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Editorial blog

Jamie Martin, CEO of Ideal Shopping Direct, talks about big plans for Create and Craft

08 Jun 2019

Jamie Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Ideal Shopping Direct Ltd, talks to Mark Hayhurst about Create and Craft, his passion for the industry and some very exciting developments.

It’s a very important year for Create and Craft – it’s just turned 16 and there are brilliant plans in the pipeline. The multi-award winning TV craft channel celebrated its 16th birthday on April 8. It is now broadcasting live on TV and online to 70 million homes in the UK and US and has come a long way since the very first show aired back in 2003. The channel, which is headquartered in Peterborough, is on air 24 hours a day with live shows from 8am to 10pm.

Everyone knows the industry is filled with passionate people who live for craft but does it go all the way to the top at Create and Craft? Jamie Martin, CEO Ideal Shopping Direct Ltd, the man in charge at Create and Craft certainly believes so. He said: “I love live home shopping, it’s a magical business. I love the business in general but I love the craft business, it’s the passion and the commitment. All crafters have a fire in their belly and it’s that same passion if someone is in to golf, cricket or gardening.

“And that is what drives the business, it’s driven literally by the electricity of people’s hobbies – it’s insatiable and it’s unstoppable. That mixed with TV is just genius and I love it – so, for me, coming to work isn’t coming to work, I love it.”

Having recently taken over at Create and Craft, and with an extensive background in media and direct selling TV, Jamie has made great strides with the business. His aim is to make the channel the best that it can be and provide its audience with an exemplary service.

Jamie added: “There’s lots of things we can improve with customer service. The systems here are a bit of a Frankenstein because we run off a number of systems. One of the things we will be doing in the next 12 months is integrating them into one system. That will bring a lot of efficiencies when it comes down to how quickly we can get a parcel out of the door.

“One of the things we have done, and you may have noticed from TV, is that we won’t be doing any pre-selling. So if we haven’t got the stock then we won’t sell it. In the craft business there is a limited supply. The key to customer service is how you plan the business. If you’ve planned six months ahead and the suppliers are planned out with you then the customer gets the product in time. If you go on air and you have 2,000 pieces and we know we are going sell 2,000 pieces then we are going to have systems in place that don’t let us sell 2,100. Overselling is something that we are very careful not to do because that has an impact on the customers.

“Also, within a year the websites will be updated and systems will be upgraded and the target will be to get delivery times down. We are looking at increasing our capability with Hermes, potentially going to their four hour service, which is called inflight, so it gives the customer a delivery window. We have also tested delivery through ASDA on Ideal World and we recently rolled that out to Create and Craft. So you can have a delivery and pick it up from your local ASDA.”

But what can suppliers and the Create and Craft audience expect in the future from the channel. Well there are some big plans afoot, backed by a large amount of investment and a great deal of enthusiasm from Jamie. He has revealed that the channel is going to be broadcast in High Definition (HD).

He said: “ On June 1 the whole group is going HD – Sky will become full HD. Next will be Freeview but it is prohibitively expensive. So shortly after we go HD you will be able to press a red button and the live channel will be available behind the main feed. So, if you connect your TV to the web you can watch Create and Craft on your Freeview channel in HD. Freesat will go HD in time, I can’t give a date yet because we are still in negotiation, and the intention will be to take Virgin HD as well.

“The TV screen is our shop window, it’s where product is viewed. I’ve done a lot of research on this and, yes, it’s costing us a lot of money but sales will go up because it will be easier to consume and it will look great. If you put the right product on the screen in a very nice way, treat your suppliers with respect, make them wealthy and you become wealthier.”

Over the past few months there has been a flood of suppliers joining up with Create and Craft. The likes of House of Alistair, Sweet Design by Sally Anson, That’s Original, Silvar Design, Chloes Creative Cards, The Makerss, Dawn Bibby Creations, Craft Buddy, Tonic Studios, Six Penny Memories, M Adams Designs and Crafter’s Companion have all partnered with the channel.

Jamie added: “Since I’ve been here a lot of suppliers that have left the business have come back and we will make significant profits in 2019. By modernising the system here, bringing back the suppliers, the group is going to move very quickly – it’s in good health.”

And Jamie also has big plans to grow the Create and Craft business across the pond in the USA. He knows this is a tough proposition but he has worked in the country before and has a plan to broaden their reach.

He said: “In America you are talking about 2,000 channels and about 350 cable operators, it can be needle in a haystack situation. So I’ve just come back from the States and using my contacts and expertise I will be growing America through Create and Craft.

“But I will be doing it without risk, so we’re not betting the farm but it will grow. Within 24 months, and at the moment we are in 14 million homes in America, we will be in 60 million homes and that’s a huge growth for us. A big key to that is how we bring the suppliers with us.

“Since I’ve got here, in three months, I’ve doubled the sales in America just by knowing what levers to pull. We are working very closely with our suppliers because I can’t grow America into 60 million homes unless I’ve got the product. All of our suppliers are working in close concert with us to build up their inventory levels, as I build the distribution, otherwise I will run out of product. I need enough product for both the UK and for America. It’s a big project, I am hopeful that the cake I am going to bake there will be successful in America.”

And what is the secret to the success of Jamie’s vision for the future of Create and Craft? He said: “Trust, suppliers have to trust what we are going to do. With me if I speak it I do it, it’s as simple as that. Without that trust from suppliers, that we do what we say we are going to do, then we go nowhere.

“Also, the other aspect is, if you give the audience the product and you give it at the right price, people will buy it. The key then is to actually send it out the same day, get the right product that they ordered to them packaged and undamaged, quickly on the best delivery service and you won’t have any problems.”

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