Kevin Spindler of In The Book on running his business

Based in Hertfordshire, this small company is one of the UK’s leading brands in its field – and have adapted well to new ways of working.

personalised gifts

 

Kevin Spindler and Mike Herbert founded Signature Gifts 18 years ago, specialising in personalised gifts like books and ceramics, which they make themselves. We spoke to Kevin about running a homegrown enterprise.

What was the reason for starting the company?

I had been working for a large multinational company for a number of years and was very much mid-career. In 2003, I felt it was time for a change and I needed a new challenge. I really wanted to step out and start my own personalised gifting business, which was when I started Signature Gifts, the parent company to In the Book.

Following the acquisition of Personalised book licenses for worldwide brands including Disney, Marvel, Build a Bear, Penguin, in 2018 I decided to launch a dedicated personalised book company, In the Book. This enabled the group to realize its aspiration to be the UK’s leading supplier of personalised gifts.

How have you adapted to the new normal of working within the company?

Moving through the pandemic, we’ve had to adapt, much like many other businesses around the world. We now offer flexible home working arrangements for those staff members who can and want to work from home.

Our home-workers will come into the office just two or three days a month to get some face-to-face time with the team, but we remain fluid with what the team wants. This works really well for us, as it allows us to recruit from a wider pool of talent across the country whilst meeting the needs and wants of our current team.

How do you work flexibly and how do you encourage your employees to do the same?

We’ve brought in a number of tools to support the team, especially those working remotely. These include the likes of Microsoft Teams for meetings and messaging and utilising shared drives on the cloud to make working from anywhere as easy as possible.

It just means the team can access any files they may need and there’s no barriers in communication and workflow.

What other things could be done to help independent companies like yours?

There are a number of ways in which independent businesses could be supported in the long term. However, in the current climate I feel it’s important that a review is undertaken against the employment and health and safety regulations to which businesses must adhere. This would ensure they are reflective of the new hybrid working realities, as a lot has changed in the last couple of years.

How do you see the company moving forward?

We are a healthy fast-growing business, attracting investors who are keen to get into the online retail space and personalised publishing, which is really positive for growth. Although today our business is split 50/50 across wholesale and retail, we expect in the next four years to see this change to a 30/70 split as the market and demands grow.

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