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NURSERY OPEN DAYS Your chance to see new ranges for 2018

gtn FEBRUARY 2018

Advice and information for garden centre professionals

Doing it with style!

Are you ready for a thrilling new event?

Special interview with Colin Squire OBE, the pride of Twickenham

Start planning for March 16...a day when everyone benefits

THE TOP INTERVIEWS People in the news


PRIDE OF TWICKENHAM Fifty-four years after opening his first garden centre at Twickenham, and now the proud owner of 15 centres, Colin Squire was awarded an OBE for “services to the horticultural industry and to charity” in the New Years Honours list. GTN’s Trevor Pfeiffer paid a visit to Squire’s Twickenham to hear Colin’s remarkable story. Prior to a letter notifying him of his OBE, Colin Squire tells us his proudest moments were when Squire’s Twickenham won GCA Garden Centre of the Year in 1999 and then the Ruxley Rose Planteria Award two years in succession. “Plants are still one of the keys for our success, and I’m proud of running a great business.” The Squire’s story began in the 1930s when Colin’s father started a gardening business. “When I was young my life was made up of growing geraniums and box bedding in wooden boxes – I used to make up the boxes as they came in flat packed. I got paid a penny for a box. Bedding was our biggest thing, but we also grew a lot of vegetable plants and Dad’s favourite roses.” Colin spent the war years at home in Twickenham sheltering under his father’s desk during air raids while the business built Anderson Shelters for the residents of Richmond. “Dad was very crafty during the war and always grew a few flowers and plants as people were always asking for them.” After his National Service in the army, Colin had no intention of joining the business, so he started an Architecture Degree at Kingston Arts School where he has since been awarded an Honorary Doctorate. “After three years it got really hard at Kingston, so I decided to stay in the business after all. I don’t regret a day of it. I still like coming in – plants can cheer you up a lot. “I took an RHS General Horticulture course – a short garden design course in London – and I was in the business doing a lot of the drawings for the landscape work. “Other people, including Peter Seabrook, influenced me and then the HTA started up a garden centre group and I got involved in that. Where we were in Sunbury was not

suitable but this site at Twickenham came up, it was derelict. The first little garden centre here was one small greenhouse with a till and two longer Dutch houses for plants and products. Peter Seabrook visited me in 1966 and wrote an article about it. “Then using my architectural friends I built a very contemporary shop. Together we designed a new shop building but it was useless. We made most of the building in our own workshop – it was fun, it was modern but Dad hated it. It leaked and moved in the wind, so the glass was prone to falling out. It really stood out, though, giving us a point of difference.

Colin with his father DJ Squire in the 70s, and above right, the new shop at Twickenham, designed by Colin that leaked and moved in the wind.

2 February 2018

“We used to do a Christmas show in the new shop, not with decorations but with plants and trees. Then Mum opened a Gault Toy shop in the centre in the 70s.” The turnover at Twickenham is now £7.5m. “It is quite a small site that ‘overtrades’ so we get a good stock turn. “I had to sell off some of the site in 1993 to help finance the existing shop and offices, which cost £2m then, a lot of money. It was a bad time for the banks, interest rates were 11%. “I wanted the business to be bigger than Twickenham. I always knew this site could not grow to £15m like Bents because there was not the acreage. The first real major change was buying the rose nurseries in Shepperton where our Shepperton centre is. That was in 1974-5. As soon as I’d bought it we added a second shop. In the mean time I bought a little site in Hounslow and traded there for seven years but it was too small. “The garden centre in Hersham was a site that came available and rather than it be turned into a concrete factory the owner sold it to me. We did buy Shoots, a group of three centres, in one hit and then two more just because they came on the market, so our growth has been more opportunistic than specifically planned.” Christmas, cookware, food, gifts, and greetings cards are all major areas of trading


change that Colin has seen but catering has had the biggest effect. “The first tea room I opened was just for the staff. I had to furnish it on a shoestring and the bus garage over the road had loads of spare seats from the trolley busses. We had this lovely East End of London lady, Eileen, who made the tea, it was loose tea in the pot with hot water added all morning. It was as strong as anything. “Customers used to come in too so in the end it got so busy I moved the staff out and we started selling biscuits and cakes. “We weren’t the first but we had a public coffee shop here by 1966, as a result of public demand. I had no idea the growth would take us to where we are today. Across all our centres we have thousands of covers, hundreds of people having meals at every time of the day and lattes for nearly £3. It’s amazing how important that is to us now.” But Colin quickly adds: “We must not lose sight of our plants, ever. “Our planteria used to be very basic, all on one level but we now use height to stock more plants, especially the amount of hanging baskets we sell. It’s always better to

keep them up. We use metal trees as well, but the constructions the plants team make have helped sell more and take up less floor space which creates a nice feeling. We sell more from our Shade Beds than our A-Z nowadays. “I do enjoy walking around the planterias, and visiting a wholesaler or a growing nursery still gives me a real kick. Nothing else you sell quite gives you that thrill than plants.” Wallflowers are an example of the plant retailing changes Colin has seen. “We used to grow a lot, selling bunches for 1/6d. Now we sell a few in a pot for £4 and Erysimum Bowes Mauve single plants in a pot for £7 or £8. I used to dig 100-200 wallflowers every morning, never digging more than I thought we could sell in a day. The way we used to do it was old fashioned and it worked because we grew on site. Now we don’t grow anything, so we have to buy plants in pots to sell. Perrenials are a huge change too with people now treating them as bedding plants and as a result we are selling loads more.” Continued over the page

EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING Garden Trade News, The Old School, 4 Crowland Road, Eye, Peterborough PE6 7TN 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

Squire’s planterias now use plenty of height in their displays to get more stock in a smaller space.

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.

February 2018 3


PRIDE OF TWICKENHAM Continued from previous page

Squire’s is very much a family business with Colin as Chairman and daughter Sarah as Deputy Chairman. “Sarah is the only other member of the family in the business at the moment, but I hope that one of my grandchildren may eventually join. My other daughter Elizabeth is a Commander in the Royal Navy, working at the Ministry of Defence. “Sarah has the right view of how we treat people and where we want to place ourselves – still making a profit but trying to do it correctly, trying to treat everybody right. “We do our best to keep the family business ethos going. We’ve always had outside directors, but we try to be friendly to all our staff, who are so important. I would like to think that I can be proud of every Squire’s centre – some may still need some improvement but at least I can visit each with pride.” The next stop for Colin is Buckingham Palace. “I was very surprised when I received the letter. I’m trying to find out who put my name forward as I don’t want to be rude to someone who nominated me.” Having spent a morning with Colin I doubt there is any chance of him being rude to anyone, ever. He has achieved so much and

Peter Seabrook MBE, gardening writer and broadcaster: “Colin is for me the true English gentleman, always neatly dressed, polite, unassuming, able to do things with style. He has admirable taste and is artistically talented. It has been my good fortune to work alongside him and his lovely family since the 1960s.”

Colin with his father’s desk that he and his sister hid under during bombing raids in WW2. we’ve not even had space to write about his charity and community work, more of that in another issue. Well done Colin, you are the gardening Pride of Twickenham, a true gentleman in our industry.

OBE for John Athwal

Nicholas Marshall, CEO Dobbies Garden Centres: “The OBE is sometime known by the sobriquet of ‘other b*****s efforts’ and I am sure that Colin Squire would be the first to acknowledge the hard work and loyalty shown by all the people who work or have worked for Squires. Squires has been a great garden centre company for over 50 years and has importantly remained a family business under Colin’s skilful guidance. A remarkably successful career and the OBE is richly deserved. Long may Squires remain independent.” HTA President Adam Taylor: “It is great news that Colin Squire has been recognised with the award of an OBE. It is thoroughly deserved given the huge amount of support he has given to the horticultural industry over the years.” Julian Winfield, GCA Chairman: “Colin is one of the true innovators of our trade right from the start of garden centres – turning his family nursery business into a highly successful chain of garden centres.” Derek Bunker, Alton Garden Centre: “I have known Colin for over 30 years and have always found him to be a pleasant and friendly person. In the early days when you do not know many people it is nice to meet someone like Colin whom is always pleased to help you..”

John Athwal, Founder and Managing Director, Premier Decorations Ltd was awarded his OBE for services to business and charity. John said: “Receiving an OBE in the Queen’s 2018 New Years Honours list is a fantastic tribute and I am overwhelmed to have been recognised and nominated by colleagues and peers. “Life has not always been as easy as it is today; having arrived at the age of eight in the UK in 1961 with my parents from very humble beginnings in Punjab, I have embraced the opportunities this country has offered me, and it only feels right to give a little something back to society.”

4 February 2018

Praise for a true English gentleman

Gordon Rae, past non exec director at Squires: ”Colin has devoted his working life to the garden centre industry, horticulture, his charitable interests and his love of music. He is both a gentle man and a gentleman to whom his family, colleagues and many friends owe a long time and deep debt of gratitude.”




Wyevale Garden Centres revealed that challenging trading conditions had forced them to review their structure at head office with the risk of 48 job losses. A Wyevale Garden Centre spokesperson said: “We have recently reviewed our head office structure to ensure it is appropriate for the long term and continues to support our business plans. The challenging trading conditions make it even more important that we are focused on the right areas to deliver for our customers.”


Tildenet announced it had acquired the specialist textiles and netting supplier Fleximas. As a long established, family run company, the Fleximas ethos mirrors that of Tildenet, with great service and customer care at the forefront of the business. Customers of both companies will be able to benefit from the increased breadth of range Tildenet are now able to offer across the whole market and the synergies of the two businesses operating from state of the art facilities in Bristol, which will help ensure a seamless transition and improved service levels.



Venanpri Tools, the Hand Tools division of Venanpri Group and owner of the Bellota and Corona brands, announced it had acquired Burgon & Ball Limited. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Headquartered in Sheffield, England – where it can trace its roots back to 1730 – and supported by a sales and marketing office in Poole, Dorset, Burgon & Ball’s products are primarily sold through garden centres and other fine retailers in the UK, Europe and other countries around the world.

It was a bumper year for sales of the Top 100 Christmas Products as analysed by GTN Bestsellers from garden centre EPOS data. Total Top 100 sales volumes were up by 22% on the same period last year with personalised Christmas lines and Christmas confectionery taking the lead shares of sales volumes. This year, personalised lines accounted for 28% of the Top 100 total volume, with Christmas confectionery not far behind at 23%.

6 February 2018


Rumours circulating in the garden industry at the start of the year that Nicholas Marshall had left his job as CEO of Dobbies proved to be unfounded although two of his senior team – Lorrie Robertson and Andrew West – did leave the company. In a statement, the company said: “Dobbies announced a re-shuffle in some of its senior leadership positions. Graeme Jenkins is to become Chief Operating Officer, in addition to his present role as Chief Financial Officer. Graeme replaces Lorrie Robertson, who has left the Company. Marcus Eyles, currently head of online and horticulture, will take the role of Purchasing Director, replacing Andrew West, who has also left the Company for personal travel-related reasons. Dobbies congratulated Graeme and Marcus on their new roles. Nicholas Marshall, who was appointed CEO at the 35-centre chain, remains Chief Executive.”

Full versions of these reports first appeared in GTN Xtra, our weekly e-newsletter mailed direct to registered email addresses to keep readers in touch with industry news as it happens. To register, send your email address to: and put ‘GTN Xtra’ in the subject line.


Great brands that make a difference

Blumen International – the UK subsidiary of Blumen Group, a seed and gardening company based in the North East of Italy – is making a massive impact in this country with its Seeds Collection and recently acquired FITO and GET OFF brands. Trading since the 1920s, Blumen is now a market leader in the Italian garden market, dedicating itself to making gardening easily fit

into today’s busy schedule for a more contemporary approach. Blumen arrived in the UK in 2016 after completing the purchase of the FITO and GET OFF brands. The company continues to develop and bring innovation to these much-loved brands and in turn to the UK gardening industry. Here we give you an insight into some of their bestselling brands.

New to the bestselling FITO range The birth of the original FITO Automatic Dripfeeder came about in approximately in 2000, and ever since has been a chart topping hit, especially in the GTN Bestsellers Top 50 list. Orchid, Foliage, Flowering Citrus, Cacti, Bonsi and Poinsettia feeders have been feeding plants across the UK and Europe for many years, and the original Dripfeeder family has now been joined by the Natural Dripfeeder range. Based on an Algaecite recipe, these naturally nourishing vials are a simple way to feed houseplants

8 February 2018

as well as tomato and Chilli plants prior to transferring the plantlings outside or in the greenhouse. FITO has added to its bestselling range with a series of new products, including FITO Natural and FITO Plant Healer. FITO Natural is a special formulated glue that creates an adhesive physical barrier which captures a wide range of pests. FITO Plant Healer is a simple and easy solution to healing and sealing wounds on all types of trees and shrubs.


GET OFF products prove a big hit GET OFF has been a reliable cat and dog repellent for over 20 years, deterring pets by the active ingredient working on their olfactory systems. Pet owners often pay more attention to what they feed their animals than they do to the environment in which pets resides. They take for granted that what is good for us is good enough for our pets, not appreciating the effects thay some products like floor cleaners, air freshners, and upholstery cleaners may have. GET OFF Natural Range is a perfect way to display how Blumen follows market trends and is not afraid to explore different markets. It contains a range of pet home care products that are all completely made with natural ingredients at the core. The GET OFF Multisurface Cleaner contains Lemon and Vinegar and no other silicone based ingredient. A further example is the GET OFF Natural Dogkalm, based on a Valeriana and St johns wort. It does exactly what it says on the tin – calms adog during stress-inducing situations like fireworks, travelling, strangers visiting the family home etc.

Seed company with a difference The Blumen story really begins with seed production. Priding itself on being a seed company with a difference, Blumen can call upon many years’ experience to provide quality seeds and fertilisers. The company could have come into the UK with lots of ‘me-too’ products but instead it has been more market aware and as a result

Blumen produces ranges that fit in with today’s market trends. For example, the chilli seeds not only introduce UK gardeners into a world of chilli selection not easily found here but also give them the information on the origin of the seed. This fact helps ensure that gardeners can reproduce that holiday-feel at home and really enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Contact your local sales representative: Jason Breed – Southern Sales Manager Rob Everall – Northern Sales Manager

February 2018 9


New season bestsellers “Glee at Spring Fair has been introduced for a simple reason – Spring Fair is the UK’s No.1 Home and Gift Fair, so the audience is already there, ready and willing to do business,” said Matthew Mein, Glee’s Event Director. “Garden centres are already attending Spring Fair, with owner/operators and gift buyers out in force. Glee’s aim is to encourage other category buyers from across the gardening spectrum to maximise their attendance at Spring Fair.” Taking place from 4th-8th February, Glee at Spring Fair will give retailers the opportunity to see new and bestselling ranges ahead of the spring season. A second edition at this time of year will give retailers an additional destination to refresh their ranges for key retail spikes and also provide garden buyers with the latest concepts and trends for 2018, helping them to direct their buying. Glee’s concession will be located within Spring Fair’s Hall 3, alongside popular product sectors such as Christmas Gifts, Floral and Seasonal Decorations (Hall 2), and Greetings & Gifts (Hall 3). It will be a concession that will deliver a selection of some of the best products from some of Glee’s core product sectors, retaining Glee’s signature boulevard aisle, highly-

recognisable branding and with core gardening at its heart. There will also be a Glee Café, which will act as a hub for Glee’s supporting trade associations – the HTA, GIMA and Gardenex. Offering a wealth of knowledge and benefits, the presence of these trade associations will be a well-attended part of Glee at Spring Fair. GIMA will be bringing its popular Buyer Connect event, helping those exhibiting to maximise their exposure to key garden retail buyers through special speed networking sessions. International buyers will also be able to meet with enthusiastic suppliers within Gardenex’s own International Buyer Event. With 1-2-1 networking meetings set to take place within these two events throughout the exhibition, the possibility for growth from both a supplier and retailer perspective is almost unmatched. The New Product Showcase – a popular part of the annual Glee September show – will also make its home within the Glee Café. This dedicated area will bring together the most exciting new products from Glee at Spring Fair exhibitors. And on Tuesday 6th February, GTN’s Greatest Awards Breakfast will be making its debut where the 2017 Christmas winners will receive their accolades.

Also appearing at Spring Fair

Block Blitz After the hugely successful launch of Block Blitz, the UK’s first block paving specific cleaning product, the Block Blitz brand has launched Block Blitz Gravel Treatment, another UK first! Manufactured and developed in the UK, Block Blitz treatments are unique biodegradable mineral and plant based barrier detergents, which have been designed to clean and protect paving without any physical or mechanical means. Block Blitz paving treatments are 100% non-abrasive, contain no bleach, acids or biocides, are biodegradable and have a minimal environmental impact. Visit Block Blitz at Spring Fair on Stand 10B21, the DIY hall.


Durston Garden Products Ltd Whether preparing a garden of foliage and flora, or executing a well organised allotment to feed a growing family this season, consumers look to you, the retailer, to offer them an extensive range of products which will meet their every need. With that in mind, UK-based Durston Garden Products Ltd is pleased to welcome all new and existing clients to its Stand G41 in Hall 3 where it will be showcasing its entire range of growing media products For further information, or to book a visit in advance: call Durston Garden Products: 01458 442688.

10 February 2018

Hygeia Garden The team at Hygeia Garden is delighted to present their range of garden care products at Spring Fair 2018. “As experts in the industry with almost 80 years’ experience of R&D and innovation, we look forward to launching our lawn care products in the UK. These products include current market leaders in Ireland as well as exciting new developments for 2018,” said a Hygeia spokesperson. “GreenForce Feed Weed & Mosskiller is our bestseller – it covers up to twice the area of the competitor product, offering fantastic value to the consumer and a new and exciting option to the retailer. “Multi award winning GreenForce Lawn Gold is an organic based lawn fertiliser that is pet safe, child safe, and won’t turn moss black – that means no raking out.” Visit Hygeia Garden at stand 3E15 to find out more. The company looks forward to doing business with you in 2018 and beyond.

Traditional Garden Games Traditional Garden Games are in the business of creating fun and happy memories! While the company’s classic games continue to be family favourites, for 2018 they are launching 10 NEW games. “Hook a winner with ‘Big Fish, Little Fish’ or together, pull your opponents over the winning line with ‘Tug of War’, we know our trend inspired and perfectly price pointed collection will appeal to all ages,” say the company. “We’re also buzzing about the new SEMBRA ‘sow and grow kits’ which will be an exciting retail offering for budding hobby gardeners of all ages.” Visit Traditional Garden Games in Hall 5, Stand 5G77.

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February 2018 13



LISA LOOKER Brand Director Haskins Garden Centres

How long have you worked for Haskins Garden Centres? I have now been at Haskins for five years. Did you work in the garden centre industry before that? Most recently I was Brand Director at Hobbycraft, and Director of Creative at Retail Marketing & Advertising Agency, Yellow Door (Mary Portas agency of Mary Queen of shops fame). Prior to that I was Instore Marketing Manager at Clarks Shoes, Jones Bootmaker, and my first position was as a designer at Retail design agency Best Display. So I’ve followed a career in retail from both retailer and agency perspective, working with many different brands, but this is my first step into the garden centre arena. What do you like about working for Haskins? I like working in a business with a longterm plan. Being family owned gives a different pace to the business and a different perspective on strategy and planning. The business has been around for a number of years and has invested with the future

Lisa pictured within an impressive Haskins Garden Centre display of poinsettias before Christmas.

14 February 2018

in mind. It has faced different economic climates, weather conditions, good and bad seasons but remained strong by having a consistent voice, constantly evolving and always trying to do better. That’s a very different pace to many high street businesses that are forced to look for a quick return, and that leads to a very different culture. How important is social media becoming for garden centres when engaging with customers? It’s growing and becoming more accepted and adopted as we speak. Facebook is our main focus, with Twitter second and Instagram a much smaller part, – this is in response to where are customers are. At the moment our customers are stuck in two camps of adopters and non-adopters so we are in effective having to double our efforts to communicate to these two camps. However I feel that social media is starting to replace email marketing. We are were definitely having to work harder to do the same job through email marketing, whilst we grow our social presence. One of the biggest changes is how customers contact us. Only a couple of years ago our customers would write to us, a few would email and some would call. We now get people posting on Facebook as soon as something pops into their head, and it’s often time sensitive. For example: ‘What time to do you start serving lunch today?’ How do you approach the task of attracting new customers? The truth is we don’t actively target new customers. Instead we focus on the customers we already. About three years ago we launched our ‘Word of mouth’ strategy, which we still very much believe in. We set ourselves the challenge of trying to ensure that ‘every customer has the best experience when they visit’ – this ensures they come back and tell all their friends about us. It’s really simple, but it forces you to take a hard look at everything you do and focus on what’s going to make that a great visit. Great customer service, inspiring visual merchandising that showcases great product, a comfortable environment, great food, easy parking, great coffee and even nice toilets – they all count.

Do you have a one-fits-all strategy when it comes to marketing your garden centres? Yes we do. Haskins has an incredibly consistent customer profile and demographic which it purposefully targeted through its acquisition and expansion plan, so we can speak from a consistent brand voice with the same message across the four centres. We tend to use PR and social media to bring out the local character of our centres and the people within them. How can the garden centre industry in general attract a younger audience? I feel that gardening is closely related to life-stage. You start to get the gardeningbug when you own your first home, and you either embrace the whole gardening ethos or you might want your garden to look nice for entertaining. With the age of home-ownership going up from mid-twenties to mid-thirties I feel it’s about having broad appeal. Our restaurants are a great introduction into garden centres and as our offer evolves with the modern tastes of our core audience it’s becoming more ageless. Brands like Costa and Joules, Whitestuff, and Barbour help to give that wide appeal to a ‘Forever 40’ audience. Do you enjoy gardening yourself? I do, but I’m a bit of an impulsive gardener (an ideal customer) as I get very inspired when plants are in bloom and buy lots of rhododendrons or lupins, plant bulbs and sow seeds but don’t always have time to repeat it the follow year. My husband is more of a steady gardener and we have a large garden with deep borders and a big vegetable patch and greenhouse in which we grow tomatoes and salad. What’s a typical working day look like? There isn’t really a typical day. I work part time for the business which means I am generally in the office at the beginning of the week to catch up with the management team, have meetings with my marketing team and plan and update new activities. I then work on email the rest of the week to keep work moving. This changes completely for specific projects, planning meetings, and trips etc. To find out more about Haskins Garden Centres visit


March 16

...a day when everyone benefits

Now in its seventh year, Garden Re-Leaf Day is the biggest charity fundraiser in the garden industry’s calendar and has raised over £500,000. Positioned as the garden industry’s answer to Comic Relief and Sports Relief, the aim of Garden Re-Leaf Day was to celebrate the start of the garden year with fundraising events to raise money for Greenfingers, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of children in hospices through the creation of magical gardens. For the garden industry, the day creates valuable team building opportunities and brings more shoppers into garden centres earlier to extend the peak Spring season. Garden centre managers, staff and other industry professionals tirelessly set up fun and exciting ways to not only raise money for Greenfingers, but also to promote gardening as an enjoyable pastime. But where do these vital funds go? Most will already be aware that the money raised is used to build Greenfingers hospice gardens which enable children and their families to enjoy special time together outside enjoying the therapeutic benefits of nature, and away from the bedside.

Greenfingers work exclusively with each hospice to come up with a unique design that suits the needs of the children and families they care for. Each garden is created with top industry designers and landscapers, as well as help from the local community, volunteers and gardening clubs. In total, 53 Greenfingers gardens have been built since the charity’s creation in 1998 with many being funded by monies from Garden Re-Leaf Day. The inaugural Garden Re-Leaf Day in 2012 raised more than £55,000 for Greenfingers, helping a specially designed, family garden to be built at both Robin House Children’s Hospice in West Dunbartonshire, and Donna Louise Children’s Hospice in Stoke-on-Trent. In 2017, two new gardens were opened – the new Kaleidoscope Garden at Helen & Douglas House in Oxford, which features a colourful and protected garden pavilion that is being enjoyed by patients, their families and hardworking hospice staff. The Courtyard Garden at Keech Hospice Care in Luton was officially opened by garden designer and Greenfingers Ambassador Adam Frost and featured a multi-coloured soft, but durable, flooring

Nathan and Greenfingers Gnome in the new Kaleidoscope Garden at Helen & Douglas House in Oxford.

16 February 2018

Sign up for the Garden Re-Leaf Day Walk which will take place on Friday 16th March starting from Wyevale’s World’s End Garden Centre, Buckinghamshire. You can either take a gentle 10-mile stroll, or complete a more challenging 20mile route through the Chilterns which is the ideal way to get in shape following the Christmas break. The popular Plantathon will return with Greenfingers calling for garden retailers across the country to pot up as many plants as possible. This year the time frame to plant as many pots as possible will be 12 hours and promises to be a popular event. in swirling shapes and will be well used by families who are now able to enjoy mealtimes and activities outside in this new bright and sheltered courtyard. The most recent Greenfingers garden was started in October by landscaper and designer Jody Lidgard of Bespoke Outdoor Spaces. The pirate themed garden is being built at St Andrew’s Hospice in Grimsby, which provides palliative care for children and young adults suffering from progressive life-limiting illnesses. More gardens are in the pipeline to be built in 2018 but this is where Garden ReLeaf Day comes into its own, raising much needed funds. The garden industry will be exploding with colour with plenty of FUNdraising activities throughout the day. Boyd Douglas Davies said: “Garden ReLeaf Day has resulted in life-limited children and families who spend time in hospices every single year being able to enjoy precious time together in a Greenfingers garden. It’s really easy to take part, you can sign up and participate in one of this year’s organised initiatives such as the Garden ReLeaf Walk or Plantathon. Why not organise your own event, and register it so that it can be included in all the media briefings that raise awareness of the cause?” You can sign up to take part in Garden Re-Leaf Day events or register your own by visiting the Greenfingers Charity website If you want to find out more about how to get involved in Greenfingers Garden Re-Leaf Day 2018, whether by putting on events in your garden centre, through sponsored solo activities or simply by donating - contact the Greenfingers office on 01494 674749 or email

Quality background music for HTA retail members with no PRS or PPL licences for only ÂŁ495 per year Garden Radio, The Old School Studio, 4 Crowland Road, Eye, Peterborough, PE6 0TX. Call 07973 504214 or email

February 2018 17


Nurseries give plant buyers early season look at 2018 ranges Hilliers Nurseries, Europlants and Classiflora will all be opening their doors to trade visitors over the next few weeks. Here’s what’s in store...

Hilliers (13-14 February), at the Hillier flagship Brentry Nursery site in Romsey, Hampshire. The day aims to offer visitors a unique insight into Hillier Nurseries, its product, history and expertise. It’s also a great opportunity to see the company’s Research and Development team in action and get a closer look at new product, existing stock ranges and bestsellers. Guests will also be able to take up offers and pre-season deals that are only available to attendees. Guests will experience talks from members of the Hillier team. Email or call 01794 368733.

Europlants (21-22 February) at Hatfield is next. The company is the UK agent and distributor for leading Tuscan producer Vannucci Piante, so an Italian- style lunch is on offer for visitors, who will be able to enjoy a great atmosphere and celebrate 27 years of Europlants. Visitors will also be the first to see the new 2018 range, browse the monumental tree area, find ‘jackpot deals, exciting offers, promotions and trolley fair, plus get professional advice from expert Europlants’ expert team. Contact Pat Lawrence on: 01707 649996 or email:

Classiflora Zelari (7-8 March) hold their Open Days on the first Wednesday and Thursday of every March. These dates have become established on the horticultural calendar and are a ‘must’ for all buyers to kick start the forthcoming season. The extensive range of plants is individually selected from ten different European countries with a large proportion of the total offering sourced from the ‘Green Capital of Europe’, Pistoia - in particular from Zelari Piante. Visit or call 08700 600 420.

18 February 2018


Sipcam UK extends product range and team The 2018 gardening season welcomes new products and team members for Sipcam UK

CHILD & PET SAFE GARDEN CARE Enhancing ecofective’s environmentally sensitive feed, weed and control range is a sub-category of child and pet safe products. With 7 core products, retailers will be sure to find a solution which meets the increasing consumer demand for safer, greener home and garden care. The new ecofective range is highly effective and is made using the best formulations available in the UK. The products do not rely on conventional pesticides of biocide chemicals, making them safe to be used around children, pets and beneficial insects including Bees. The range are all currently used by professional growers and landscapers across the UK and Europe and include Bug & Mildew Control, Safe to Clean - multi-purpose pro-biotic cleaner, Natural Lawn Feed, Slug Defence, Organic Wonder Feed, RootPlus 3in1 and Organic Pour & Feed. The pesticide free Bug & Mildew Control works by physical mode of action, containing a blend of surfactants which stop the

pests from moving and being able to feed. Suitable for outdoor use and under cover on edible and ornamental plants, ecofective Bug & Mildew Control effectively takes care of insects including whiteflies, aphids, red spider mites, mealybug and scale effortlessly. Safe to Clean is a unique multi-purpose cleaner, suitable for use on any outdoor surface, including wood, concrete, stone, glass, fabrics and artificial grass. Using an advanced formula of friendly bacteria and surfactants it provides long lasting cleaning effects without the use of acids or harsh chemical ingredients. It’s used in many professional situations, including cleaning inside and outside of the NEC. For a lush, verdant lawn using natural ingredients, ecofective Natural Lawn Feed & Root Enhancer, allows gardeners to achieve enviable results without the need for chemical feeds. Used extensively by professional landscapers, the concentrated

mini granules offer 150sqm of coverage from just 4kgs, and with the added benefit of Mycorrhizae & Seaweed. This is achieved without dust or strong smells as with many other organic alternatives. Slug Defence non-toxic granules provide a physical barrier around edible and nonedible plants - stopping this slimy invasion from reaching and destroying plants. The Organic Wonder Feed and Pour & Feed can be used on both edibles and ornamentals, and are widely used by commercial vegetable growers. They contain bio stimulants including extracts taken from seaweed and other natural sources. Recent independent trials on tomatoes have shown significant increases in yield, +13% over leading products in this category. ROOTplus 3in1 is a unique organic root enhancer, water retainer and fertiliser which contains mycorrhizal fungi in granular form, an advanced new water retention material made from corn starch and a fertilizer designed for early root development. This is more biodegradable than other conventional products, and captures and retains vital moisture for the plant, promoting healthy root growth.

Home and Garden Sipcam is working with DECCO as its exclusive wholesale partner. Feel free to contact your local DECCO representative. SIPCAM UK, ROYSTON For direct enquiries contact Matt Jones, 07954 368819, or Sipcam UK office, 01763 212100 4 Archway House, The Lanterns, Melbourn Street, Royston, Hertfordshire, SG8 7BX

TEAM DEVELOPMENT Sipcam UK is delighted to welcome two new team members to its recently established Home & Garden Business, Nigel Thompson (Head of Sales) and Lydia Grayston (Marketing Manager). Nigel (pictured right) is well known to the industry with over 28 years experience in sales & marketing, with the last 24 years being in and around the Home & Garden, DIY sectors. Sitting on the board of GIMA and previously on the Marketing Committee of the HTA, Nigel has built a strong reputation and relationships which will be instrumental to Sipcam’s development in the market. Lydia has over 10 years experience in marketing management covering both B2B and B2C projects, and will oversee the marketing and communications for the ecofective brand. She will initially be focussed on strengthening consumer brand awareness, whilst working alongside customers to improve instore presence. Matt Jones of Sipcam UK said: “I’m really delighted to have Lydia and Nigel on board as we seek to deliver the best possible products and services to the market. Sipcam is firmly committed to providing uniqueness and innovation for our retail partners, and I’m excited about the contribution Nigel and Lydia will be making as we move forward.”

February 2018 19


Maximise tax relief opportunities through capital allowances By Allen Evans, Partner, Gilbert Evans Surprisingly few garden centre operators know that on fit out or refurbishment works, up to 90% of expenditure may attract tax relief through capital allowances. For existing property acquisitions and new constructions, there may be up to 35% of the purchase price or construction expenditure attracting allowances. All accountants are familiar with capital allowances and usually identify obvious qualifying items where there are specific invoices. However, unlocking additional capital allowances without expert knowledge can be difficult. With combined expertise in surveying and tax, a capital allowances specialist can breakdown limited construction information and identify and defend the treatment of qualifying expenditure. They work with your accountants to ensure that your allowances are maximised without duplicating effort. Most garden centres incur significant capital expenditure on new construction,

fit out, refurbishment and extension works. Capital allowances are available on capital expenditure on qualifying plant and machinery (P&M) items such as fire alarms, security systems, carpets, electrical lighting and power, heating and ventilation, furnishing and many others. Specialist advice should be sought on glasshouses, polytunnels, refurbishments, irrigation, trade drainage, electrical &mechanical services, thermal insulation, electric doors and elements of display fittings. Acquiring existing properties Garden centres are sold as asset or share sales. A capital allowances specialist can quantify and allocate an element of the purchase price to qualifying P&M. Even where there may be a tax election in place, there may still be scope for additional allowances. When engaged early, a specialist can provide appropriate contract wording and effectively value the allowances.

Landlord contributions Whether you are a landlord or tenant, there could be scope to allocate a proportion of paid landlord contributions to capital allowances. Early specialist advice and wording in the lease agreement could better protect your capital allowances position. Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA) There may be scope for 100% allowances on energy-saving technologies such as lighting, air conditioning, hand dryers, fridges and efficient water saving devices. For certain energy-saving P&M the full cost of compliant assets can be written off against taxable profits in the first year, providing 100% tax relief in comparison with the lower writing down allowance at 8% pa. Early involvement will enable ECA claims to be maximised.

To find out more about Gilbert Evans visit


James Hollingworth has joined The Tildenet Group as Product Development Manager working across all their brands. With over 12 years experience in the garden sector James has made the move from his previous role as Buyer at Suttons to work on a number of new projects at Tildenet.

20 February 2018

Charles Carr has joined Hillier Nurseries as Head of Wholesale Nurseries. He brings with him 30 years’ experience within the nursery stock industry. Charles will be responsible for overseeing all areas of Hillier Nurseries including technical developments in growing, crop protection and implementing new systems. In his career, Charles has worked at a number of leading British nurseries in senior roles, including 11 years in the role of Nursery Director. He has been responsible for major developments in nursery management, production management and product development. He has also been involved

in several industry organisations, including the HTA Technical Committee and AHDB Nursery Stock Panel.

Mark Clementson has joined the board of directors as Retail Sales Director of Quantil Ltd. Mark joined the company six years ago in the role of Retail Sales Manager, and has contributed significantly to its continued growth. He has helped to develop Quantil into a market leading Grow Your Own brand.

February 2018 21


With spring on the horizon now is the time to maximise stock availability VICKY NUTTALL DIRECTOR OF GIMA It would be easy to feel as though I was repeating myself, however the age-old issue surrounding supply chain and peak demand is something that rears its head year after year, and no doubt will continue to do so until flying drones and immediate stock delivery becomes a reality. There is no question that right now our industry is experiencing a sense of turmoil. With some of the big players such as Dobbies and Wyevale grabbing the headlines, and margins continuing to be squeezed, we are moving forwards with a hint of trepidation. The reality of what “could be” is understandably causing some to be overly cautious. However, Spring is just around the corner, with the Easter Bank Holiday weekend just one later. Knowledge of this is why we should be holding our nerve, and not panicking before the horse has actually bolted. Spring should be a shining beacon of hope for us all, as it represents the beginning of our peak sales season. I appreciate that Christmas wasn’t perfect for some retailers, with the snow placing pressure

on cashflow. Understandably this may make them extra careful when making purchasing decisions. But at the same time, we’ve also had a strong 2017 and the spring demand will come. So rather than wait and appear surprised by the inevitable demand, why not work with your suppliers to ensure a smooth and agreeable stock holding process that will benefit both parties. After all, suppliers have continued to invest in stock ahead of peak season, so why not get your orders in early to ensure availability? From a supplier perspective peak season can become a logistical nightmare. With so many customers to service – all wanting different things at different times – juggling orders and delivery can take its toll. Couple that with the fact that some suppliers may, in light of recent news, be concerned about what the future holds, and you’ll see why these orders matter so much. Buyers needn’t be pressured into purchasing masses of product they can’t find space for, or ranges that don’t suit their unique offering. Instead we need to get ready to grab sales while they’re hot, so

we can all reap the benefits. By working with suppliers in a timely and realistic manner, the risk can be shared, but more importantly stock can be in place when it is needed most. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – communication is so important to the success of any sales period. Put simply, the pressure of this key sales period cannot rest solely on one party. GIMA members are already prepped for the Easter rush, ensuring maximum stock holding to service retail customers efficiently – but they need a fighting chance to get product on the shelves in a timely manner or else the whole system becomes a mess. So why not pick up the phone to your suppliers, or drop the team an email. Easter will be here before we know it, so let’s get prepped and make it the best possible start to the 2018 season. Good luck all! 4GIMA is here to hear the thoughts and experiences of its members, and would also love to hear from non-members also. Please share your experiences by emailing

COMPANY SPOTLIGHT BORD NA MÓNA Founded over 80 years ago, Bord na Móna is the leading Irish supplier of growing media and barks in Ireland and the UK. The company manufactures and supplies a range of growing media products for both professional growers and home gardeners and is at the forefront of developing top quality growing media – including peat-free and peat-reduced multipurpose composts, specialist composts and grow your own planters – barks, soil improvers and fertilisers. Bord na Móna’s award winning formulations and recipes and commitment to sustainability sets it apart from industry competitors. Using ingredients such as green compost, coir, peat, and composted bark, Bord na Móna’s products ensure gardeners produce and enjoy brighter, bigger blooms every season.

22 February 2018


New Foreign Exchange service A recent survey undertaken by GIMA has highlighted that its members continue to feel the pressure of ever fluctuating exchange rates. In response, the trade association is pleased to announce that it is launching a new Foreign Exchange service, in conjunction with payment solutions experts, Moneycorp. This new service – bolstering GIMA’s existing portfolio of unrivalled member benefits – has been designed to not only save GIMA members money, but it will also help make sense of the constantly changing foreign exchange rates. Members who sign up to the service will receive preferential exchange rates, and access to a dedicated account manager who is on hand to meet and go over any tailored requirements. Additionally, GIMA members will also receive Fee Free international payments, saving between £5 and £40 per transaction - a saving that will add up to a significant sum over time. The full Foreign Exchange service can be accessed via an easy to use, fast online platform, providing 24/7 access, and is supported by a call centre when further assistance is required. The service also offers peace of mind, in that all funds are safeguarded in a segregated client bank account, whilst Moneycorp is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Vicky Nuttall, GIMA Director, said: “The new Foreign Exchange service has been set up to try and reduce some of the pressure that comes from buying or selling with international partners.”

GTN February 2018  
GTN February 2018