Interview: Nish Kanabar

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What inspired you to work in the stationery industry?


The smell of stationery. I just love it. I also used to supply the stationery trade when I was in sales.


Your CV in a nutshell


I came to the UK in 1971 when I was two. I was educated in Leicester and worked in the family grocery store for five years. I followed that with a career in field sales for 23 years, partly dealing with stationers. I have run a number of retail stores in Yorkshire over the last nine years and our primary businesses are now stationery and greetings cards stores.


Tell us about your company


Castlegate Stationers is an independent store which carries one of the largest ranges of pens in the North of England, and with over 700 sku’s in stock. On top of this we offer 11,000 stationery, art, craft and toy products, serving the local community and as far afield as Scotland and London. We are ideally placed in the beautiful market town of Wetherby, which sits on the edge of the A1 in the golden triangle in between Leeds, Harrogate and York.


Describe your role


I am the managing director at Castlegate Stationery. My role is varied, working with suppliers to bring into store new and innovative ranges, keeping up to speed on the shop floor, listening to what our customers are asking for and integrating in the local community. I served as chair of the local business association for two years and now sit on the local council as a councillor, working hard to provide facilities for the local community.


Who is your typical customer?


Local community, aged 35-60. We are starting to see more and more young families shop in store.


How is your company facing some of the challenges presented by the current retail climate?


It’s key for us as a business that we support UK manufacturing. It is our company ethos to buy local and UK-produced goods. We work hard to stock quality products. This we believe will stand us in good stead over the next few years.


How has the industry changed in the last 10 years?


The main thing is that folk now also look for online offers, but you cannot beat service, expertise and the touch and feel of goods before you buy.


What are you proudest of in your career so far?


To be able to get up in the morning and come into work in our own business, where only you can manage your future. It is a very fortunate position to be in.


How do you see analogue and digital working together in retail over the coming years?


There is a place for both, but digital is the way forward. You need to keep moving with the times.


What does our industry have to offer young people starting out in their career?


An exciting future. Who doesn’t like stationery?! It’s addictive. You only need to speak to our oldest son who is now 17 and has been working instore since he was 11. He (Daniel Jay Kanabar) was nominated for the Thirty under 30 awards last year and came in the top 30!


What are your desk essentials?


Pen, pencil, calculator, notepad, filing trays, concertina organiser, rubber bands, highlighters, address labels, envelopes, stapler, date stamp and the list goes on!


What do you use notebooks for?


Reminders of things to do, telephone messages and noting orders.


Do you have a favourite stationery item?


My collections of pens….


Where do I start with my pen collection?! I am an addict. Let me name a few of the favourites I use regularly:


  • Parker ballpoint 25 years old, and still going strong. A marbled green colour, with a gel re-fill in, lovely smooth writing.
  • Waterman Expert mechanical pencil. 20 years old.
  • Fisher Space ballpoint pen. All steel.
  • Sheaffer marbled blue ballpoint pen. Good heavy weight.
  • Sheaffer black mechanical pencil. Good heavy weight.
  • Dunhill black and gold ballpoint pen. Slim.
  • Parker pen/pencil combined.
  • Fountain pen. All gold for writing hand written letters.


My wife has:


  • Yard-o-lead pencil. Now 47 years old.
  • Sheaffer gold ballpoint pen.
  • Cross ballpoint lasercut pen.
  • Lamy pen/pencil combined.
  • Cross pen and pencil set.


I have given to each of my three children one of my school pens - the classic Parker Jotter. Still going strong 35 years later.


All the above pens I value. I just enjoy seeing my family use them.


Do you have a favourite Pantone?


Ultra Violet.


What’s the Next Big Thing?


Lifetime pencils.


Why do you think stationery is important in the digital age?


We must never lose our basic skills, like the ability to be able to write, and simple things like filling in an order. Stationery helps you to be organised.


What’s in store for the next 12 months?


We generally work 12 months in advance, planning ranges, looking for new ideas, keeping an eye on trends and sourcing new own-label lines.


Twitter: @cgstationers

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