Happy 25th Birthday OPC
04 Feb 2016
OPC was incorporated on 7th February 1991 and is now celebrating its 25th anniversary. Simon Warren-Gash, Chairman and Founder of OPC shares with us what OPC, together with its franchise network, has achieved in this time span.
A quarter of a century in business is a long time. Research reveals that around 50% of businesses survive for 5 years, maybe a third last for 10 years and a quarter are still running after 17 years. Thereafter facts are hard to track down. All that can be said is that OPC has had a good run to date and the task for all of us is to ensure that the foundations are in place for OPC to prosper for the next 25 years and beyond. The British Franchise Association (BFA) tells us that franchises are more stable and less prone to failure than other similarly sized enterprises and on their Franchise Industry Research website page the BFA advises us that “Ownership changes in franchisee businesses are correspondingly low (4.6%), with failure rates much lower than for other SMEs generally”. OPC is testament to this.
OPC started out in rented accommodation in the Richmond/Kew area of South West London with a starting capital of a little under £50,000, which proved to be woefully inadequate f
or the ambitions of the business, notwithstanding that the founding Directors took little or no salaries in the early years. A second “business angel” or non-executive investor joined and recapitalised the business in 1993. This investor is still connected to OPC to this day, as are two of the original three founding Directors.
The early days were not easy. Although OPC was fuelled by ambition, a clear vision and huge reserves of personal energy, it was undermanned and undercapitalised. The business did not come with a handbook and inevitably mistakes were made in the quest to make OPC as good a business as we could. Initially the goal was full nationwide coverage and an international presence within 3 years, both of which were achieved through dedication and long hours. Following this period months were spent abroad each year to try and build the international side of the business, which had to be balanced with regular logistical and product issues both in the UK and overseas. Recognising that something had to give ultimately, the international aspect has diminished to allow available resources to be directed towards OPC in the UK and Ireland as well as in other core marketplaces.
There have been significant changes to the external environment as well as to the retail marketplace over the years, which have resulted in a very different OPC to that formed all those years ago. The quote “the only thing that is constant is change” has been attributed to a Greek philosopher born in 535 BC called Heraclitus and this sentiment remains as true today as it was then.
When OPC opened for business there were many more independent retailers than now. Since then some of the better ones have been bought by multiple retailers or have joined buying/convenience fascia groups whilst some poorer ones have closed their doors. The result of this change is that OPC employed National Account specialists for the first time some 12 years ago.
The world has changed beyond recognition thanks to the introduction and rapid international acceptance of the internet and accordingly OPC now has a comprehensive online information system available to franchisees as well as online ordering to speed up previous processes. Probably the largest change has been to OPC’s product offering. The company has evolved from a niche card publisher with one or two ranges displayed on a 30 pocket spinner into one which aims to satisfy the vast majority of card requirements using a variety of display solutions as well as providing gift-wrap and gift bags.
These are examples of some of the many changes that have resulted in OPC conducting business in a different way from before and the current OPC is a much more efficient and streamlined operation than ever. Had changes not been recognised and anticipated, OPC would not be in existence today and of course OPC will endeavour to continue evolving in harmony with the external environment for the long term benefit of all connected with the business.
Achievements over the years have been extraordinary:
- Total sales of OPC products at retail over the years are calculated to be around £500,000,000.
- An estimated 250 million cards have been sold through retail outlets.
- Hopefully each one of these cards has brought pleasure and helped to lift the spirits of someone or some people, often at a significant moment in their lives.
- OPC has created hundreds of jobs globally.
- Whenever economically possible, being almost all of the time, OPC’s cards have been manufactured in the United Kingdom, assisting British manufacturing and jobs as well as allowing OPC effective quality control over the goods. The UK is the 11th largest manufacturing nation in the world and has an economy roughly the same size as that of France, which is only exceeded by those of the USA, China, Japan and Germany.
- In turn exports of OPC’s UK manufactured products have helped reduce the UK’s balance of trade with other countries.
- OPC has been responsible for the payment of tens of millions of pounds in taxation to the UK authorities, via direct taxation of salaries, National Insurance payments, corporation tax and also indirect taxation by way of VAT. In short, like many successful ethical businesses, OPC has created wealth for our society.
25 years down the line OPC management recognises that we are still at the start of this journey and that we need to continue learning each day for everyone to succeed.
We are where we are only due to the efforts and loyalty of our franchisees and our sincere gratitude goes to everyone who has joined us on this adventure over the years.
OPC is celebrating 25 years as the world’s leading greeting cards distributor. We sell our quality products through a wide variety of independent retailers and national groups such as Costcutter, Nisa, Spar, Booker etc.
The greeting cards market is now worth over £1.6 billion per annum in the UK alone with online sites such as Moonpig and Funky Pigeon sharing only around 5% of this market, (GCA 2015).
In addition to confirming an increase in the number of symbol groups such as Costcutter and Premier and co-operatives, IGD reports that the number of unaffiliated independents and forecourts, which have been in long term decline, have stabilised in the last few years. This market now represents a year-on-year increase of 5.1% and social and economic changes are still helping to drive this convenience channel.
Our model is very attractive to retailers. We operate using the sale or return (consignment) method, the retailer only needs to pay the franchisee for what they have sold – there are no upfront costs for the retailer. We don’t charge royalty payments or management fees to our franchisees and we offer a 5 year renewable franchise agreement.
All our home-based, management franchise opportunities are established profitable businesses which include stock, cash flow and customers. This means you are start earning an income from Day One.
It’s a simple yet proven business model and if you’re interested in joining our franchised network, why not call us today and start working for yourself and not by yourself.