GTN December 2020 - Garden Trade News, UK

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gtn DECEMBER 2020

Advice & information for garden centre professionals

CHRISTMAS 2021? Noma is coming for you! As we all know, Christmas is more than a product or a present, people are buying a feeling, a memory and an experience, and we need to show our customers how to achieve this in their homes. The team at NOMA know the secret… NOMA Christmas lighting and trees can transform your retail spaces into places of wonder and enchantment, and after a difficult year for people, we understand that creating the magic of Christmas at home is more important than ever. Here at the new-look showroom in Hertfordshire, Christmas has that extra little bit of twinkle, think of starry nights and frosty mornings. Not only are our products easy-to-use, with new innovative

features NOMA lights are here to give the wow-factor. There’s new look packaging on existing lines, plus a wealth of exciting new products. Frank Kaminski, Marketing Director said: “We recognised that trade customers may find it difficult to experience the magic of stepping into a NOMA showroom, due to national lockdowns and travel restrictions, which is why we’ve developed a virtual interactive experience to bring the magic of NOMA to their doorsteps.” NOMA has also unveiled an exciting new selection of app-controlled lights, bespoke colour synched outdoor characters, as well as the new range of “Starry Nights” trees for Christmas 2021. We welcome all trade buyers to visit and if that’s not an option right now you can visit our showrooms via a virtual tour with a member of our team to o guide e you through our range es fro om the co omffort of your desk.. You will fee el like you’re acttually in the showrroom, and you will be able to zoo om in and out off productss to se ee exa acttly what they are.

Toot toot! The NOMA Christmas and Petface bus will also be on tour too! From January, the bus will be travelling the country to ensure that buyers don’t miss out on new NOMA Christmas products and the Petface ranges. Please get in touch to find out when its going to be passing by your door. Here at the new-look NOMA Christmas showroom we look forward to making customer appointments, whether in person or virtually from now through to March. > To book your visit or virrtual tour, call the LeisureGro ow sale es team on 0146 62 744 500 or email sales@leisu ureg

About Noma

Since 1939, NOMA has continued to manufacture and distribute high quality, innovative lighting to homes across the UK and Ireland. Starting life as a small family business in London, we strive to stay true or our roots, keeping creativity and innovation at the core of what we do. NOMA is widely regarded by the ‘trade’ as the technical brand leaders in the industry, and at the forefront of the Christmas lighting field. • Website:



Scan the QR code & let the magic begin Step into the magical world of NOMA at our Christmas showrooms in Hertfordshire. NOMA has been shaping the Christmas lighting market for over 80 years, designing elegant and magical lighting concepts that illuminate countless homes and gardens across the UK. Your showroom experience includes a Grillstream BBQ lunch by our dedicated chef on the LeisureGrow estate. We can also bring the magic to you remotely, with an interactive virtual guided showroom tour. For Showroom bookings contact your local sales representative or call 01462 744500


gtn DECEMBER 2020

Adviice & infformattion for garden centre professionals

The year in numbers –

GTN Bestsellers Analysis

Christmas Cheer at the end of the Covid Year

£7k worth th off prizes i tto be won in GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards

Back to the Future

Dear Customers as we celebrate Jagram’s 30th anniversary, we wish to especially thank the 476 companies around Great Britain that have chosen to buy our products. Despite the pandemic, it’s business as usual at Jagram, as (punctually and at reasonable prices) we continue to deliver quality timber products to UK Garden Centres, Garden Building Display Centres, Timber Merchants, and Distributors. &%-#$ (!* )!/ (!*/ .!#",+#.+' AGATA GARY STEPHEN DAVID MATEUSZ


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Christmas Greetings from all at GTN Thank you! That seems the best way to end this year. Thank you to everybody working in garden centre retailing and suppliers for all your efforts to make our sector one of the safest places for people to visit and shop in, and for doing everything you could to keep customers happy and supplied with their gardening requirements, even though sometimes demand outstripped supply. Thank you also to the trade associations who all worked together to lobby government from all angles so that garden centres could re-open ahead of all other retail. As a result, garden centres have had a trading year that was way beyond any expectation as the pandemic crisis deepened during March. Perhaps we should make an extra Greatest Award in the new year to James Barnes and Boyd Douglas-Davies to acknowledge the deep gratitude of all in our sector for their many long hours spent pulling us all together and achieving not only early re-opening but also essential retailing categorisation which meant trading could continue during Lockdown 2 and produce a record November sales. Good idea? Let us know your thoughts on this special award:


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Next year will bring more challenges that will undoubtedly fill the pages of GTN and GTN Xtra. But in the meantime, may we wish you all a Happy Christmas!

Even Christmas trees had to be socially distanced this year. Drone photo from Aylett Nurseries

THE GTN TEAM Editor Trevor Pfeiffer Associate Editor Mike Wyatt Digital Editor Neil Pope Advertising Sales Alan Burdon Subscriptions Karen Pfeiffer Design & Production AT Graphics Ltd Kirsty Craner – Design Alun Jones – Production Manager Robert Tipping – Managing Director James Tipping – Technical Director Printing CG Print Ltd Do you qualify for a copy of GTN?

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Garden Trade News is published by Potting Shed Press Ltd who also publish: GTN Bestsellers, GTN Xtra, Glee Daily News and the Glee Catalogue, and the Solex Sun. Potting Shed Press also supply Garden Radio to over 100 garden centres across the country.

In this issue

Noma is coming for you Front Cover Back to the future – the year that was and what’s in store for 2021 6 2021 the year of the Whistler Grill 9 The COVID year - 2020 in numbers from GTN Bestsellers 12

£7k worth of prizes to be won in GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards 2020 14 HTA Column 22 GIMA Column 23

Director Trevor Pfeiffer SMALL PRINT: All material [copyright symbol] Potting Shed Press Ltd 2020. No part of this publication may e reproduced in any form whatsoever, either for sale or not, without the express permission of the publishers. The information supplied 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 vent of any bankruptcy or liquidation or cassation of the trade of any company, individual or firm mentioned, is hereby excluded.

December 2020 5

FROM 2020 INTO 2021

Back to the future …

As we head towards the start of a new year it is a time for reflection. In this article, we have gathered thoughts and opinions from across the industry looking back over the strangest of years as well as looking forward with hopes and aspirations for 2021.

No-one could have predicted the year that we faced. With that in mind what are your thoughts on what would have happened if garden centres hadn’t been able to re-open in May?

kept our supply chains open and by working with suppliers to help them to move stock we were in a position to be fully stocked with seasonal lines when we re-opened. Although many centres operated in a similar way to us, The fact that garden centres opened around four if the whole season had been lost – had we to weeks before the rest of retail no doubt saved have remained closed until June – the impact many businesses, growers and garden centres. on growers, and especially seasonal bedding Alan Roper, Blue Diamond producers would have been catastrophic. Sally Cornelissen, Burleydam Garden Centre I hardly dare to think what may have happened The first awareness of the Coronavirus was if the HTA had not lobbied so strongly for late January when our thoughts were about garden centres and enabled us to retrieve at how to deal with a buying trip to China and any least part of, what turned out to be the busiest special requirements for unloading containers. spring season we have ever had. We were lucky Little did we realise that 8 weeks later it in that we have a strong online presence so we would have such a big impact on the UK and could transfer much of our perishable and this the whole of our industry. The initial shock of general gardening stock to the website and this closure on March 23rd was quickly replaced enabled us to get deliveries out to local, and with a determination to minimise the impact not-so-local, customers. Apart from generating as best we could. The industry’s ability to work about one-third of the turnover we would have t together was so well demonstrated through expected from March 23rd to May 13th, this also t whole pandemic with growers working with the r retailers to launch online services. I do not doubt that UK nurseries, particularly p seasonal plant growers, would have h been devastated if the HTA campaign to t get garden centres reopened hadn’t have b been so successful. The combination of m mid-May opening combined with pent up d demand created an unexpected but very w welcome level of trade that couldn’t have b been predicted in March and April. B Boyd Douglas-Davies, British Garden Centres a HTA President and I don’t even want to consider what might have h happened. I think we just need to congratulate e everyone involved for getting them open, and fo keeping whatever stock they had moving. for W the exceptional demand for gardening, With t whole industry still had enough challenges the t contend with once they did eventually open. to V Vicky Nuttall, GIMA

6 December 2020

The consequences for the industry are too depressing to contemplate. Suffice to say, the lobbying efforts undertaken by the associations, suppliers and retailers to achieve this government turnaround were a beacon of hope and determination that reflects highly on our industry. Amanda Sizer-Barratt – Gardenex It would have been very disappointing for the industry and consumers if they were not able to purchase their gardening products from local garden centres. We started to see garden centres move into click & collect online and delivery services, and I think we would have seen this accelerate if they had not been able to reopen. Independent garden centres are very entrepreneurial, and we saw many of them adapting their business model which I’m sure would have continued to allow the industry to respond to consumer needs. Mark Portman, Evergreen Garden Care Without the garden centres opening our industry would have really suffered. I am not sure how many growers would have been able to sustain further losses. It is heart-breaking to have nurtured our crops for them not to have a home to go to. So it was wonderful news when the government recognised the importance of garden centres and opened them early and subsequently reclassified them as essential retail. Brett Avery, Farplants What has been your highlight of the year? Perhaps a surprising outcome of the situation we have found ourselves in.

FROM 2020 INTO 2021 One of the highlights of the year has been the surge in new gardeners. It is fantastic to hear how so many more people have discovered the benefits of gardening for both physical and mental wellbeing. Brett Avery, Farplants What will 2021 bring? What are your hopes and aspirations for your business or the industry?

Just before garden centres closed, Farplants celebrated winning the GCA Supplier of the Year Award The surprise has been the increase in average spend on gardening - it has been phenomenal and continued unabated until the end of November. In hindsight when consumers are penned in their home and garden its unsurprising that this is where their expenditure is concentrated. Alan Roper, Blue Diamond My highlight of the year has been working with a small team of un-furloughed staff during lockdown. Their effort, enthusiasm and care for the business was truly heart-warming and I will never forget it. The situation was also an opportunity to look at the business in a new way. We have made many decisions based on lessons learned during this time, which I feel has made us more productive and has made the teams more adaptable. A huge bonus to arise from this horrible situation has been the uptake of gardening by the public. After lockdown, we saw new, younger customers who had never gardened before coming to us for advice. Hopefully, these will be the gardeners of the future! Sally Cornelissen, Burleydam Garden Centre Seeing how well we all worked together across the industry to keep communication channels open. It was really important for everyone in the supply chain to understand the pressures that everyone else was under, and I’m pleased that GIMA was able to play our part in that. Despite not meeting up with our members as we would normally do, we’ve managed to keep everyone connected and increase our membership engagement by running a successful programme of free webinars throughout the second half of

the year. Something which we’ll continue to do into 2021. Vicky Nuttall, GIMA The highlight of the year must be the inclusion of garden centres in the ‘essential’ list at the end of October – a long-overdue recognition of the importance of horticulture. Boyd Douglas-Davies, British Garden Centres and HTA President The highlight of this unpredictable year is the incredible way the team at the Gardenex and PetQuip trade associations has faced and risen to new challenges, worked effectively as a team while remote working, found new business solutions to unforeseen hurdles and has continued to provide a high standard of service, new international sales leads and promotion and offered clear and cogent advice and information on any and every exporting issue that has arisen during the UK’s transition from the EU! Amanda Sizer-Barratt, Gardenex Despite the challenges of this year, GLEE 2020 turned out to be a huge success. We were apprehensive going into the event, as an online event was something new to us and the rest of the industry! However, we were able to engage with so many of our customers and talk about what’s to come in 2021. Winning the GLEE New Product award for our Peat-Free range was an added bonus to the event and I know that this was a huge highlight to the team who have worked so hard on the range. Mark Portman, Evergreen Garden Care

The current sales energy will continue into next year but once Covid-19 is in the rear view mirror we will look around and wonder where everyone has gone…. as the mass vacation exodus starts! Naturally, people will re-engage with sporting activities, eating out and going on holiday. They will be escaping from their home and garden. Things will eventually settle back down to a pre-Covid gardening spend. I don’t buy into a sustained growth due to all the new gardeners. Beyond this, reality bites. The Government has to get back what it has lost through taxation and coupled with the impact of Brexit, in my opinion, will mean cost increases for suppliers and consumers and thus there will be a contraction in the economy which will, in turn, lead to a tightening of consumer purse strings as their disposable incomes shrink. Retailers and their suppliers should look ahead with their eyes wide open and their hands firmly on the steering wheel of their business and recognise there will be a lot more challenges in the coming years, compared to the past. Alan Roper, Blue Diamond 2021 will be a good year for garden centres if the weather is good. Gardening is the ‘new going out’ and there is still plenty of appetite for it. I hope that the industry will thrive and so will individual businesses if they adapt to the new normal. Sally Cornelissen, Burleydam Garden Centre More interest in gardening, and another cracking year for our sector. I’m looking forward to being able to put on some of our iconic events again so we can celebrate our great industry and the people that work in it. Vicky Nuttall, GIMA Garden retail will flourish in 2021 as many will continue to work from home. This is so significant as it allows people to spend a few minutes every day tending their plants – I believe that time has always been the issue, not a lack of ‘green fingers’. It is clear to me that the 3 million new gardeners that discovered the wonderful world of horticulture in spring ’20 carried on buying plants late into the year. As an industry, we need to embrace those customers by making information accessible, gardening fun and fruitful. Boyd Douglas Davies, British Garden Centres and HTA President

December 2020 7

FROM 2020 INTO 2021 What trends do you predict?

Blue Diamond MD Alan Roper hasn't been able to leave Guernsey since the start of Lockdown 1, which started just after the annual Blue Diamond Awards

Hopefully more certainty in both our business and social lives as 2021 progresses. Whilst currently physical business events such as exhibitions, conferences and physical Meet the Buyers events are on hold, as the year progresses we are looking forward to networking with colleagues from across the industry, both here in the UK and at overseas trade shows and events in 2021. The gardening and leisure, horticultural and pet product sectors have adapted to changes and challenges unthought of a year ago: I’d like to see the positive spirit demonstrated by so many suppliers and retailers being nurtured and extended so that consumers can continue to value and support the strong, flexible and vibrant industry we are part of. Amanda Sizer-Barratt, Gardenex I have a feeling that we could see 25% growth next year based on what most had originally planned for this year’s sales. It would be lovely to see that level of growth on this year - a lovely dream. We are looking closely at present at key driving lines and do we have the capabilities to try and compete against the supermarkets and discount stores. We will need the support of suppliers to help deliver on something like this. Kevin Turley, Lakeside Garden Centre

the COVID-19 period. I think it falls to all of us in this wonderful gardening industry, to retain these new gardeners to keep that growth within the category. To achieve this, we’ll be working with all of our key partners to support them not only by providing our industry-leading product ranges but also via category management advice in-store and in the yard to improve the customer journey, as well as e-commerce and social media support. Mark Portman, Evergreen Garden Care I think everyone is looking forward to what the New Year will bring. The combination of garden centres now classed as essential retail and the huge increase in gardening as the hobby and pass time for many, we think spring should be very positive for the industry. We have increased production across all nurseries within the Farplants Group and are feeling very optimistic for the year ahead. We hope even more people give gardening a go this spring and that the industry can help inspire the next generation. To support this, we will continue to trial new varieties and develop new plant promotions, to keep consumers coming back to garden centres for more. Brett Avery, Farplants What challenges do you foresee?

Since lockdown, 2.7 million households have taken up gardening, so there’s a higher than ever demand for garden care products, particularly growing media. We’re expecting demand to stay high into 2021, as we see people appreciate and take advantage of the physical and mental wellbeing benefits of gardening and getting outside. At Evergreen Garden Care, we’ll be focusing on retaining these new gardeners, we have strong marketing plans for the year with MiracleGro on TV as we were in 2020 and exciting innovation to excite our consumers. To prepare for the 2021 season, we are building our stocks in anticipation of consumer demand and we are confident that we are ready for another strong year. In fact, I’d say we’re really looking forward to another great season. We are aiming to keep new gardeners that have entered the category through

8 December 2020

As the 2020 trading year draws to a close our focus is on managing the supply chain - there are a lot of problems brewing within the supply chain that we will have to face after Christmas. CONTINUED ON PAGE 11

Farplants were in full swing with garden centre deliveries in March. But then...

• Garden furniture • Water features • Garden heating • Plants – as people enjoy the opportunity to rearrange their garden through the seasons • Larger plants and container planting – with the ability to move them if consumers move property • British grown plants • Succulents, grasses and ferns • Plants that will give instant impact and plants that are perfect for beginners. • Grow Your Own - increased growing of edibles – everything from the basics to edible flowers will boom, but in small quantities. Variety will truly be the spice of life! • Dwarf fruit or family trees to give greater variety without overpowering smaller gardens • Inside out/home décor - houseplants • A greater focus on wellness and mindfulness • Continued interest in garden and home projects (with many companies continuing with a partial work from home policy). • Increased shopping online. The result of this is that as an industry, we need to ensure we are engaging with consumers online, whilst also maintaining in-store engagement. • ‘Green’ credentials, sustainable gardening products and transparency. Consumers want to know more about the source of their gardening products and packaging and are keen to understand how sustainable garden care products are.

What would be the top item on your wish list (aside from good weather at the right time)?

• A good trade deal, free movement of goods to and from Europe unincumbered by red tape and tax levies! • A successful vaccine rollout so we can get back to some sort of normality. • A happy, healthy nation of gardeners where the only challenge is dealing with the queues at the tills • For the time when all players in our industry can meet freely again in person and we can celebrate the Federation of Garden & Leisure Manufacturer’s 60th anniversary during 2021 in style! • Life returning to normal enabling more social interaction across the industry and internally with our teams. • It would be great to get out and see all our customers in person. Zoom has been a fantastic tool but there is nothing like seeing people face to face. • To see our industry grow and homes around the country get back to supporting garden centres based on the skill sets we have and the support and advice we can offer over the multiples.


2021 The year of the Whistler Grill! 2020 has been a remarkable year for the launch of Whistler Grills, a new premium, affordable BBQ brand. Looking forward into 2021, we are expecting big things from Whistler Grills as they expand into a variety of different markets, including Garden Centre channels. Offering an impressive, high quality range of Built-In and Freestanding BBQ’s, Whistler are now competing against the very best in the market. Whilst Whistler offer competitive, affordable prices, they by no means

compromise on quality or performance. With an incredibly high specification using high grade materials such as 304 stainless steel, these grills really are built too last. This, alongside having over 30 years manufacturing experience, means Whistler can confidently offer limited lifetime warranties on many of their grills! The all new show stopping Cirencester Modular Kitchen Range is set to launch early 2021, allowing customers to create their very own bespoke outdoor kitchen, personally tailored to suit their home and budget. This sophisticated stainless steel kitchen system is the perfect addition to any outdoor area. Whistler Grills offer drop-ship directly to

the customer, meaning you the retailer don’t have to make large investments into stock. > For further information, please contact Sales Manager Chris Holland on 07780 670859 or Whistler Grills Limited Whistlergrillsltd_ @GrillsLimited

December 2020 9

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FROM 2020 INTO 2021

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8 This primarily is delays to inbound freight and cost of shipping. My worst-case scenario is paying rocket high freight prices for stock that arrives several months late! Product cost prices will undoubtedly increase for UK suppliers/ importers and some of this cost will feed down to retailers and their customers if the situation does not improve soon. Alan Roper, Blue Diamond Brexit is a big worry as are the new plant passporting regulations. I worry about stock being delayed and rising prices. Shipping costs from the far east have also risen enormously and will mean delays and price rises for garden furniture. Sally Cornelissen, Burleydam Garden Centre

before the world can meet and work as we used to— but there’s hope that gradually we will establish a new, flexible normal and that international trade can begin to flourish again. Amanda Sizer-Barratt, Gardenex I think one of the challenges we might all face next year is sourcing stock. Some plant lines might be in short supply if available next year due to restrictions this year producing the base materials or cuttings. Our approach to next year is to work on the growth we have seen this year and encourage these customers to come back. We need to strengthen their newfound love of the garden. Kevin Turley, Lakeside Garden Centre

I think several macro challenges are facing the industry and questions that we need to ask. For example, what is the long-term effect of COVID-19 and when can we expect to return to a normal way of life? There is a definite challenge of retaining these new gardeners and we need to consider the most effective The importing of plants is going to be challenging. way of encouraging people to keep using their garden, even when life does return to normal. Sadly, I fear that many in the UK have underestimated the issues, despite the HTAs best Mark Portman, Evergreen Garden Care efforts to explain them over the last 6+ months. A major challenge for 2021 will be Brexit, which The positive is that UK growers will be more important than ever before. I hope local planning among many things, will have an impact on the import of young plant material. This could authorities start to fast track applications for affect the availability of some varieties, but nursery expansions – I hear too often of growers we are working closely with our suppliers to being knocked back, it is time they were also mitigate this wherever possible. I think 2020 recognised as essential. Challenges will centre has taught a lot of companies about the around logistics and the availability of products benefits of being as agile as possible. Our team and components of products, particularly if they have done a wonderful job rising to the come from overseas. We have seen shortages challenges of this year and this will put us in of anything made from plastic, that shouldn’t good stead for many years to come. reoccur thanks to the vaccine. Transporting Brett Avery, Farplants anything into the country by water will be difficult for the first 6+ months whilst border controls Are you approaching the season differently? adapt to new processes. Boyd Douglas-Davies, British Garden Centres and HTA President Yes, this will be the year to focus on retailing and cut back on the ephemeral parts of the business As I write we are awaiting the endgame of such as events, gimmicky marketing etc. negotiations between the EU and the UK and Sally Cornelissen, Burleydam Garden Centre whatever the outcome there will be challenges for business as a result. And although We are open to new ways of delivering vaccination programmes are now starting to international research and business be put in place, it’ll take a considerable while opportunities and are adapting our association The end of the transition period is providing lots of headaches, and with current delays at the ports, this only looks set to continue into the New Year. Vicky Nuttall, GIMA

The Evergreen Garden Care Team celebrate their Glee New Product Award on #FloralFriday for Greenfingers

business model to support our member companies in the ways they need. For instance, we will be expanding the number of international e-commerce opportunities for UK exporters as online sales of garden products have rocketed both here and around the globe this year while more consumers have been spending time at home. Amanda Sizer-Barratt, Gardenex The first big difference in approaching the 2020 season was the way we managed GLEE and moved our customer meetings to be completely virtual. It went well and enabled us to engage with over 250 customers over three days. It didn’t full replicate the in-person event, but under the circumstances it was successful. For next year, we are building our stock levels of key brands such as Tomorite, Levington and Miracle-Gro earlier in the year. This is in anticipation of Brexit but also a reaction to customer insight, which has indicated that they want to set-up earlier for the 2021 season. 2020 has forced us all to think differently and challenged us to be reactive to unforeseen circumstances and we will be taking these learnings into the new year. Mark Portman, Evergreen Garden Care

Closing remarks

Whatever happens in 2021 that will have consequences for our business, and there is a lot on the agenda, like the ecological debate, Brexit, the effects of COVID-19 and the change in the publics purchasing habits, we also need to remember what happened in 2020. The reverse “perfect storm” which occurred during the first lockdown when a fantastic period of good gardening weather accompanied a population restricted to their homes gave gardening an unimaginable “shot in the arm”. Of course, we need to optimise this renewed interest in gardening during this coming year but if the weather doesn’t play it’s part again it may be a case of “Goodnight Vienna”. John Ainscow, Summerseat and Bradley Fold Garden Centres

I am thankful to be part of this industry. We have shown that when we all pull together – growers, suppliers, trade associations and garden centres we can be better and stronger than any other. Sally Cornelissen, Burleydam Garden Centre What we have seen during the Covid crisis is the real resilience of the gardening industry and it’s been great to see so many new consumers enter into the category and enjoy it. The team at Evergreen have done a fantastic job during a difficult year and we are all looking for to 2021 with innovation and an even stronger marketing plan to further drive category growth. Mark Portman, Evergreen Garden Care Many thanks for all those who took the time to contribute to this article and share their thoughts and opinions. Wishing everyone across the industry a safe and Merry Christmas.

Written by Gill Ormrod

December 2020 11


The COVID year in numbers

GTN Bestsellers analysis of weekly EPOS data from 2016 to 2020. Phew what a year that was! Prior to garden centres closing for the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the All Garden Centre Sales Index, as monitored by GTN Bestsellers from weekly garden centre EPOS data, was running at 3.6% up year on year with indications that, weather permitting, we were heading for an above average year. That all changed with seven weeks of closure during Lockdown 1, when nothing was sold in store and by the time garden centres were added to the list of essential

retailers and allowed to re-open the year-on-year deficit had soared to 50.7% down. That meant if sales were only the same as the previous year for the rest of 2020, we would have lost half a year’s business through being closed for seven of the key gardening weeks of the year. As we all now know, the pent-up demand and the increased number of people making good use of their gardens created a spike in sales, which despite social distancing, saw transaction values double, furniture and BBQ’s

sell out, and sales ran ahead of last year for 28 consecutive weeks by an average of just over 20% per week. By the end of week 50 the GTN Bestsellers All Products Sales index had recovered to such an extent that volume sales for the year were only 8.9% down on 2019 volumes. A truly amazing result that makes everyone so grateful to be a part of this wonderful sector and hugely grateful for all the lobbying and PR work carried out during Lockdown 1 to enable garden centres to re-open ahead of other retail.

GTN Bestsellers All Barcode Products Index Epos Data Sales Volume Week by Week 2016-2020






1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

12 December 2020


Growing media, plants and garden products have been the star performers in the GTN Bestsellers EPOS data ever since re-opening. Growing media Top 50 volume sales were down 2.3% year on year as garden centres closed at the end of March and with zero sales recorded during the seven weeks of closure, when centres re-opened the growing media deficit was 50.4%. Amazingly, despite shortages meaning centres were sometimes running out of stock during May and June, growing media has sold at record levels for every month since

May and ended the year UP 3.5% on 2019 and 10% up on the previous three years too! Plants also saw record monthly sales post re-opening, but the hole left by missed bedding plant sales in April just couldn’t be made up and the GTN Bestsellers All Plant sales index has closed the year 19% down. As levels of gardening activity soared during the summer so did garden product sales, particularly driven by massive increases in pot sales. The 52% year on year volume deficit as centres re-opened dropped to minus 8.4% by the end of the year.

GTN Bestsellers is a weekly subscription service provided by GTN using EPOS data supplied by garden centres. A year’s subscription to receive the printed newsletter with Top 50 Bestselling Product Charts every week costs just £145. Full details and a payment links can be found in the GTN Xtra e-mail newsletter Or e-mail:

December 2020 13


Who are The Greatest Christmas Teams of 2020?

Over £7,000 worth of prizes to be won in GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards for 2020. They’re back, all be it in a virtual form. GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards are back for 2020 to celebrate all that’s great about garden centres at Christmas through the pages of GTN and the GTN Xtra e-mail newsletter and now we can announce there’s over £7,000 worth of prizes to be won:

• The Greatest Festive Food Hall Team – Sponsored by Garden Radio – 1 years’ service with bespoke messages, worth over £500 for the winner • The Greatest Christmas Sizzle Team – Sponsored by SOLEX - 2 x Hotel Rooms at SOLEX 2021 for the winner • The Greatest Christmas Pets Team – Sponsored by Smart Garden Products, Zöon -£500 stock for the winner • The Greatest Christmas Community/Charity Initiative – Sponsored by Kaemingk – A display from their UK showroom for the winner • The Greatest Social Media Christmas Marketing Idea – Sponsored by Glee – 2 x Hotel Rooms at Glee 2021 for the winner

• The Greatest Christmas Houseplant Team – Sponsored by Woodlodge - £500 stock for the winner • The Greatest Outdoor Plant and Christmas Tree Team – Sponsored by GTN Bestsellers -subscriptions worth £580 for the winner

14 December 2020


From the top, clockwise: Baytree Festive Plant Sales team, Festive Cheeses, undercover seating area for cafe, dog friendly and grotto moved outside at Glendoick, Bosworths Christmas video

December 2020 15


Above left: Bulk lanterns provide extra sales in the displays at Squires Badshot Lea. Above centre: COVID safe at Christmas Squires Cafe Bar style. Right: Winter display theme at Badshot Lea. • The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Video – Sponsored by Premier Decorations £500 stock for the winner • The Greatest Winter Garden Care Sales Team – Sponsored by Elho - £500 stock for the winner • The Greatest Covid Safe Christmas Display Team – Sponsored by Global Journey - £500 stock for the winner • The Greatest Group Garden Centre Christmas Team – Sponsored by DCUK £500 stock for the winner • The Greatest Small Garden Centre Christmas Team - Sponsored by Ascalon £500 stock for the winner • The Greatest Mid-Sized Garden Centre Christmas Team – Sponsored by KaemingkA display from their UK showroom for the winner Three more Christmas Video entries form left to right; Dobbies, Waresley Park Garden Centre and The Old Railway Line

16 December 2020

• The Greatest Large Garden Centre Christmas Team – Sponsored by Festive £500 stock for the winner It’s simple to take part, all you have to do is start taking photos of your displays and ideas now, remember to include a photo of the team, send an e-mail to trevor@, and we’ll get back to you with more details. We’re also raising money for Greenfingers Charity [logo] to help create more gardens at Children’s Hospices during 2021.

Here’s more detail about the categories for GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards 2020

Very important – As GTN’s Greatest Award ds are all about the great teams of people working in garden centres we do need a photo of the team involved in every entry! • The Greatest Christmas Houseplant Team – Who has been “The Greatest” at maximising houseplant sales in the run up to Christmas 2020? What new houseplant

Above: Garden Centre Overstrands Community Entry raising money for the RNLI


They are in good festive Spirits at Squires Badshot Lea merchandising ideas have you implemented this year? • The Greatest Outdoor Plant and Christmas Tree Team – Which Outdoor Plant Sales team has been The Greatest at making the most of plant sales this Autumn and Winter? Who has been the most creative in making real Christmas Tree purchases a great event despite the social distancing? • The Greatest Festive Food Hall Team – As festive food sales in garden centres continue to grow, which garden centre team has been The Greatest at creating sumptuous Festive Food displays and maximising sales? • The Greatest Christmas Sizzle Team – Who has made the most of the great opportunity to sell BBQ’s, firepits, canopies, outside heaters and garden furniture during this pandemic Christmas season? • The Greatest Christmas Pets Team – We all love to spoil our pets at Christmas, so which garden centre Pets team have been The Greatest at merchandising pet products and services for Christmas 2020? • The Greatest Christmas Community or Charity Initiative – Christmas is a time for giving, so this Award is for the garden centre team who have executed

Upside down trees feature in many displays entered this year. This one (right) is from Rosebourne Weyhill, along with their Owl themed display below

December 2020 17


Team photos are a key part of any Greatest Christmas Awards entry. The Display, Plant Sales and Christmas Tree sales team at Perrywood, plus one of their displays. The Greatest Christy fundraising activity or local initiative that gives back to the community. • The Greatest Social Media Christmas Marketing Idea – This year more than ever, Social Media has played such an important part in every garden centres marketing activity. But who has created and executed The Greatest Christmas Social Media campaign? The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Video – The Christmas Video headlines may go to John Lewis but which garden centre has been super great in creating their very own Christmas video as part of their marketing activity? Far left; Gonks go pink at Sapcote Garden Centre. Left; Christmas hospice fundraising at Daisy Nook

18 December 2020


• The Greatest Winter Garden Care Sales Team – With an estimated 3 million new gardeners this year there has never been a better time to merchandise gardening products as Christmas gifts. Which garden centre Garden Care team has put their ‘Christmas jumpers’ on and really sold gardening to customers through the festive period?

• The Greatest Covid Safe Christmas Team – Being able to trade through Lockdown 2 meant every garden centre had to be at the top of its game for creating and maintaining a Covid safe retailing environment. This special award will go to the team that went that extra mile to make customers and staff feel really safe.

• The Greatest Group Garden Centre Christmas Team – Who are The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Team overall from a garden centre that is part of a group of 10 or more centres? The judges will be looking at your photo tour or video to see how you’ve made the most of Christmas as part of your garden centre group.

December 2020 19


Pink has been a big Christmas theme thhis year. BGC Thatcham’s Lady in Pink, A Touch of Elegance, plus a really strong range of jigsaws, toys & games for Christmas sales • The Greatest Small Garden Centre Christmas Team – In many ways small garden centres can have the real creative edge at Christmas so this award is for the team who made Christmas extra special for their customers in a small garden centre. Send your photo tour now, plus a photo of the team of course! • The Greatest Mid-Sized Garden Centre Christmas Team – Probably the most competitive category in The Greatest Christmas Awards, which mid-sized garden centre team has made the most of Christmas and maximised sales despite all the social distancing requirements?

20 December 2020


A Touch of Elegance at BGC Thatham, with added gorilla appeal and a huge range of Christmas mugs! • The Greatest Large Garden Centre Christmas Team – Which of the large garden centres teams are The Greatest at Christmas in 2020. Send us your photo tour and make sure you include all your Christmas areas and the teams as the judges will be looking at overall Christmas merchandising, not just your Christmas displays. • The Greatest Christmas Supplier – This is an award that every garden centre who makes an entry in one of the categories above will have a chance to vote for. It’s simply for the Christmas supplier they feel has been The Greatest for their business in this unique year. We all love to see other centres displays and ideas, especially at Christmas, and as Lockdown 2 and travel restrictions make that difficult what better way to provide a solution for everyone than inviting garden centres to submit their own photos and videos as part of GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards. The closing date for entries is Thursday December 31st, after which our panel of esteemed Greatest Christmas Awards judges, including Santa himself, Roger Crooks, along with his Christmas Elves: Steve Myatt, Andy Campbell, Trevor Pfeiffer, et al will sift through all of the entries and make further enquiries as necessary before the results are announced in GTN Xtra 24th January 2021 and as part of GTN’s January issue which includes our first ever Christmas Products Directory.

So, what are you waiting for, get snapping,, remember to take a photo of the team, and send an e-mail today to trevor@ to get your entry registered. As this issue goes to press we’ve already received many entries and here is a sample of them… Ho, Ho, Ho! COVID safe queuing at St Peters through the planteria generated plenty of extra impulse plant sales.

CLOSING DATE for entries 31st December 2020 e-mail:

December 2020 21



Throughout 2020 media has been front and centre for our industry. For some this has been growing media, others social media and for all the media. Let’s deal with the growing media piece first. Our customers are constantly evolving.. They need to feel confident that we, as an industry, are leading the way when it comes to growing media. We must work together to explain what we use, why we use it and what we do to safeguard their, and their children’s future on this planet. Nobody wants to be dictated to on n this issue by authorities, so it is for us to set the agenda and deliver on it. Young people are so well informed nowadays – when I was young a computer was for playing pacman – they have access to every type of news, including the fake! They will be our customers in the future but more importantly for now, they influence their parents and elders. Let’s at explain the challenges and inform on what we are doing to offer credible options. Social media has come to life for our customers this year. No longer can we say ‘our customers don’t use computers’. They have had to invest in the technology, learn how to use it and welcome it into their lives. If you haven’t, as a company, embraced social media you need to be doing so now. As an industry we have such a wonderful and engaging tale to tell. Let’s use social media to flood the country with grower profiles, garden inspiration and real practical advice. The 3 million new shoppers will be hungry for information this winter before they venture into the garden in the early spring – and I do predict an early season for us all. Let’s enthuse them so they visit centres excited and ready to shop.

22 December 2020

that t you want to share, don’t be afraid to t send press releases as far and wide as a you can, alternatively use one of the excellent agencies that specialise in our e industry. Horticulture is on a high, let’s i all a do our bit to keep it there in 2021! It has been a long, fraught, challenging year. I’m incredibly proud to have been y a part of this fabulous industry and to t play my part as HTA President. I hope you have the opportunity to take h a break over Christmas and wish you the t very best for the year ahead. > The Horticulture Trades Association is t UK industry’s leading membership the o organisation. It welcomes all sectors o horticulture – to join please contact of s

The media – love it or hate it (of course we all love GTN!) has a massive part to play for us all next year. Through my HTA and British Garden Centres roles I have had the privilege of talking to and appearing on numerous radio and TV programmes this year talking about our glorious industry. The media is hungry for the positive messages that we can deliver. In November I was able to speak live on 8 different BBC regional radio programmes in less than 90 minutes. The BBC has a wonderful system where you connect into their London office, stay on the line and all the regions dial in to speak to you at pre-set intervals. If you have a story,

19th March 2021

What are you planning for Garden Re-Leaf Day 2021?


Preparing for Brexit is vital to ensure that garden retail continues its recovvery from the pandemic VICKY NUTTALL, DIRECTOR OF GIMA While Covid-19 has ravaged the UK economy and left so many sectors in tatters, garden retail has emerged fighting. We have always been a close-knit, collaborative industry and our united determination to survive the worst economic crisis to hit during peacetime has paid dividends. Garden retail has worked around the clock and, against all odds, staged a remarkable turnaround that has exceeded everyone’s expectations. I am immensely proud of the sector for achieving such a formidable result in the face of such adversity. This time last year, talk of a crisis on the scale of which we are experiencing would have been unthinkable and, as the year draws to a close, it’s important that we take time to reflect on the achievements that our sector has made. When national lockdown was announced in March, the odds were truly stacked against us, as reality sunk in that the critical Easter and May bank holiday sales season would be a write-off. The campaign to get garden centres re-opened before lockdown was fully lifted was an incredible success that threw retailers and the supply chain a lifeline; not to mention the widely documented benefits for the nation’s mental and physical wellbeing. In previous years, a poor spring would have seen retailers struggle to make up for lost sales later in the season, but 2020 was an exception to the rule. As the nation emerged from lockdown to dig for victory, demand for gardening goods went through the roof, lead times for certain products headed skywards as the cogs of supply chains started turning once more and suppliers rose to the challenge of overflowing order books – no mean feat at a time when implementing social distancing was vital for maintaining Covid-secure workplaces. Not only did heightened demand carry on throughout summer, but it extended the season well into autumn, resulting in garden retail emerging as a beacon of success

during a pandemic that has decimated high streets up and down the country. With every day that goes by, reports of potential Covid-19 vaccines offer hope that a degree of normality may begin to resume in 2021. We must not, however, rest on our laurels, as the final countdown to Brexit is under way. New Year’s Eve formally marks the end of the transition period and change will affect everyone, from suppliers to retailers. It’s critical to prepare now and be ready; none of us can afford to bury our heads in the sand. It is frustrating that, at the time of writing in late November, it remained unclear whether the UK would secure a trade deal with the EU. However, despite uncertainty, guaranteed changes for business will come into effect from 1st January, when the UK leaves the Single Market and Customs Union. With the clock ticking, concerns are widespread, from looming bureaucracy to certification of plants, seeds and bulbs; potential inspections and correct documentation. The process of importing applies to any business that’s buying from an EU-based company, so it’s imperative that we all understand our administrative responsibilities and liabilities. I am aware of concern among GIMA’s EUbased members that their customers in the UK aren’t fully geared-up for importing from 1st January. For anyone who is still unsure, the GIMA UK Transition Hub is an essential information resource that’s regularly updated to provide members with a wealth of information to steer businesses through this period of uncertainty and change. We are also witnessing an unfolding crisis at some of the UK’s ports which threatens to derail garden retail’s recovery and disrupt the flow of stock ahead of next season. Reports are emerging of problems importing goods due to logjams at ports, while the cost of shipping freight is soaring. A BBC News report, available online, cited importers who claimed that some shipping firms had quadrupled their freight costs. Fears

are growing of interruption to deliveries, with inevitable knock-on effects throughout the supply chain. Some suppliers are stockpiling goods ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period at the same time as other businesses are ramping-up their imports to meet demand post-lockdown. To add to the congestion, there’s a backlog of containers of PPE clogging-up ports, as a result of the pandemic. Some shipping firms are reported to be limiting the quantity of cargo they will haul to the UK while others say they’re waiting for empty containers that are stuck at ports across Europe to be shipped back to Asia. Bottlenecks at vital trade hubs risk extending lead times for suppliers that are reliant on imports while the rising cost of shipping will have a harmful financial impact. LOFA is warning that the crisis threatens to disrupt supplies of garden-related goods in the run-up to the spring season, at a time when the sector is anticipating heightened levels of demand. A whirlwind of converging forces – Brexit, Covid-19 and port logjams – will undoubtedly result in further economic turbulence over the next few months. It is essential that we all hold our nerve and remember that spring 2021 has the potential to build on this year’s achievements. Garden retail is ideally positioned to capture the interest of millions of households who took up gardening during lockdown and, with overseas travel and holidays almost certainly off the cards next spring, gardening and enjoying outdoor spaces will be high on consumers’ agendas. Whatever challenges our departure from the EU throws at businesses, GIMA will be at their side, working tirelessly to assist members and strengthen the sector’s recovery in the New Year. > For further information about GIMA, please call (01959) 564947 or email

December 2020 23

Bee Friends® with nature

Wildlife Attracting Flower Seed Bombs New from G Plants

w The easy

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NEW Bee, Butterfly & Rainbow Collections: 20 Flower Bombs per pack. Available in a wooden video display unit.

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NEW Card

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