GTN July 2019

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gtn JULY 2019

Advice and information for garden centre professionals

Discover more about LOFAssured – the scheme that sets LOFA products apart from other non-compliant suppliers. To find out more about LOFAssured visit Stand 350 at SOLEX

m a h g in m ir B C E N , 19 0 2 Tue-Thu, 9-11 July

The latest outdoor leisure innovations all under one roof at SOLEX 2019

Gina Hinde is pictured with TV gardening personality David Domoney and LOFA chairman Mark Osborne, of Outback UK.

SOLEX enters exciting new phase LOFA’s marketing manager Gina Hinde, who will be organising her first SOLEX in Hall 5 of the NEC on July 9-11, reveals what visitors can expect at this year’s event. What can visitors expect at this year’s SOLEX? SOLEX is entering a new phase, and the team behind the scenes are developing the exhibition to come up with a brand new look and feel to the show, to make it more interesting for the visitors and more relevant to the industry as a whole. The show is still packed full of the freshest designs and new ideas from over 60 Lofa members. Have you introduced any new features/elements to the show? Yes, we have introduced two brand new product areas plus a contemporary LOFA lounge where visitors can relax and chill out with free refreshments and WIFI throughout the exhibition. We have produced a dedicated SOLEX Exhibition website where you can find out all about

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the show and register with the chance to win a weekend break which is not bad for just registering. Via this link you will also find an exhibition map which shows you who is exhibiting and then take you through to each exhibitors website. Also look out for our new Solex Exhibition Facebook https://www.facebook. com/solexexhibitionNEC/ and Twitter SolexExhibition feeds which will keep you updated on all things SOLEX on the run up to the show. Are you looking forward to your first show as organiser? Up to this point I have always been the exhibitor building and organising stands for SOLEX, Chelsea Flower Show, Hampton Court, BBC Ruby Television Awards, BBC Sports Personality of the Year, Automechanika and the Classic Car Show to name but a few but to be part of the

team organising the whole event is a real challenge I am really looking forward to. What’s the mood amongst exhibitors? I think the mood is one of quiet optimism, there are some great new products coming through which I think are amazing. We also have six new members exhibiting at the show and we have a 10% increase in floor space and have already exceeded the space we had in 2018 so it’s looking very positive. What message would you like to give retailers thinking of visiting? I would say that SOLEX is the essential garden trade event of the year. Great products, new designs, fresh ideas, great people and a great place to do business with a relaxed and

friendly atmosphere. How can they register for visiting? Well they can either follow this link where there is also a chance of winning a weekend break, or if they don’t fancy winning a weekend break (and why wouldn’t you?) then they can go direct to the LIVE BUZZ site Will visitors to the show be able to discover more about LOFAssured? Make sure you also pop onto the LOFAssured stand to find out all about our great initiative that ensures all cushions sold by members comply with current government fire safety regulations. Look out for the LOFAssured swing tags and certificates on exhibitor stands.

What’s in store from SOLEX exhibitors

Katie Blake Elite is great new addition to top range For 2020 Katie Blake is increasing its popular range of outdoor furniture and including a fantastic collection of deluxe rattan weave. This now means they will be covering all areas of the market from the cheaper flat weave to high end round weave using all-weather Sunbrella cushions that can be left out permanently. Every set comes with a night cover. This new range is called Katie Blake Elite. There is no question that Katie Blake outsells most of their competitors with customers complaining they didn’t order enough. Steve Potter, Glencrest’s Managing Director, says: “We have a massive stock at our Leigh on Sea warehouse but obviously it is more expensive than by container. Our fleet of trucks covers the country and this year they have been mega busy.” 4Stand: 410 (Glencrest Seatex)

Tom Chambers announces major business upgrade Following tremendous growth throughout all areas of their business, Tom Chambers has announced significant investment in its business to support UK manufacturing operations. The wood shop manufacturing space has been increased by a third and many new staff have been employed. The installation of state of the art machinery, including a new bird food packaging machine, has enabled output of packed bird food to be doubled. The increased production facility has enabled Tom Chambers to launch a new Birdcare collection for 2019/20. Additions to the handcrafted tables include the Oswald table with owl etching detail and the Warbler bird table with cute bird design. The Ingleton slate roof bird table is perfect for any size garden with shaped sides to add detail and a rustic, heavy duty base. The new Bird Temple bird table features a chunky, log style timber with handcrafted finial and shaped edging. A new range of wooden feeders at great price points includes the hexagonal Charlton Seed Feeder and the Lavenham hanging table with genuine slate roof. Also added is a new range of tubular feeders in an

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on trend grey finish, for seed, peanut and fat balls. New promotional feeders with display bins include the Seed and Peanut Lantern feeders and the Super Perch Feeder. New food blends include the new Multi Seed and Nut Mix packaged in the much loved red top extra fill bag. This blend includes premium ingredients sunflower hearts and kibbled peanuts which will attract the widest variety of garden birds. Following the superb sales of the Squirrel Resistant Cage, Tom Chambers as launched the Squirrel Stop! Squirrel Proof Feeder. Chambers Bird Stations. 4Stand: 315

Handcrafted to highest standards Daro is one of the UK’s leading names for outdoor rattan furniture. The collection is handcrafted from the highest quality materials to offer maximum comfort, style and durability. New for 2019: Daro ‘Tailored’ works on the philosophy that you know your customers best. So now, for the first time, you

can design a range that you know they’ll love. Choose the style, weave and colour to create your own unique range. Flexible options are available for stock delivery. 4Stand: 615 4+44 (0) 1604 758 989

What’s in store from SOLEX exhibitors

Atom collection has timeless appeal The design team at Barlow Tyrie have created new additions that sit perfectly with the brand’s current ranges, and are excited to introduce the new products and reinvigorated designs at SOLEX 2019. The Atom collection is a modern, lightweight, elegant collection with timeless appeal. The armchair has a geometric shape that is accented with a tilted backrest which includes a circular ‘atom’ hole. This styled feature is to affix a cushion backrest for extra comfort. This toggled-cushion backrest and seat pad are optional and available in a selection of Sunbrella colours. The armchair frame displays the strength

of traditional teak with the sling seat which is a perfect combination. It uses a new coloured Sunbrella® .514 denim fabric, to create a statement piece with clean contour lines. The Atom rectangular 150cm dining table (with no parasol hole) is a blend of profiled curves and clean simple lines, visually lighter in scale and proportions, and somewhat contemporary. The legs are contoured and the table top features solid teak slates. The understated appeal of Mark Tyrie’s designs will ensure their popularity for many years to come. 4Stand: 325

The best in outdoor living Award-winning Zest 4 Leisure will be displaying the very best in outdoor living at SOLEX 2019 with its timber range of arbours, gazebos and garden furniture. The unique and innovative, Noah’s Arbour will be proudly displayed on the Zest 4 Leisure stand. Complete with floor and combined roof, this new concept in beautifully crafted arbour design, provides seating and shelter for six, whatever the weather. With its integral table and benches, the Noah’s Arbour creates a perfect spot in the garden to relax and enjoy good company. Design, quality and innovation are at the heart of everything Zest 4 Leisure do. 4Stand: 310

Check out the Pagoda range The Pagoda team are highly experienced in sourcing garden furniture in China and Vietnam, with their own offices in Hangzhou for over 25 years. The team know all the best factories and have good working relationships with them. Munro Importers ship containers direct from factories to your warehouse and can offer a door-to-door or FOB China port service. The company are a member of LOFA so all the Pagoda products conform to UKFR standards. If quantities are sufficient, Munro Improters can own-brand products in mixed containers of a maximum of four products. All shipments are checked to international AQL standards by the company’s own inspectors. 4Stand: 560 - Opposite the New Product Showcase

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Back in the spotlight Garden Impressions are delighted to be back at SOLEX to launch their new collections into the UK. As a long-established brand and one of the largest suppliers across Europe, Garden Impressions are now fully set up here in the UK with sales office, warehousing and distribution to support their UK

customers, both new and existing. The company offer the full selection of all Outdoor Living products – Rattan, Aluminium and Teak furniture with an extensive range of parasols, heaters, outdoor rugs and the Coverit protective covers – all at fantastically competitive prices. 4 Stand: 355

Do your cushions comply? Over the last three years LOFA have been working with FIRA (Furniture Industry Research Association) and HTS (Hertfordshire Trading Standards) on an initiative to ensure that all cushions sold by LOFA members comply with Trading Standards and the Governments Fire Safety Regulations. Lofa have been working with HTS, who are our primary authority partner, to enable our members to comply with all the most relevant and up to date Fire Safety Regulations. As an association we feel that taking this route will not only help our members but also safeguard retailers and consumers. After 3 years, and an investment of over ÂŁ600k , all our members offering cushions and cushioned furniture are now 100% compliant and have earned LOFAssured Accreditation. These members have been put through an audit of certification, documentation and traceability to ensure only safe, compliant products are offered to the market place. The rigorous process included product testing by an independent test house. LOFA also tested a number of garden cushions from non-lofa members, that were brought from a variety of retailers both online and high street and 8 out of 10 of these cushions failed the legal requirements resulting in products being withdrawn from sale. LOFA will be pushing this message out to consumers and retailers alike via a big marketing campaign across press, online, TV and Radio, we also want to push this message out in stores to tie up with this campaign. To find out more about LOFAssured visit Stand 350.

The role of the Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association is to support outdoor furniture and garden product organisations across the furniture supply chain. LOFAssured is a distinguishing factor setting LOFA products apart from other non-compliant suppliers. Our full compliance regulations and information about the initiative can be found on our website along with the benefits of purchasing products from LOFA members. Look for the LOFAssured swing tags, point of sale and certification on exhibitors stands.

July 2019 SOLEX 5

What’s in store from SOLEX exhibitors

Discover comfort, design and quality from Hartman

Elegant and versatile

The ALU-TWIST parasol from Glatz is elegant and versatile. It features a smooth wind-up crank handle to open and close and a unique twist mechanism which allows you to adjust the canopy pitch with ease, gradually tilting up to a 45° angle. Another important feature is how well it protects you from UV rays, with the sun shade giving UPF50+ sun protection.

The ALU-TWIST is made from lightweight but strong aluminium, with tension springs that keeps the fabric tight to maintain tension over time. Available in a wide range of styles, sizes, colours and base options, the ALU-TWIST is part of range of luxury parasols from Swiss experts Glatz, available exclusively in the UK through AEL Outdoor Solutions. 4Stand: 230

Experience comfort, design and quality on the Hartman Outdoor Products stand. Demonstrating innovative design features for exceptional outdoor living spaces, Hartman will showcase its stunning resin weave furniture, contemporary cast aluminium sets, innovation with a new ceramic glass top, as well as adding a touch of European flare with the new Excellence collection. Do you take a flat white or a cappuccino? Whilst browsing over the fantastic new collections from Hartman, why not enjoy a delicious, complimentary barista coffee and take part in the

fun interactive Jamie Oliver competition, with a chance to win a signed copy of Jamie Oliver’s new book – VEG. 4Stand 505

More LIFE innovation from Norfolk Leisure Norfolk Leisure will be launching more innovation in the LIFE collection at SOLEX – new material combinations of durable aluminium and fully certified teak. The new collection has been the ‘star of the show’ at 2020 preview presentations and are a ‘must-see’ for anyone visiting SOLEX this year. The practicality of the aluminium frames fused with the wonderful warmth and colour of teak that everyone loves. “The innovation and unique product catalogue continues to inspire,” says Nick Anderson, MD of Norfolk Leisure. “The consistent and reliable high quality of the product and proven retail sales, make it a must-have brand.” There is great confidence in the Norfolk Leisure business, and everyone is excited to present the new inspiring LIFE collections for 2020 at SOLEX. 4Stand: 210

Material matters at LifestyleGarden For many retailers the LifestyleGarden brand is recognisable by the quality of product it continues to deliver season after season. Driven by design, and changing consumer trends, LifestyleGarden is a brand that responds and adapts to market demands. DuraBoard is one material which has

created a lot of noise in the marketplace since its introduction. Built to last a lifetime, Duraboard – an innovative material for outdoor table tops – is an environmentally friendly material that is durable, highly UVresistant and has a unique surface finish. The production of Duraboard occurs entirely in-house, enabling each stage of the process to be closely monitored

for quality control purposes. Due to the combination of the two components and the highly durable surface finish created, LifestyleGarden Duraboard is the future of table top surfaces. With plastic usage being high on the international agenda, LifestyleGarden is extremely proud to confirm that it

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has already taken steps to reduce the impact of its plastic products, including Duresin. Duresin is a unique form of polypropylene with added fibre glass that is mould-injected in order to create hard-wearing, recyclable and maintenance-free products. 4Stand: 605


Retail focus

What’s new in plants

How Dobbies set about rebranding their stores p26

Award winning plants from the HTA National Plant Show p23-24



JULY 2019

Advice and information for garden centre professionals


Growing on an opportunity Meet the father-and-son team behind a fast-growing garden centre business


Growing on an opportunity... In-Excess father-and-son team Carl and Chris Chalmers are making the most of their recent ex-Wyevale acquisitions, as they tell GTN’s Trevor Pfeiffer. At RHS Chelsea Flower Show in May, a year on from the start of the big Wyevale sell-off, Terra Firma chairman Guy Hands told GTN that all of the Wyevale Centres would be sold by the end of the year. As a result of the process there are now 25 new owners of ex-Wyevale garden centres. Some of these are single-site operators, some are large groups, and some are smaller groups looking to make the most of their opportunity. One of these smaller groups is In-Excess, which back in November bought four of the ex-Wyevale centres; West Parley, Fair Oak, Landford and Salisbury. But who are In-Excess? Prior to this they ran just one garden centre at Ringwood in Hampshire, as well as operating four In-Excess discount ‘DIY and Home’ stores

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in Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire. GTN’s Trevor Pfeiffer met with owners Carl and Chris Chalmers at their Ringwood Garden Centre, which they bought in 2003, to get an insight into how they will develop their garden centre business over the coming years. Carl comes from a ‘trading’ background. His father started trading in Army surplus after the war. “I think that, being in that type of business, you understand that everything has a value. It gets ingrained that you need to turn a negative into a positive,” he said. “Every business property and every shop we’ve bought has been a liquidation, a bankruptcy or something has happened, so we’ve taken on a bit of a problem and turned it around. A lot of business is just about attitude

and that’s how we approach it. We are a reactive company. We buy a lot of product from all the majors. “They might phone up and say we’ve got 900 pallets of something. We have to react. We have big storage space. If it’s an own-branded product we’ve got to de-label it. We use the prison in Shaftesbury; we send a lot of small stuff there. They repack it for us. With big jobs we have our own repacking area at Salisbury. We strip all the labels off and put our own labels on, we have our own small sub-brands, and then put it back into the market at less than half the price. So, it’s good for consumers and it always sells well. “If you research something and you know you’re going to be the cheapest, as long as


EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING Garden Trade News, Potting Shed Press Ltd Dairy Drove Thorney Peterborough PE6 0TX Tel 01733 775700 Fax 01733 775838 THE GTN TEAM Editor: Neil Pope Associate Editor: Mike Wyatt Director: Trevor Pfeiffer Publisher: Mandy Davies Advertising: Alan Burdon Ben Greenwood HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Tel 01733 775700 or email Subscription rates UK: £145 Subscription includes a password for full access to GTN Online plus a weekly copy of GTN Bestsellers

you hold out until the right time of year when people want it - and that may be the next season - it will sell. We traditionally buy garden furniture in July and then we hold it all the way through to next January.” Carl goes on to explain the In-Excess background: “It’s hardcore DIY, which is really a bit of a dying trade now because youngsters don’t do DIY anymore. That market has changed completely. It’s much more of a plug and play. People these days are looking for instant satisfaction, so they go in, they buy something and get it home, and it’s either fully made up or is a totally different thing. The days where you do it all yourself are definitely dying. “How can you have a B&Q and a Screwfix 100 yards apart but selling the same thing for

two different prices? It’s crazy. People are not stupid. The world of the mobile phone has made it so easy to get price information wherever people are, so they just use their phones and look up anything, whether that’s by brand, by barcode, or by any means. It’s quick and easy to get the information. “We’ve got an office in China, so we look at product in the Far East and add value to it out there. We can spend a bit more money on developing something because we make it and sell it direct to the customer. So, there’s not those layers of margin for wholesalers, distributors, importers; we buy it straight from the factory. We’ve been doing that in gardening too since 2003. Continued on page 4

OUR PUBLISHERS GTN is published by Potting Shed Press Ltd, who also publish: * website * Weekly GTN Xtra and Pet Trade Xtra newsletters * Garden Radio * Official Glee Catalogue and Glee Daily News Online – the only official guides to the garden industry’s leading annual trade show SMALL PRINT All material © Potting Shed Press 2019. 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.

July 2019 3


“On the plant side we deal with people on a regular basis and we’ve got good relationships with them now. The biggest thing I’ve noticed in the garden market is that if you pay a supplier fairly quickly you get better service and everybody’s happy.” Carl’s son, Chris, explained how their ethos on plant retailing is about value and quality: “If you go to other garden centres the bigger plant stock is marked up quite heavily. We’ve got the same ethos for all the plants we sell. Our ethos is to sell it at a good price so that it sells through fast. “Let’s face it, a plant is a living item. It’s like keeping a pet; the longer you keep a plant in stock the more money it costs you. If you need to start top dressing plants that are not selling through, it’s better to get rid of them and then replace with fresh. We have a specimen plant sale in December and January that starts the season rolling a little earlier, and then we get fresh, new stock in for the season. For a ‘value’ plant centre the quality out in the plant area is very high. Flood trays have been built into the benches, about which Chris said: “It saves staff time; they can actually be helping a customer rather than just constantly watering. What’s the point of employing a horticulturist with all their knowledge but all they’re doing is watering for hours? With good plant care you don’t get the wastage and the product looks better.” When Carl bought the Ringwood site in 2003 his dad told him he was ‘mad’. “What are you doing buying it? No one’s ever made any money here. You’re wasting your time,” he said. Carl’s response was that he only needed to get someone to stop once and he’d have them as a long-term customer. Chris added: “If I ever hear someone in the background say they’ve never been in here before, straight away I stop and explain that we’re quite unique and sometimes quite frustrating because of the way we trade. Sometimes we run out of things, because we work on trying to buy at the best price, and if

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we can’t buy the best price, we won’t buy it at all. That ethos can be quite hard to explain to someone, but when they understand it, they usually buy something when they see it as they might not see it again.” Before In-Excess took over the site was trading at a loss, turning over £300,000 per year. Now it’s on the verge of breaking through £4million a year. “We know the model works,” said Carl. “If you pick this model up and take it into a much bigger site, and add the numbers together, it still works. Just now we are already nearly 100% up on what they were doing last year. We should be able to get Fair Oak back to a £5m site. “It’s not just a numbers and spreadsheet game,” added Chris. “Gardening is a passion that’s a big part of people’s lives. They love what they do, and you have to subscribe to that. You can’t just chuck stock in there and expect it to sell at whatever price. They want your help and they want your advice and that’s how you can make your money. “I get customers here who show their own gardens. You can’t pull the wool over their eyes. You must present to them as good a product as you possibly can, otherwise you’ll get caught out. You have to show the quality is there.” Carl and Chris are having to deal with the same issues that most of the other ‘new’ exWyevale centre owners are also dealing with;

a lack of investment in the sites, and teams of people who just dealt with centrally ordered stock. “They can see that we’re spending the money trying to develop it and we’re giving them the tools to do the job. We’ve started putting flood benches in at the other centres too. Luckily, we’ve got our own joinery shop so we can do that quite quickly. We let our managers become quite autonomous so they decide what they want to do and we let them do it. We ask them how they want it to look, what they want to buy, and what they want to see? “We took on 102 staff across the four centres and we’ve already added a further 52. You can’t sell the volume and expect to re-stock the shelves and deliver the service without the right staffing levels.” One area that the In-Excess team admit they still have to learn about is catering. “We have to be prepared to prostitute ourselves to discover what the value part of the catering equation is.” Having been through the process of buying four garden centres, would Carl do it again? “I think once we establish the format across the five centres, and are happy it works, then we can look for others. But management-wise we’d have to grow as well.” “It is all about the price. Quality, price and service. We can deliver these three things and be successful.”


Everything to go by year end At the last count there were 43* Wyevale Garden Centres left in the ‘Sale of the Century’. Here we take a look at which groups are increasing in size after buying a Wyevale centre. *At the time of going to press

British Garden Centres grew by eight stores to become the fourth biggest garden centre group and will be the third largest by the end of the year after the latest round of the Wyevale ‘Sale of the Century’. The eight sites – Albrighton, Birchencliffe, Bressingham, Gardenlands, Hemel Hempstead, Louth, Tarporley and Wolseley Bridge – mean British Garden Centres will be operating 24 sites by the end of August. “The six centres we added earlier this year have all responded well to our change of ownership and are trading up by a good amount,” Phillippa Stubbs told GTN. “That has made us more confident about adding further centres where we can achieve a geographical cluster.” British Garden Centres were mainly located on the East side of the country but now thay have clusters around Manchester and the West Midlands with Hemel Hempstead taking them closer down the A1 towards London. “We’ve broadened the range, moved to our more competitive pricing and increased staff numbers at the new sites,” Phillippa added. “With central ranging, but local flexibility for additional ranges we can maximise on the potential of each area.” Guy Hands told GTN at Chelsea Flower Show this year that if he was to buy a garden

Will Charles Stubbs (inset), of British Garden Centres, add to the Bressingham acquisition, a centre bought last month from Wyevale?

centre retail group again he would not implement centralised distribution saying that playing to the local strengths would be best. He went on to say that all the remaining 43 centres would be sold by the end of the year and that there was interest in all of

Leading Garden Centre Groups by number of outlets Jun-19




Change since June 2018

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

2 1 4= 8= 3 4= 7 6 8= 8=

Dobbies Wyevale Garden Centres Blue Diamond British Garden Centres Klondyke Notcutts Hilliers Squires Cherry Lane Hillview

69 43 30 24 22 18 16 15 13 8

+35 -102 +9 +14 0 0 +4 0 +1 -3

*Source GTN - updated 19-6-19, includes transactions

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them. Perhaps some more may be headed for British Garden Centres, as Phillippa said “you never quite know what Charles will do next.” The other Wyevale centres sold in June were Dummer to Maidenhead Aquatics, Woking to The Plant Area Limited who operate Clandon Park Garden Centre and Wych Cross to Coolings. Wych Cross was the last centre to be purchased by Wyevale in October 2015, their 151st at the time, before they brought their acquisition strategy to a close. Coolings will close the centre for a few weeks when they complete the sale at the start of August “to fix things and get the site up to the Coolings standard,” said Paul Cooling. “Based on the success of our Potting Shed acquisition in Maidstone, Wych Cross, with it’s horticultural heritage is an ideal further addition to Coolings. We will be fully open again by August Bank Holiday and we will continue trading on Sundays.” Wych Cross did not open on a Sunday under the previous owners prior to the purchase by Wyevale.


LeisureGrow fires up BBQ market with new Hybrid Gas and Charcoal Grillstream System LeisureGrow has pulled out all the stops for its stand at this year’s SOLEX with an exciting showcase for the new Grillstream BBQs Hybrid system, along with an extensive display of its 2020 LG Outdoor furniture range on show for visitors to see (Hall 5, Stands 105 and 205). Coal or Gas – Cook how you want on the new Hybrid NEW for 2020 all Grillstream BBQs now come with LeisureGrow’s revolutionary HYBRID SYSTEM. The new system lets users decide whether to cook on gas or charcoal each time they cook by simply lifting the grills and either adding or taking away charcoal from the BBQ. Now cooking on a Grillstream with charcoal is just as easy as cooking on gas by using the burners to light the charcoal and then turning them off for that traditional charcoal BBQ taste. Jody Grimmer, managing director for LeisureGrow Products said; “We think our new Hybrid Grillstream system is just what the BBQ trade and consumer has been waiting for. Now you don’t have to choose between the convenience of gas or the nostalgia and taste of charcoal – consumers can decide each time how to cook their BBQ depending on how much time they have and what they’re cooking. We’re really excited to be sharing this at SOLEX.” To support the New Hybrid System for Grillstream, the LeisureGrow team has made investments in some great POS and

marketing tools for Grillstream including videos, shop-in-shop retail solutions, and packaging which is also on display at SOLEX. And if that’s not enough to whet visitors’

LG Outdoor Furniture Situated next door to Grillstream, LeisureGrow’s LG Outdoor stand will be showcasing the newest collection of LG Outdoor furniture. The 2020 furniture range for LG Outdoor builds on last year’s collection, with more sets featuring wood-effect Aluminium – including the stunning Sienna which is a super-realistic wood-effect aluminium teamed with upholstered texteline. There are also new weaves which continue to grow in popularity – including a new Salzburg weave range which comes with a gorgeous ceramic table and new for 2020, the supercomfortable Oslo Range which is a high quality weave set, complete with recliner chairs, ice buckets and firepits.

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The market for rope is continuing to grow, with consumers getting more used to seeing it as an outdoor option, and the rope offering from LG Outdoor has been changed and expanded to include the Santa Fe which pairs a stunning rope weave on a wood-effect aluminium base to offer an alternative to the wood and rope mix that gives consumers a maintenance-free rope range with retro-cool shapes. Last year’s favourite – The Turin – is back again, with its contemporary shape, ultra-lightweight frames, and stackable chairs. Matched with a realistic wood-effect aluminium, this range is the new ‘Gold Coast’ – it’s easy to maintain, easy on the eye, and an easy sell to the consumer.

appetites, BBQ aficionado Dr Sweetsmoke will be on the Grillstream stand at the show, cooking up some tasty nibbles and dishing out BBQ tips to customers.


Plus new Weave, Aluminium and Rope ranges from LG Outdoor

Visitors to SOLEX will find the LeisureGrow stands in Hall 5, Stands 105 and 205. Or to arrange a visit to the Hertfordshire LeisureGrow showroom call 01462 744 500.

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10 July 2019


20 years of Fountasia Fountasia’s Michael Weedon has been personally responsible for the development of over 10,000 new products in China and has been working closely with factories since 1992. During this time he has visited China over 62 times. Being this close to the factories and opportunities in China has

1990-1999 1990 – Musical Windchimes were first sold by the Tin Whistle Company, and then through Fountasia.

2000-2010 2009 – The Fun Spinners range was launched. It is still a core product range today!

2011 – Introduced Ladybirds and Bees Wall Art.

1992 featured a range of Water features.

2012 – Launch of Critter Colour.

2017 2017 – Launch of Garden Bells, Metal Flowers and Tinkling Toadstools.

2018 – Successful ranges like World Of Make Believe Fairy Kingdom, Tinkle Toes and Animal Kingdom were launched.

VISIT US AT GLEE TO SEE THE LATEST Stands 6M30-N31 12 July 2019


Quality and Innovation helped keep Fountasia at the front of innovation in Garden and Interior Décor and allowed the company to keep up with the everchanging trends in this important sector. Here we take a look at how Fountasia has grown into a leading supplier of bestselling products to garden centres.

2011-2015 2013 – Pot Hangers and Metal Windmills arrived on the market.

2014 – Launch of Suncatchers, Home Accents and Natures Melody.

2015 – Glass Birdbaths and Tables became instant successes.

2016 2016 – Launch of Solar Marine Lanterns and Umbrella Feeders.


2018 2019 – More bestsellers from Fountasia, this time Pixie World and Elf Wonderland plus the Glass Birdcare Range.


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NEW PRODUCTS garden furniture


Brought to you by

Quality products inspected to international AQL standards Stylish contemporary designs Experienced staff in both the UK and China Outstanding customer service With elite LOFAssured membership, our cushioned furniture is fully compliant to strict fire safety regulations

Look for LOFAssured products supplied by a LOFA member. Take comfort in your purchase being fully covered by the current safety regulations.

MUNRO IMPORTERS LTD 1st Floor, Unit 1 The Quadrangle, The Drift, Nacton Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP3 9QR, UK Tel: +44 (0) 1473 271 233 Fax: +44 (0) 1473 237 996 Tom Munro Munro/Pagoda Head Office Tel: 01473 271233

The perfect choice for Outdoor Living, check out the range at

If you are interested in stocking this luxury outdoor living brand, contact Tom Munro on 01473 271233 or Stax Trade Centres on 0161 728 8000 We are exhibiting at Solex from July 9th-11th and will be pleased to See you there!

Official distributors of Pagoda Tel: 0161 728 8000


Changing the fortunes of centres that lost their way Associate editor Mike Wyatt takes a look at how the Blue Diamond Group has transformed the fortunes of garden centres bought from Wyevale. For Terra Firma’s directors, following the countdown to the disposal of the remaining Wyevale garden centres must be a bit like watching the final overs of a run chase in a World Cup cricket match…. ‘Only 50 centres left…only £xxx million to get…the required rate is £xx million per centre… It’ll take something special…but game on!’ Meanwhile, new owners of the Wyevales that have already changed hands are collecting their winnings. In a recent interview on BBC Radio 4’s ‘You & Yours’ programme, Blue Diamond Group MD Alan Roper said turnover increases at the nine stores acquired from WGC ranged from 35% to 60%. “They’re thriving,” he reported, adding that 60% was no exaggeration. So what are you doing that’s different that enables you to sell so much more stuff against the general retail trend? asked the astonished presenter, Winifred Robinson. In a quietly scathing demolition of the Wyevale culture, Roper gave us a familiar but, in summary, short list…plants, people and catering. “The centres we bought, like many Wyevales, had lost their way, lost their focus, lost what mattered at the heart of a garden centre, which was a good gardening offer and knowledgeable staff.” The nine centres he chose to buy were ones he knew well, in good locations and with a good heritage “so I was keen to resurrect them”. But when Blue Diamond moved in, he found a “very demoralised” workforce. In one instance, he was faced with having to remove a WH Smith right in the middle of the store. (He didn’t name the centre, but it was Bicester Avenue). “People do not expect to walk in and be faced with elements of the high street or a team that are disinterested,” he explained. This viewpoint will certainly be controversial amongst supporters of garden centre concession income programmes, something that had become an integral part of WGC policy, but personally, I’m with Alan Roper. Turnover increases followed modest refurbishments, new planteria layouts, wider use of local production nurseries and a staffing policy that was more customercentric.

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Then there’s the catering. In Blue Diamond centres, catering excellence is a given, with fresh food prepared and cooked on the premises – unlike WGC, which largely sourced its food centrally and used microwaves. Roper says he had to re-commission all the ovens and cookers in the former WGC centres. With chefs now employed at all locations, everything is home-cooked. Good plants plus great cafes and restaurants were the “magic combination” on which many garden centres based their success, But it was not necessarily an easy formula for automatic success. IT didn’t happen for WGC, which had fallen over when it got too big, Roper said. He also appeared to be cautioning Dobbies, which now has 37 centres following its acquisitions from WGC under private equity management, “so possibly watch that space in the future”. The presenter did not quiz him on how Blue Diamond itself, which now has 34 centres, will manage its futurer, but Roper’s inclination to allow each of his stores to operate, as far as it’s possible in a relatively large group, along the lines of an

independent, is a clue. Successful independents, he said, have an inbuilt passion for the core product. “If you don’t have the passion for gardening and plants, you’re better off not getting involved with the sector. You can [afford to] get things wrong in a garden centre but if you get plants wrong, footfall drops dramatically.” A poor restaurant could impact negatively on a centre these days, he agreed, even when its plants were good. Tackled about criticism that customers have to battle through a host of knickknacks in a modern centre in order to find the gardening offer, he countered that it was a question of balance. Gardening along was not enough to sustain 7-days-a-week trading, 365 days a years, gifting and home products were required. “But there is no merit in putting WH Smith or Costa Coffee, which I find at airports and train stations, in a garden centre. That is betraying the values of a garden centre.” Alan Roper was confirming what many us believe…that independents are the lifeblood of our garden centre industry and that individuality has more value than bland retail conformity.

Katie Blake Garden Furniture is becoming one of the bestselling brands throughout the United Kingdom. With its great reputation achieved by innovation in design and excellent service, retailers stocking Katie Blake are reporting growth, profit and, most important, happy customers! Katie Blake operates on a strict pricing strategy across its stockists in garden retail, high street and online discounting is not allowed! It has always been Glencrest’s policy to protect their customers, something that other brands don’t appear to value. We are able to offer superior product at such competitive prices purely on the basis that we own our manufacturing operation. In 2019, CEO and founder Jack Whiteley reported a turnover increment of nearly 40% on the previous year. With customer retention being so high and sales continuing to increase, we are confident that the product is right.

For next season we are introducing two new ranges – a stylish Aluminium Range and a Luxurious Rattan Range branded ‘Katie Blake Elite’. Contrary to many opinions about the popularity of Rattan, sales of Katie Blake would suggest that it is still a firm favourite of the British public. The new Elite range provides a high level of comfort with stylish design features and can come with Sunbrella cushions that can be left outdoors permanently. For outdoor use Sunbrella Fabric is far superior to other fabrics, which makes this range unique and long lasting. Katie Blake now adopts Solution Dyeing and is achieving level 7/8 Light to Fast tests! This fabric is guaranteed not to fade for 2 years. Every set of furniture comes complete with a waterproof cover included as standard. The Katie Blake Elite Range also boasts the same 10-year guarantee, covering the frames and the Rattan weave.

We look forward to welcoming you on our stand at SOLEX You can find us on stand 410


Glee 2019 set to showcase the future of garden retailing As garden retailing continues to thrive, with double digit year-on-year growth, the future for our industry continues to look bright. One place where this optimism will shine through will be at Glee exhibition (10th-12th September, NEC Birmingham), where 550 plus suppliers will join with 7,000 UK and international key decision makers, buyers and trend setters, to showcase the future of gardening. Matthew Mein, Glee’s Event Director, said: “The market is reporting a strong start to the 2019 season, with sales up 37% yearon-year. A combination of good weather, and consumers retreating to their homes in a time of economic uncertainty, has paid dividends for our industry. “As such we move into the 2019 event with a sense of excitement regarding the future development and growth of our sector. From an engaged audience, the potential of the ‘millennial pound’, new tech hitting the market, and a wealth of existing ranges continuing to hit the mark, Glee 2019 will be a thriving hub for the garden retail market, offering unrivalled value for both suppliers and visitors.” WHAT’S NEW AT GLEE 2019 Educational content will bring business growth opportunities to the fore Building more content to help support the continuous growth of gardening in the UK will be a key theme of the 2019 event. Look out for more features, seminar sessions and new-for-2019 workshops, and year-round information relating to trends, merchandising and practical advice on ways to build better business, whilst also tackling the most burning issues set to affect the industry in the years ahead. The purrfect place to source pet products Bigger and better than ever before, ‘Pets at Glee’ will be a thriving section of Glee, designed to make it even easier for garden

centre pet buyers to directly source 2020 ranges. Featuring a multi-functional space, Pets at Glee will house interactive workshops aimed at helping garden centres start their pet retail journey, as well as provide visual merchandising inspiration that touches on key areas of pet retail including pet food, accessories, luxury and technology. It will also house a dedicated networking space for pet retailers and garden centres to connect with each other to share their experiences through facilitated speed networking sessions. There will also be a dedicated Pet New Product Showcase, which will showcase the latest and great new product innovations from Pets at Glee exhibitors. This year the showcase will feature nine award categories made up of: Best Pet Clothing Product, Best Pet Toys and Entertainment, Best Pet Accessories (Collars, Leads, Muzzles,

The Retail Lab @ Glee – in association with the HTA - was introduced in 2017 to showcase the latest trends within the garden industry, whilst also providing retailers with hands on advice and inspirational content that they can take back to their own stores to drive sales in the coming season. The response to this new area surpassed expectations, with suppliers and retailers remarking on the immediate ‘take home’ value of the Lab’s content. This year the Retail Lab will focus on two key themes ‘Shop’ and ‘Nature’, both of which will be supported by eight key themes entitled - Do it Yourself, Plant and Gift Shop, Garden Therapy, ‘Do Nothing’, Plastic Free Future?, Urban Green City, Outdoors = Indoors, Nurturing Nature, and Pet Alley – all of which represent key growth opportunities for garden retailers, whilst also addressing those issues that are shaping consumer spending habits.

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Harnesses), Best Pet Health, Grooming and Cleaning, Best Pet Bedding and Travel (housing, carriers, cages, baskets), Best Pet Food and Treats, Best Pet Technology, Best Eco Initiative Pet Product Award and Best Overall New Product for Pets at Glee. PetQuip – the leading international trade association for manufacturers and suppliers of pet care goods and services - has also confirmed that it will be continuing its support for the PetQuip Business Village. A packed awards programme including Glee New Product Showcase With over three quarters of Glee’s audience coming to source new products, with many stating the importance of being able to touch and feel products previously only seen in catalogues, Glee 2019 will see even more focus on new products, including the New Product Showcase – created in partnership with Garden Trade News. This ever-popular competition sees new designs and products perfectly displayed for your consideration, with the best of each category receiving the accolade of a ‘Glee Award.’ Show visitors can also cast their vote for their favourite.

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WIN a VIP ticket to spoga+gafa spoga+gafa are offering GTN readers the chance to win a VIP ticket to the international trade exhibition. The garden season 2019 is in the hot phase, and that means that it’s time to have a look at the current and coming trends for the ‘summer living room’. Where else can this be done better than at spoga+gafa? The world’s largest garden fair for a trade public takes place from 1st to 3rd September in Cologne and will present lifestyle trends of the green industry and everything the green heart desires. The focus of the exhibitors and the trade fair conception this year is on the theme of ‘City Gardening‘ – gardening without a garden. In times in which stress, performance and time pressures define the lives of many, an ever increasing number of people are longing for deceleration. The theme of the garden, balcony and patio is thus increasing in importance year after year, whether as an oasis for relaxation or as a place for creative realisation. One of the top trends is city gardening, gardening without a garden, which makes the creation of oases of peace under the open skies and the deceleration of our everyday routine possible. The market offers a wide variety of aesthetic, functional and technical possibilities for designing these. As the world’s largest garden fair, spoga+gafa presents an offering for the designing of the garden as a living space and the trend themes of the industry that leaves almost nothing to be desired. Product worlds for trade themes like outdoor kitchens, garden furniture trends, fertilisers & plants, POS solutions for large areas, battery products and the possibilities of smart gardening will once again be staged in an experienceable way and further expanded upon from 1st to 3rd September. The top theme of city gardening, gardening without a garden, will be one of the central themes in the Cologne exhibition halls: international lectures and active product shows accompany the theme on all three days of the trade fair. Exhibitors thereby focus on solutions for themes like vacation watering for balconies and gardens. The exhibition offerings also focus on cultivation in a small space and the smart lighting of the “City Oases”. Anyone who wants to experience the garden in all its facets, meet the top players of the global green industry, present innovations and be inspired by fresh ideas from the whole world of plants, garden

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THE VIP PRIZE 4Free admission to the trade fair on all days 4Entry to the VIP Lounge for two people 4Free use of the cloakroom 4Free catalogue 4Use of public transport system for free


furniture and grill equipment will find everything for his growing garden business in one place at spoga+gafa 2019 in Cologne from 1 to 3 September! The prospects for the largest garden trade fair in the world are fantastic… 4spoga+gafa 2019 is open to trade visitors on 1 and 2 September from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and on 3 September from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For further information visit

HOW TO ENTER spoga+gafa COMPETITION To stand a chance of winning one of the 10 VIP spoga+gafa tickets on offer all you have to do is answer the following questions, emailing them to To give you a clue, all the answers can be found in this feature. Question 1: In which German city is spoga+gafa held? Question 2: What’s the theme of spoga+gafa in 2019? Question 3: Smart lighting is being spotlighted at the exhibiton – what’s it called?

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22 July 2019


All the winners of the New Plants Awards 2019.

Plant stars shine brightly There was a good vibe in the air at the 10th National Plant Show, held at Stoneleigh on June 18th and 19th. As well as plantarea managers and plant buyers there appeared to be more garden centre owners at the show than usual. After another good year for plant sales they were looking for sustainability and environmental ideas as well as new plants and trends. The plant stars were Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’, Impatiens walleriana ‘Beacon’, Aloe zebrina ‘Danyz’, Clematis ‘Elodi™ Tudor Patio and Tilia x europaea ‘WILTIL’ ‘Golden Sunset’. Agapanthus ‘Fireworks’, which also won Best New Plant at Glee 2018 and Bronze in the Chelsea New Plant Awards earlier this year, took the accolade of Best in Show from the judges – Sabatino Urzo from the RHS; Ken Cox from Glendoick Garden Centre; Tamsin Westhorpe, co-chair of the Garden Media Guild; and Melanie Livingston, plant buyer from Fron Goch Garden Centre.

Aloe Zebrina ‘Danyz’ from Javado – Best Houseplant 2019. Out of all the houseplants the judges felt this was the most approachable. “It’s something dinosary that will make it instantly pick-upable and it’s very Pinterest too! It will be a good seller.”

Three of the New Plants judges for 2019 – Sabatino Urzo, RHS; Ken Cox, Glendoick Garden Centre; and Melanie Livingston, Fron Goch Garden Centre. See more pictures on page 24. Clematis Elodi from The Bransford Webbs Plant Company and The Guernsey Clematis Nursery also won Best in Show in the Visitor Choice Awards. Other ‘most voted for’ plants were: Nemesia fruticans hybrid ‘Boysenberry’ from Kernock Park Plants, Geum Fiery Tempest from Farplants, Anthurium Livium Red from Profitplant, and Cherrycot ‘Aprikyra’ from Frank P Matthews. Visitors also voted for their most inspiring retail stands and concepts at the events. The winner of the Planting the Seed Award, which highlights stand displays that capture the imagination, provide clear information and attract attention was Farplants with their “Garden your way to Wellbeing” concept.

The Best Plant Concept for Retail award went to the Love Tilly’s Make Your Own Air Plant kit from Key Essentials. The Innovation winner in the New Product Showcase was HIS Florence LED Horticultural Solutions Grow Light from Intelligent Horticultural Solution. The Sustainability winner in the New Product Showcase was Colour Your Garden Flower Mix – Zero Plastic from Javado UK. The Colour Your Garden Flower Mix – Zero Plastic – aims to inspire consumers with the takeaway boxes containing three different perennials with a colour theme. The plants are grown directly in take-away boxes made of recycled cardboard.

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Agapanthus Fireworks from Fairweather’s Nursery. Best in Show 2019. “Drop dead gorgeous” was one of the judges comments. “More vigorous and more energy than ‘twister’ with repeat flowering people will see the value straight away.”

Clematis ‘Elodi’, entered by The Guernsey Flower Company and Bransford Webbs, won the award for Best Shrub and Climber twice, awarded by the New Plant judges and then again by the visitors to the show with the added accolade of Best in Show from the visitors. The New Plant judges said it is a very good commercial product with good flower power and colour. As a ground cover clematis, it can be grown as a dome, like expensive bedding, or in a container.

Such is the power of houseplants. The whole Javado stand was bound for Millbrook Gravesend after the show.

Farplants won the Planting the Seed Award for stand displays that capture the imagination, provide clear information and attract attention. Their Garden Your Way to Wellbeing concept gained a lot of attention.

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Smart Plant announced their link up with Lovania for providing plant information to customers and were very active explaining to garden centres the benefits of them linking up with their plant app too.

The Impatiens walleriana ‘Beacon’ from Ball Colegrave won Best Annual. The judges felt this was a real step towards getting impatiens back to the top of the plant bestsellers.

Tilia x europaea ‘WILTIL’ ‘Golden Sunset’ from Frank P Matthews won Best Tree for 2019. With stems that go bright orange all winter, this smaller Lime tree is ideal for pleaching or pollarding.

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Creating the right image Dobbies CEO Graeme Jenkins and Customer Director Louise Niven took GTN on a tour around their flagship Edinburgh centre. Starting with a new brand image right through to an express checkout, here is their thinking behind the changes. All the Dobbies photos can be seen in the GTN Xtra e-newsletter (

NEW BRAND IMAGE “Customer research over a few years, as opposed to just the short term, called for something more contemporary and something that appealed to both existing and new customers. So the brand image had to move on and as much as a pink flower (a gerbera) was relevant at the time it wasn’t for today. “With our design agency JKR we came up with something that worked. Retailers think about their brand more than customers do inevitably. The customer feedback so far has been really good – they feel the brand image is friendly, contemporary, welcoming, somewhere I can bring my children. It’s bright, it’s energetic, relevant to me.” HOUSEPLANTS “We are appealing to a younger audience and we’re selling it online as well. A lot of this range is in our polytunnel facility at Ocado in Dartford. This solution-based urban gardener is a growing area and this category plays brilliantly in that space.” HOTEL CHOCOLAT “We’re exclusive on Hotel Chocolat. We are the only garden centre chain with the brand, and it has been extremely helpful in landing other brands. For someone with incredibly high standards to trust us to range their product, that has been a big vote of confidence. We’ve now got L’Ocitaine in our ‘Spa’ area because of Hotel Chocolat.”

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BOOTHS “This is a trial we’re doing in seven stores – ready meals straight from Booths. These are fresh not frozen. It’s a trial. Once we’ve landed on exactly where the sweet spot is we will roll it out. Great quality and really good.”

TRUST CATEGORIES “The home section, the food hall, the cook shop, wild bird care and pets are trust categories. We are in our early days on that journey so we’ve got to build trust and awareness. Will we look at own brand products across the estate in the future? Yes, and it will be in different areas. We do our own brand bird seed which is going very well. We’ll be looking at other areas but you must built the trust with the customer first. “In terms of good, better, best, we’re making sure that we structure the categories in that way so there is something for everyone in terms of a brand and price point of view.”

LITTLE SEEDLINGS “This is our children’s brand that is activity based, whether it’s a club or whether it’s a soft play, that has on average 64,000 visits per year. Parents bring children along to gardening and plant based activities.”

FURNITURE “Nordic Calm is our most contemporary range. Rope is very on trend and the square metal with the darker grey is an on trend colour too. Without over sku’ing we think we have the right balance of different looks and material to appeal.”

EXPRESS CHECKOUT “This is an express checkout for customers who may not have bought a big trolley full of plants, and they can be served really quick. Have you heard of Mrs Hinch, the cleaning blogger? We can’t keep the anti-bacterial cloth she uses in stock they are selling so fast from this checkout.”

RESTAURANT “As customers become familiar with the new process we’ll take away some of that greet-and-seat you. The other thing that will change is our IT platform at the moment doesn’t allow for mobile point of sale so currently we can’t take a table order. However, we are investing in it so you can go to the table and take the order. Then, where the current order stations are will become a theatre type kitchen offer. “This restaurant will grow further to 650 covers. Customer feedback has always been consistent. They don’t like queuing and they don’t like cold food. If you’re a mum or a dad and you’re on your own with a kid in a pram and you’ve got a tray it’s not much fun. It’s about changing the experience and increasing the dwell time.”

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Fun and games at GIMA’s 10th anniversary Charity Day A successful day and night of fundraising was had by all who recently attended the 10th annual GIMA Charity Day, held at Telford Hotel and Golf Resort. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, the event brought together garden industry suppliers and retailers, with 18 fourball teams competing for the GIMA Golf Trophy, and two teams battling it out on the newfor-2019 Crystal Maze course. This year saw the team from Hartman retain the golf crown, having also won in 2018, with a superb score of 86. Sunshine Garden Centre and Mr Fothergills Seeds followed closely behind with 85 and 84 points respectively. Hole 7 was again home to the ‘beat the pro’ competition where teams donated a minimum of £5 per player to place their ball closer to the pin than the hotel’s resident professional. This year 13 individuals proved they had what it takes to take on the pro, with the winners being Derek Bunker, Simon Mulholland, Paul Crossland, Patrick Thick, Chris Daws, Steve Ainscough, Keith Laird, John Ducker, Phil Harrison, Pete Bunker, Aide Lewis, Simon Davidson, and Antony Barrett. Other holes throughout the course also held special challenges for the golfers, with holes 3, 11, 16 and 28 all offering a special

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prize for ‘nearest the pin’. This year’s winners were – in order of the holes – Neil Blake, Jay Bunker for both holes 11 and 16, and Richard Keegan. Over on hole 14 it was Chris Daws who won the ‘longest drive’, whilst Patrick Thick

was awarded the ‘straightest drive’ on the 18th hole. The ‘hole in one’ competition proved a step too far as no-one was lucky enough to take home a new car, which was offered as a prize and sponsored by Smart Garden Products.


At Lilleshall Cricket Club, teams enjoyed the excitement of the classic TV programme, Crystal Maze, with eight exciting zones, including physical, mental and skill-based trials, deciding the eventual winner. A closely fought competition, it was the pink team – made up of Jenny Douthwaite (Primeur), Matt Jackson (Mr Fothergill’s Seeds), Simon Smethurst (Evergreen Garden Care), Ian Hodgett (Hayes Garden World) – that eventually walked away winners. The evening event, hosted by golf day organiser Andy Bestwick, brought all attendees together under

one roof, with a three-course meal and after dinner entertainment from magician Richard Pinner, who kindly also hosted his year’s auction. This year’s GIMA Charity Day was supported by industry sponsors including Hornby Whitefoot PR, Westland, Primeur, Zest, Garantia, Hozelock, Woodlodge, Bord Na Mona, Vitax, Eden Horticulture, Deroma, Starplast, Garden Trade News and British Garden Centres. GIMA Director Vicky Nuttall commented: “A huge thank you to all those who took part in the 2019 GIMA Charity Day. It was another fantastic event, and a

brilliant way to celebrate the event’s 10th anniversary. Thanks to all our sponsors and participants, without whom we would not be able to put on such an event, nor raise much needed funds for our highly deserving chosen charity.” GIMA’s annual Charity Golf and Activity day this year benefitted Greenfingers Charity, who have been selected as the trade association’s beneficiary charity throughout 2019. The total amount of funds raised during the Charity Day will be confirmed at the glittering GIMA Awards on July 4th.

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Opening of new hospice garden at Claire House The beautiful Greenfingers Charity ‘Garden of Colour’ has opened at Claire House Children’s Hospice on the Wirral, providing a stunning sensory place of enjoyment and rest for those life-limited children and their families that call this place their ‘home’. This latest Greenfingers Charity garden has been designed by award winning designer Carolyn Willitts of CW Studio and created by Cheshire-based landscapers, Landstruction. The new garden at Claire House features a ‘creation station’ where children and their families can get their hands dirty and experience nature up close and personal whatever the weather. Falling leaves also adorn the garden, adding a touch of colour and intrigue with multi-coloured Perspex leaves that will hang perfectly to catch the light throughout the day. A rainbow garden and hang-out zone will be complemented by a quiet place of reflection, and a birch grove provides a beautiful and restful sensory experience. Work started in February 2019 as the original space lacked hard landscaping suitable for wheelchair access but was soon transformed into a multi-functional garden, giving children in wheelchairs and beds an outdoor environment for play, learning, therapy and rest. Talking about the project Carolyn said: “This garden for Claire House Children’s Hospice is to be a place with a feeling of intimacy and escape. We wanted to create a journey through this garden and a link to nature, a place where, for a moment, you can be immersed and feel calm. We wanted to inject colour, humour, curiosity, and whimsy along the way, inspiring stories and interactive play. “The journey starts at the Creation Station, passes Falling Leaves and leads into the Rainbow Meadow, then onto A Quiet

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Place and finally, Birch Hill, where wildflower edges to long grass and spring bulbs line a meandering mown path through the trees.” Speaking about the new garden, Claire House Hospice Lead Nurse, Clare Doig, said: “I know just how important it is for our children to experience different sensory sensations, unfortunately our old garden didn’t do that for them. We are so excited to have this opportunity of a new sensory garden. To be able to take the children outside, for them to experience different colours, smells and sounds from the garden of colour will be amazing, even to take part in growing their own plants. It will be a place that families can spend time together, enjoying nature and the different insects, bees and butterflies attracted to our garden.

Thank you so much for doing this for us, we are forever grateful.” Greenfingers Charity’s 56th magical garden would also not have been possible without the help and support of all those that helped to fundraise through the annual Garden Re-Leaf Day activities, as well as the ongoing support of Kew Green Hotel, GIMA, GCA, the HTA and many others. As well as friends of the charity who have tirelessly fundraised, others have ensured the garden could become a reality by donating gifts in kind, including Chris Nangle, Hardscape, Vestre, Kinley, CED Stone, Green-tech, Infinite Playgrounds, Cacoon World/Mojosi, Laser Lea, Woodlodge, Zest 4 Leisure, Vegepod, Barton Grange, and Burleydam Garden Centres.