Sales slump fear as GDPR hits Sheffield publisher

A Sheffield publishing company is facing a sales slump after scrapping an 8,500 strong database of customers due to GDPR regulations.

Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 18:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th May 2018, 18:17 pm
Jon Barton and Jane Beagley of Vertebrate Publishing.

Vertebrate Publishing has started from scratch after dumping contact details built up over 24 years.

The move is set to hit sales at the Nether Edge company, which sells outdoor books and guides and sends a marketing email once a fortnight.

It comes on top of three weeks spent researching the complex new regulations, according to boss Jon Barton. The firm will also have to spend money on marketing to build the list back up, he added.

The General Data Protection Regulation was introduced on Friday May 25. It stops companies contacting people without their consent unless they have a business relationship.

Mr Barton said they couldn’t be sure how everyone on their list got there - some had applied for jobs, others had won competitions and weren’t direct customers - and it was safest to start again.

He said: “We’ve read and read the GDPR rules and there’s quite a lot of ambiguity. We had to be able to show consent or have a business relationship with people we were emailing.

“We were nervous that someone could say, ‘how did you get my email?’”

The fine for breaching GDPR rules could be up to £17.5m, or four per cent of turnover.

Mr Barton said he was in favour of the principal of protecting privacy - although post GDPR Vertebrate was still being spammed by recruiters and firms inviting him to sell up.

The impact would be revealed when they sent the first marketing message under the new regime.

He added: “We sent three emails before unsubscribing everyone and 1,000 have signed up again. I think it will cost us some money.”

Last year was Vertebrate Publishing’s best on record and this year was looking strong, he added. It employs six.

Dozens of websites shut down completely as the GDPR rules came into force, while inboxes were flooded with emails begging customers to remain on mailing lists before the deadline.