Theo Paphitis unveils new Ryman’s mobile app at Spring Fair

Spring Fair welcomed some of retail’s biggest hitters on day three withV Dragon and retail entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, and ESG pioneer Paul Wright from PDS who headlined the show’s sustainability content taking to the Inspiring Retail Stage to packed audiences.

Lifting the lid on 2024’s opportunities and challenges for retail businesses, Paphitis highlighted the importance of bringing online and offline retail together, a theme that continued across other talks. When asked to pick out the key traits of a successful retailer, Theo pinpointed Next as a successful evolving business that adapted to the consumer and changed its business model to marry the online business, so it interacted with its stores enabling the two to work together. He said, “Failed retailers don’t adapt. Technology has moved so sharply that you can now mix your physical and digital offering much cheaper than ever before.”

Disrupting the online greetings industry

Discussing the launch of Ryman’s mobile app designed to disrupt the online greetings industry, he said, “I’m a big greetings card giver and I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great to mix an online proposition with our stores’. It is competitive and compelling.” The high street stationery chain’s app allows customers to personalise and pick up greeting cards from their nearest Ryman store in just 60 minutes. Theo said, “We’re entering a massively competitive market for personalised cards that was born out of the digital era, and we are leveraging it through our stores. As customer behaviour changes your stores have to have a reason to exist.”

His advice for small business start-ups was, “Do your homework. Over 50% of businesses fail in the first two years. That stat is terrible. It’s lack of education, they haven’t done their homework. Business is simple as long as you do the simple things.”

#SBS Village

Having received free stands as part of the show’s partnership with Theo’s Small Business Sunday initiative and exhibiting at Spring Fair for the first time, twelve new winners showcased their designs in the #SBS Village in Hall 4. Theo spent the morning visiting the winners, listening to their experiences and seeing their products for the first time in the flesh.

Over the last three days, buyers have enjoyed meeting high performance, plant based, responsible luxury skincare brand Raven Botanicals. Arabella Harvey, Director at Raven Botanicals Limited said, “Our whole range has been really popular, we produce in house a range of natural skincare products using Scottish and UK botanicals, we grow some at home, hand-picked in Scotland. I’m absolutely loving Spring Fair so far, having a brilliant time meeting buyers but not only that making connections with other business owners. I’ve got a really lovely network of neighbours here at Spring Fair that we’ll be keeping in touch, from that perspective it’s been great as well as getting leads and sourcing new buyers for our natural skincare. My buyers are mainly high-end independents so I’ve some great leads so I’m really confident we’ll see some good orders.”

Sally Tettersell, Founder of Sally Tettersell Designs said, “We’ve had a great time; the show is so central it bought a lot people to one hub which is something we haven’t experienced yet. I’m based in Devon, and I’ve done a show in London before but this is my first one further afield. We’ve had an amazing experience and opportunity through the SBS, it’s just phenomenal, we came here with no expectations not knowing what to expect and it’s certainly been wonderful. A great array of diverse business, big and small independent, lots of charities who are interested in our tea towels which is something we’re delighted with. It’s really exciting.”

Also at the show this week, Pitch Live Gift winners, Ducky Zebra, displayed their new sustainable childrenswear, Teddo Play presented its award-winning play-based children’s learning resources, and S’more’a’licious luxurious S’mores Kits featured handcrafted gourmet marshmallows and freshly whipped marshmallow fluff. Innovative brand, Composty presented eco-friendly cleaning products and dog lovers Charlie & co showcased its unique collection of dog accessories.

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