Stanley Gibbons recently unveiled a brand new look for the company and its products – including your very own Gibbons Stamp Monthly.
GSM spoke to Stanley Gibbons CEO Graham Shircore to find out the reasons behind the changes – probably the biggest in the company’s 163-year history – and what this new beginning means for SG and its customers.
There were a number of reasons for this but to put it into context, the last major overhaul of our appearance was nearly 40 years ago and in some areas, in particular, this was probably starting to show a little. We also wanted to draw a very clear and tangible line under the Group’s troubled history in the last few years, both as a signal to the outside world but also for everybody who works here.
On a more positive note, as we re-invigorate the business and start to grow again, we needed a look and feel which is more reflective of our wider goals, making the most of our fantastic heritage and history while being able to appeal to a wide audience across all age groups on an international stage. The new appearance, in conjunction with other subtle changes, is also reflective of the desire to make us stand out a bit more and present a clearer image of what Stanley Gibbons stands for – quality, knowledge and expertise, heritage and integrity.
We have huge ambitions for the Group and this is one of the pieces of the puzzle that needed to be put in place to give us the best chance of achieving those ambitions.
Yes undoubtedly. This was probably the biggest challenge and certainly one of the main things we focused on. Everybody at Stanley Gibbons is immensely proud of our history and what the company represents in the world of philately and the last thing we wanted to do was neglect it.
This goes beyond appreciating our history and, as you say, into the principles of what we do and how we operate. For example, we are renowned for the quality of the stamps we sell and the lifetime guarantee that they come with. We recently offered a refund on a Commonwealth stamp which was purchased from us in 1985. While the original description was correct, based on what was known at the time, new research conducted 15 years later meant that the description was no longer accurate. As such, we honoured our lifetime guarantee promise and refunded the customer in full.
This type of service and commitment will not be changing; we want to make the most of our principles while presenting ourselves in a way which is attractive and appealing.
The wider perception of the hobby is not reflective of its many wonderful attributes, there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t be far more popular. I could spend a long time talking about what I believe the cause of this is but ultimately we have to find ways of emphasising those attributes and enticing people into the hobby.
The improvements we are making to our customer offering should benefit both the novice collector and our most long-standing, experienced customers alike. In addition to this, we are beginning to increase our profile and that of the hobby more broadly.
The early steps include attending and hosting events aimed at those who are not currently collectors, restarting a programme of valuation roadshows across the country and developing a wider online presence.
This is just the start, however. We have a lot of other ideas in the pipeline and are extremely excited by the prospect of encouraging more people into the hobby both in the UK and abroad.
Over the last year, we have simplified and refocused the Group on its core business. Some of the developments we have made include bringing renewed focus to our auctions business, most explicitly through the launch of the Signature Auction series, improving our digital product offering such as making our catalogues available digitally through our website and making the shop a more appealing place to visit.
Most recently, we have launched our new, more user-friendly website, introduced a revised album and accessories range and made a number of process improvements which should result in better, more efficient customer service – something which is a big and never-ending focus for everybody within the Group.
In terms of the future, there is a lot more to come. We have been very open in saying that our approach will be based on combining an unrivalled online experience with a truly world-class physical shop. In terms of the former, this is a process of constant evolution and a number of ideas to increase and improve our offering further are currently being considered. In terms of the latter, we are well advanced with our plans for a full refurbishment of our new, more user-friendly website, introduced a revised album and accessories range and made a number of process improvements which should result in better, more efficient customer service – something which is a big and never-ending focus for everybody within the Group.
Given the importance of our retail location to us, we spent a long time and a lot of effort trying to get this right. The two main requirements were a location that we could turn into something extremely special but would also accommodate the varied and slightly nuanced nature of our business – finding somewhere to locate a coffee shop would have been much easier.
Remaining on the Strand, however, was something we took into consideration given both the industry’s and our long association with it. In fact, one of the two alternatives we seriously considered was also on the Strand, but in the end, we felt that 399 was the best option.
It will allow us to create something truly special and we are well advanced with our plans for its redevelopment.
While nothing has been set in stone, we hope to be able to formally unveil the new-look building in conjunction with London 2020. However, 399 will be open for business throughout the refurbishment period.
I do think this represents a new beginning or at least more tangible evidence of the journey we embarked on last year. In this sense, it is important from both an internal perspective and that of the wider philatelic community. In terms of our long-term goals, we are extremely ambitious for the future growth of SG and these developments are, in my view, pieces of the puzzle which need to be in place in order to give ourselves the best chance of realising these ambitions. They are merely a necessary starting point on a long and exciting journey.
This article is from Gibbons Stamp Monthly, the leading philatelic magazine in the UK.