3:03pm Thursday 15th March 2012
By Andrew Smith
W ith spring beckoning, most of us have forgotten about Christmas but for Tim Cadel, it is on his mind every day. That is because his businesses are aimed squarely at the annual December festivities as he taps into the corporate market for Christmas.
And he loves every minute of it, is happy to be called Santa and has re-named his Headington home which doubles as his office and warehouse “The Grotto.”
Mr Cadel (pictured) is the driving force behind Business Baubles and Snowglobes.co.uk, two companies which do exactly what they say in the tin — provide festive baubles and snowglobes to a seemingly insatiable customer base.
They range from the fan clubs of bands such as Duran Duran to corporate giants such as Sony and Orange to the gift shops of landmark establishments like the House of Lords.
His enthusiasm is infectious as he produces more and more examples of his products, the latest of which is a bauble which seems completely flat until you slap it and it “inflates.”
It is, he says, great for packing and posting as well as being a neat novelty item.
He admits that some people find it difficult to take him seriously but the hard facts are that this is a £150,000 a year turnover business and he has cornered the UK market. Now who’s laughing?
The idea for all this began around the kitchen table one Saturday breakfast time in November 2002 when a large Christmas card popped through the letter box.
Daughters Emma and Lucy, then 13 and 11, started asking what it was and why it had been sent by a company.
Mr Cadel said: “I told them this is what companies send to each other along with gifts and tokens.
“That got me thinking about what I could send out that could be Christmas-themed, branded, inexpensive and which could be retained. And I came up with the idea of the bauble.”
Up to that point Mr Cadel had enjoyed a successful but relatively conventional career in banking and insurance where he had ended up in sales and marketing and business development.
Having been made redundant by Lloyds following the 9/11 disaster which had a huge impact on the insurance industry, he had set up his own consultancy, Tactix Marketing, working with smaller clients on promotions, public relations, exhibitions, retail presence and associated activities.
At a meeting with one client, Foresters’ Friendly Society, he raised the fact that the company Christmas tree featured every coloured bauble apart from the company’s new corporate colours and mentioned the branding idea.
He was told that if he could make it happen, he had an order for the company’s 80 offices across the UK.
Mr Cadel realised this germ of an idea could be an extra source of income and started researching where to buy baubles but having inquired in the obvious places, such as Harrods and garden centres, and been rebuffed, he cast further afield and found himself at a trade show in Harrogate.
He rapidly established that 90 per cent of baubles on sale in the UK are made in China and the Chinese prefer large orders with a long lead time.
Mr Cadel wanted to provide small batches to individual clients at much shorter notice.
Then he approached a German firm which was receptive to his idea and they negotiated an exclusivity deal to sell branded baubles in the UK as well as Ireland and “the English speaking world.”
After a showcase trade event, the first order came from the Duran Duran fan club. Images of the band were sent to Germany and reproduced onto baubles for fans to buy at £25 for a set of six. All 500 sets sold out with customers coming from around the world.
They have since been followed by Donny Osmond, Cliff Richard and Andy WIlliams with similar success.
Corporate clients were also attracted and Business Baubles won the Most Innovative Product award from the British Promotional Merchandise Association.
Then Mr Cadel started to receive inquiries about snowglobes and decided to add to his product portfolio after meeting another German maker Hans Walter who could produce the items complete with branding of any description.
The first client was Oxfam which wanted “rice snow” that was duly produced using plastic strands by Mr Walter and distributed to clients.
Cadbury World then requested Chocolate Button snow for its gift shop and so it continued with snowglobes.co.uk firmly established in 2005.
Snow globes also open up more markets such as wedding favours, as well as attracting the attentions of the thousands of people who collect the novelties.
Now Mr Cadel is helped by sales and marketing expert Leisl Donovan and orders can be handled at surprisingly short notice.
She said: “We were contacted by ITV for a set display last year in mid-December and we turned that around in seven days.”
While both businesses have been successful, Mr Cadel has decided to bring them both together under one brand, Festive Promotions, which will cater not only for Christmas but also for any other celebration such as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. And the duo are busy marketing the new name at trade shows in the UK and Germany in a bid to make this Christmas bigger and better than ever.
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