Our History

the giftware association

The history of The Giftware Association is a rich tapestry spanning more than seven decades. These years have shaped the way we do business today, but we have always had our member's needs at the core of everything we do.

Some bloke


Elkan Simons CBE originally conceived the idea of The Giftware Association, this was put on hold due to World War 2.


Fancy Goods Association Founded.


TPS involved in fairs across the whole of The UK with trade shows in Torquey, Blackpool, Glasgow, Earls Court and Mount Royal, still popular areas for shows today.


The Gift and Fancy goods magazine is created and would run for 14 years, featuring members' news, stories and industry insights.


The Gift Fair had outgrown Blackpool and had changed its name to The International Gifts Fair and was being opened by royalty such as the Duchess of Gloucester.


One of the very first logos of The Giftware Association featured 'The Gift Horse'. During our rebrand in 2026 it was important we incorporated 'The Gift Horse' into the design you see today.


Creation of The Benevolent Fund – The Fund distributes money and helps to house and educate those who have worked in the industry.

Find out more here


The very first London gift fair is organised by TPS at Olympia / Earls Court.


First West of England Fair opened in Torquay.


New Name: The Gift and Fancy Goods association.


Around the time of the newly formed federation, the gift and fancy goods association adopted its new name and what it is currently known as today – The Giftware Association. A new logo was created featuring The Gift Horse.


500th member – Burtondale Gifts was presented a certificate from the Birmingham Lord Mayor at the time.


HRH Princess Anne opens the International Gift Fair.


NEC and TPS sign deal to use whole of NEC for Spring Fair


The very first International Spring Fair was the very first exhibition to take place at the newly formed NEC in Birmingham after it has outgrown its original Blackpool home. This event soon replaces the Blackpool Fair.


The very first Gift Awards – now know as The Gift of the Year awards, comprised of three categories in the first incarnation – Home, Fashion Accessories and Original Gift. 85 entries produced the first grand winner with 'Bristol Glass Collections'  taking the ultimate winner prize.


Gift of the Year winners.


An earlier picture of GA's trade stand. 


Old advert for the trade fair in Harrogate which the Giftware Association would have attended along with many of its members.


Old Harrogate show.


Old Christmas advert


An earlier picture of The GA's National Committee.


Giftware Chairmen S.Demcourt handing over to A.N.Leach


The GA at Spring Fair


Princess Diana visits Spring Fair


Gift of the Year opened up for the first time to non-members and everyone in the industry. Winners were Hazel Ceramics, Roger Lascelles Clocks, David Hayward English Pewter and Les Aquarelles.


New Logo launched at International Spring Fair, a striking modern design for its time.


Old newsletter


Alan Leach, chairman of The Giftware Association, David Wildman, director of Gifts International, Isabel Jones GA Sec Joseph Beanstock, chairman of the Gift Award, Sally Butler, PR Manager at TPS and David Metcalf, Managing Director at TPS


Seminars were introduced to our members on subjects such as marketing, retailers and new EEC regulations and working with agents in the EU.


The Giftware Association celebrates its 50th Birthday in February with people from all sides of the industry, at Birmingham’s Metropole Hotel. The Retail Section was also launched at the party, after 50 years of serving suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors the doors were finally opened to retailers.


Export Services Department takes 62 GA Members to overseas markets.


60th Anniversary Celebrations include a Diamond Jubilee Yearbook and events throughout the year.


New Website launched. The GA Welcomed Members of the Art Metal manufacturers Association (AMMA). Gift of the Year  winners featured in the Show House and Garden at Summer Fair.


The GA gets social by joining LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube. 15 Trade fairs visited across the UK.


Rebrand to how we look now, including a new website , literature and signage at Shows. Gift of the Year given a rebrand too and has been the most successful year yet with a huge amount of non-members applying and also a huge amount of new companies entering.


Meet the Buyer Initiative was started introducing hundreds of our members with face-to-face meetings with buyers from department stores, independent and multi-nationals.


the UK leaves The EU


covid-related lockdowns hit many of our retailers hard, but that didn’t stop The GA from supporting them through online educational webinars, one-on-one meetings with our CEO and so much more to help protect the industry we serve. 


The Gift of the Year Awards collaborates with The Greats to create a huge live event for 500 attendees to celebrate the resilience and creativity of our inspiring industry.