Originally working in the property development market, David’s career changed some 35 years ago when his wife Deirdre won an export award which also included a study of Giftmarts in the United States. David went along with Deirdre to the USA, not quite knowing what to expect, and you could say, more by accident than design, with one thing leading to another, this adventure ended up being the start of many changes and their subsequent journey into the Gift Industry.
Their next opportunity and ensuing change of direction presented itself when an English company they were a distributor for insisted David take over their recently acquired greeting card company. David was initially reluctant, but this became his first step into greeting cards which has continued to build. The business today now has as much emphasis on the actual gift side as with the greeting cards and paper products.
While David has enjoyed successes, his journey hasn’t been without its struggles. There was a period where the business was hit very hard, with more than one of the large retailer going into liquidation. Fortunately, Image Gallery had a good market presence in addition to a stable, well-diversified customer base, all which contributed to them being able to pick up the pieces and continue to work through this less than desirable experience.
Keeping a good name and strong presence in the industry is important to David and to this end he talks proudly of his team of office, warehouse and sales reps alike, all who have helped him achieve a great reputation and see the business become an industry leader. A number of his employees have been with him for many years. They are a loyal group which he acknowledges as being an essential part to having made it a great business and enjoyable place to work.
Additionally, it is important to provide recognition to their great customer relationships. Image Gallery’s present customer base includes many major accounts and well known department stores, including Kirkcaldie & Stains, Smith & Caughey and Ballentynes, a true reflection on their sound buying decisions and capability to supply customers good lifestyle products which are also well accepted.
David’s advice to anyone thinking about entering the industry would be to understand that in any business, expect change and really do your homework. Customers today demand a lot more than in the early days so it is important to keep your eye on the ball, providing old fashion customer service and a friendly smile still goes a long way and is certainly appreciated.
David has enjoyed sharing his passion for the industry and what better way to have shown this than by joining the NZGTA Executive Committee. David began his term in 1998 and continued through until retiring recently in 2014. As a well-respected and highly valued member of the executive committee David has provided encouragement for many exhibitors over the years and contributed to and supported many of the initiatives which have helped steer the NZ gift industry.
The last few years have seen David come to another turning point in the business, having handed over the reins to his son Edward Robinson, currently the General Manager of Image Gallery. When possible, you will now find David at the office 3 days of the week, he will continue to support Edward and the business but tries to re prioritises his schedule and find that all important time to be on the golf course or for both himself and Deirdre time to enjoy their property up north.