- Home Based
Card Connection only offer established businesses for sale (resales), so you if you invest in one of our franchises you will be earning an income from day 1.
Established in 1992, the Card Connection franchise is one of the UK’s largest card publishers and is the market leader in the franchise distribution of greeting cards.
Card Connection franchisees provide bespoke card displays to approximately 12,000 outlets/retailers throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland. These are largely convenience outlets, such as Spar, Budgens, BP and Londis to name but a few. Franchisees also supply seasonal ranges, including Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas, plus we supply Gift wrap, Gift Bags and Party lines.
Card Connection offers a comprehensive training programme. Training is spread over several weeks and covers every aspect of the business in both the classroom and most importantly in the field.
On an on-going basis, every franchisee is supported by their Regional Sales Manager, who provides support and encouragement, as well as genuine business development within their territories.
Franchisees are encouraged to meet regularly, either through formal meetings/conferences or socially.
Using a proven system, franchisees typically visit between 5-8 supply customers a day, merchandising the greeting cards and associated product displays. This means stripping down the remaining stock and supplying a fresh new display. This ensures customers always have fresh, clean, and up to date displays. The uplifted stock is taken home where it is sorted to be used for future merchandising.
Retail outlets on a ‘consignment’ basis, which means the stock and display equipment is installed on free loan to the retailer. This is one step beyond ‘sale or return’ as Card Connection customers never have to buy the stock in the first place, only paying for what they sell. The award-winning merchandising service our franchisees provide is second to none; we are proud of Card Connection’s excellent reputation with the convenience sector.
Due to the nature of convenience stores, Card Connection franchise owners can work flexible hours to suit themselves and enjoy a better work/life balance. Franchisees typically visit their customers within their exclusive territory on a monthly basis to replenish stock.
After 27 years working in the same place, James Bird was ready to make the step up to running his own business. Investing in a Card Connection franchise gave him the instant advantage of having a ready-made customer base all set up, meaning he could earn an income from day one. “I started as a cashier in a petrol station and worked my way up through supervisor, then to Store manager,” explains James, “So when I took on the franchise for Gloucester in February 2019 I had a great understanding of how retail works in the convenience sector and was I able to transfer all that knowledge and experience to the benefit of the franchise.”
With the full support of his partner Sandy, James has been able to improve his work/life balance to spend more time with his family. Gone is his previous the stress of dealing with staffing issues, as being his own boss means he can be flexible with how he plans his days. He prefers to start early: “I have my van loaded the night before with everything I need for the next day, and often hit the road before 7am,” smiles James.
Supplying greeting cards and other related product to over 150 stores across his territory, he has a great mix of outlets from nationally branded names like Costcutter, Premier and Londis to smaller independent shops.
Not only did James and Sandy manage to grow their franchise during the Covid pandemic but capped it off by being winning the “Franchisee of the Year for the Midlands Region” award at the recent Card Connection Conference
The territory includes the cathedral city of Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud and Chippenham, which involves driving thought the picturesque Cotswolds area of outstanding beauty. “Yes, there are worse places to work!” jokes James.
Finding out exactly what each outlet needs and how its customers vary is a crucial part of him delivering a personalised service and in doing so driving up his sales.
“Retail is detail,” quotes James. “Spending time talking to customers is important and after merchandising stores I always check they are happy with their displays before I leave.”
Penny has worked in the Greeting Card Industry for 20 years, some of which was in her home country of South Africa. She moved to England where she was employed by Card Connection as a Regional Sales Manager and spent 5 years managing 11 franchisees of her own. So impressed was she by the business model that she set herself a 5-year plan to invest in her own Card Connection franchise.
Penny’s husband, Colin, comes from a BBC security background but found the awkward shift patterns interfering with him having a quality family life. With Penny as his new wife, and a daughter from a previous relationship living far away in Scotland, he was struggling to maintain the work life balance that he craved.
An opportunity arose for Colin to work with the Card Connection franchisee for Reading, whose territory just happened to be on the market. Colin was able to experience the day-to-day workings of the franchise, to see if it was something he would like to do. He took to it like a duck to water, immediately seeing the benefits of a better work life balance it could offer. He could now spend quality time with his daughter Sam, who visits them regularly during school holidays, while also being able to spend evenings with Penny.
Within 8 months Penny and Colin took the plunge and bought the Reading territory, going from being employees with a fixed income to franchisees directly rewarded for the efforts they put into the business. They initially worked the business from their rented residential property, converting the single garage to a stock room.
Relationships & Service
Maintaining excellent relationships with their customers is paramount to both Penny and Colin and they can quite often be seen on the road together, working as a team. Usually new franchisees would expect to see a slight decline in turnover during their first year especially as this is a period of getting to know customers and the seasonal effects on their operations, however, all of Penny’s card experience really paid dividends. This, plus the relationships Colin had already built with the store owners previously meant they managed to grow the business by 2% in the first year.
The fact that Penny had been an employee for Card Connection gives her a unique insight and perspective, allowing her to provide invaluable feedback from the field about the products and customers, what works for them and what doesn’t. This has benefited Card Connection’s head office, who value her knowledge, experiences and opinions.
Year 2 saw no let-up by Penny & Colin, grabbing the prize as regional winners for the highest gift bags and gift wrap sales, all helping them ending the year with an overall 4% growth in their business and being runners up for the coveted Franchisee of the Year, Regional Winner Award 2019.
This all coincided with Penny having health problems, meaning she needed to lose weight. Working in the franchise was far more physical than her previous role, but with a strict diet regime she was able lose a massive 8 stone. Franchising is good for your health! Penny’s now able to work more effectively and has much more energy.
Penny and Colin set themselves a 2-year target to buy their own home, never on the agenda previously when both were employed. The start of third year of franchising saw further sales growth but then the Covid Pandemic hit the world in March 2020. Their business literally ground to a halt overnight, and as like many others did, they furloughed as per Government guidelines.
Fortunately, it quickly became apparent that the public’s demand for greeting cards as a means to keep connected with loved ones they couldn’t see during lockdown, was enormous. No initially being able to go out and merchandise, this industrious couple managed to post stock out to some customers desperate to refill the empty card displays, and as soon as restrictions allowed, they worked relentlessly 7 days a week to keep up with the demand. Unprecedented sales followed, ending their 3rd year with a massive 15% growth in turnover.
Now in their 4th year of running the business, lockdown extensions pushed their half year results to show a fantastic 17% growth. With June almost upon them they picked up Card Connection’s award for Regional Franchisees of the Year 2021. This was particularly impressive, given the strong sales across the whole of the Card Connection network that meant they were up against some stiff competition.
Although their franchise is very demanding, they have loved every minute of watching their hard work pay off, not just with increased turnover, but also the satisfaction of a job well done. The cherry on top of the cake is they have said goodbye to wasted money of a rental property, and purchased their very first home, immediately investing in a bespoke garden unit, specifically designed to be their perfect warehouse.
The short walk from the home they own and love, to the purpose-built office and warehouse of the successful business they’ve helped together to grow, is a daily reminder of the fantastic work/life balance they have achieved. Running the business has meant they have been able to spend more quality time together; regularly taking date nights visiting new restaurants. They’ve even been able to return to South Africa on holiday, taking Sam with them to meet family she’s not been able to meet before.
Summing up their Card Connection journey, Penny says, “In short, this business has provided us with a steady income, the ability to buy own home and have amazing work life balance. What more could we ask for?”
In 2013, aged 24 Daryl Perkins decided to invest in his future by buying a franchise. He did his homework looking into various franchise categories. Fortunately, during his 6 years as a manager in a Budgens store it was supplied by Card Connection and the local franchisee had explained its business model. He always knew he wanted to run his own business and felt that the greeting card franchisor was the right choice for him.
Being so young and not having built up much collateral or credit history, investing in a franchise was a challenge, as banks were unwilling to lend. After much investigation a Government guarantee scheme was sought, and a loan then through RBS was secured.
On taking the Nottingham Franchise the annual sales were £100k. Knuckling down learning the business, opening new accounts and streamlining in store processes sales, Daryl increased the sales in his first year to £108k (+8%). This growth continued and 2 years in he was up 14% a tremendous result in what had been described as a mature territory.
Being extremely ambitious Daryl wanted more and wanted to invest in another territory. In 2015, the opportunity to purchase Lincoln & Hull arose. Daryl didn’t hesitate. With profits from his first 2 years of trading and some financial assistance from his family there was no looking back. Within the next two years all finance had been repaid.
Still only 26 years old at time, and still a relatively new franchisee, he effectively has three territories, which took his sales to nearly £300k, this meant significant change. Daryl couldn’t do it all on his own and had to take the plunge to invest in a full-time merchandiser, part time merchandiser and storeroom operative to ensure he maintained high service levels and to further grow his new larger business.
Daryl remembers this as a very tough period of his business life, “Not only did I need to manage my existing customer base I needed to engage and win over new customers relationships and train new staff to help me with the expanded operation”.
Never one to stand still, Darryl recently decided to purchase yet another area, with Peterborough added to his little empire. This makes Daryl the largest franchisee in Great Britain and the 5th largest in the franchisor’s network.
Contributing Above & Beyond
Daryl is a hugely respected franchisee within the Card Connection network and takes an active interest in the wider company operation. With product being the lifeblood of his business, Daryl ensures he gives regular and useful feedback to our Creative Department. He always contributes ideas for business improvement and helps where he can. For example, Daryl lives near his Regional Sales Manager and is always willing to assist in loaning fixtures or stock to any franchisee in an emergency. He has also helped mentor newer franchisees.
Daryl also likes to attend trade shows, not only does this give him the opportunity to try and win new customers and build relationships with existing Area Managers of store chains, it also has the added benefit of allowing him to see what his competitors are doing.
Achievements and Highlights to Date
In 2015, Daryl was Card Connection’s youngest Franchisee of the Year and he also gained a coveted slot as a finalist as British Franchises Association’s Young Franchisee of the Year in 2019. Just recently Daryl has also funded a local football team by purchasing their kit.