Column: GCA Chairman, Tammy Woodhouse

For the first time in its history, GLEE, which is the largest horticultural industry exhibition in the country, moved from its usual slot in September, to June to a mixed reaction from both retailers and suppliers.

In the long-term, I think the new slot will help us make buying decisions earlier and allow us to have a summer sale and clear through old stock to make way for new ranges for next year. The earlier date did however present suppliers with some issues, as they only had nine months to prepare for the show and source new products. But I think from next year onwards, I feel we will really see a lot of benefit to this earlier date.

I was able to make a few observations while at the show about what I saw, trends and what is happening in the industry and these are below:

There is too much stock out there – blocking up warehouses of both garden centres and suppliers – there are definitely some bargains to be had for those with space or the money to invest, however with Christmas stock arriving soon, many are being cautious of buying too much.

There is a lot of furniture stock in particular and we are all conscious that we need to be making decisions about next years while we are trying to sell through the old product.

Houseplants are still on trend and there are so many great houseplant pot designs to choose from a multitude of suppliers.

Bringing the inside out – there were plenty of pots and garden ornaments that emulate indoor designs. Centres are thinking about how they can integrate more landscaping and design into their displays to create the perfect outdoor room.

Sustainability is key – all suppliers are looking in earnest about how they reduce packaging, peat, pesticides and plastic. It is great to see this innovation and how quick change can be with industry support.

Although there were concerns at GLEE about what the next 12 months will bring in terms of costs, footfall and customers having money to spend, everyone I met did agree that in times of hardship, gardening is still a great, affordable hobby that helps people’s wellbeing and mental health.

In previous recessions (if that is what we are headed for), garden centres have done well as customers have continued investing in their gardens and homes. We need to make the most of this opportunity and make sure we have the right products to achieve this.

As always with these events, it was a great for our members to catch up with each other, which they always love to do. It was also fantastic to see Floral Thursday rounding off a great event and to see everyone dressed in floral attire, raising money for the charity Greenfingers.

I can’t wait to attend again in 2023 and I’m looking forward to what I’ll see then and how things have moved on.

The GCA represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide. Through sharing information and its inspection programme the GCA helps members to achieve high standards in customer service, plant quality and reliability. For further information, please call 01244 952170. Alternatively, please visit www.gca.org.uk.

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