Insignia’s History

As a young girl I was always very close to my father Robert. As I was growing up, Dad was MD of the family business a company called Vanpoulles that supplied church furnishings – everything for churches other than stained glass windows and the pews.

One of my father’s greatest friends was a Belgian called Marc Slabbinck who ran a company making precious metal items such as chalices and bespoke vestments for priests and popes.

In 1981 whilst a teenager, I accompanied by father on a business trip to Belgium where Marc Slabbinck had begun to use the skills of his craftsmen not only to produced stunning ecclesiastical garments but to also make up bespoke flags which were extremely popular in Belgium.

From there Marc had investigated the idea of producing a range of bespoke and personalised
products and so the first Insignia was born.

Dad and I thought it was a great idea that could work in the UK so using Marc’s original catalogue photography and product range as a starting point I set about getting the text translated into English and our first Insignia catalogue was ready in October 1981.

We started with a short run of catalogues which I used to address and put into envelopes by hand before taking them to the post office. In those days, long before the introduction of the internet, we were purely a mail order company starting very small.

We ended up sending 125,000 catalogues annually to customers as diverse as the local bowling club to, what were in those days termed “blue chip companies” (I don’t think that in these uncertain times any company can be deemed blue chip anymore!).

For over a year I did the day to day running of the business from a desk and with a phone that my dad allowed me to use in his company offices until Insignia’s growth meant we moved into our own building further up Chalice Close (named by my grandfather in honour of the church furnishing side of the family) but next door to my father and his business.

Throughout his life my dear father was there for me with free business advice and support until his death, far too early in 1998.

The business continued to grow and thrive, eagerly embracing the introduction of the internet and being one of the first of the promotional merchandise companies to develop a web site and an award-winning website at that!

We remained at Chalice Close for 37 years until 2018 when Insignia Ltd joined forces with Galpeg Ltd, became known as Insignia Promotions and moved to its current London offices.

39 years later I continue to run the business alongside a wonderful, talented, and inspiring team.

Our aims are:

  • To trade ethically and honestly.
  • To provide our customers with the best promotional products money can buy. Our particular skill is in supplying beautifully designed items that can compete with the best of
    today’s designer retail products.
  • To provide a friendly and efficient service for our customers ensuring that the process is a simple one in this complicated world.

To our existing and loyal customers thank you for your business over the past 39 years, we love working for you.

To potential customers – we look forward to the pleasure of being of service.

Claire Appleton