GTN March 2021 - Garden Trade News, UK

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MARCH 2021

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gtn MARCH 2021

Adviice & infformattion for garden centre professionals

The GCA’s Next Generation, exclusive GTN Interview


Empowering change for a brighter future

Introducing Whistler Grills new Modular Kitchens – a bespoke outdoor kitchen solution to make your al fresco dining dreams come true! Adding to a range of luxury freestanding barbecues, integrated built-in grills and accessories, is the new Whistler Grills Cirencester Modular Kitchen System. Take your outdoor entertaining dreams to the next level with a high-quality Modular Kitchen personally tailored to suit your home and budget. Comprising of a selection of high quality products, including triple drawers, pull out drawers, outdoor refrigerators and outdoor sink units, the Whistler Grills Cirencester Modular Kitchen system offers endless combinations when it comes to creating a bespoke outdoor kitchen, built with your home and outdoor space in mind. This premium solution is packed with many of Whistler Grills’ most impressive features – including the Cirencester four or six burner grill, two of the finest BBQ’s, with stainless steel hoods, infra-red back burners and side burners. Alongside this, the highest of quality laminate tops and a plethora of many different

storage units complete with sturdy handles for creating your dream outdoor entertaining area. We understand that everyone’s outdoor kitchen dreams look different and each outdoor living space is unique too, that’s why the Cirencester Modular System is a bespoke solution that allows you, the customer, to design your out- door kitchen exactly as you want. With a broad range of modular units available, storage possibilities are simply endless – combine extra drawers and cupboard space to cater for your personal needs. If you’re looking for a flexible approach to outdoor dining, Whistler Grills’ Cirencester Modular System 45° and 90°-degree corner units offer the ultimate in adaptability, allowing you to create your kitchen based around your outdoor space. Taking flexibility one step further, opt for adjustable levelling castors on your modular units and enjoy the ability to adjust the height of your units according to your patio or flooring – for a professional finish to your outdoor kitchen. There’s no compromise on quality either. With the Whistler Grills Cirencester Modular Kitchen System, you can expect a bespoke solution that will last for many years. Cooking surfaces (one of the most important parts of any BBQ) and stainless steel sinks are made using 304 stainless steel – a high-grade material is because of its resistance to oxidization and corrosion – whilst Laminam is used for counter tops, (a premium

robust material that is not only wear resistant, chemical resistant, scratch resistant and UV resistant, but hygienic and high-strength too). So, you can rest assured that your outdoor entertaining area will not only look premium, but perform to the highest standard too. Once you’ve decided on your configuration, simply attach your units together with butterfly screws, and expect a sleek and premium finish thanks to features like the 90°-degree cabinet corner which enables you to hide the gas bottle deep within the kitchen. Once you’ve tailored your bespoke outdoor kitchen to your patio or garden area and built your dream outdoor kitchen using the Whistler Grills impressive and innovative Cirencester system of modular units, all that’s left to do is fire up the barbecue and enjoy your new outdoor entertaining space. Whistler Grills Limited Whistlergrillsltd_ @GrillsLimited


New Gardeners set the pace and create record sales Last month we hoped that better weather would come and that the season would get going in the middle of March with Mother’s Day and then Garden Re-Leaf Day. Amazingly, as soon as the snow and very cold weather gave way to some sunshine in the middle of February it was like lighting the blue touchpaper. Gardening sales in England immediately soared to unprecedented February levels and that has continued through to Mother’s Day. From being 52% down yearon-year at the end of Week 6, four staggering weeks of sales now see the GTN Bestsellers All Products Index sitting at 3% up year to date at the end of week 10. Star performers within the GTN Bestsellers Epos data are Growing Media and Plants where sales are already well over 30% up on last year. In the past we would have assumed these early season sales will be experienced gardeners getting ahead of the game, but that doesn’t appear to be the case this year. Garden centres are reporting the majority of their current gardening sales are to new customers and that many of their older, keener gardening customers are still to venture out to get growing. If last year’s lockdowns got people using their outside spaces more, this year’s roadmap is

encouraging them to really enhance their gardens and balconies so that they can spend the spring and summer at home as a place to re-unite with family and friends and as a space for solace and relaxation. The vaccination roll-out gives great hope for a fantastic 2021 for gardening. The most likely limiter of sales now seems to be the availability of stock. Containers of products from the Far East are still being held up on the seas and we are starting to hear of shortages of some plants, trees especially. As we go to press there is good news too from Wales and Scotland with dates set for garden centres to re-open. From what we’ve seen happening in England their pent-up demand could be skyrocket high. Well done to all who have been pushing the case for their early re-opening and thank you to all who supported them by signing petitions. We send best wishes to all centres in Northern Ireland who are still awaiting a date to re-open. As the travel restrictions lift, we are looking forward to seeing all the innovative retailing ideas you are putting in place to cater for the ‘New Gardeners’ that are now setting the pace for post pandemic gardening market. See you soon!

GTN Bestsellers All Barcode Products Index Epos Data Sales Volume Week by Week January - May 2017-2021

EDITORIAL & ADVERTISING Garden Trade News Potting Shed Press Ltd Dairy Drove Thorney Peterborough PE6 0TX Tel 01733 775700 THE GTN TEAM Editor Trevor Pfeiffer Advertising Sales Alan Burdon Associate Editor Mike Wyatt Digital Editor Neil Pope Subscriptions Karen Pfeiffer Design & Production AT Graphics Ltd Kirsty Craner – Design Alun Jones – Production Manager Robert Tipping – Managing Director James Tipping – Technical Director Printing CG Print Ltd Do you qualify for a copy of GTN?





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In this issue

Potting Shed Press Ltd

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

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Fountasia – Order now for Spring and Christmas


Next Generation to lead the way at GCA interview with Tammy Woodhouse and Will Blake


Onduline ‘clay look’ tiles transform a garden centre


Inside Outside… A New Beginning for the garden market


Watering wisdom and more from Hozelock


Empowering Change for a brighter future – LOFA team up with Planet Mark


HTA Column – Tales of the unexpected


GIMA Column – Somewhere over the rainbow, a ‘New Normal’ exists


Director Trevor Pfeiffer SMALL PRINT: All material © Potting Shed Press Ltd 2021. No part of this publication may e reproduced in any form whatsoever, either for sale or not, without the express permission of the publishers. The information supplied in this publication is published in good faith and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. Potting Shed Press Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any error or misrepresentation. All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or other damage caused by reliance on information contained in this publication or in the vent of any bankruptcy or liquidation or cassation of the trade of any company, individual or firm mentioned, is hereby excluded.

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Next generation to lead the way at GCA

When Tammy Woodhouse and Will Blake take over as chairs of the Garden Centre Association in 2022 and 2024 respectively, the industry will be a handful of years into the post-pandemic era. How could things pan out? GTN’s associate editor Mike Wyatt speaks with them over Zoom to find out how the past year will inform their terms of office. It’s fair to say that 2020 will be a year that most businesses would like to forget. But to do so without learning the lessons that the covid-19 crisis offered us would be borderline negligent. From the perspective of the garden retail industry, there are blessings to be counted – not silver linings, exactly, but shimmerings of hope. Tammy Woodhouse, MD of The Millbrook Garden Company in Kent, and Will Blake, director of St Peter’s Garden Centre, Worcester – named last month as the GCA’s next two chairmen-elect after Mike Burks (The Gardens Group) hands over next January – will give the next generation a significant voice in the affairs of an organisation that represents the UK’s most progressive garden retailers. Both have been handed day-to-day control of successful family businesses established by their parents in the late 1970s-early 80s. The Millbrook business set up by Dick

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and Sue Allen in 1979 was typical of a an entrepreneurial style popular in its a day – acquire some land, start a nursery, d progress to a full garden centre and add p ssites as the brand develops (it currently has three outlets, but the original Millbrook h ssite has been earmarked for closure to make way for housing). m Tony Blake’s enterprise at Pear Tree Farm differed in one key respect – he had F training and experience as a production tr nurseryman, whereas the Allens were n horticultural virgins. He was able to grow h his own plants. h The industry has evolved out of all recognition since those heady a formative years. For Will, a key change fo is the dramatic improvement in retailing sstandards, with GCA member centres leading the way. “The consumer le expectation is much higher – garden e ccentres can no longer really get away with

GTN INTERVIEWS leaky greenhouses. They’re expected to be of department store quality,” he says. Another big difference is the rise and rise of food retailing for many centres. St Peter’s food hall and butchery, which started life as a cheese counter 18 years ago, has built a reputation as one of the best of its kind. “It has really motored in the past 12 months during the pandemic,” Will tells me. “The whole ‘shop local’ and shop independent’ thing is very, very strong. Tammy has seen community involvement become a major influence on many garden centres, including the Millbrook business. “The thing we’ve been really working on, before the pandemic and during, is the experience,” she says. “I think the thing that has changed most is the destination thing. However big or small, we’ve all had the feeling that this was coming, so we invested in our restaurant to improve standards and all the time we’ve been running more and more events and, just giving people of all ages extra reasons to come.” Meanwhile, there’s a pandemic…how have they coped? It was an “up and down” year, Tammy says. But at least there were ups. “When we closed the doors of the centre here last year [at the start of lockdown #1], there were points where I genuinely thought: God are we ever going to open the doors again? And it was, you know, pretty low, really. You’re at the lowest point of the year with no money coming in. And you can’t even plan. I don’t ever want to have those emotions again.” Then, in common with almost every other centre in the country, things went crazy as garden centres were allowed to open again in May. “The thing that maybe it’s taught me is that you just have to go with stuff – just roll with the punches and take any opportunities. And I think as a business we’ve done that quite well.” As an example, Tammy cites how, in the absence of restaurant trade, a fresh food offer was set up with the help of the supplier who used to supply the kitchens. “He’s been doing the ordering and suggesting what we should have and it’s working really well. We’re getting to the point now where we are talking to a butcher. We’re really keen to grow the food side now.” Just finding stock has been one of the biggest challenges. “We’ve all had to be really nimble in changing suppliers and chasing stock.” “But we survived – and actually, we’ve done more than that. We’ve ended our financial year in a reasonably healthy place. Sales have been good, right up

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to year-end, despite the local lockdown in Kent, because we were the only retailer open locally who was selling any Christmas”. Which brings us on to the relief universally felt across the industry when, thanks largely to HTA lobbying, garden centres were deemed to be essential retailers, saving the sector from near oblivion. “We can’t underestimate the value of that,” Tammy says “We don’t want to boast about that but everybody says the same – that we are in such a privileged position.” For Will, lockdown #1 took a dark turn when he was threatened with arrest for breaching pandemic restrictions by opening the centre through April, arguing that the butchery, food hall and pet

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department at St Peter’s were essential retail. After a prohibition notice was issued on 7 May, he closed – only to be allowed to re-open legally on 13 May when restrictions were eased. “After you close the doors, there was a period of recognising where we were and whether we were actually going to survive the period of time we were ging to be closed.” With the banks straight-jacketed by the lack of clarity from the government at that time, Will says, definitive answers about cash support were not initially forthcoming. “But eventually it came good – and it was a huge weight off my mind. “Then as things progressed, other retailers managed to find ways around the laws and people like The Range started selling anything from the shop as long as customers had a packet of crisps in their hand. There was a lot of unfairness starting to creep in. “All that was pretty emotional for me and for my team.” Will says the exceptional efforts his team made to ensure bio-security and keep customers safe is still paying dividends. “I think the customers recognised those efforts and learned to trust us, where they weren’t necessarily trusting other businesses. We probably underestimated that and how much that came through in additional sales.” Like Millbrook, St Peter’s has had a “pretty successful year”. Coming out of lockdown, the business was 49.8% down (YTD) but ended the year fractionally ahead. Much has been made in the financial press about consumers deserting the high street and flocking to the internet during the pandemic – and speculating that the

trend will consolidate. Tammy believes garden retailers will experience it differently. “We’re seeing click-and-collect more and we’re starting to focus on that,” she says, “but we still come back to that experience word. Coming to a garden centre is not just a shopping trip for a lot of people. It’s an opportunity to get out, it’s easy to park, you can have a coffee, you can have lunch. Now, I think garden centres are actually in a really strong position. And, in a way, with fewer shops on the street, we’re in a great position when people do want to get to a shop. So I think as an industry, it’s going to be a balance of both.” Millbrook, she says, will still see online sales as a back-up to the core bricks and mortar offer. “While we’re seeing fewer customers, they are spending more and I hear a lot of others saying the same. We’re also seeing more younger customers, lots of families and lots of people who are starting to garden for the first time. I think more people realise a garden centre is not such a scary place to come. In a way, because they’ve got nowhere else to shop, it’s brought people in who wouldn’t necessarily come.” Will agrees. “We’re definitely seeing younger customers, more families – and more gardeners at the novice level,” he says. He believes many of the customers garden centres are seeing for the first time don’t know where to start, and that’s something going online won’t necessarily solve. “When you’re ordering something online, you can’t ask how to plant it or what compost it needs to feed it. Whereas when you’re talking to a member of a garden centre team, often a long-standing trained member of staff, they’re able to help the customers. Yes, that’s really key, I think, really massive.” Tammy says the past year has underlined

the value of trade organisations like the GCA and HTA working together, especially achieving recognition of garden centres as essential retailers during the lockdowns. “The relationships forged between them are really critical and that’s something we want to continue,” she says. A key issue they will be tackling jointly is sustainability. “When the ‘fog of covid clears’, as Mike Burks would say, this issue is going to really hit us, fast and hard.” Work has already started on pulling together a roadmap to support the industry through it. The sustainability initiative is likely to have full-on implications for Will when he takes the chain of office in 2024. He has just signed up St Peter’s to the Planet Mark scheme, which requires them to save a minimum of 2.5% of their carbon emissions per annum. “We should easily surpass that in the first year because of what we’re already doing,” he says. “We know it will get tougher. I don’t know whether we can achieve it but I’d like us to be carbon-neutral by 2030. It would be amazing if the industry could do that as well, but that’s no small task.” Meanwhile, the easing of restrictions this summer will improve the likelihood that the GCA’s much-respected and missed annual conference will return next January. The GCA has clearly been a huge comfort blanket for the membership during the past year. “Emotionally the support has been incredible,” says Tammy. “I don’t think I’d be in such a strong position if it hadn’t been for people like Will and Mike and just being able to pick up the phone to someone who’s in the same situation. You can’t underestimate how important that is.” Again, Will agrees: “It was pretty lonely on some of those nights. To have the GCA was a godsend.”

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‘Clay tile’ look transforms top garden centre

Replacing the old felted roofs with Onduline’s ONDUVILLA corrugated roofing tiles has ‘transformed’ the atmosphere at a nursery and country shop in Buckinghamshire. Preston Bisset Nurseries and Country Shop, a family-run business in Buckingham, initially used the ‘clay tile’ alternative, from Onduline Building Products, for a walkway that was erected to promote the sale of Christmas trees. But, according to manager Oak Richardson, they were so pleased with the new look they decided to extend the makeover to the rest of the nursery. And, they have had so many enquiries from people impressed by the 500 square metres of new roofing they are planning to stock ONDUVILLA for customers. Oak said: “The clay tile look is very attractive. It looks like tiles, you can only really tell the difference when you are close up. The nursery is surrounded by countryside and it fits right in with the rural setting, as if it has always been there. It has changed the whole atmosphere of the place. “When we were installing it, I must have been asked 20 or 30 times a day ‘where can I get this, can you sell it to me’? We are really pleased.” As with all Onduline roofing solutions, ONDUVILLA sheets are lightweight and easy to work with. They are also on trend with the current focus on sustainable building solutions, comprising 50% to 60% of recycled fibres, with no hazardous material. With ONDUVILLA, installers can cover a building’s roof quickly and efficiently, in a practical and long-lasting way, providing an

aesthetically pleasing, very durable, water tight solution. In fact, Oak and a colleague carried out the installation themselves, finding the system ‘easy and simple to fit’ and completing the refurbishment in three days. ONDUVILLA has a 15-year weatherproof guarantee and, containing no metal, it will never rust. It also has the advantage of being suitable for shallow pitched roofs, down to 9°. With a weight of only 1.27 kg per tile and a thickness of 3 mm, the tiles give a lightweight, robust roof requiring minimum maintenance. Preston Bissett Nurseries and Country Shop is run by Peter and Jacky Richardson and has been on its present four-acre-plus

site in Bushey Lane since 1989. It has been listed as one of the top 26 garden centres and nurseries in the country in Gardens Illustrated magazine. Oak added: “The original buildings were former stables but now, with the addition of the ONDUVILLA roofing, they look like converted barns.” The walkway erected in December is now The Pottery Barn, the car park has been resurfaced and there are plans to expand the shop and add an events building to host gardening workshops. > For more information on Onduline’s lightweight roofing solutions and how to stock them in your centre visit

March 2021 11 www.patiobla ww.patiobl p obla l c


Inside Outside... a New Beginning

The good news for the retailer of ‘all things garden’ is the new importance to all homeowners and renters of ‘outdoor spaces’. Phil Pond from Scarlet Opus says that the garden in a post 2020 world has become ‘The 5th Room’. It’s well known that the lifestyle most of us were forced to live in the past year has seen people spend a lot more time at home; more accurately put, people have spent a lot more time in their homes & gardens. Being in our homes so much has made us all more conscious of our home surroundings. What do we have in our home, why do we have it, how does it improve our wellbeing, comfort, convenience, and enjoyment whilst we are in this space? The good news for the retailer of ‘all things garden’ is the new importance to all homeowners (here ‘homeowner’ = owners + renters) of these ‘outdoor spaces’. Just as the homeowner has become more aware of their garden, you the ‘garden’-retailer should become conscious of the fact, that a large number of homeowners don’t have a ‘garden’; they do however have an outdoor space and no matter what its size, that outdoor space is of a new significance. Maybe it’s time for ‘Garden’ Centre owners to think about renaming the

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sector to convey the message that they’re the go-to-experts for all types of residential outdoor space ... and yes, some people who want to convert their balcony to an outdooroasis won’t think to go to a ‘Garden’ Centre first. Just an idea ... not a serious one but hopefully a thought-provoking one. Let’s agree, just for now, that ‘garden’ = outdoor space for recreational purposes. And further agree a common understanding that the garden in a post 2020 world has become ‘The 5th Room’. Crucial to planning, designing & creating a garden now, is to consider not simply the furniture, but to think deeply about all the products to be placed in it. The role of ‘Interior Design’ is about to broaden to include the garden ‘room’. The more successful Garden Retailers will be those that choose to stay up to date with consumer design trends and home décor. In this new era for our gardens, we want our garden to work for us all year round and for it to ‘fit’ the décor inside our homes. The garden has finally become a fully-fledged, bona-fide

Outdoor Room. It needs to have the same level of comfort & convenience as does any other room in the home. Investment in better quality furniture is one aspect of this ‘new’ space as is, a level of style & consideration in design terms as their ‘internal rooms’ ranging from soft furnishings to lighting, technology to wall finishes and decorative accessories (e.g. mirrors & artwork). Already available are for all-year-round outdoor use in the UK are


TV’s, standard kitchen appliances and stylish, comfortable furniture. These are big-ticket sales opportunities that will be in demand. With our increasing desire for a slower lifestyle and our working life more flexible, we will spend more time outside. Whether for leisure or for work, our love of the open-air and our need to be connectedto-nature will continue to strengthen but, this time... with style, whatever the weather maybe. This year people will start to buy higher value, better quality items for their gardens, balconies and rooftops. Modular, all weather sofas, side boards and textile accessories, outdoor furniture ranges now need to extend far beyond plastic tables and chairs. The longevity & broad appeal of this trend should become a key area of product development for retailers and manufacturers, particularly furniture design. Because this additional living-space is required to become more comforting & inviting, homeowners and ‘interior’ designers will want this space to be well equipped with home accessories such as lamps, rugs and cushions all made with durable, waterproof materials that will withstand the UK climate. Over the last few years, before 2020,) we’ve seen vertical gardens and urban farms becoming increasingly popular in cities. This allows urban residents to consume food grown locally rather than food transported from rural areas. The trend for Grow-Your-Own food will continue to become more widespread. It’s fast becoming less of a novelty and more of a household routine as

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GARDENING TRENDS technology-innovation increasingly lends a hand to those less mobile, knowledgeable, skilled and time-rich; but who are still keen to grow their own produce. Indoor farming is already awash with product that nurtures, waters, monitors and manages vegetable, salad and plant growth. It’s not solely the domain of the younger less experienced GYO enthusiast, people of all ages are embracing this new technology in order to become more self-sufficient. Small scale gardening on terraces and balconies are ways of creating outdoor natural surroundings for those who perhaps don’t have a garden, or an allotment. The farm-to-table movement is no longer a philosophy just for restaurants, it’s an achievable lifestyle choice for many and will become the choice of an ever-larger fan club. If you have interest in ensuring that your garden retail business stays relevant for the growing number of consumers who will plan, design & create a 5th Room for year-round use in whatever outdoor space they have; then it would be worth considering how your retail offer & experience matches the consumer trends mentioned here. Good luck, stay safe and have fun! > Phil Pond. Scarlet Opus: Future Lifestyle, Consumer & Design Trend Intelligence future proofing business for Garden sector manufacturers & retailers. phil@

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Flow of marketing activity from Hozelock

2021 marks an exciting year for leading gardening brand Hozelock, not only does the Birmingham based company have a range of new products being launched but they are also embarking on a number of marketing campaigns set to increase consumer demand and awareness. Ambassador campaign The popularity of influencer marketing has rapidly increased in recent years and this is set to continue with some predicting that the number of brand sponsored influencer posts on Instagram is expected to surpass six billion in 2021. When this trend is combined with the increasing age of Instagram users, from 18-24 to 25-34 year olds, it suggests that this is a platform gardening brands should have presence on when trying to target any first time gardeners. With this in mind, Hozelock is collaborating with six key influencers throughout 2021 to reach emerging, interested and active gardeners. Kicking off in March, the six ambassadors will produce content for their own channels as well as creating material for Hozelock’s blog, newsletter and social platforms. As well as supporting new product launches, such as the Micro Reel, the campaign will also showcase the extensive breadth of Hozelock’s existing products.

Watering Wisdom Sustainability is something all homeowners are becoming increasingly interested in, but whilst many people might know how to reduce water consumption in the home, when it comes to gardening there is still a lack of knowledge. In a quest to educate the homeowner, Hozelock is launching a dedicated social media campaign called ‘Watering Wisdom’ which will provide their customers with top tips and advice on how to keep plants hydrated whilst also reducing water usage. The campaign will start in March and will be supported with digital and influencer activity. CSR activity Hozelock has been supporting hospice charity Greenfingers for a number of years and they are pleased to be continuing this into 2021. In addition to Greenfingers, Hozelock has named Horatio’s Garden and Garden to Wellbeing as its charities for the year ahead. The three organisations will be supported with social media activity and wider media relations.

Speaking of the breadth of marketing activity being undertaken throughout 2021, Sarah Dixon, UK Marketing Manager at Hozelock, said: “As Hozelock’s products appeal to such a wide breadth of people, we recognised that this year we need to develop a series of campaigns which appear to our diverse audience profile – from first time gardeners through to the experienced allotment owner. “Having a strong presence online and in a digital sphere is more important than ever and we are confident that these campaigns will help appeal our brand to new gardeners and drive an increase in footfall to our garden centre network. “With new products in our portfolio, including a new range of sprayers, and these marketing campaigns in the pipeline we are excited and hopeful that 2021 will be a successful year.” > To keep and eye on the rollout of Hozelock’s marketing activity follow their social channels and also visit

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Empowering change for a brighter future LOFA have teamed up with Planet Mark to help their members directly and measurably contribute to up to 9 Sustainable Development Goals and Targets.

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2020 to 2030 will be the most important 10 years for our planet. What we do in this time will determine the course of humanity. If every person, association, organisation and Government take decisive action now, we can all contribute to a flourishing society, a healthy environment and a prosperous economy. Sustainability is no longer a “nice to have”, it’s a business imperative and a critical global issue. Everyone wants to see action and people are becoming more engaged than ever in the process. It is our children and future generations that are going to suffer if we don’t all step up to the mark and start addressing these social and environmental concerns today. Looking after the planet can realise many business benefits like better brand positioning, attracting great talent, cost savings, customer loyalty and gaining a competitive advantage. Future proofing our

businesses in particular, is something that should be at the top of every to do list, which can only have a positive impact in the world. LOFA have teamed up with Planet Mark, a company that care about the planet and want to help businesses action and power change. Their certification recognises continuous improvement, encourages action and helps build an empowered community of like-minded individuals to make a whole world of difference. LOFA first became aware of Planet Mark in 2020 at the GCA conference, where Sir Tim Smit KBE the founder of the Eden Project, gave a fantastic presentation on sustainability and what businesses could do to reduce their carbon footprints. Some of our members have already started down this road (Alexander Rose, Lifestyle Garden @Scancom, Leisuregrow, Zest4leisure, Que Fresco, Kadai and Ginique to name but a

few) and are well on their way to reducing the effect their businesses are having on the planet. Planet Mark supports the Eden Project and also Cool Earth, a non-profit organisation that works alongside rainforest communities to halt deforestation by putting local people back in control of their forests. Every business that joins Planet Mark protects an acre of rainforest for every year of membership, so far Planet Mark have protected hundreds of acres of rainforest in Peru and LOFA’s involvement will protect hundreds more. By measuring and reducing our carbon footprint with Planet Mark we can directly and measurable contribute to up to 9 Sustainable Development Goals and address 25 SDG targets. Find out more To find out more contact

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A month ago I wrote that early indicators suggested demand for plants was going to be big this season. Little did I know that within days nurseries the length and breadth of the country would be recording record sales weeks; not just for the time of year but record ever weeks! These incredible times bring many challenges with them and some for the first time ever. Who would have thought the reduction in holiday trips to Spain and Portugal would impact the availability of rooted cuttings? I’m not suggesting that your grower has been enjoying weekend breaks and filling their suitcase before returning! Less holiday travel results in less flights, cancellations at the last minute and therefore cargo not being flown in at the right time. One grower told me of the ‘perfect storm’ hitting them… a cancelled flight resulted in the cargo sitting in Portugal for an extra 24 hours and when it did arrive an inspection was called, so a further delay resulted in the plants being unusable when they arrived at the nursery. I urge you to talk to your growers and work together on how to overcome these problems. Consider placing orders earlier; do you really need to wait until Monday morning before you know what you will need next weekend? For years we have marvelled at the ability of the Dutch supply chain to get lorry loads of plants to us in just a few days. Sadly, post 1st Jan that speedy shipment is a thing of the past. The new certification/inspection process on both sides of the water has slowed everything down and, in some cases, made it impossible to bring certain products to the UK – did you notice the lack of planted arrangements in centres prior to Mother’s Day? Producing the required phyto created much confusion – an opportunity

20 March 2021

for a UK company maybe? Recent, temporary, changes to the import rules have not benefitted horticulture as much as other industries. The policy team at the HTA continue to work with authorities here and abroad and hope to achieve further changes, for the good, in the future. If you have problems with importing that you are happy to share with the team, please do so. After considerable lobbying the rules around exporting to N.I. have been relaxed. This campaign was helped by having real examples of the issues so your help will be appreciated. On the subject of N.I. it isn’t all plain sailing yet as the preferred method of shipping of plants is still complicated by most wooden shipping crates now having the required clearance. Looking towards the summer… I urge you to not forget the lessons of last summer. The

plant season does not need to end mid-June! Keep buying quality plants and customers will buy them. Talk to your UK growers this week and assure them that, if they have the plants, you will keep buying. The incredible sales of garden furniture right now prove, more than anything else, that the nation is planning for a staycation summer. Patios, balconies and gardens will be alive with the sound of admiration and comments as the Jones outdo their friends and neighbours with tales of where they brought their wonderful plants this summer… make sure it is your business that they are talking about. Run out and you will miss out! > The Horticulture Trades Association is the UK industry’s leading membership organisation. It welcomes all sectors of horticulture – to join please contact

All Plant Sales Index June, July & August 2016 -2020

Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26 Week 27 Week 28 Week 29 Week 30 Week 31 Week 32 Week 33 Week 34 Week 35






Looking towards the summer…. I urge you to not forget the lessons of last summer. The plant season does not need to end mid-June!! Keep buying quality plants and customers will buy them.

Supported by point-of sale material to help boost sales.

Bathgate offer retailers a comprehensive range of high-quality horticultural products.


Products can be delivered nationwide. 01270 762828


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Somewhere over the rainbow – a new normal exists VICKY NUTTALL, DIRECTOR OF GIMA Since my last column, the UK has been offered a glimmer of hope, thanks to the government’s roadmap out of lockdown. With restrictions easing and spring making an appearance, the mood is one of cautious optimism. Of course, while the same pressures remain – whether it’s Covid, Brexit, price increases, unprecedented consumer demand, product and packaging shortages, rising container and shipping costs, personnel issues – the resilience of the garden retail sector means we are continuing to tackle these issues head on, bolstered by a renewed sense of hopefulness, as we move towards key dates within the proposed roadmap. One thing that has really stood out to me in recent weeks is how suppliers have refused to stand still. You would be forgiven for thinking suppliers would be concentrating wholly on making it through the challenges of operating during a pandemic but this has, in fact, been far from the case, as the Garden Press Event demonstrated. New product development has continued apace over the past 12 months and it was so good to see this celebrated at the virtual event in early March. Sustainability and Susta ab ty a d ‘naturals’ atu a s stood out

as two overarching themes across the new products on offer at the Garden Press Event and will, most certainly, continue to dominate in the coming seasons. Suppliers are definitely stepping up to the mark and are, not only taking responsibility for their impact upon the planet, but helping consumers to make more considered choices at the point of sale, through informative and clearly-defined product messaging. Products, such as peat-free, organic and veganic - which were once niche are starting to become more mainstream. We are also seeing a definitive shift away from single-use plastic. Whether it’s more of a reliance on recycled and recyclable plastic, or a move towards plastic alternatives, suppliers in our industry have made so much progress already, which is incredibly heartening for the future. It is because of this that we launched the industry’s first Plastic Packaging Pledge’ in early 2021; the objective of which is to minimise any adverse impact from all types of plastic packaging used in the garden products supply chain. Open to all GIMA members, the Pledge will provide a range of resources and access to specialist expertise in order to sp help hel members throughout their journey to a new relationship jou with plastic. wit Much of the work of suppliers M over the past 12 months will ov certainly be enhanced by the ce growth of the ‘gardening army’ gr in the UK. With an estimated three million new gardeners th finding their greenfingers fi Melcourt won the New Product of the Year Award at The Garden Press Event for the second year in a row, this time for SylvaGrow Farmyard, their 100% peat-free soil improver.

22 March 2021 www

in 2020, we are now faced with the challenge of keeping these customers engaged once the world opens up to them again. The Easter trading period will be a good measure of this. As nonessential retail remains closed, the hope will be that garden centre sales will continue to boom, as the country looks to keep itself entertained during another lockdown bank holiday weekend, with gardening topping the to-do list. This engagement at the beginning of the season will hopefully see these newbies, once again, inspired to continue their homegrown dreams and keep the retail tills ringing. As we look ahead to the rest of the year, we are pleased to be able to confirm that the annual GIMA awards will return on November 11th, following an imposed year off in 2020, due to the pandemic. All of the usual award categories will be returning, including the GCA Supplier of the Year (GCA), Gardenex Export Achievement and the Sword of Excellence, whilst we have also introduced a new Sustainability award in response to the efforts suppliers are making to drive the sustainability agenda. As always, we have a host of sponsorship opportunities open to the industry to support the event, with bookings already flooding in for tables. I’d strongly suggest booking now to avoid disappointment! For now, I wish you all the best of luck for the Easter sales period. It’s predicted to be a busy one and I hope that the ongoing pressures that are shaping our industry at present don’t impact the start to the season. GIMA will, of course, remain open to our members, so please do reach out if we can assist in anyway. > For further information about GIMA, please call (01959) 564947 or email


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