gtn MARCH 2019
Advice and information for garden centre professionals
20 1999-2019 Celebrating 20 years of Fountasia
20 years of 1999-2019 20 years on and Fountasia remains a family run business. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our loyal customer base for all their support of our quirky and innovative products. We look forward to working with you for the next 20 years!
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How to find catering joy
gtn MARCH 2019
Glee @ Spring Fair Review
Advice and information for garden centre professionals
Find out what it’s like to own
Britain’s Best Garden Centre
THE TOP INTERVIEWS People in the news
Welsh wonders From humble beginnings the Old Railway Line in Brecon has grown to be a real family success story. We look at how this business became the first Welsh winner of the GCA Garden Centre of the Year. When the Garden Centre of the Year for 2019 was announced at the GCA Conference in January there was a standing ovation like never before. Everyone stood and cheered loudly as Mark and Christina Cleary, with daughter Katie, accepted the award for their Old Railway Line Garden Centre – the first Welsh winner of the prestigious Garden Centre Association accolade. “Our goal was just to be as good as we could possibly be,” explained Mark when GTN’s Trevor Pfeiffer called into the centre at Three Cocks in Brecon to meet the team. “We wanted to be very good and win the ‘Wales and West’ regional award. Then two years ago we got into the overall top ten, which was a phenomenal achievement for us. This year when we were Number 10 in the country again we thought we had reached our pinnacle. “So when we were sat at the table at the GCA awards and the result was announced we were absolutely dumbstruck. We really were. And it took quite a few days for it to sink in.” Christina added: “I feel proud for the staff. It’s not me and Mark as individuals who got us here, It’s the whole team.” Mark’s most emotional moment after winning the award came from the posts on their Facebook page. “There were many hundreds of comments and I would say 90
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percent were: ‘Love the place.’ ‘Lovely staff.’ ‘Great customer service.’ That was more of a ‘gulp’ moment than anything else. He said: “We’ve always tried to build a great team of staff. When we started there was a very small nucleus of staff and it was like our extended family. As we grew we had to step back a little from that, but we do know from comments that customers still like to see us working on the shop floor. We’re always dressed exactly the same as any other member of staff, we don’t walk around with a shirt and tie, we want to be part of the team. I think that’s very much helped us to maintain standards.” So what is The Old Railway Line’s secret to managing and motivating a team of more than 80 people to work as well as they do, and win the Garden Centre of the Year Award? Mark says: “One of our points is never to ask a member of staff to do something that we haven’t done before or would not do ourselves - and they know that. Especially with the restaurant. There are a lot of staff in the restaurant who weren’t even born when we started this business 29 years ago. So, every now and again we have a presentation about where we started and where the business came from. It wasn’t always as you see it today. Our shop was an 8 x 6 greenhouse which was also our children’s
The whole Old Railway Line team celebrate their GCA success. creche, and it was like that for four years.” The business began when Christina, who worked at the local hospital, heard other staff saying there was nowhere local to buy bedding plants. “So that became our goal,” said Mark. “Both of us had good steady jobs, and this was to be a little sideline. The intention was to do it for spring and summer, and then disappear back to our own jobs again. If it worked, we might do it again the next year. But it never stopped. It was September when we employed the first person and then it all started to roll. “We had no training at all in horticulture and, worse still, no training in business or finance. But if you make a mistake – and you’re using your own money and you haven’t got a lot of it – you don’t make that same mistake again. Of course, we’ve made
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Business was conducted from a telephone kiosk in the early days. mistakes over the years, but we’ve just got through them.” Membership of industry groups has always been very important. In 11 years of GCA membership the audit process has been a main driver in raising standards. General Manager Hugh Lewis, who joined the business as a Saturday boy aged 14, explained: “It gives you a goal and a timeline for when you need to be ready. “We go through the audit with all department to see where we could improve, following the form rigorously. What’s really useful is that we can do our own audit with the GCA system before the audit window opens, and we do this every year. We also all do walkabouts regularly.” Christina added: “I think it removes the blinkers. It opens your eyes to reality, and gives you the information you need to keep on improving.”
OUR PUBLISHERS GTN is published by Potting Shed Press Ltd, who also publish: * www.gardentradenews.co.uk 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.
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The garden centre is called The Old Railway Line because it’s on a very thin piece of land that used to be the railway line to Three Cocks junction. The line was closed to passengers in December 1962 and then axed by Dr Beeching in 1964. Christina’s father purchased the land, from where he ran a small piggery. “In the 1990s we began selling plants from a very small area and our car park was the layby,” recalls Mark. “We sold our house in 1994 and bought a mobile caravan so we could put the rest of the money into the business.” Within two weeks of moving into the caravan their youngest daughter Shaunagh was born. Mark continued: “We are so proud that all
three of our children – Katie, Shaunagh and Liam – are working with us in the business. We find that just amazing, because we know others who have built up wonderful businesses and the children don’t want anything to do with it. Of course, they weren’t so keen to begin with. As a teenager Katie thought the centre was the most boring place ever, and Shaunagh wasn’t keen on staying in a place called Three Cocks! They’ve all wandered off at various points, but now they’ve come back and are probably just waiting to kick the old dinosaurs out of the way.” A lasting memory of the early days at The Old Railway Line involves the nearby phone box. When Hugh Lewis applied for his Saturday job he was disappointed that noone came back to him straightaway. The problem was the phone, as Mark
explained: “Our phone then was the kiosk in the layby. That was our business phone, which was the same number as our house phone. If you ever wanted to make a business phone call you went to the kiosk and put your money in.” Fortunately, the phone did get answered in the end and Hugh, who is now a qualified accountant, started his career with what has just become the Garden Centre of the Year. To be an award-winning business you need a clear purpose and a great team. Mark credits The Old Railway Line’s success with always going the extra mile: “We understand that we are very rural, so we can never take anything for granted. “We have to make sure that we’re tiptop and have given our customers the best service, because we know that they’ve made a big effort to come to us.”
Secrets of success 4Have a clear purpose 4Build a great team 4Always go the extra mile 4Be seen on the shop floor 4Don’t take things for granted 4Give customers the best service 4 March 2019
TALKING POINTS 5 STORIES THAT MADE THE HEADLINES
The Royal Horticultural Society has celebrated reaching a record half a million members, suggesting the UK’s leading gardening charity is now more accessible and relevant to people than it has ever been in its 215-year history. RHS Director General Sue Biggs said: “We’re delighted to reach a milestone 500,000 members because it marks progress towards achieving our goal to enrich everyone’s life through plants and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.”
3 Charnley’s Home & Garden in Dalton-in-Furness in Cumbria, was finally been granted planning permission for its extension, following more than two years of living under the threat of demolition. In 2016 the business underwent a £1m reinvestment programme to extend the existing garden centre, but Barrow Borough Council threatened enforcement action to demolish the new extension and close parts of the store not being used for garden retail, because the owners hadn’t gained the correct permissions. It has taken more than two years, but finally planning permission was granted for the extension.
Leading gardening tools and equipment supplier E.P. Barrus has expanded its warehouse capacity in 2019 to meet continued demand following a successful 2018. Due to the phenomenal success at Glee, as well as a significant increase in sales across all its brands, including Town & Country, Wilkinson Sword, WOLF-Garten, WD40 and Energizer, the company has taken on an extra 11,000 sq ft of warehousing next to its main distribution facilities in Bicester. The new capacity will be used to cope with the increased demand and to fully service customers until a move to a new permanent 200,000 sq ft warehouse.
Dobbies Garden Centres announced the sale of two of its smallest centres – Kinross and Cumbernauld – to Caulders, an independent family-owned group of five garden centres across central Scotland. The sale of these two smaller centres is in line with Dobbies’ strategic growth plan, as it focuses on building a destination garden centre business. Graeme Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer of Dobbies Garden Centres, said: “We are pleased to have agreed the sale of our two smallest centres to Caulders, one of Scotland’s leading and most experienced independent garden centre operators. We would like to thank our fantastic colleagues at these centres and wish them well for the next stage of their career.”
Smart Garden Products announced the purchase of the Briers business and assets from administrators Duff & Phelps. “The business was short of cashflow and their directors were trying to find a buyer for some months without success, eventually placing the company in administration. We came in at the end of this process with an acceptable offer and managed to complete very quickly, within days in fact,” said chairman Paris Natar.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org and put ‘GTN Xtra’ in the subject line.
6 February 2019
Terry Maywood, a director with 30 years’ experience, across a wide variety of retail companies has been appointed to the Board of Choice Marketing Ltd as Non-Executive Chairman. Terry was the Managing Director of Blacks Leisure Group plc during its most successful period, from 2002 through to 2005, when store numbers grew from 291 to 426 and operating profit from £11m to £21m and prior to that he was their retail operations director from 1996. Since leaving Blacks, he held several key appointments, over a near eight-year period, at The Theo Paphitis Retail Group – initially as Project Director overseeing several major transformation projects and later as Retail Operations Director. Shortly after, Paphitis acquired Robert Dyas and Terry held the post of Group Logistics Director with a specific role to re-define and improve their logistics and on-line fulfillment functions. His early career, in retail, was with Woolworths.
Mike Burks, the Managing Director of The Gardens Group, is the GCA’s Chairman Elect for 2020/21. Mike said: “I am greatly looking forward to my chairmanship and am lucky that the GCA has been in excellent hands with current Chairman, Mike Lind. With the association in such good shape, I can focus much of my time on driving forward with new initiatives and plan to visit many garden centres, attend meetings and work closely with the team to develop GROW, an e-learning tool that is very close to my heart, to make sure our members can get the most out of this valuable system. I’m keen to demonstrate the role that the industry can play in protecting wildlife and the environment.” Mike will take on the role from current Chairman, Mike Lind, in January 2020.
What will be left of Wyevale? In his new monthly column, associate editor Mike Wyatt discusses the ongoing saga of Terra Firma’s ‘Wyevexit’... I got to thinking the other day about what will be left to talk about when the Wyevale Garden Centres sell-off is finally completed. When…or if it never is. Those 99 centres remaining to be sold (at the time of writing) may never leave Terra Firma’s ownership. It’s an awkward disposal (or disposals) and I am not alone in finding it increasingly difficult to visualise the “right” buyer for it (or them). Are there still investors out there who understand the unique nature of this tricky, often quirky, retail sector – who are prepared for exposure to its numerous risks long enough to learn the secrets? From the outside, this industry, with its rising popularity, important environmental back story and special beauty of its core product, always looks enticing. At the coalface, it’s dirtier, sometimes darker, always hotter to handle. You have to keep a watchful eye on the canaries. Independent businesses tend to take the long view. It works better for them than it does for equity investors, despite what the latter might tell you (although one has to admit that Terra Firma’s investors have endured their nine-year custody of WGC with fortitude). Will it eventually come down to how much of a hit Terra Firma is prepared to take to clear WGC from its books? Of course, the success of any business always comes down to its people. Right numbers, right skills, right attitude under the right management. It’s a bit of a cliché but look around you…it’s a fact. As a leisure industry, garden centre
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retailing needs a flexible workforce to cope with the seasonal peaks and weather spikes, hence the steady level of job vacancies. A brief survey of a handful of garden centre group websites revealed the following vacancies: 4Blue Diamond – 105 4Klondyke – 41 4Dobbies – 54 4Cherry Lane – 24 4British Garden Centres – 5 4Squires – 67 But take a look at Wyevale Garden Centres, which recently listed 183 vacancies across 70 centres (8 at head office, or ‘customer support centre’ as it’s known within the business), the vast majority parttime on restricted hours. Especially interesting was the advertised vacancy for an ‘allocator’ (a title I had not come across before) at head office. Having read the job description, it sounds to me like a stock control manager, whose main responsibility is to control the movement of stock from WGC’s distribution centre to its garden centres. It’s clearly a key link in the admin chain, reducing the risk of stores running out of stock and losing sales. But it’s only a “3-month Fixed Term Contract”. Nevertheless, the company is searching for “someone who will really fit into the Wyevale Garden Centres culture” and enjoy the values that are held as important by the company. “We’re extremely passionate about our people, and with ambitious future plans, it’s an exciting time to join us,” the job ad enthuses. Presumably the ambitious future plans include a farewell party for all the remaining staff involved in the sell-offs yet to materialise. Could there be a clue here about the time frame allocated for Terra Firma’s “Wyevexit”? Do they expect to have the future of the group all wrapped up by midsummer? We asked their PR agency for comment but have not heard from them since. When we do, we’ll let you know…
British Garden Centres pick up five WGC stores Wyevale Garden Centres announced its latest round of sales at the start of February*. A portfolio of five centres was sold to British Garden Centres, comprising Bold Heath, Carr Gate, Leyland, Coventry and Bolton. In a separate transaction Woburn Sands was sold to Rochmills Group. Both buyers will continue to operate all sites as garden centres with the sales expected to complete by the end of February. Anthony Jones, Chief Operating Officer of WGC, said: “We are pleased to have agreed the sale of a further six centres – since the launch of the sale process in May 2018 we have sold 46 centres and have transformed our financial position. “We continue to evaluate a wide range of competitive offers from group buyers, regional operators and local entrepreneurs, but we also look forward to re-focusing our efforts and trading the upcoming spring season with the vast majority of our remaining centres. “We would like to thank our great colleagues at these centres, who have been central to the performance of their centres and made them so appealing to these buyers. We wish them well for the next stage of their growth and development under new ownership.” Charles Stubbs, MD of British Garden Centres, said: “We are proud to announce the purchase of these five centres into our British Garden Centres family, making our independent, family owned group now 16 centres. “Myself, Robert and Phillippa and all of the team are looking forward to working with these new centres and their teams ahead of a busy spring season. We would like to express our thanks to all involved in this complex process.” *correct at time of going to press). The rise and fall of Wyevale - p10
Azpects’ EASYGarden range flies off shelves Outdoor surface cleaning and protection specialist Azpects’ new range of garden-friendly products are proving a big hit with consumers and retailers. Azpects products have gained a reputation amongst professionals as the best allweather cleaning and protection products for patios, decking and hard outdoor surfaces. Now available in three handy sizes for consumers, they’re proving equally popular amongst the UK’s gardeners and householders. “We knew there was demand from consumers and retailers for our products but even we’ve been surprised by the response,” says Ben Wright, Business Development Manager for the EASYGarden range. “No sooner have retailers chosen to display our products, they’re placing their next order.” For over 10 years, Azpects have been creating professional grade care products to re-invigorate outdoor surfaces. Driven by demand, they recently launched their EASYGarden range making their trade-grade solutions easily available to everyone. The Range The EASYGarden range is packed with 10 great products ideal for solving a host of common garden challenges, from removing patio algae to sealing decking and even deodorising artificial grass. One of their top-sellers is Patio & Deck Cleaner. It’s the easiest way to remove builtup dirt and grime from paving, driveways and decking. Stockists are reporting excellent feedback as new customers seek out EASYGarden products because of recommendations from friends or family. Azpects’ unique Artificial Grass Cleaner & Sanitiser is no less of a sales success. This high-performance cleaner can be used on artificial grass, plastic decking and other artificial surfaces like plastic furniture. It not
only gives a deep-down clean but neutralises odours and leaves everything smelling like fresh cut grass! These products and others are available in three handy sizes, with one litre of concentrate treating up to an impressive 140 square metres. Providing quick and easy results, many of the products go on working for up to 12 months after application. Other popular products in the EASYGarden range include Ornament & Statue Cleaner, Grass & Foliage Greener, Deck Magic and Algae Remove & Seal. The Display With EASYGarden, retailers can now purchase a complete range of garden surface cleaners and protection from a single trusted supplier. To create a focal point for curious customers, the range is available in a free-standing and eye-catching display unit featuring a selection of products, sizes and information. Easily positioned, it’s helped many retailers boost sales in an underutilised area and create loyal customers. The display unit is popping up in leading garden centres and other retailers across the UK as gardeners discover the benefits professional landscapers have been enjoying for a decade!
Contact To explore and stock Azpects EASYGarden range, call Ben Wright on 01473 760777 or visit www.azpects.co.uk/gardenproducts
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Rise and fall of Wyevale GC under Terra Firma
A welcoming scarecrow greets customers at Wyevale Stevenage. Who will be the owner welcoming gardeners by the end of the year?
10 March 2019
It’s now seven years since Guy Hands’ Terra Firma bought what is currently known as Wyevale Garden Centres. A lot has happened since he put all 145 garden centres up for sale last May but what happened in the six years running up to the start of the exit strategy? Here is GTN’s timeline – a summary of key milestones that chart the purchase of 129 ‘The Garden Centre Group’ stores that became Wyevale Garden Centres once again, grew to 151 centres by acquisition, failed to buy Dobbies from Tesco and as we go to press now consist of 99 centres. What follows is the subject of much speculation around the industry. Will there still be a group of garden centres holding the name Wyevale by the end of the year? The next few months will give us a clue...
5 MINUTES WITH DARREN EARNSHAW
Marketing Director Alexander Mackie Associates Ltd How long have you worked for Alexander Mackie? I have worked for Alexander Mackie Associates Ltd for 16 years. What was your background before joining the company? I worked for a high street bank for 15 years, the last six years of which was within the Private Banking Division. My last role was as a Private Bank Manager looking after high net worth clients. What’s the most interesting part of your job? I enjoy the client interaction, whether that is face to face, over the phone or increasingly via e-mail. What’s the most difficult? The most difficult or perhaps I should say, frustrating part of the job is dealing with the unrealistic expectations of some people! It is also frustrating when a potential purchaser is keen to purchase a garden centre or nursery, they have a reasonable deposit, however for various reasons they are unable to obtain the remaining funding. What’s the best part of your job? The most satisfying part of my job is receiving positive feedback from our clients. Do you get a buzz when the sale of a garden centre is completed? Yes, of course, in most cases it is the culmination of months of work to achieve a successful sale. On this note, we are delighted to have just completed the sale of two garden centres. The first is Dents Farm Shop, Garden Centre and Restaurant, located in Hilgay, Downham Market, Norfolk, which has been sold on behalf of our clients, Mr & Mrs Dent, to the owners of Baytree Nurseries, Spalding, Lincolnshire. The other is Chacewater Garden Centre, located in Truro, Cornwall, which has been sold on behalf of our clients, Mr & Mrs Elliott, to the owners of Goonhavern Garden Centre, Truro, Cornwall. Describe a typical working day, if there is such a thing. A typical working day would either be in the office dealing with enquiries and the marketing of our properties or it would be visiting garden centres and nurseries that we will be valuing and possibly ultimately taking onto our books to sell.
12 March 2019
What do you think will happen in the garden centre market this year, especially with Brexit hanging over us? I always like to think positive and I would hope that Brexit will ultimately be positive for our industry and for our country. We are already seeing a resurgence of growing in this country – customers like the fact that plants and goods are produced in this country. We may find that some of the European nurseries may decide to purchase nurseries in the United Kingdom and grow their crops over here to alleviate any problems with tariffs that may arise after Brexit. What about the retailing side? As for retailing, I think there will always be a requirement for garden centres, after all we are a nation of plant lovers. Garden centres have always evolved and I think they will continue to do so. For example, since I have been working for Alexander Mackie Associates Ltd I have seen the huge increase in the introduction of catering facilities within garden centres, which if operated correctly are highly profitable. These facilities are always popular, particularly with the older generation. As we are an ageing nation, their attraction is only going to increase. Do you think you’ll have a busy year? Progressive thinking garden centre and nursery owners will still look to acquire other sites for expansion. Also there will always be owners looking to retire so their sites will become available. Ultimately I hope that 2019 will be a good year for our company and the industry.
For more information on Alexander Mackie Associates Ltd. visit the company’s website www.alexandermackie.co.uk or call them on 01732 522222.
The Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association has announced that Gina Hinde is the new LOFA Marketing Manager and is now in post. Gina is well known within the garden Iindustry and brings a new dimension to the LOFA and the successful SOLEX trade show now in its 11th year.
Glee’s dedicated marketing team, responsible for the promotion of the leading garden, outdoor leisure and pet exhibition, has been expanded with the appointment of Grace Reilly, Grace joins the team as Senior Marketing Executive, and will help to develop Glee’s presence across both print and online media, as well as working with Glee’s content and sales team to enhance the exhibition’s offering for suppliers and retailers in both the UK and across the globe.
RSW International Ltd, leading suppliers of Christmas, pet care, picnicware, housewares and gift have announced a new appointment to its growing business. Peter Hammett recently re-joined the business and it’s Garden & Leisure team to look after the South of the UK. Peter previously worked for RSW from 2011 to 2016 and re-joins the business further strengthening the Garden & Leisure team as part of its exciting future growth plan.
Taking pride in business Garden Pride is a well-established, family run business, who have been trading since 1990. To this day they pride themselves on their customer service, attention to detail, loyalty and consistently high-quality products. As a proud UK manufacturer, they are able to ensure they produce top quality products at competitive prices. All their products are made from high quality steel and still individually hand crafted. In 2017 the business was relaunched by the next generation who have since updated the company, rebranded and brought a new air of sophistication with a modern twist. They have kept their raw principles the same as ever whilst improving every area of the business. The product range Garden Pride has to offer is diverse. It ranges from the traditional wrought iron patio planters and jardinières to modern stylish and trendy baskets and brackets. Each range of products has had a facelift, new designs added, old designed revamped and merchandising solutions re-designed. From pot care, rusty ranges, plant supports, climbers, baskets, brackets, patio planters, giftware, autumn ranges and Christmas tree stands – Garden Pride has a lot to offer across the board. Christmas continues to be a busy time of
year for Garden Pride. The business started all those years ago with Christmas tree stands and it continues to be a core part of their business today. With new ranges and colours recently added they have a stand to suit every need. With new ranges of stands being imported from our Garden Pride factory in India and more than ever being manufactured in the UK they can control prices and availability easily. They can guarantee swift delivery and a wide variety of stands throughout the Christmas period. We caught up with Maxine Finnegan (Vincent), Manager of Garden Pride Marketing, recently: “I am so pleased to say Garden Pride is going from strength to strength. We have just beaten our record number of Pre-seasons ever and have 90% of orders manufactured and on route to customers as we speak. Those who have ordered for March and April deliveries have due dates booked in and stock secured. We still have our complete 2019 brochure in stock and ready to despatch for anybody who prefers to order later in the season. We are taking Garden Pride to the next level and are so looking forward to this year, we have just booked our 2019 stand at Glee which will be bigger and better than ever before – we can’t wait to share our plans with you all.”
Please contact Maxine on 01903 761222 or email@example.com for more information.
March 2019 13
GLEE @ SPRING FAIR
Business booms at the NEC Special review of the second Glee @ Spring Fair with comments from key exhibitors. Business was booming at the second annual Glee @ Spring Fair, with upbeat exhibitors reporting strong levels of orders and new leads at a key point in the spring sales season. Buyers from retail powerhouses such as Amazon, John Lewis and Robert Dyas, as well as representatives from garden centres, summer festivals and public events, flocked to the NEC, helping exhibitors to land new orders from sectors outside traditional garden retail, while still meeting key buyers from the garden trade. Glee @ Spring Fair exhibitors reported “exceptional” and “fantastic” levels of interest from buyers, strengthening confidence in the garden sector, which has proven its resilience to Brexit turmoil. Peter Wootton, director of family-owned garden furniture specialist Riverco Trading, said: “The quality of leads has been exceptional, orders on the stand have been exceptional and recruitment of sales agents has been exceptional.” Riverco Trading unveiled its new RSPB garden furniture range, designed and manufactured exclusively under licence to the wildlife charity, and Peter added: “We got everything we hoped for – and more. I feel very positive about how the show has gone. I never put targets on shows, but we received quality leads and the whole event exceeded our expectations.” Richard Ball, director of traditional garden furniture manufacturer Charles Taylor Trading, was similarly upbeat. He said: “We will be doubling the size of our stand in 2020 on the back of this year’s success. Charles Taylor used the event to showcase the company’s new Two-Seater Dorset Swing, and Richard praised the quality of buyers who visited Glee @ Spring Fair. He explained: “We have been taking physical live orders from a massive cross-section of industry – independents, multiples and garden centres, and meeting representatives from small craft stores.”
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Tepro spoke to buyers from retail giants Amazon, John Lewis and Robert Dyas during its first exhibit at the show. Key account manager Andy Harding, said: “We met with buyers from all the retailers we came here to speak to, and Robert Dyas has agreed to list the product.” Woodlodge said Glee @ Spring Fair had helped to generate leads in retail sectors that did not usually have a presence at Glee in September. Sales manager Ian Flounders, explained: “It has been an absolutely fantastic show. We met with lots of companies that we wouldn’t normally see at Glee, including floristry, DIY, high street
retailers and independents. This event has been a showcase to promote our products to a wider audience, with buyers looking to expand their offering at the start of the new season.” Glee @ Spring Fair was also praised by first time exhibitors, who reported a healthy influx of business leads from garden retail buyers – as well as enquiries from buyers in other sectors of retail. At Fargro, Southern sales manager David Lait said: “We normally do Glee, but Spring Fair has been very worthwhile. We have met with different buyers. In some cases, we met buyers from different parts of businesses, as well as the garden buyers from the same companies. This generated a lot of interest in our range, especially cement planters and cement Christmas products.” And the event proved to be a popular launchpad for start-ups looking to break into the UK garden retail market, too. Managing director of SunCatcher, Alexander Haun, used Glee@ Spring Fair to reveal the company’s initial range of 25 garden decoration products which ‘glow from first light in the morning until the last light at night’. He said: “We are a one-month-old company and it’s our first time here. As well as buyers from the garden trade, we have met with people who expressed interest in selling our products at festivals and public events. This has been a showcase for our new product range.”
GLEE @ SPRING FAIR
Winning combination The winner and runners-up in the Glee @ Spring Fair New Product Showcase Awards have revealed how the event helped to champion their latest products, creating a platform that highlighted the best in innovation for the attention of influential retail buyers. The hotly contested awards, in association with Garden Trade News, saw judges scrutinise the best products to be brought to market for 2019, assessing each for innovation, design, promotion and potential to grow sales. For winner Fly Away, an insect deterrent from Creative Products, the triumph at Glee at Spring Fair followed hot on the heels of a successful trial last year by garden centre chain Blue Diamond. Managing director of Creative Products, Mark Hall, said: “Blue Diamond sold 4,000 Fly Away across 19 stores over two or three months. For Fly Away to win the New Product Showcase, is further recognition of an innovative product.” Fly Away is a safe and environmentally friendly device for fly-free entertaining and keeping flies off food. Creative Products
believes that the uniqueness of the gadget – the battery-operated device quietly rotates soft, flexible dotted blades that insects do not like – helped it to land the sought-after first place. Combined with an RRP of £9.99 – ideal for impulse sales – the company believes Fly Away will be snapped-up by consumers who want to enjoy outdoor living but demand environmentally friendly, chemical-free ways of keeping flies away. With the ability to deter flies within a one-metre range, Fly Away is likely to appeal to families and millennials who enjoy eating outdoors during the warmer months. The Toronto Steak Grill from Tepro, which took the runner-up prize, is also expected to cash in on the popularity of al-fresco dining, a sector buoyed by last year’s long, hot summer. The grill is on track for its UK launch in April, making Glee @ Spring Fair ideally timed to preview the product to buyers, with high street retail giant Robert Dyas agreeing to list the product. Winner of the third-place prize, The Mighty Little Digger from Creative Products, helped
to reinforce how Glee at Spring Fair is the perfect launchpad for new lines designed to attract impulse buys. Priced at just £4.99, the handy tool with a heavy-duty carbon steel blade and prongs can dig, weed, hoe and till. Managing director Mark Hall said: “The judges recognised the product’s mass market appeal; they got that it was good for multi-tasking and they understood its appeal to amateurs and serious gardeners alike.” Latvian biofuels business Dizmezs attended Glee @ Spring Fair to unveil its Three-Hour Heat Box, a hassle-free pack of heat logs and wood-wool kindling aimed at busy consumers who don’t have time to gather ingredients for lighting a fire. The convenient solution, marketed under its WoodenSoul brand, is lit with a match and burns for three hours. It won fourth place in the Glee at Spring Fair New Product Showcase Awards. Director Gunars Mitris said: “Glee during the previous two years has been good for us, but this is our first time here. We invented the Three-Hour Heat Box, which offers three hours of heat guaranteed; nobody else does anything else like it.” Woodlodge, which won fifth place with its William Morris Pottery Collection, said the New Product Showcase had enabled it to keep buyers’ minds focused on its latest product line at a key point in the new season.
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Plant buyers stock up pre-Brexit at Europlants Garden centres, landscapers and parks departments turned out in force for the first Europlants Open Day of the year. Buyers commented that the quality and levels of stock looked great and were in positive mood when it came to placing orders. Darren Major, of Burston Garden Centre, told GTN: “I’ve stocked up on more Trachelospermum Jasinoides, Photinia and Nandina today than normal so I have plenty of plants on sale should there be transport issues post March 29th.” Other garden centre buyers were also placing higher than normal orders because they were hopeful for a good March and April. “When the weather is right we need to have the plants ready for customers,” said Alan Bourne from Perrywood. “I’ve been buying from European growers over the past few weeks to get deliveries into our nursery and greenhouses.” David Domoney joined the Open Day to host the charity raffle and auction, which raised over £1,700 for Perrenial.
Westland advise on March deliveries Westland Horticulture have been encouraging customers to take as many deliveries as possible during March as they are concerned about the availability of transport post Brexit on March 29th. The proximity of Easter and the May Bank Holiday are also reasons for encouraging early deliveries and will add further pressure should transport issues prove to be an issue throughout April. Easter Monday is April 22nd.
16 March 2019
Rose ‘Flower Carpet Coral’ This classic ground-cover rose has glossy, semi-evergreen foliage With clusters of single flowers in coral pink, this rose has a paler centre Flowers from late spring through to autumn In stock at Haskins from March onwards
Sphaerlacea ‘Newleaze Coral’
Make the most of ‘Colour of the Year’
Three great ideas on how garden centres can bring life into plant sales by making use of ‘Colour of the Year’. Pantone, the renowned colour matching system, has revealed that Living Coral is its ‘Colour of the Year.’ Already dominating the creative industries, this tone is described as “embracing warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy.” But how can garden centres tempt their customers to bring Living Coral to life in their plots? Top garden centre group has some ideas. Alasdair Urquhart, the company’s in-house plant expert, recommends the following
plants for introducing the ‘Living Coral’ shade into the garden. Alasdair commented: “As the global authority on colour, Pantone, has announced its chosen ‘Colour of the Year,’ we wanted to help people introduce the in-vogue colour into their garden. “Pantone inspires stylists, artists and designers across the country so we wanted to explore the possibility of bringing Living Coral into the garden as well.” 4For more information visit www.haskins.co.uk
This bushy perennial is deeply-lobed with downy, grey-green leaves Grows to 75cm tall Over the summer months, this bloom bears cup-shaped, coral-red flowers In stock at Haskins from June onwards
Peony ‘Coral Sunset’ This fragrant, semi-double bowl shaped flower is quick to bloom With a strong coral colour, this bloom will slowly fade to pale ivory over time Makes an excellent cut flower Long vase life
March 2019 17
GARDEN RE-LEAF DAY
Saddle up for charity Greenfingers Charity is inviting its supporters and others to put their pedal power to the test this spring by taking on the inspiring Cycle Challenge for Garden Re-Leaf Day. The cycle event, which was launched as part of the Garden Re-Leaf roster of events in 2018, is making its return in 2019, taking place on Friday March 22nd. Perfect for cycling enthusiasts, and those who want to push themselves to their physical and mental limits, the cycle challenge offers 25, 50, 75 and 100-mile routes. In 2018 15 intrepid cyclists took on the challenge, with representatives from Taylors Bulbs, Mr Fothergill’s, Hozelock, Briers, Poplars Garden Centre, Durston Garden Products, Kew Green Hotels and Elho all saddling up in the name of Greenfingers. Matt Jackson, of Mr Fothergill’s was first across the finish line having completed the 100-mile route. Ian Clark from Taylor’s Bulbs completed his 100 miles in an impressive seven hours, raising over £400, whilst
Hozelock’s Chris Ramsden cycled the full distance of 100 miles, the first time he had cycled that far. Talking about the 2018 event, Chris Ramsden said: “I’d recommend the Garden Re-Leaf Cycle Challenge to anyone who wants to give something back and support a great cause. Achieving such a distance, and all in the name of charity, makes it such a meaningful experience. “I was keen to find out if I could go the distance, literally, and I made it! Knowing that the effort would be worth it; that children’s hospices would be benefitting from the work of the Greenfingers charity as a result of the money raised from not just my efforts, but all of those who took part in Garden Re-Leaf Day, made it all so worthwhile. So, what are you waiting for?” Linda Petrons, Director of Fundraising & Communications, said: “We are delighted to see the Garden Re-Leaf Cycle Challenge return for its second year. We had great
response to the event in 2018, and hope to welcome even more riders across the finish line come March 22nd. “The full 100-mile challenge is certainly not for the faint hearted and will require grit and endurance to get to the finish line. This challenge will also be fun and is great way of doing something for yourself and achieving a personal goal, whilst raising money to bring the gift of a garden to children in hospices across the UK.” Those interested in taking on the Garden Re-Leaf Cycle can register by visiting https://www.greenfingerscharity.org.uk/ gardenreleaf/register-for-the-cycle-challenge and completing a short form. 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 Linda@greenfngerscharity.org.uk.
Other great fundraising ideas The 2019 Garden Re-Leaf Day Walk and Cycle Challenge starts and finishes in Wendover, Buckinghamshire. Why not get a team together and come along and meet old and new friends of Greenfingers Charity whilst walking 5, 10 or 20 miles through the beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside? Why not plant some special pots in celebration of Greenfingers Charity’s 20th Anniversary? Select a planter to upsell, or create your own colourful bedding arrangement using our charity colours of pink, green and yellow.
18 March 2019
Baking is as popular as ever and is a fantastic – and delicious – way to raise money! Why not have a cake sale? Or donate 50p from every cuppa you sell in your cafe? Quiz Nights can be great fun. Why not hold an evening inviting customers, friends or colleagues along? Greenfingers can supply a set of questions. If you have a local gardening celebrity or expert among your staff, who not invite customers along to a Plant Clinic or a Gardener’s Question Time event?
Elho’s purpose is to bring more nature into people’s daily lives. Every year, elho introduces new innovations in product design, marketing and sustainable production – so that retailers can successfully meet the changing needs of their customers. The new Greenville collection makes plant care easy for busy urban lifestyles. Made with recycled materials and available in a variety of natural colours, these sophisticated pots come with an integrated saucer. A green solution for style conscious consumers. A challenge for garden centres is the growth in city apartments with small balconies or roof terraces. The Loft Urban collection reflects this new way of living with trendy colours, a matt finish and built-in water reservoirs. New for 2019 is the Loft Urban Green Wall. Tapping into the trend for vertical gardening, the wire grid comes with a range of custom-made single or duo plant pots in different colours. A totally customisable option for even the smallest outdoor space.
are 100% recyclable. Pots are frost resistant and metal components are weather proof, so they last a long time. Plastic flowerpots are lightweight and easy to move when needed. Providing modern, flexible and practical solutions for every day plant care, that appeal to a wide range of customers. A growing base of garden centres stock elho products, the latest to join are Dobbies Garden Centres nationwide: “We have been really impressed with elho’s excellent in store displays and their message of sustainability. That’s why we’ve made significant investment into partnering with elho to create a fantastic offering of their products for our customers.” Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director, Dobbies Garden Centres.
All elho products are made from sustainable materials using 100% wind energy and
T: 07910 212155 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.elho.com www.facebook.com/elho
March 2019 19
54 months of growth, 3 Michelin-starred chefs and 1st catering college link for Highfield Garden World in Gloucestershire
Serving up success in Since its launch in 2014, the ‘new’ 350-cover restaurant at Highfield Garden World in Gloucestershire has seen turnover grow every month – that’s 54 months on the trot. That success story looks set to continue apace judging by the aspirations of Head of Catering Andrew Hamilton-Rhodes. Andrew may have only joined Highfield Garden World a year ago, but that’s been time enough to rebuild the core team of chefs and bakers (eight chefs, four bakers), revolutionise the way food is sourced, and start to build a relationship with catering students in the local college for further education. And all without disrupting the restaurant’s offering or ever increasing takings. Established in 1992, Highfield is the largest independent garden centre in Gloucestershire and welcomes around 15,000 customers every week. The founding Greenway family still owns the business, and three generations work within it. The restaurant accounts for 26% of Highfield’s turnover and the site overall takes £11 million (exc. VAT). Andrew said: “Constantly innovating and finding new things that the customers love
20 March 2019
is crucial in two ways. Firstly, it underpins the continued success of the restaurant. Secondly, it keeps staff engaged in their work – no mean feat in a sector which is notorious for high staff churn. “With no fewer than three Michelin-starred chefs in our team now, and all 12 chefs and bakers actively encouraged to get out and seek fresh ways of doing things, we have no shortage of new ideas coming into our weekly ideas meetings.
“Importantly, we let everyone trial their ideas too, tweaking, adopting or rejecting them as we go. As an independent business with dynamic leadership at the helm, we have the flexibility to do that, and the customers love us for it.” But there’s a tightrope to tread between offering new items while still pleasing more traditional tastes (Sundays see more than 600 roasts created from scratch in the kitchen).
the restaurant Andrew explained: “We tend to go down the ‘traditional with a twist’ path. So the afternoon tea features Welsh rarebit, this week’s speciality scone is Mexicano cheese and chilli, and tomorrow’s British braised beef comes with Stilton and smoked Cheddar dumplings. “But it’s the customer’s take that counts, so all of us chefs are out and about chatting to people, asking them what they like, and taking on board their comments and questions every day. Many are on first name terms!” Highfield is also looking to forge links with the next generation of chefs. Andrew continued: “We’re talking to a local college for further education here in Gloucestershire. The plan is for catering students to be able to enrich their college training here on-site under the expert guidance of our chefs, while we get to keep things fresh in the kitchen as we help new chefs coming through, and hear some of their developing ideas. It’s how I started out myself.” Tim Greenway, founder and Managing Director of Highfield, commented: “We’ve always been independent, and we’ve always
done our own thing here at Highfield. We offer something different, and that’s why customers like us. The work Andrew and his team are doing embodies that approach really well. They’re making great strides with new items on the menu, eye-catching ways of presenting the food and more emphasis on meeting customers.”
Veganism is one of Britain’s fastest growing lifestyle movements and is predicted to grow by an astonishing 327% in 2019. Reflecting this rapid growth, the Vegan World pavilion at the Natural Food Show, will bring together more than 60 UK and international plant-based innovations, when it returns to ExCeL London on 7-8 April. With over a third (39%) of the show’s pre-registered visitors to date looking to source both vegan and vegetarian food at the show, the Vegan World pavilion provides the perfect hot spot to see and sample the best choice and innovations of the latest vegan food and health products from all over the world – including brands from the UK, Europe, Southeast Asia, Canada and USA. The whole show will feature over 400 natural and organic food and drink exhibitors in total, where 60% of them are expected to include vegan products. The Vegan Society, supporting the area, will exhibit alongside many brands holding the Vegan Society trademark certification. Trademark marketing manager, Abigail Stevens says: “Vegan World at Natural Food Show, part of Natural Organic Products Europe, has been growing year on year, and 2019 will be no exception. You’ll be able to find favourite vegan brands and innovative plant-based offerings in one place, with Vegan Trademark registered products clearly signposted. This area of the show brings together some of the best vegan products out there, which are leading the way in terms of taste and quality.” 4For more information about the event visit www.naturalproducts.co.uk
Insight into the life of a Catering Rising Star - page 22 March 2019 21
RISING STAR Ruxley Manor’s Louise Spinks was voted the winner of the GCA Catering Rising Star programme, sponsored the food service company Creed. Louise spoke to GTN about what the award meant to her. What is your position at Ruxley Manor? I am the restaurant supervisor. I support my team day to day on the shop floor, and I also help with costings. How long have you worked at the garden centre? I started at 16 years old clearing tables. I have now been with the business for 10 years after working my way through different roles. What particular things did you learn from the Rising Stars programme? I learned a lot from my fellow Rising Stars! It was really good to share information and see lots of other restaurants at work. It was also good to talk about more figures and costings – looking into food and staff costs – plus getting an insight into what makes a business tick!. Were you shocked to have been crowned the Rising Star with so many talented people competing for the prize? Everyone on the programme gave it their all – they all came from impressive garden centres and I could see how hard we all worked. Everyone was a winner really, we all gained so much from this experience. Why do you think you won? I gave it my all. I really enjoyed the programme and I think when I gave my presentation at the conference I presented with confidence and enthusiasm because I felt proud of myself. So I hope it was my optimism for leading my restaurant forward that inspired people to vote for me.
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What was it like to stand up in front of the GCA conference? I was nervous. I felt like I practiced even in my sleep. There were so many owners/ directors of many different garden centres – some I know and some I don’t – but having the support from my own manager and director gave me the confidence to believe in myself and go for it. I was very grateful to share my GCA journey with them all and inspire them to put someone from their catering department through the next programme. What ideas of yours have been implemented at Ruxley Manor? I used the power of social media to increase sales in different areas,which meant I worked closely with marketing. I also got to look at the sales figures so I used our worst and best sellers to implement small easy changes
in lots of different areas to increase sales. I looked at POS, positioning of products and even changed some products. Just small simple changes helped to improve several different aspects of the restaurant. What’s it like to work at Ruxley Manor? Ruxley Manor is a fifth generation family business – and you do really get a sense of family – we are one big team whatever department we work in. Would you recommend the scheme? Absolutely. I really enjoyed my GCA Rising Star journey and made some friends along the way. It was great connecting with people just like me who are trying to make their mark in this industry – it has filled me with confidence and a new lease for life. I can continue to be proud of myself knowing that I can and do make a difference everyday.
ProofVision excels at outdoor technology ProofVision are well-established waterproof electronic specialists with over 10 years experience supplying water resistant TVs. The company have been manufacturing outdoor TVs since 2012 and have expanded the range to broaden the choice of sizes and features. All TVs are weatherproof and can be left outside all year round and are suitable for patio and BBQ areas, outdoor kitchens and hot tub areas. With customers increasingly thinking of their outdoor space as an extension of their home, the demand for waterproof technology is increasing. The latest addition to the range is the 43-inch Lifestyle TV, which retails at ÂŁ1,995 and offers the perfect partner for your customersâ€™ gardens and outdoor spaces. Its features include: * Waterproof (IP66 rated) * Full HD picture quality * Built in 2 x 15W amplifier * Operating temperature -20 to 60 degrees * 2 x Brighter than the average TV * 2-year warranty ProofVision also offer the Aire model in sizes 32-75-inch (with 4K versions of 55inch, 65-inch and 75-inch) which has five times the brightness of a normal TV and viewable in direct sunlight. A full range of accessories are available.
To find more information about ProofVision and its range of TVs visit www.proofvision.co.uk www.gardentradenews.co.uk
March 2019 23
Take advantage of plant health Plant health and biosecurity were the key topics of the day at the HTA Healthy Plants, Healthy Business conference, in association with APHA, which took place at Horticulture House. The sell-out event highlighted potential opportunities for garden centres to promote their centres as Healthy Plant retail places and to position themselves as key players in the UK’s Biosecurity. Plant Healthy (www.planthealthy.org. uk) is a concept that brings people and information together to help protect plants within the amenity horticultural sector and the plant life that underpins our natural ecosystems. It has been developed in the face of the increasing threat from plant pests and it aims to empower people who rely on plants for their livelihoods as well as people who enjoy the plants that grow in our gardens, cities and countryside. Central to Plant Healthy is the plant health management standard. The standard is a document that has been developed by industry, with input from government and third sector organisations. It sets out key requirements for plant health management and relates to a range of horticultural businesses and organisations. These include: commercial nurseries, plant retailers, landscape management businesses, and public gardens. Speakers during the day included Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, who said: “The new Plant Health Standard is a great way to help improve the health of plants within the industry. If we get the issue of biosecurity wrong, the consequences will be devastating.”
24 March 2019
Professor Nicola Spence, Defra Chief Plant Health Officer, highlighted the range of pests and diseases that are posing the biggest threats, including Xylella, and invited plant retailers to join in the campaign to remind customers that they should not bring plants back from their holidays.
Rebekah Robinson, from the RHS, provided insight into their own plant healthy policy and the work that they are doing to promote plant health to their members, visitors to their gardens, exhibitors at their shows and their own plant retailing.
HTA President Adam Taylor highlighted the extensive knowledge and passion that had been shared throughout the day and the importance of continuing to share this throughout the industry. In turn this will help to ensure that biosecurity and plant health stays at the forefront of industry developments for the future. A full report of the event is available at www.hta.org.uk/planthealth The full video footage of the Healthy Plants, Healthy Business event is available for £15. For more information please email email@example.com
Sipcam delivers natural slug and snail controls to meet demand ahead of metaldehyde ban The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has given retailers just six months to stop selling metaldehyde, as fears grow over its impact on wildlife and the environment. After metaldehyde disappears from shelves in mid-summer, consumers will have 12 months to use up existing supplies. The team behind the popular ecofective® brand, which pioneers eco-friendly plant protection products, warned that metaldehyde will vanish from garden centre shelves on 30th June 2019, a point in the season when slugs and snails risk causing extensive damage unless effectively controlled, with plants especially at risk if summer weather conditions are damp and humid. Sipcam’s Matthew Jones said: “Environmentally-friendly, natural slug control products are a key growth area for retailers. The new RHS Slug Killer and ecofective® Slug Defence will plug the gap in the market left by metaldehyde, offering highly effective slug and snail controls that consumers can use with confidence to protect plants from damage.” New RHS Slug Killer is an effective slug and snail control that’s approved for organic
non-edible plants. Long-lasting, nontoxic granules deter slugs and snails from reaching plants throughout the growing season. Child, pet and beefriendly, the product has been developed from naturally-derived ingredients that do not turn spongy when wet. Instead, granules dry out quickly and remain just as effective – unlike other clay repellents which degrade with rain and watering. And at the end of the season, the granules can simply be dug into garden soil where they will assist with drainage. growing. The formulation is commonly used in agriculture, containing a naturally-derived ingredient called ferric phosphate. This particular formulation is one of the highest quality pellets in terms of rain resistance and efficacy. RHS Slug Killer is ideal for use around flowers, fruit and vegetables and if positioned in moist areas, pellets soak-up water and swell, making them even more appealing for slugs to eat. After taking the bait, slugs stop feeding and move away from the area. ecofective® Slug Defence creates a physical barrier around edible and
For more details visit ecofective.uk.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
March 2019 25
things that caught our eye at pet trade show
Discover which new pet products stood out at the recent PATS Sandown trade exhibition in Surrey.
The Fast & Furious Drying Safety Snood, Aquamat Chiller This product is of good quality and design, and will suit nervous dogs, calming them. It has a good price point too.
Country Hunter Superfood Bars, Natures Menu With the attractive price point and good packaging, this product stood out on the showcase. It also has a great variety of flavours.
Nutriment Support Range, Nutriment This is a UK sourced product with great packaging. Aimed at dogs with special dietary requirements, it is a safer way for the general selling of raw foods.
Cat Circus Display Stand and Collars, James and Steel This product stood out for its design variations. The neutral colours too make interchangeable for both sexes.
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Golden Paste for Pets, The Golden Paste Company This turmeric supplement is easy to use and is a good addition to the market. It is seen as a cost-effective product with a good price point.
Turn over for more great pet products
Quality background music for HTA retail members with no PRS or PPL licences for only ÂŁ495 per year
Call 01733 775700 or 07973 504214 Email email@example.com
March 2019 27
EXHIBITIONS Henry Wag Drying Coat, 3P Enterprise This is a reasonably priced, good quality product that is easy to wear and easy to get on and off.
Nutri Pressed Guinea Pig Pellets, Marriages This is a particularly well thought out product, as it is both grain-free and cold-pressed, meaning that all the nutriments are retained, which is key for Guinea Pigs.
Lifting Aid, Trixie This product is well positioned in the market place and is a thoughtful design. The good price point adds to the attraction of the product.
28 March 2019
Retailers and pet product buyers have given PATS Sandown’s new Sunday-Monday slot in February a massive thumbs up by visiting in their droves. This year’s show attracted 1,993 visitors, which is a record in the show’s 11-year history. This compares with last year’s visitor numbers for the March date of 1,801 and represents an 11% increase year on year. There was a great buzz throughout the Surrey and Esher Halls as buyers and exhibitors discussed the innovative stands and great new products on show, creating a surge of activity over two days of business at the Sandown Park venue in Esher, Surrey. The show closed with visitors and exhibitors agreeing it had been a huge success, with the event delivering an unrivalled platform for the launch of hundreds of exciting pet product innovations. The New Product Showcase, sponsored by pbwnews, was a busy area throughout the event, and retailers admitted they were spoiled for choice as they decided on which items to stock in their stores for the year ahead. Exhibitors agreed the quality of visitors to their stands was exceptional, and there was a great degree of confidence being shown despite economic uncertainty caused by Brexit. Grooming demonstrations and workshops returned to the Sandown exhibition after a two-year absence and they were a hive of activity throughout the show. The series of seminars also proved very popular. Tom Neish, founder of Yora Pet Foods, said: “This has been my first ever trade show and I can’t quite take in the fabulous response to our trailblazing new dog food. We’ve had a really good mix of people coming on to the stand, which has been busy on both days of the event.” Laura Redstone, For All DogKind, said: “This show was important to us because it provided the ideal time and place to launch our new range of supplements, and we have been really pleased with the response – in fact it has been non-stop for us since the doors opened.” The mood amongst visitors was summed up by Tina Quest, a senior buyer at Redpaw Pet Supplies in Plymouth. She said: “This show has everything – a great selection of exciting new products and a wide variety of exhibitors. As retailers we are spoiled for choice. We have spent far too much money on new stock for our shop but the investment is well worthwhile.” And Laura van der Wee, a buyer at Brick Kiln Garden Centre, Chichester, Sussex, said: “What a great show. We’re here looking for stock to add something to our repertoire – additional items that people don’t know they need until they see them – and we’ve had a few ideas. We come here to order all our new pet stock that will sell really well over the next few months.”