
More than 600 Freemen took part in the tradition on Sunday, September 30, that dates back over 800 years to when London Bridge was the city’s only river crossing.
Run by the Worshipful Company Of Woolmen, it now raises thousands for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and the Woolmen’s Charitable Trust, with 30 sheep provided for the day by a Bedfordshire farmer, and 10 are driven over the bridge at a time by successive groups of Freemen.
A couple of days earlier Henri was invited on to BBC Radio 4’s You And Yours consumer affairs programme on Thursday, September 27, in her day job as a retail expert on stationery – and she bumped in to a Dalek by Doctor Who’s Tardis at the Birmingham studios.
With stationery sales growing by one per cent year-on-year since 2015, they reached £2.9billion last year, according to researchers Mintel, but the five-minute segment came out of Paperchase’s current woes as one credit insurers, Euler Hermes, have withdrawn cover for new contracts.
Henri told presenter Peter White: “I don’t think our interest is premium brands is waning at all, I suspect what Paperchase are suffering from is increased competition at that top end of the market.
“They’ve been the leaders in stationery for 20 years, particularly fashion-led stationery, and other suppliers are beginning to realise what a fantastic opportunity that is, so the competition is definitely hotting up for them.
“If you look at the sales of fountain pens and ink over the last couple of years, although it’s coming from a really low base, actually it’s growing really strongly as people are thinking more about keeping in touch and doing it with materials that they really take a pride in.
“Whether people are writing letters on a sheet of A4 paper with an envelope or whether they’re writing in a blank greetings card, a lot of people are now sending messages to one another.
“It’s quite interesting that we’re seeing the same trends now as we did back in 2008 when the recession kicked in. As people feel slightly less comfortable about their personal situation they often keep in touch more and a letter or a card is a much nicer way of doing that than an email or a text.”
To hear the whole segment, go to the BBC R4 link, and scroll through to the start at 29.05.

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