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Sept 2011 Volume 4, Issue 4

Special Interest Articles:


• SOLEX 2011 Review 4-7

Individual Highlights: Chairman


New Secretary




Your Council


Editor Richard Plowman Tel 01243 839593.

All comments made are personal views and not necessarily LOFA policy

Council are pleased to announce that Phil Gibbs has been appointed as the new LOFA Secretary and will take up the post

from January 2012. He will be working alongside Richard Plowman from the beginning of October

to ensure a smooth transition. A new office is currently planned in Chichester. ( more on Phil on page 3 )


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EVERY LITTLE HELPS OK, I think I may have stolen the headline from a corner shop somewhere, but it is certainly true, especially when you are in the process of forging a future for yourself by starting your own business. If that business happens to be in garden furniture or barbecues I am sure you are all aware that you will need all the help and luck you can get to get it "up and running". Even if you are the "bees knees" and get everything right ,you will find that weathersuppliers-bankspoliticians-carriers-public relations-printers-pound exchange ratesaccountants-VAT “The last piece of advice inspectors and too many more to mention are all was actually the first. queuing to trip you up at Derek Bunker of Alton the starting line of your Garden Centre who I went to with my idea for new adventure We all need a little help.I a barbecue kit a few months before I started know when I started I had said " great idea, but you three examples of what I mean. haven't got the guts to The first was right at the do it. In three months time you will come back start and I had just delivered my first order of with all the perfectly barbecue kits to Wolden good reasons why you Nurseries in Enfield in my didn't go ahead" beaten up Datsun Bluebird I am ashamed and estate (which I always pleased to say that is exactly what would have parked where I hoped it couldn't be seen) When Mr happened but because Gudgeon rushed out with a he told me so--it didn't. cheque book in hand and )” asked me how things were

Chairman’s Chatter

going and if he paid there and then would it help. WOULD IT,WOW! as you can see such kindness is not forgotten. The second was two years on when a nice arsonist burnt down our warehouse just after most of the first deliveries had gone. It was a wooden barn which I couldn't insure,so all I could do was write to all suppliers, at that time everything was "Made in England" ,now there's another story) and ask that they sent send the second batch of products before I had paid for the first. All bar one did and it saved the day. The last piece of advice ,was actually the first. Derek Bunker of Alton Garden Centre who I went to with my idea for a barbecue kit a few months before I started said " great idea, but you haven't got the guts to do it. In three months time you will come back with all the perfectly good reasons why you didn't go ahead" I am ashamed and pleased to say that is exactly what would have happened but because he told me so--it didn't.

LOFA MENTORS Given all the above, LOFA believe the time has come for the association to offer a similar advice service, mostly to new members, but not necessarily so. Some members of the council have already agreed to take part but I am also asking that those of us who have "been through the mill" put their name forward to offer advice ,obviously only if asked, to any new members who are struggling to find answers to questions that those of us who have already "been there" would find simple. This could also apply to Honorary members who have loads of experience and would be prepared to devote a little time, to create a "bank" of Mentors The idea is that there could be one "on site" visit followed by being available for contact by 'phone or e-mail for maybe up to a year. Expenses will be met by LOFA. Clearly you would not be expected to give any "commercially sensitive" information. Hope you can help---You know it makes sense--now where have I heard that . before! !

Contact Richard Plowman on 01243 839593 for more information

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April 7th Meeting . Members get on board for the launch at SOLEX


I asked Phil to do a little resume for LOFAnews so you could get to know him better. There will also be an opportunity to meet up with him at Montreux where he will be joining us with his wife Gillian. I am sure you will give them a very warm welcome. Editor

Phil and wife etc...

Born in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1957, Phil Gibbs was educated in Rugby, before going to read Pure and Applied Physics at Salford University, Manchester. Phil joined the Royal Navy, as a graduate, in 1979, and has served as a Navigator, Warfare Officer and Executive Officer in a number of warships, changing to the Information world in 1995, gaining a Master’s degree in Information Systems in 2000, followed by appointments in the Ministry of Defence, and subsequently a Master’s degree in Education (leadership and Management). In August 2003 Phil was appointed to an exchange appointment as Professor of Systems Management at the Information Resources Management College (IRMC) of the National Defense University in Washington DC.

On return to UK, he worked at the Navy Command Headquarters in Portsmouth, as a Project Manager and Information Manager until his retirement from the Navy in 2010. Phil is a keen skydiver, with over 3,600 jumps, having run the RN Parachute Display Team until 2010, and is the current Chairman of the RN & RM Sports Parachute Association. An enthusiastic downhill Skier, he also umpires hockey for the Navy, plays golf and cycles. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, Commerce and Manufacturing. His home is in Hampshire, with his wife Dr Gillian Holf, and son David and daughter Pippa.

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SOLEX 2011

Fourth Year Success

It was right up to the wire with the new build but by Monday morning SOLEX looked better than ever and on Tuesday we had a record number of visitors on one day. I would like to mention a special thanks to Gina Hinde at Hartman who made weekly visits to monitor the progress. The pictures speak for themselves

SOLEX 2011 Despite the pull of the Home & Gift Show at Harrogate, visitor numbers were up at this year’s SOLEX Exhibition of Barbecues and Outdoor Furniture held in Telford International 18-20 July 2011. Reporting another really successful show, Eric Hopper, Chairman, said, “SOLEX is now quietly established as the premier UK venue for barbecue and outdoor leisure innovation. LOFA members produced some great new ideas for 2012 and we can be happy that buyers appreciate our unique and relaxed way of doing business”. Busiest day of the show was Tuesday - producing record-breaking numbers of high quality visitors that came to the show. The only absentee exhibitor was Proteam, a long-standing member of LOFA, whose sale to Direct Corporate Clothing Ltd came too late for them to take their alloted space. For the other 56 enthusiastic exhibitors there was a new entrance, atrium and hall to fill with product offerings for the 2012 season. The brand new Hall 1a, called the Ludlow Suite, featured some of the top names in the industry including Alexander Rose, Barlow Tyrie, Bridgman, Gloster, Desser and Beefeater Barbecues. This new, naturally lit, space of 1300 square metres, added a luxury pizzazz to some of the most attractive and largest products on show. Even with the new hall, SOLEX took all the space offered in five halls by Telford International. Now in its successful fourth year, it now has the deserved reputation of being the right show, at the right time, with the right people. The impressive stands and unique plant displays by EuroPlants at the entrances to the show set the right ambience for buyers. LOFA invited experts from Garden Trade Specialist magazine to judge the best stands in the 5 Halls selecting appearance, products, welcome and information offered as the selection criteria. Visitors, buyers and exhibitors were delighted with SOLEX 2011 and many good comments were heard as people left the show at the end of three busy days. Exhibitor David Brown of Daro said, “This is one of greatest shows.” And Elaine Anderson from Bluebone said, “We go to many shows, but SOLEX is the most professional we have attended.” Visitor Eric Hopkins from Groundforce Garden & Leisure said, “SOLEX is nice, a visitor feels appreciated.” And Michelle Wynne from said, “It’s like no other exhibition I’ve ever been to. The free lunch, refreshments and water all day is a luxury.”

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Exhibitors were asked what they thought about various aspects of the SOLEX 2011. Overall there was a high degree of satisfaction particularly with the quality of the visitors. One of the significant aspects of SOLEX from the start was that there were no time wasters. Tuesday was the busiest day and as usual the last afternoon is always quiet as are all exhibitions and shows.

Value to business of being at SOLEX

Number of visitors

Very satisfied (4) Quality of sales conversations

Fairly satisfied (3) Slightly satisfied (2)

Quality of visitors

Not at all satisfied (1) Overall value for money









Wednesday Afternoon

Wednesday Morning

Very busy Tuesday afternoon

Busy in phases Steady

Tuesday morning

Quiet Monday afternoon

Monday morning










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SOLEX 2011. Interesting Catering facts

Proteam becomes Paroh After last edition’s LOFAnews on Proteam, we are pleased to report that a buyer was found. Paroh, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based clothing supplier Direct Corporate Clothing. The new company is trading under the name Paroh

The Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association 113 Worcester Road CHICHESTER PO19 5EE

Your 2012 LOFA Diaries will be with you soon so there is definitely one date to put in there…….

Weekend Conference Biarritz

Friday 5 th – Sunday 7th October 2012

PHONE: 01243 839593 FAX: 01243 839467

The Hotel du Palais, Biarritz , France


The 2012 LOFA weekend will be at the Hotel du Palais in the famous resort of Biarritz. Set on a wonderful beach front with its own outdoor heated pool, beach restaurant, plus an award winning spa on three floors. This is a luxury hotel in all meanings of the word. There is a great golf course nearby overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and there is the fascinating Basque culture to experience.

We’re on the Web! See us at: LOFA TRIVIA During the interview, Phil Gibbs under fire from Borge Leth admitted dinging his battleship on the harbour wall whilst navigator. He had however just received a commendation for a rescue at sea. The Captain thought they just about cancelled each other out

Y0UR COUNCIL The Chairman is Eric Hopper,Outback UK Ltd Vice-Chairman, Paul Bevington, Kettler Ltd., FINANCE Chris McCormack, Leisure Plan Sales;


Howard Barnett, P J Bridgman & Co. Ltd.


Richard Grimmer, Leisuregrow


Borge Leth, Alexander Rose Ltd.


Paul Facey, Hartman UK


Ed Wray, BarbeSkew


Jack Whiteley, Glencrest Seatex.


Stephen Davies Southsea Deckchairs


LOFA DIARY DATE Next AGM, Wednesday December 14th 2011 The Goring Hotel In the next edition: MONTREUX MADE AWARE It is your newsletter so let’s have your views. Richard Plowman Secretary 01243 839593

Need help with the LAW. Contact the Secretary for details of LAWCARE


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