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Vol. 7, Issue 1 | March 2015
News from the UK
By Iain Wylie
UK GCA members finished 2014 with a good season of Christmas trading and ended the year approximately 9% ahead of the previous twelve months. This was in no small part due to the greatly improved weather in March, April and May which saw plant sales surge ahead of the previous two years when the weather was cold and wet during the key plant sales season. Whilst the sales of plants did not hit record highs it was a relief to see this recovery in sales.
At the end of January we held our annual conference, this year the venue was Carden Park near Chester. We had a great few days and even more members attended than last year. We filled the hotel and 10 days before the event was due to start we had to source rooms in additional hotels. To start the conference off we held an afternoon of competitive games with a garden centre team taking on a team of suppliers. Apart from being great fun this event was designed to raise money for the Greenfingers charity ( www.greenfingerscharity.org.uk ). At the end of the conference the amount raised was announced; an amazing £13,000 in total. There was an excellent programme of speakers over two days. The good news is that the economist, Roger Martin-Fagg, said that the year ahead looks bright for garden centres! One of our speakers was memory man David Thomas who holds the world record for reciting pi (π) to 22,000 decimal places. Other highlights included presentations from the former BMW and Porsche boss, Kevin Gaskell and retailer Bill Grimsey as well as an insight into HR management from Nicky Moffat, formerly the highest ranking British Army officer with the role of HR Director. Of course we also had presentations showing the best of retailing at GCA members and our competition winners were announced.
Winners of the Christmas Competition
Garden Centre category – Castle Gardens, Dorset
Destination Garden Centre category
Bents Garden & Home, Warrington
Once again, at our annual dinner, we presented a host of awards. The top ten centres, those scoring the highest marks in the annual inspections each received a ‘Garden Centre of Excellence’ award. The winner of the Garden Centre of the Year was Cowell’s Garden Centre, Newcastle and winner of the Destination Garden Centre of the Year was Barton Grange Garden Centre, Preston.
Martin Cowell (centre) receives his centre’s award from GCA Chairman, Will Armitage (right) and host for the evening, Justin Moorhouse (left)
The Barton Grange team, receiving their award.
Garden Re-Leaf Day is being held on 27 March 2015 www.gardenreleaf.co.uk
The Garden Centre Association
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