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Fluid Branding’s 2016 UK Wide Expansion

Branded merchandise supplier Fluid Branding has opened three new offices within the first four months of 2016.

The expansion adds offices in Carthorpe in the North East, Camden in London and most recently, Manchester, to the existing four offices in Cornwall, Plymouth, Bury St Edmunds and Leeds.

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More distributors are being asked to ensure that their supply chain adheres to the Modern Slavery Act, as big brands and many leading charities look to ensure that their strong ethical values are adhered to. Here is what one distributor was asked recently?

XX has clients who will not work with any supplier that either uses, or does not have the necessary controls in place to prevent the use of modern slavery or human trafficking in their own business or their supply chain.

Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 our clients have a responsibility to make a clear statement of what they are doing to ensure that their business and supply chains are free of modern slavery and human trafficking. 

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bpma director general, Gordon Glenister was banging the drum in the event industry advocating the use of promotional products at exhibitions.

The exhibition masterclass run by the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) was held at Excel in front of more than 400 event managers. Other speakers including renowned social media guru Warren Knight and ex-Dragons’ Den star Rachel Elnaugh.

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Robert Hinchliffe from Intertek decodes EU compliance terminology

Accreditation: procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal recognition that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks.

CE: European Conformity marking required under New Approach directives but not under General Product Safety Directive. Comprises a small mark depicting ‘CE’ usually applied on consumer products without any mandatory third party testing.

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All In It Together

The industry has to work collectively to ensure that failing companies do not sour  the reputation of the sector. Mike Collins suggests a manifesto for change.

Following the recent liquidation of We Brand It (Buyking Limited), the furore continues as to how to protect the industry, its reputation and suppliers from suffering distributor write-off losses.

“Something must be done,” is a comment popular on industry forums and in conversation.

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Dressed to Impress

Promotional clothing is a mainstay of product media, but it is being undersold by UK distributors. Are they missing a trick?

A recent survey suggests that among many gift house distributors, clothing still represents only a relatively small share of total turnover. By contrast, our American peers find that on average clothing is around 35% of business.

The bpma is determined to change this through education to end users and also through supporting distributors on the complexities of choice and branding.

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First among equals

Vicki Crosby, former account manager at Brand Addition and now Fluid Branding Sales Director North West is the first person in the industry to pass the Master in Promotional Merchandise (MPM) level of the bpma education programme.

MPM is the highest of the three courses offered in the education programme and is suitable for those with five years or more industry experience. Vicki shared her experiences with Product Media.

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Ask Clive – Embroidery

Clive Allcott, the Essential Branding guru, on embroidery.

Q: How can I be proactive in my approach to selling promotional clothing?

The clocks have gone forward and, believe it or not, we are heading through a very wet spring towards what we all hope will be a glorious summer. Now is the perfect time to be brushing up your knowledge on the printed T shirt ready for those festival and leisure enquiries. It’s at this time of year that your customers will be looking for those summer promotional items which of course will include clothing.

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New bpma Show Announcement

The new, and much awaited, bpma show at Silverstone on 14 September will allow member distributors to bring their top end user customers. 

Following feedback from a number of suppliers and distributors, the bpma has decided to allow end users to the show on the understanding they are guests of the distributor and therefore accompanied.

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Don’t leave creative thinking to the creatives. Anyone can give birth to a big idea, says Phil Morgan, CEO, SPS

As CEO of an innovative and creative manufacturer, I often get asked where our ideas come from and how we kick-start the creative process. It’s a good question. Albert Einstein described creativity as ‘intelligence having fun’, and that’s a great description of our approach.

When it comes to being creative, it’s not just about the products, it’s about the way we approach production, the way we brand them, the way we market them and the way we work with our customers.

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The bpma has negotiated a special package with Account Assyst to allow for all members to receive 100 free credit reports. The existing service has already been taken up by a number of members, so those members will get a reduction in their monthly cost dependent on what their usage is. The bpma also supports Direct Route as preferred debt collection agency, offering its members free debt chasing up to £3,000, and then just 2% over this amount.

Membership feedback on this service is always positive. Chasing overdue invoices is a time consuming burden and an unwelcome distraction that takes time away from more productive activities. Outsourcing seriously overdue debtors is never wrong – often when customers are not paying it is simply because they are paying somebody else. Long overdue customers expect to be chased – if you don’t they may not end up paying you at all.

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Class monitors

Whatever you’re up to, there’s a wearable that can measure it, says Matt Pluckrose of Desktop Ideas

Wearable gadgets have exploded into our marketplace over recent months and are fast becoming the new hot item for promotional marketers. Smart bracelets, watches and glasses are now offered by major technology and sports brands such as SONY, Nike, Apple, Jawbone, and FitBit.

Current growth projections suggest that these products will become as much a part of our everyday life as smartphones and tablets. But do any of us really have any idea how they work? This month we attempt to answer some of these questions…

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No more wing and a prayer

Compliance is not an issue that can be swept under the carpet. Suppliers have to work to instil best practice, says Andrew Gorrie

Gone are the days in our industry where suppliers can ‘wing it’. During the past 15 or so years, the EU Commission has systematically introduced new legislation for product compliance. One part is for safety which makes logical sense, but the other part is for the environment which can be misconstrued. 

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Duncan Gilmour, MD of garment decorator Screenworks, explains how.


Thinking about the purpose of your branded clothing order is the first step to selecting the right garments. For instance, if you are planning on purchasing t-shirts for a one-day event, which are likely to be discarded immediately afterwards, then an affordable, basic, low quality product will probably fi t your requirements perfectly.

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At the end of March, the bpma education programme saw Sam McCarthy, Kirstie Woods and Liane Tate from Arcadia Corporate Merchandise take their TPM exam after eight months of studying. The TPM learners sat a timed and invigilated exam answering 30 industry specific questions in just 20 minutes. A score of 80% or more was needed to be awarded the pass.

Kirstie scored an impressive 100% in her exam – the third learner in the history of the education programme to achieve full marks. Sam and Liane scored more than 90%.

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See it, feel it, use it

European trade show Haptica showcases the strengths of product media in providing tangible representations for brands. Gordon Glenister checked it out.

Haptica took place in the newly founded World Conference Centre in Bonn and was well received by visitors and exhibitors alike. The show was on the 16 March and organised by WA media. Just under 1,500 visitors were presented, with an array of exhibitors from leading European suppliers in the promotional gift industry.

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On 23 June, we will all have a referendum vote on whether the UK stays in or leaves the European Union. Gordon Glenister examines the options for Britain.

At the time of writing this article, a YouGov poll of voting intentions on the EU referendum showed that 40% wanted to remain in the EU, 37% wanted to leave, and 23% didn’t know or wouldn’t vote. With the vote so finely balanced, Product Media has looked at the arguments on either side of the debate, to help provide some clarity.

There has been and continues to be scaremongering by the media and politicians, and from many I speak to, the views are very split, so I don’t for a moment suggest the decision is easy – it’s more about which is less risky. If we do leave, there will be a two-year time period to extract ourselves, and negotiate new trade deals. One concern of course is that there will be uncertainty in our economy which is not good for trade and investment. So, what are the arguments on either side?

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Senator’s HD digital print has been awarded the 2016 Promotional Gift Award by a unanimous jury who cited its worldwide exclusive print technology as “outstanding”.

The company took three years to design, build, and commission a machine capable of printing direct HD digital with a raised 3D finish, the first pen company worldwide to do so.

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