Greetings Scotland! The Masters of Cheeky Messages Set up Shop

by Scott Douglas

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Christine Campbell a worker at ScribblerScribbler, one of the most irreverent names on the High Street has invested more than £200,000 to open two new shops in Scotland.

The greeting card and gift specialist will open a new shop in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street on Friday – just a month after the successful launch of its first Scottish outlet in Edinburgh.

Already a well-known name south of the Border, the £6.5m greeting card empire has enjoyed sustained growth and success thanks to a high-octane mix of risqué humour and ability to spot emerging pop art trends.

As well as creating 10 jobs and giving a welcome shot in the arm to the beleaguered Scottish High Street, Scribbler has defied general gloom in the greetings card sector and will now be carefully eyeing further expansion potential.

Getting the message just right

Scribbler founder John Procter said: “Opening in Scotland has been a long-held ambition because the Scottish sense of humour chimes perfectly with what we are all about at Scribbler.

“We are irreverent, tongue in cheek and not terribly caught up in political correctness. Basically the Scots are renowned for not taking themselves too seriously and accepting that humour can be found in the darkest places.

“We were really confident Scribbler would work extremely well in Scotland and the early signs are that we got that bang on. The feedback so far has been tremendous.

“As a result we are already considering further outlets and hope that Scotland is likely to prove our best market outside of London.”

Although Scribbler offers gift wrapping products and corporate gifts it is best-known for its extensive range of niche cards, which range from outrightly rude to slightly surreal, but always with a rich vein of humour.

Reaching the target audience

Aside from humour products, Scribbler’s cards and gifts also include a number of style and fashion ranges – and a great deal of the chain’s success is in spotting emerging trends early.

The mixture of risqué humour and leading-edge fashion is hugely popular with it main target demographic of 25-35 year-olds, predominantly women.  However, it also has broad appeal to many other groups not normally associated with card-buying, including students – who enjoy significant discounts – and the gay community.

John, who runs the business with wife Jennie, added: “It is generally women who buy greetings cards and we are no exception to that. Around 70 per cent of our customers are female.

“Even though the humour of the cards we sell could often be categorised as ‘laddish’ it is women of all ages and all social backgrounds who buy them.

“The reality is that it’s pointless trying to categorise humour because something funny transcends that. What is true is that we see definite trends in humour, just as we do with fashion and we work extremely hard to be at the forefront of those trends.”

John first went into business in the 1970s with the founder of the Monsoon fashion empire, Peter Simon. He established Scribbler, with a branch on trendy King’s Road in 1981.

Public relations in Scotland

After creating a greetings card business in 1981, John sold the firm in 1988, only to buy it back in 1991. Since then it has grown steadily, particularly in the South East of England, where it has earned the tagline, London’s favourite card shop.

Opening of the Scottish outlets at 80a Princes Street, Edinburgh and 176 Buchanan Street, Glasgow means Scribbler now has 18 shops in the UK employing around 100 staff.

Each of the Scottish shops are 500 sq ft and adhere to Scribbler’s successful policy of offering an extensive range from niche and emerging suppliers. Typical high street card shops stock around 25 card ranges, Scribbler’s Scottish outlets will offer around 80.

Scribbler has defied the retail downturn, which has dogged some competitors. In May, Clinton Cards put its Birthdays group into administration, and before that Celebrations went bust. Clinton eventually bought back 196 of its Birthdays shops, but 152 were closed with 800 job losses.

However Scribbler has thrived because of the risqué and alternative approach summed up by its cards and company founder John remains in no doubt that the health of his business will benefit further from expansion in Scotland, while also growing the online business at http://www.scribbler.co.uk.

Scottish PR agency Holyrood Partnership is handling online PR and offline public relations in Scotland.

ENDS

 

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