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Advice and information for garden centre professionals

Happy 80th birthday


Since its beginnings in the UK in 1939, the name NOMA has been synonymous with top quality Christmas lights, and 80 years later the brand is still going strong and still living up to this promise. NOMA is the oldest Christmas lighting supplier in the UK, and owners LeisureGrow are delighted to be celebrating this iconic brand’s 80th birthday this year. Special report pages 4-5.

One-stop for garden furniture supply The Royalcraft brand covers all your garden furniture and accessory needs. A-MIR are suppliers of quality garden furniture for over 28 years at highly competitive prices. Quality and service are what makes us your perfect partner. We serve major retailers, garden centres, wholesalers and provide a direct home delivery service. Please visit our website for full information. Our latest innovation for 2019 is our unique Royalcraft Weather-Shield Fabric on cushions which features Weather Proof and Stain Resistant performance.

New for 2019 are 5 new collections in rattan wicker; Lisbon, Bali, Dallas, Milan and Fiji.

By popular demand, Royalcraft have expanded the hugely successful Seychelles range.

A.Mir & Co Ltd, Mir House, Taylors Lane, Oldbury, West Midlands, B69 2BN. Tel: 0121 544 1999


An exclusive lookback at the major talking points of a momentus 2018

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Exclusive Interview Hillview Garden Centres’ Boyd Douglas-Davies looks into his crystal ball

Future of garden centre retailing Major event spotlights 4GCA Conference 4Glee at Spring Fair 4Garden Re-Leaf Day 4PATS Sandown


Shaping the future of garden centre retailing GTN’s Trevor Pfeiffer met with Hillview Garden Centres CEO Boyd Douglas-Davies to talk about the benefits of running a group of garden centres and ponder on the future shape of garden centre retail ownership. The UK garden centre ownership map has changed dramatically during 2018. Terra Firma’s decision to put 145 Wyevale Garden Centres up for sale at the end of May lead to a flurry of activity and speculation about who would be buying which centres. At the time, Hillview Garden Centres along with British Garden Centres and QD’s Cherry Lane Garden Centres were among the favourites to bag a number of mid-sized stores and move their way up the garden centre group chart. In fact GTN understands that Hillview Garden Centres had submitted offers for a significant number of stores. Six months later and the list of garden centres ‘sold’ or still ‘for sale’ shows some polarisation of activity at the top and the bottom of the list. The ‘big’ centres have been sold to Blue Diamond and Dobbies, while the smaller centres have gone to either property developers or existing operators. Wyevale Garden Centres CEO Roger McLaughlan hinted to GTN in June that his hope was for the group to come out of the sale process consisting of 60-70 centres of similar size. If that is to be the eventual outcome it is the mid-sized centres that fit his plan and that may explain why so many bids from the likes of Hillview and many other operators have not been successful. So what next for those groups who hoped for rapid expansion? Boyd Douglas-Davies had this to say: “Our view has always been that every store is individual – this is why we have been more than happy to buy very different stores, ranging from Burford through to Studley, Littleheath and Scotland Nurseries. They are all different and full of character because

Sharon Leadbitter (left) was in admin before Hillview took over Billing. Now she is one of the groups sales superstars. Abdel Hauchleff (right), Billing Centre Manager, is passionate about Lemax, no wonder they out perform other centres in the group.

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we never ever believe that a one model fits all whatever they look like. So you’ve got to treat everybody as individuals and that’s what’s grown the store business.” Boyd left Webbs Garden Centres in 2011 to set up Hillview Garden Centres. The immediate ambition of Hillview was to create a group of over 10 centres in an initial fiveyear period. “We get the immediate benefit of reducing some of the overheads that sit behind retail so our view has been that the retailing and catering is there, that’s what we’re buying. But the administration and accounting costs

can be turned into a saving – but we’ve not made a single admin person redundant as they’ve been repositioned in the business and some of them are now sales stars. “The group strength in our marketing means we can do bigger and better activity. The Seasons Reward Card system through Corby & Fellas we couldn’t run as an individual store. The investment in that to produce the flyer we send out to 130,000 people in our database and create professional marketing material, that would not be within a budget. One designer produces one piece of literature with 10


Group buying of stock in containers plus displays built by passionate staff mean Hillview have been told they are the biggest Lemax retailer in the UK this year. variations, it’s very efficient.” As we wander past the expansive Lemax Christmas display at the Hillview Billing Store, Boyd explains how buying is also a major benefit for a group of centres. “If we were a single centre we might have bought a single pallet, and there is more than a pallet worth of product on this display alone. So as a group we are able to buy 40-foot containers of Lemax which enables us to do great displays and become one of the largest retailers of lit Christmas houses and accessories in the country.” “We’ve not been a slave to anything in terms of saying we’re doing things everywhere, we’ve done what we believe is right for each store. Every time we bought a store we’ve also discovered a new winner, without fail. Every store we’ve acquired has taught us something which we’ve used to improve other stores. “To significantly grow a small garden centre in this world of internet and price comparison you need the support of some form of buying group or being part of a group. I think those two options are going to become the norm unless you are of a multimillion size like Barton Grange or St Peters in Worcester. “If you’ve got a group and you’re providing them with a product, if it’s the best product and it’s competitive then the teams in store are happy. In some of the stores we bought they had been selling furniture which even the store staff we’re not happy with. They perceived it

Quality products at competitive prices improve staff morale and increase sales. to be not very good and it wasn’t very cheap. good start up investor. They have funded us to get to this point and we are now They felt it was poor quality for a high price. seven and a half years old in terms of an We were able to bring in brands such as investment fund so at some point they will Hartman, Kettler and Supremo and because probably be looking to realise some of that we’re buying at a good price we could price investment. That gives us an opportunity to match with the internet and stop customers saying to staff that they could buy it cheaper bring in additional investors alongside them. We have been approached by a number on-line. The team love that.” So, what of the future for Hillview? “I think of parties - strategic, financial and real estate developers - expressing interest to there’s opportunity to acquire more stores. participate in Hillview Garden Centres, we We’re very Midland orientated – Middle always take those approaches seriously and England is really how we pitch ourselves now fully evaluate them” and it’s a big geography we cover. “We’ve created a great team, portfolio of “I can equally see some store formats well-located garden centres with massive changing quite significantly, maybe layout development and growth potential and I’m changing or even ownership changing as looking forward to seeing us go onto the with Studley Green which was outside of our next stage and take what we’ve proven to geography. The opportunity came along to work and extend across more stores. sell that to Capital Gardens and as we “We’ve completed Phase One and now are an investment driven business look forward to the next step. This is an rather than a family business that made exciting sector and completely differentiated complete sense. from high street retail.” “The Hillview Group has been a very

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Celebrating 80 years of NOMA Christmas LeisureGrow is determined to make sure the 80th anniversary celebrations go with a bang, and what better way to celebrate than with a spectacular Gala Dinner, which has been organised in partnership with Harrogate Christmas and Gift Fair. To celebrate NOMA’s 80th anniversary in 2019 a special Gala Dinner will be held at the Royal Hall, Harrogate, on Sunday, January 13. The spectacular event is being staged in partnership with Harrogate Christmas and Gift Fair. Guests will be treated to an evening of entertainment, gourmet dining, and a whole host of celebrations. Headlining the entertainment on the night will be comedian Dara O’Briain, who attendees will recognise as host of TV’s Mock the Week. O’Briain is sure to prove a hit with the audience with his intelligent, fast-talking comedy style. The celebrations will begin with a champagne reception, followed by a three course meal. Throughout the night there will be an array of entertainment, including music and magic to help get proceedings underway, with some surprises along the way! Following the meal and Dara O’Briain’s performance it will be time for party-goers to dance the night away with a live band serving up a huge helping of music. LeisureGrow Marketing Director Frank Kaminski said: “We’re looking forward to celebrating NOMA’s 80th birthday in style! It’s a great brand and we’re proud to be part of its recent history and also its future. We’ve got great ambitions for NOMA Christmas and NOMA Garden Lighting and we’re excited about the innovations and designs we’re bringing in for 2019 and beyond. “The Gala Dinner is a chance to celebrate the brand’s history and to say thank you to all our customers who continue to support the NOMA brand and make it the success it is today.”

80 years of design and technology from NOMA NOMA’s success over the years was very much built on their filament bulb sales which allowed them to create a wide variety of Christmas lighting, all to the highest standards of safety. Under LeisureGrow’s careful guidance the NOMA brand is always evolving, with cutting edge technology like its 1,2,Tree system, its patented EasyTimer, and the NOMA Add-A-Long-Pro system. As well as the old favourites, the NOMA design team keeps things fresh with new products each year, in line with the latest trends. The 2019 NOMA range is no exception, and includes the latest technologies like its new dual power festive

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outdoor lighting range that can be operated by both mains power and battery; a USB lighting chain collection; and solar-powered pillar candle range featuring NOMA’s patented Solar 365 technology. New designs and products for 2019 include: stunning floating Magical Christmas Candles; water fountain candles; a new pre-lit natural rattan collection of garden animals including a full size stag; and fun acrylic characters that include an on-trend 3 foot free-standing flamingo. There are also new pre-lit Christmas door sets and wreaths and new tree scents to fit all trees - giving NOMA’s ultra-realistic artificial trees a true pine fragrance for Christmas.


Showrooms in Hertfordshire and Scotland now open Customers who can’t make it to Harrogate are invited to visit LeisureGrow’s extensive showroom in Hertfordshire to view the NOMA Christmas 2019 range and join the team for a celebratory BBQ lunch in their cosy cabin. To book your appointment call 01462 744 500. Or for those customers further North the LeisureGrow showroom in Killearn near Glasgow is also open – to arrange a visit call Catriona Exeter on 07803 515 352.

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2018 Feeling the heat REVIEW OF 2018

Nicholas Marshall leaving Dobbies was headline news.

A year of incident that blew so hot and cold, some almost got caught with their trousers down… Last month, we took an overview of how the industry was impacted by three major happenings – the demise of Gardman, the break-up of Wyevale Garden Centres and the sale of the UK’s big-grossing Scotts MiracleGro businesses to venture capital. This month, in a deeper Review of the Year, we can add in the rise of Westland, the Heatwave summer, more on the changing shape of the garden centre market and the achievments of individuals and businesses alike. Spoiler alert: There may be one or two downers. Let’s start with a truth about this industry of ours. It’s damned cool in a crisis. The high street economy downturn, Brexit caution, the Gardman disruption, Wyevale’s ‘sale of the century’ and a summer that saw plant sales shrivel would have been enough to send any retail sector into a flat spin. But, to borrow Churchill’s famous words, the garden industry kept buggering on…and now looks like ending the year with a smile on its face, as long as Santa does his stuff. For the GTN team touring the aisles at Glee, it was as if the trials and tribulations of 2018, which involved a patchwork of product shortages, delivery disappointments, unexpected wastage, sales graph collapses, labour problems (for some, especially those dependent on seasonal Eastern European workers) and hovering WGC uncertainty, had never happened. Attendance was terrific, business was brisk and there was enough positivity amongst buyers and sellers alike to turn the average high street green with envy.

Garden retailers have become so adept at negotiating the vagaries of seasonality through diversification and innovation that not even a year like 2018 could dent its optimism. The weather extremes, of course, were one of the year’s top talking points, starting with the Beast from the East and Storm Emma and finishing with the longest heatwave since 1976. In January, GTN Xtra reported just how challenging the wintry Christmas had been in many parts of the country. But astonishing increases in January plant sales revealed by GTN Bestsellers data suggested good time ahead. Then, in March… ‘The Beast’ and ‘Emma’ began to wreak havoc, with reports of many store closures, frozen pipes and heroic efforts to keep trading. Closures started in Kent and East Sussex and spread north, the winter’s second business interruption for snow in many places. It eventually reached the normally snow-free West Country. As we caught up with garden centres in the aftermath, it was clear trading figures were truly awful – Stewarts reported their “worstever two-week trading period”. Ayletts lost 45% of turnover and plant suppliers in particular were hurting. The weather may have proved terminal for the nine-centre Home & Garden Group, which went into administration. When spring finally got going, so did the energetic Blue Diamond group. It’s East Bridgford new build near Nottingham began to wow customers from day one pre-Easter – and took £250,000 ex VAT in first seven days. The Bunnings Warehouse concept didn’t take off in the way Aussie owners Wesfarmers had hoped.

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A story to keep us guessing in the early part of the year was the potential fate of the Bunnings Homebase business – a significant player in the UK garden market – starting with reports that the boss, Peter ‘PJ’ Davies was taking three-months leave. It turned out to be the opening gambit in a chess game that ended a few months later with Wesfarmers selling the whole shooting match…for a quid…after admitting that their UK venture had been a huge mistake. What a cheque, mate! Continued investment by garden centres in acquisitions, expansions, redevelopment and new builds was a clear indicator of a retail sector in great shape. One of the year’s first buys was Cupar GC in Fife, which became the fifth centre for Caulders. Pennells acquired its third centre, Four Seasons at Sleaford, in early March. In August, Frensham GC becomes the Squire’s group’s 15th centre. There were others. But, of course, it was the Sale of the Century that kept fingers on buzzers. The acquisition of most of WGC’s crown jewel destination centres by Blue Diamond and Dobbies was predictable, setting up an intriguing contest for second place in the league. Currently, it’s Dobbies 40, Blue Diamond 30…watch this space. If you needed a clue as to how things might change under new ownership at some of those acquisitions, Alan Roper’s declaration that he was recruiting eight chefs for the eight Wyevale centres Blue Diamond had just bought was as good as any. Apparently, they didn’t employ chefs before. Back at Dobbies, a challenging 2017 had clearly left its equity capital owners in two minds as to who should be running it. Early rumours that then-CEO Nicholas Marshall had left the company following the departure of two of his senior team initially turned out to be false – but he was gone just a few weeks later, replaced by COO Graeme Jenkins. By May, his in-tray would have included invitations to talks with Wyevale owners Terra Firma – winning the bidding for Woodcote Green (asking price c£13.5m) undoubtedly produced a particularly wee smile…

REVIEW OF 2018 A couple of those downers…. In April, fire destroys Strikes Stokesley centre. Klondyke Strikes CEO David Yardley tells us he is heartbroken. “We can’t believe this has happened to us again, seven years after the fire at Wilmslow,” he says. The HTA produces an action plan to prepare the industry in the event of the arrival in the UK of Xylella fastidiosa and the potential devastation it poses to the horticultural industry. We learn that no-one should underestimate the consequences. Later in the year, the HTA is also instrumental in a campaign designed to wean the industry off its dependency on hard-to-recycle black pots and switch instead to a taupe coloured plastic that scanners can detect at recycling centres. Major nurseries and a string of retailers are now backing it. However, it seems the whole issue of the industry’s high use of plastic is now top-ofmind for consumers, according to a survey by BBC Gardener’s World magazine. Final downer: rural crime rears its ugly head for some, with ram-raiders stealing a safe containing thousands of pounds, causing £30,000 worth of damage at a QD Cherry Lane centre in Notts and West Lancashire wholesale nursery Florna Plants losing as full crop of six-pack primroses as raiders cut open a double skinned multi-span polytunnel.

More from 2018 Those we lost… 4Mark Taylor of Kernock Park Plants lost a fiveyear battle with cancer. 4Paul Dye (55) formerly of Polhill and Sevenoaks garden centres and a regional manager at Wyevale GC also lost his battle with cancer. 4Beth Chatto, OBE, VMH, acclaimed gardener, writer and plantswoman, whose gardening career spanned six decades. She was 95. Those we saluted… 4Colin Squire, chairman of Squire’s Garden Centres, and John Athwal, founder of Premier Decorations, were awarded OBEs in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list. 4Sue Biggs, director general of the RHS, was awarded a CBE for services to the environment and horticulture in the New Year Honours list.

In May, ex-HTA CEO Carol Paris says she is starting a new garden centre group called Somerton Ltd, to develop garden centres in the south with a focus on fresh local food and table service restaurants, a la Rosebourne, from whom she will license the name and formula. She will have been heartened by what happened over the scorching May Day Bank Holiday weekend – which produced record garden centre sales across the country. Barbecue sales went through the roof (229% up at Dobbies, compared to 2017) but plants and gardening broke records, too. It was awesome. Overall, it was a crazy year! No-one has ever said this industry is easy, but is has learned to ride the roller-coaster without falling off, even when its trousers are down. The impressive thing about our independents and family-owned groups is that they appear to have taken prime bits of best practice from other successful retail categories – but kept their own counsel when it comes to managing the core offer of plants and gardening. No-one does it better. 4Rachel Doyle, proprietor of Arboretum Garden Centres in Carlow and Wicklow, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Retail Excellence. 4Jayne Scott of Klondyke Daleside was voted by delegates at the GCA conference as the 2017 GCA Rising Star... 4Tom Sharples, senior horticultural manager at Suttons, announced his retirement after 44 years. 4Peter Seabrook is awarded an honorary degree by Writtle University College. 4Fairways Garden Centre and Bents Garden & Home are crowned GCA Garden Centre of the Year and Destination Garden Centre of the Year. 4Neudorff wins the Sword of Excellence at the GIMA Awards with its VineWeevilFree nematodes product. Woodlodge is voted GCA Supplier of the Year. 4Smart Garden Products was named as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies in the FT 1000.

EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING Garden Trade News, Potting Shed Press Ltd Dairy Drove Thorney Peterborough PE6 0TX Tel 01733 775700 Fax 01733 775838 THE GTN TEAM Editor: Neil Pope Associate Editor: Mike Wyatt Director: Trevor Pfeiffer Publisher: Mandy Davies Advertising: Alan Burdon Ben Greenwood HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Tel 01733 775700 or email Subscription rates UK: £145 Subscription includes a password for full access to GTN Online plus a weekly copy of GTN Bestsellers OUR PUBLISHERS GTN is published by Potting Shed Press Ltd, who also publish: * website * Weekly GTN Xtra and Pet Trade Xtra newsletters * Garden Radio * Official Glee Catalogue and Glee Daily News Online – the only official guides to the garden industry’s leading annual trade show SMALL PRINT All material © Potting Shed Press 2018. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form whatsoever, either for sale or not, without the express permission of the publishers. The information contained in this publication is published in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. Potting Shed Press Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any error or misrepresentation. All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or other damage caused by reliance on information contained in this publication or in the event of any bankruptcy or liquidation or cessation of the trade of any company, individual or firm mentioned, is hereby excluded.

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Entering its seventh year, Cultivation Street now stands as one of the longest running gardening campaigns that links the professional horticulture industry with amateur gardeners. Other industry campaigns, such as Plant for Life, It Starts with a Pot and Love the Plot You’ve Got, have spread a positive message but have come and gone, whereas Cultivation Street continues to grow. The success of the campaign stems from its clear and focused message about the importance of getting people of all ages to grow together, to engage with plants and nature, and to spread the word about the many health and social benefits of gardening. The Cultivation Street competition—which has, to date, given out a staggering £130,000 in prizes to worthy school and community gardening projects—will feature a new category next year. This category aims to recognise and reward gardening projects which provide essential care and support for people living with physical and mental illness. In celebration of the incredible achievements of Cultivation Street’s 160 Garden Centre Ambassadors, the January 2019 GCA conference will feature a short film about the many successes that have come about as a result of the campaign. Uplifting and inspiring, the film shows how engagement with local communities and schools in collaborative gardening projects has changed the lives of so many people across the UK. Campaign founder, David Domoney, says: “The ever-increasing number of communities, schools and Garden Centre Ambassadors that are involved in the Cultivation Street campaign means that we are able to offer specialist help, guidance and encouragement to a huge community of gardeners every single year. The campaign’s momentum means that we’re able to promote the health benefits of plants and nature to a continually growing number of new gardeners, helping them, their families and communities, as well as promoting the horticultural industry. The campaign’s achievements are beyond my wildest dreams and it grows year on year.” In 2018, campaign sponsor, Syngenta, gifted 12,000 free Calliope® geranium plants to participating schools and communities across the UK by means of the Garden

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Centre Ambassadors. With the success of last year’s campaign behind them, 2019 sees Syngenta returning for their second year as sponsor, with an even bigger giveaway planned. Heavyweights in the media world, including The Sunday Mirror and ITV News, continue to feature stories from the Cultivation Street campaign in their national coverage. The campaign has a large body of community and school groups with whom it is actively engaged—it has been involved in over

30,000 conversations and had its online content seen over 1.3 million times across its social media platforms in the last 6 months alone. For 2019, the campaign is on track to deliver its positive message about the importance of gardening and the significant health and social benefits that result when communities and schools grow together. For more details visit and


New EASY solutions to keep gardeners’ surfaces like new Outdoor surface and patio care specialists Azpects are expanding their range of EASYCare products to help everyday gardeners and landscapers. Having provided hard landscaping care products to professionals for over 10 years, Azpects have now launched an exciting range of trade-strength products aimed at consumers. Azpects products have gained a reputation for delivering exceptional cleaning and protection for patios, decking and hard outdoor surfaces. They can even help restore greenery and artificial grass. Driven by demand, their popular range is now available in stylish consumer packs for garden centres, DIY stores and builder’s merchants keen to provide customers with the easiest solutions. A glance across the new range of nine EASY products finds answers for many common garden challenges. We take a closer look at three of their top-selling products:

EASY Patio & Deck Cleaner Stubborn dirt and grime can make patio and decking appear tired and unloved. This powerful multipurpose cleaner is one of the fastest and most effective ways to tackle unsightly marks and mould. It’s easy to use and can be applied to decking, sheds, fences, driveways and even ornaments. Like EASY Algae Remover, it goes on cleaning and protecting up to a year after application.

EASY Algae Remover One of Azpects’ best sellers, this high-grade cleaner packs a powerful punch. The easy to use formula removes algae, mould and lichen from paths, patios, walls and wood. Results show up after just a few hours and keep actively cleaning for up to 12 months after application. It’s proving a must have for many proud gardeners and one litre of the concentrate covers up to an impressive 250 square metres.

EASY Artificial Grass Cleaner & Deodoriser Artificial grass is a popular addition to many gardens but even synthetic lawn needs some attention to keep it looking great. Azpects’ EASY Artificial Grass Cleaner & Deodoriser works on all types of artificial surfaces including plastic decking. Its powerful acid-free formula revives each blade of grass, restores original colour, disinfects and even neutralises odours. It’s perfect for the low-maintenance gardener.

Range available in a free-standing display unit The complete range of products includes Porcelain Cleaner, Deck Magic, Black Spot Remover, Algae Remove & Seal, Patio Seal & Protect and even a Grass & Foliage Greener which instantly turns brown lawns or leaves green again. To give retailers and consumers the full choice of EASY solutions, Azpects have created an eye-catching display unit featuring their seven most popular products in three handy sizes. Free standing, it highlights many of the products key features and can easily be positioned by stockists to maximise sales. Already featuring in many leading retailers, they’re gaining satisfied customers across the UK as they discover the EASY solution. To stock the EASYCare range contact Ben Wright on 01473 760777, or visit

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GREENFINGERS CHARITY Linda Petrons with John Ashley, Greenfingers Charity Chairman (left), at the official opening of the garden at Andy’s at St Andrew’s Hospice.

Making a difference Linda Petrons, Head of Fundraising & Communications, reviews a remarkable year for Greenfingers and looks forward to the charity’s 20th anniversary year in 2019. What kind of year has been for the Greenfingers Charity? Thanks to all those who supported the charity in 2018 – it has been a great year in terms of FUNdraising. This has in turn meant it has been a really productive and exciting year creating and planning more Greenfingers gardens for life-limited children and families who spend time in hospices. We have seen the opening of a new Pirate-themed garden at Andy’s at St Andrews Hospice in Grimsby and also work progressing at Grace House in Sunderland. We have also been busy planning more gardens for children’s hospices right across the country. We hope work will have started on two new gardens in December. At Claire House Children’s Hospice in the Wirral, Carolyn Willitts has designed a fabulous ‘Garden of Colour’. This new garden will enable life-limited children to experience time outside whatever the weather and, with its sensory rich planting and colourful accessories, will provide an exhilarating feast for all the senses. At Richard House Children’s Hospice in East London, we are working with awardwinning designer Andrew Fisher Tomlin. Here we look forward to transforming a woodland into a multi-functional and interactive space in which siblings will be able to have fun exploring a wonderful outside space and at the same time create lasting and precious family memories in the natural environment. We are also working with garden designer Darren Hawkes to create a sheltered space within the grounds of Little Harbour Children’s Hospice in Cornwall. As we’re now finding with many of the hospices we work with, the care teams really are recognising the therapeutic values of outside spaces.

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Whether it’s enjoying the warmth of the sun or the gentle sounds of rain on an inviting outdoor structure, spending time outside is for many children a hugely valuable experience. We are hugely proud to have now created 55 magical and inspiring gardens in hospices right across the UK and as we approach our 20th Anniversary we look forward to opening more gardens and progressing plans for the many more hospices on our waiting list. What has been the highlight of the year for the charity? There have been so many fundraising highlights throughout 2018. From the Fockey and FUNdraising at the GCA Conference at the beginning of the year, a fabulous £70k raised on Garden Re-Leaf Day despite the Beast from the East, to seeing many children and garden centres embracing National Children’s Gardening Week. Then there was the GIMA Golf and Activity Day, followed by the annual GIMA Awards, and Glee ending a business season with the launch of new trade promotions. The recent Choice Marketing Conference was a great show of generosity from its exhibitors, whilst the teams at Kew Green Hotels continue to amaze us with their fundraising efforts, as did the guests at our recent Greenfingers Charity Fundraising Dinner. But the real highlight has to be seeing children enjoying the gardens created thanks to the ongoing support of our industry friends and colleagues. And of course, the knowledge that we will be able to continue bringing the precious gift of a garden and many more outside experiences to more life-limited children, their families and carers who spend time hospices throughout 2019 and beyond.

When will Garden Re-Leaf Day take place in 2019? The date for the diary is Friday 22nd March when we hope the whole of the garden industry will get involved. It would be great if we could make Garden Re-Leaf Day 2019 - Greenfingers Charity’s 20th Anniversary year - a year where the country goes ‘Green for Greenfingers’ and a year when we see Garden Re-Leaf Day fundraising totals top a whopping £100k once again. Can you help make it happen? What message would you give to the garden industry? We really couldn’t do what we do without the continued support of our many industry friends and we hope that in 2019 and in the years ahead we remain the garden industry’s favourite charity. Our most important message though is thank you for caring, thank you for giving and thank you for making a very real difference. Your support this year and in the year ahead means the world to us and the children and families our work supports.

At the Greenfingers Fundraising Dinner, GTN director Trevor Pfeiffer was presented with an award to mark the publication’s continued support of the charity.


Winter wonderland Barton Grange Garden Centre and Castle Gardens have been named as national winners of the 2018 Garden Centre Association’s annual Christmas competition. The garden centres were judged to have the best festive displays in the country by the organisation and will receive their awards at its annual conference in January, 2019. Entrants in the DGC category were judged by Andy Campbell and entrants in the GC category were judged by Alyson Haywood. The area winners in the South Thames area were Ruxley Manor (DGC) and Castle Gardens (GC). In the Wales and West area Whitehall Garden Centre – Lacock (DGC) and Whitehall Garden Centre – Whitchurch (GC) were chosen. In North Thames, the area winners were Perrywood Garden Centre (DGC) and Sunshine Garden Centre (GC) while St Peter’s Garden Centre (DGC) and Fairways – Ashbourne (GC) were selected in the Midlands area. Barton Grange Garden Centre (DGC) and Fron Gogh Garden Centre (GC) were selected in the North West and in the North East,

Tong Garden Centre (DGC) and Coletta and Tyson Garden Centre (GC) were chosen. Andy Campbell said: “I was lucky enough to judge the Christmas competition for the GCA a couple of years ago. This year, when re-visiting the 24 larger destination centres around the country, it was immediately apparent they had all just got even stronger. “Nowadays garden centres are highly professional in the way they plan, implement and review their Christmas offer. In fact, I would go further and say they lead the way among retailers in delivering an excellent balance between displays that are clearly aimed at inspiring and helping customers in their own homes, while being commercial and experience driven. “Key trends I have noticed on my travels and through discussions with the teams that have created these wonderful retail experiences have included: reduced time to build Christmas, high impact displays coupled with simplified product merchandising along with a greater focus on facilitating customers to serve themselves.”

Barton Grange

Castle Gardens

Santa arrives in style at Squire’s

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Glee returns to Spring Fair Following a successful launch in 2018, Glee at Spring Fair is back for a second exciting year. Bringing a variety of specialist garden and outdoor living exhibitors to the show, the concession will take root in Hall 3 adjacent to the DIY & Home Improvement sector. This new location will provide greater opportunities for visitor crossover buying A second edition of Glee at this time of year will give retailers an additional destination to refresh their ranges for key retail spikes. Glee in February will also provide garden buyers with the latest concepts and trends for 2019, helping them to direct their buying. Categories that retailers can look forward to sourcing will include garden care, landscaping and garden decoration, and outdoor entertaining, from brands such as Woodlodge, Fargro, Charles Taylor, Creative Products, Dizmes, Neat Ideas, Laurica Plants and Riverco Trading.

The spring edition will also provide Glee exhibitors with a secondary revenue opportunity in the year, and an additional touchpoint to meet with new and existing customers, whilst also enabling Spring Fair to benefit from having a dedicated garden centre hub at its heart. Glee at Spring Fair will take prime location in Hall 3, considered to be in the main thoroughfare, alongside the complimentary DIY section. To keep up-to-date on the latest Glee news visit To enquire about exhibiting call 020 3033 2160.

EXHIBITORS REVEAL PLANS FOR THE 2019 EVENT Woodlodge, the UK’s leading supplier of garden planters and containers, will be using the show as a second opportunity to showcase its expanded Rustic Garden and Feather ranges of pots and planters. Drawing influence from current trends, including the ‘Modern Farmhouse’ trend – considered by Houzz as the biggest interior trend of the last few years – Woodlodge’s new Rustic Garden collection of pots and planters will focus on using more natural materials and alternative colourways. Made up of a mix of weathered woods, natural materials and contrasting earthy tones, the Rustic Garden range harks back to simpler times and creates a feeling of simplicity and harmony in the garden. Creative Products will be showcasing four new products at Glee at Spring Fair. Demonstrating a move away from plastic, the company will be featuring sustainably sourced paper-based packaging where possible. The four new product launches include a new pet mitt which is designed to invigorate the pet’s skin whilst maintaining a clean and healthy coat; the ‘Mighty Little Digger’ - a new gardening tool, which is designed to facilitate digging, loosening and weeding soil; a new grill mat – which ensures food stays crispy on the outside and tender on the inside; and finally, a grey version of the company’s popular Auto Wash Stick.

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Fargro, the go-to supplier for commercial grower needs will be showing its ranges of indoor and outdoor planters and containers, as well as extended garden decoration and Christmas ranges. The company will be offering a number of unique ranges of product, many lines exclusive to Fargro. Talking about the company presence at Glee at Spring Fair, Kieran Daly, Fargro’s Key Accounts Development Manager, said: “We see a very exciting time ahead developing our added value and garden gift ranges. For us, the timing of Glee at Spring Fair is right for launching our new Christmas ranges and highlighting the spring and summer products we originally exhibited at the main Glee exhibition in September.”

Tepro – an established German BBQ brand, with a strong UK presence and market leading range on the continent – will be making its debut at Glee at Spring Fair in 2019. The company will be using Glee at Spring Fair to launch a completely new way of cooking with its 800°c Steak Grill, which prepares restaurant quality steak in 90 seconds. Tepro is the first to bring this way of cooking to the mass market in the UK, with an RRP of just £299. The company will also be offering a buy 10 get 2 free promotion exclusively at Glee at Spring Fair, and are encouraging any visitor wanting new product for the 2019 season to make sure they make Tepro part of their Glee at Spring Fair plans as the brand has the stock and facilities to support all sizes of retailer.


Photo by Colin Baldwin


SIMON ESSEX Managing Director Patio Black Spot Removal Company

How did your family first get involved in the stone cleaning and restoration business and when was that? We first became involved in the stone industry in the early 1980s. When you were growing up did you plan to work in the business or did you want to do something else? When I was at school, I wanted to study architecture, as my great uncle Oliver was an architect. Physics was not my strongest subject, but the fascination for chemistry remained. Who was responsible for coming up with the Patio Black Spot Removal system, and formulating the products? Black lichen has always grown on stone, since time immemorial. However, the warmer, wetter winters of the past 20 years have accelerated organic growth, such as black lichen and white fungi, moss and green algae. Inviting friends around for ‘a burger and a bun’ on an old patio has been superseded by ‘alfresco dining’’ – four course, candlelit dinners, relaxing on beautifully coloured and cut stonework, installed at a cost approaching that of a new kitchen! Unfortunately, three years later, the once beautifully stonework is covered in black spots that cannot be removed with a pressure washer. Equally, warmer and wetter conditions,

combining with the existing organic growth, have made some older pathways and patios ‘no go areas’ as soon as the first autumn rain arrives. I developed the system in 2009, and first brought it to market in 2011. Being acid free, it is safe to use on any of the natural stones, including York Stone, Limestone and Indian Sandstone, but being biodegradable, is safe for plants in most garden environments. Do you have your own factory producing the products or is this process outsourced? The product is 100% British made – the constituents are produced in two different factories, and we blend, bottle and supply direct to the consumer or garden centres. Have you been surprised at how well your products have sold in garden centres? At the outset, we had high expectations. But those expectations have been far outweighed by the actual sales through garden centres. One particular group of garden centres tell us it is the fourth bestselling product, which is simply staggering. 2019 promises to be even better as we have taken on another 58 garden centres, since Glee in September 2018. How many people do you employ? Currently we employ a team of 11, but are currently recruiting more staff, particularly for the sales and customer services teams.


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Is this a sector of the market where you can bring more products to market, bearing in mind you have one product that cures the problem and another that prevents it returning? We are currently developing three new products, all of which will be ‘niche’, and completely new to the market. Two are due to be released for the Garden Press Event in 2019. All will be exciting additions, complementing the products currently supplied to garden centres. So what next for The Patio Black Spot Removal Company? The company owes much of its success to its ability to interact with and understand its market place. We currently exhibit at 16 garden shows, including the majority of RHS events, and have been invited by the RHS to exhibit for the first time at the Chelsea Flower Show. This gives the buying public a chance to meet with us and personally discuss their own particular application. BBC Gardeners World has also been added to our extensive list for this year. Further growth is already guaranteed for 2019, with the necessary expansion of both staff and premises planned. We are currently supplying our products as far and wide as California, Texas, Singapore and Australia, and other European Countries, so the future is looking very exciting. Visit


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year From everyone at

December 2018/January 2019 17


PATS Sandown gears up for February show date With just over a month to go before PATS Sandown opens its doors, preparations are well advanced for what promises to be another successful show for both exhibitors and visitors. It will be the first time the exhibition takes place on a Sunday and Monday in February, and visitors can expect to see an impressive showcase of new products for 2019. More than 130 exhibitors will be keen to unveil their latest creations when the event opens on February 10th. As well as being displayed on a vast array of exhibitor stands in the Surrey and Esher Halls at Sandown Park during the two-day show, hundreds of items have been entered into the New Products Showcase, which has become one of the most-visited areas at PATS. The Showcase, sponsored by pbwnews, is a great way for visitors to see and touch the new products, making it the ideal place to view the things they’ll want to stock in their store next year. Once visitors have seen what they like in the Showcase they then have the opportunity of visiting the stands of the manufacturers or suppliers of those products to discuss them in more detail. There will be an information card beside each product, giving details, such as suggested retail price and where in the show the item’s exhibitor can be found. All entries in the Showcase will be judged by a panel of retailers for the New Product Awards on the first morning of the show. The results will be known and highlighted throughout the Surrey and Esher Halls for the rest of the exhibition. As well as viewing all the latest 2019 launches, visitors will also have the opportunity to take advantage of an impressive number of show offers, and discover some trade secrets from leading figures in the pet and grooming industries. “There has been a tremendous amount of work going on behind the scenes to make sure that PATS Sandown delivers in terms of offering the widest range of exhibitors, new products, seminars from experts and grooming demonstrations…all under one roof,” said organiser Annie Foord.

“Visitor numbers from both the UK and overseas have been growing over the years and we’re confident that the trend will continue this year. There is so much to see and do, and every visitor can rest assured they will be given a warm and friendly reception.” Bookings for the Sandown Park showpiece are impressive, and previous exhibitors Anco, Beaphar UK, Danish Design, Dorwest Herbs, flexi, IPN, Johnson’s Veterinary Products, Kong, Marriages, Natures Menu, Petlife International, Pet Munchies, Royal Canin, Sky Pet Products, Symply Pet Foods and Trixie have already committed to the event. There will also be a large number of

companies exhibiting at PATS Sandown for the first time, including Absolutely Animals, Dogissimo, The Golden Paste Company, Mark and Chappell, and Tropiclean Pet Products. For a full list see the PATS website www., where you can also register for free entry to the show. The expectation levels among exhibitors are rising as Steve Driver, of Pet Trade Innovations, explained: “It’s the best place to show off our ever expanding ranges and great new products. We are looking forward to seeing what the Sandown show has in store.” And Emma Trevett, of Dorwest Herbs, commented: “Being a small company we can’t always get to visit all of our UK customers, so PATS is a great opportunity to meet current clients and obtain new ones.”

Opening times are: Sunday 10th February: 9:30 - 17:00 Monday 11th February: 9:30 - 16:00 For all the latest news from PATS Sandown visit

18 December 2018/January 2019

Ahead-of-the-game business ideas PATS Sandown has secured a strong line-up of speakers for two days of seminars designed to give pet retailers ahead-of-the-game ideas on new lines, new approaches and new profit potential. The talks, produced in association with Pedigree Wholesale, will take place in the Seminar Theatre in the Esher Hall of Sandown Park Exhibition Centre on both days of the show. The free-to-attend series of retailer-focused seminars will cover a wide range of topics. Guy Blaskey, from Pooch and Mutt, has delivered seminars at PATS and he said: “At every show the audience seems to be full of people interested in pushing their businesses forward and learning about modern marketing techniques. I always get some very interesting questions at the end of the talk and people often follow up with queries via email, twitter or facebook.”

New Product Showcase should not be missed The New Product Showcase at PATS Sandown is THE opportunity to see all that is exciting, innovative and new-tothe-market in pet retail. The Showcase, sponsored by PBW News, provides the ideal opportunity to find, touch and see all the latest products coming onto the market for 2019. It is designed to help visitors find the latest products to hit the pet trade, easily and quickly, as they are all gathered together in one extensive and prominent display. What’s more, they are categorised by type, so it is simple to find items that are relevant to specific retail requirements. Visitors who spot something they like will be able to identify the stand of the manufacturer or supplier via the information card beside each product. This gives details such as suggested retail price and where to find the item’s exhibitor.

An added extra to all the excitement of the Showcase is the New Product Awards, with prizes being given for the most innovative or exciting product/s in each category. Entries for these awards are judged by a panel of experienced retailers on the first morning of the show. Winning an award in the PATS New Product Showcase is a huge boost to manufacturers and suppliers, and can often lead to increased sales. Retailers can also be assured that winning products have received a seal of approval from colleagues in the pet trade. Entries will be displayed under the following award categories 4Cat Product 4Dog Food Product 4Dog Treat Product 4Dog Accessory Product 4Bird Product 4Small Animal Product 4Pet Care Product 4Grooming Product

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World Cup winning line-up for conference Former English rugby player and coach Sir Clive Woodward OBE has been announced as the first speaker booked for the Garden Centre Association’s annual conference in Luton on January 20-23. Garden centre owners, managers and their teams can book their places for the conference at Luton Hoo Hotel, Luton, via and will be able to hear from Clive on Tuesday, January 22. Iain Wylie, Chief Executive of the GCA, explained: “Sir Clive Woodward famously guided England to victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup and three Six Nations tournaments, including an elusive Grand Slam. He has since served as Director of Sport at the British Olympic Association, working in partnership with UK Sport. “During his presentation, Clive will be speaking about the four attributes needed to create a winning team – talent, teachability, pressure and will. Helpful points, which we believe managers and team leaders can take away with them and use in their garden centres.” Early in his career Clive enjoyed success on the pitch, winning 21 caps as a player and twice touring with the British Lions. He also worked in business, first with Rank Xerox in the UK and Australia. He then became sales director of a leasing company within the Ford Group, before forming his own successful leasing operation. Clive was universally credited with bringing professionalism, cutting edge techniques and new management skills to English rugby. As he explains in speeches, the squad’s achievements were built on back-room expertise, close attention to detail, thorough mental and physical preparation, competitor analysis and ruthless decision-making.

After leaving rugby Clive became Technical Director and Director of Football at Southampton, and a UEFA qualified coach, before joining the British Olympic Association with a mission to integrate coaches and athletes from all sports into Team GB. London 2012 produced the most successful British performance of the modern era, with 65 medals including 29 golds. Iain added: “Carefully crafted to inspire, motivate and challenge, Clive’s presentations blend practical advice with inspiring videos from his career as a businessman, athlete and coach, so it’s shaping up to be a momentous conference once again!” The GCA’s 2019 conference will be held at Luton Hoo Hotel, Luton on the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire border from January 20 until 23 and places can be booked via

TV gardener David Domoney is another star speaker lined up for the GCA conference. David’s talk will focus on the health benefits of gardening and being close to nature. Highlighting the success of the Cultivation Street campaign, this section of the conference will share the experiences of engaging with local communities and schools and how expectations can be exceeded.

Special show garden at Chelsea Thanks to the generosity of a private donor, Greenfingers Charity will have a show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2019. The Greenfingers Charity Garden has been designed by Kate Gould, a regular at Chelsea, who has won many gold medals for her innovative designs. “Greenfingers Charity at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show will present the charity with a great opportunity to highlight the difference its been making to hundreds of life limited children and their families every year, for the past 20 years, and at the same time attract new supporters. In turn, we hope this will help to ensure more Greenfingers Charity gardens will become a reality in 2019 and beyond,” said Linda Petrons, Director of Fundraising & Communications. Here’s a descripion of the Greenfingers Charity Garden.A lush green garden provides a peaceful, interactive and uplifting space where life-limited children with complex needs, their families, friends and carers can come together for play, relaxation or peaceful reflection. Set over two levels, with a lift and sloped walkways, the Greenfingers Charity garden is an accessible space for people of all ages and abilities.”

20 December 2018/January 2019

Profile for Garden Trade News

Garden Trade News - Dec 18-Jan 19  

Garden Trade News - Dec 18-Jan 19