Card Shop Businesses in the UK: Celebrate Starting Your Own

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Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother's Day, and Father's Day all have one thing in common – cards. Greetings cards are an essential part of most of our major celebrations and, in the UK, there's a massive demand for cards of all shapes and sizes. This makes opening a card shop an appealing prospect. Here, we take a look at what the process involves and how you can best go about it.

The greeting card industry

In 2017, UK consumers spent approximately £1.7 billion on greeting cards. While sales are concentrated into particularly busy periods – around 1 billion are purchased at Christmas – the rise of online retailers that allow for the creation of customised cards has widened their appeal and created a more “evergreen” industry.

However, brick and mortar stores still play an important role in the industry and the majority of cards sold are purchased in person. The sector employs around 100,000 people and is amongst the most developed in the world. The average UK consumer buys 33 cards a year – more than any other nation on earth. This makes the greetings card sector an appealing investment opportunity.

Card shop for sale – starting a card shop

If you're considering starting a card shop business, the first possibility is purchasing an independent store and building your own business. If you can take over an existing card store, you'll have the benefit of launching in premises that are already equipped for business. You may also be able to purchase the company's stock, giving you a good foundation on which to build the venture.

However, if you're going it alone and are starting out by leasing a store that's not adequately equipped to sell greeting cards, you'll need to invest considerable resources to ensure that it's properly prepared. This can be an expensive venture and will require a great deal of expertise to execute effectively.

Card shop franchises

Your other option is to partner with a greeting card franchise and build your business hand in hand with an experienced franchisor. In the vast majority of cases, this will be the more profitable option. A franchisor will be able to help you establish your business at a lower cost (due to their bulk purchasing powers) and will have a proven business plan in place for you to follow.

Typically, franchises will also be able to provide you with access to an extensive range of cards and allow you to purchase them at discounted rates. Franchisees also benefit from operating under an established brand and will receive ongoing support and guidance from the management team, ensuring that you have the best possible chance of success.

Card shop London

If you are considering investing in a franchise, you’ll have to consider where you want to establish your business. While some franchises operate exclusively online, others require a brick and mortar premises and will grant franchisees the right to an exclusive territory. This territory will have a significant effect on how you set up your business and how successful you are.

For instance, a greetings card store that operates in London will have to consider the fact that brick and mortar locations are far more expensive in the capital. It's also necessary to contemplate your target market and which sites are best suited to reaching this audience. The presence of competition will also determine where you can and can't set up your business. This means that comprehensive research is necessary before you launch your business, particularly in high-value markets such as London.

The UK’s top greetings card franchises

There are a number of card franchises currently seeking new franchisees, so we thought it would be a good idea to give a quick rundown of our top four.

1. Card Group

Card Group advertises itself as the world’s leading greeting cards, gift, and party franchise and has been in operation since 1997. Originally established in Sweden, the organisation has grown to encompass more than 45 master franchises in a diverse array of international markets. It has won numerous franchising awards in its native Sweden.

To become a franchisee, it's necessary to invest around £53,000. The franchise operates on a "pay what you sell" basis, so franchisees do not have to commit to large stock purchases before having made any sales. The company is currently looking for a UK master franchisee.

2. The Original Poster Company

The Original Poster Company has more than 25 years of experience and operates a proven business model that has brought success to more than 70 franchisees. The business sells greeting cards, wraps, bags, and displays, all of which are regularly updated to reflect consumer preferences.

The minimum initial investment required to become a franchisee is £15,000, though further working capital will be needed to get the business off the ground. The franchise is well-known for its comprehensive training programme, and its UK head office can provide considerable support.

3. Card Connection

Card Connection supply more than 12,000 outlets across the UK with high-quality greetings cards and related products. They manage several national accounts, including Spar, Budgens, WH Smith motorway stores, Shell and BP. With over 25 years of experience, they're able to support franchisees in ways few other franchises can.

Currently, Card Connection is only offering franchise re-sales. This means that franchises can buy into an established business that already has strong foundations but needs a little work to improve profitability. A minimum of £50,000 capital is required to become a franchisee, and all successful candidates will also need suitable transport and an iPad.

4. Plan-it Cards

Plan-it Cards differs from our other franchises because it's a home-based franchise. The business involves distributing premium quality cards to independent retailers within a designated territory, which is made easier by the fact that all cards are provided on a "pay for what you sell" basis. This means they have no outlay and are exposed to no risk. If you're interested in becoming a franchisee, you'll need to invest somewhere between £8,000 and £22,000, depending on the territory.

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