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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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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Choosing the right garment can make or break a campaign.

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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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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Full marks for Arcadia Corporate Merchandise

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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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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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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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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EU Referendum – How will the nation vote?

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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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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Senator awarded for exclusive HD digital print

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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Mantis shines a light on continuing exploitation in clothing industry

Mantis World has helped raise awareness of women garment factory workers subjected to modern slavery by sponsoring a film that explores the clothing industry.

The True Cost, by documentary maker, Andrew Morgan is about clothing, the people who make them and the impact it’s having on our world. While the price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. 

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New members join IGNITE

Ignite has announced that Roantree Incentive Marketing and Applewhite Gifts have joined the catalogue group, taking it to a total of 32 distributor companies.

Richard Pettinger from Ignite said: “We are delighted to welcome two more quality companies to the group. The addition of Neal, not only as managing director of one of the larger players in the industry, but also in his prominent leading roles within the bpma adds even more experience to the group.”

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Sourcing City rejoins the bpma

Sourcing City has rejoined the bpma after a year-long absence. The company left the association in March 2015 over various disputes. It announced it was rejoining in March 2016.

David Long, chairman, Sourcing City, said: “We have always had a solid belief that the industry should have a strong independent trade association, and in the past we have been a proactive supporter of the bpma.

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Further expansions to strengthen Great Central Plastics’ service

Great Central Plastics has introduced a purpose built assembly room and recruited a new team of assembly operators due to a growth in enquiries that require assembly as part of the order.

The new development gives Great Central Plastics greater control over all aspects of the manufacturing process and quality control, as well improving its service. The company felt that the timing was right to give this department its own, separate space.

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Penn is ‘hot’ Stateside

Sarah Penn, managing director of Outstanding Branding has been selected as one of the ASI (Advertising Speciality Institute) Counsellor magazine’s ‘Hot 25’ for 2016.

Published annually by the American trade body that represents the advertising specialty industry, Counsellor picked Penn for her strong-willed character and noted, “It takes a certain kind of moxie to start your company in 2009, right in the middle of a recession, and in the UK no less, as Europe really took it on the chin economically.”

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Prime standard puts data security of its customers first

Prime Group has demonstrated how seriously it takes customer data by achieving ISO 27001:2013, the international standard for information security.

ISO 27001 specifies a process for controlling and improving the way an organisation manages its information security. It covers the data-handling of all customer information, including any private/financial data and everything relating to their customers, such as data required for the personalisation of marketing and promotional materials and communications across multiple channels. 

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National minimum wage impact divides industry

From April, the new national minimum wage was implemented at £7.20 per hour for those workers aged 25+. Retailer Next has said it will have to increase prices to cover the expected £27m cost of implementing the pay rise, but how will it affect the UK promotional merchandise industry?

Some members of the Briman group of British manufacturers said the living wage would have a negative effect on bringing business back to the UK from China where unskilled labour keeps production costs down. It was felt that, not only would those on the minimum wage get a pay rise but those above this level would expect an equal rise to maintain their pay differential.

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British Promotional Gift Suppliers seek overseas opportunities

Phil Morgan, the CEO of SPS, sees fertile ground for British exporters.

In the run up to the 2015 General Election, parliamentarians launched a manifesto calling for their successors in government to take the “necessary steps” to ensure the UK becomes a global leader in manufacturing.

Currently, only 20% of UK SMEs are involved in exports, compared to a 25% EU average, according to, with the UK ranking 11th globally for manufacturing. 

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Forward-looking designer wins bpma Award

Student designer Asher Erskine highlights the project that won him the 2015 bpma Design Innovation Award

I’m currently in my second year studying Product Design at Nottingham Trent University, working on a range of exciting live briefs with various companies.  Last year, I got my first insight into the process, when we were tasked to design the promotional product of the future as part of the bpma Design Innovation Award. 

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