Number 12, April 2012
Do be sure to register for the IGCA Congress in Germany: August 26 - 31 2012.
Have a look at www.igcc2012.org for full information, or: http://www.colada.biz/events/?eid=B6CF43C4-BBD4-77A7-180B80B5C1AB57BD
And please remember to 'like' the new IGCA Facebook site. Go to: http://www.facebook.com/IGCAssociation
The new Facebook page will be a great way to connect with old and new garden centre retailer friends, to view and share photos from past Congresses, to find out about international garden centre news, and to ask questions and get insight from top retailers around the world!
Greetings from IGCA President Nick Stodel
The GCA members in the Southern parts of South Africa have continued to see good trade. The result has been that there are 3 new garden centres opening up in this half year.
The GCA members in the northern parts of the country have seen a slight improvement in trade for the first few months of the year compared to 2011. Large parts of the country experienced less
long periods of rain which helped stimulate trade. Many of our members have their year end February and the talk on the ground seems to indicate the start of a recovery in trade. Independents are reporting numbers staying flat, some reporting growth and some smaller stores still dropping. Compared to a year ago when most stores were reporting flat or down, it is encouraging to see numbers starting to climb.
The one noticeable trend coming through in the independents is a drop in stock holding in general and a change in ordering strategies on volume lines.
Nick Stodel | Managing Director | Stodels Nurseries
From IGCA Vice President Rachel Doyle
A chairde ( friends)
We have had a really mild winter in Ireland, having had the two coldest winters since records began. The mild February has resulted in an early spring & sales of plants & all things gardening has got off to a great start. The economy is still very sluggish with the garden centres that have invested in their businesses doingokay & the others struggling. There is growth in food & a food offering is essential in today's world. Food, grow your own & instant colour are areas of growth. Quality & value are important to the discerning customer. Theatre, events of all kinds are what we find drives sales.
We officially opened the newly revamped 'Rachels Garden Café'. It was opened by the CEO of Bord Bia, Aidan Cotter & a TV gardening personality Dermot O'Neill. We did not cut a ribbon but had a large Mad Hatters three tier cake. This was followed by the mad hatters tea party.
The media was there & good free publicity results in such an event. The gents toilets are creating a bit of a stir, giving a whole new meaning to watering the flower.
And from the immediate Past President Sue Allen
Tuesday 13th March saw the first ever 'Garden Releaf Day' in the U.K. For the months leading up to the IGC Board meeting in Melbourne and in the couple of weeks since my return home, I have been totally absorbed in helping to organise this, and first results would suggest that we have a huge success on our hands. The challenge nationwide to retailers, growers and suppliers within
the horticulture industry was - 1. To make the public more aware of gardening and that spring is the time to get out in the garden, 2. To have some fun, and 3. To raise funds for our industry's charity 'Greenfingers' that creates magical gardens for children's hospices.
Over 500 companies pledged their support and everyone, particularly garden centres and gardens open to the public, really did all sorts of amazing things on THE day, helped by very generous support from suppliers. Schoolchildren were encouraged to create gardens in seed trays, plant potatoes, sow vegetable seeds, teams from centres visited hospices and schools to give their gardens a spring clean, raffles and competitions were held, garden centre staff wore fancy dress, talks and advice sessions were held, and in the evening many retailers held the 'Celebrity Gardening Quiz' with the questions being asked by our top celebrity gardeners on the CD supplied by Garden Releaf.
All the National papers mentioned the event, many local radio stations were involved and our own industry press were very supportive. We even got Stephen Fry (comedian, raconteur and the world's biggest Tweeter) to tweet about us.
As from 13th March, the world's biggest spade is now making a tour of the country, with each host garden centre challenging their chosen next garden centre to create more publicity and raising yet more funds and awareness. A gardening wholesaler is generously transporting it for us - good job we are a pretty small country!
It looks as though we have raised tens of thousands of pounds, with many projects continuing for several weeks yet, and the general consensus is that we will definitely have a bigger and better DAY next year. Watch this space!
Sue Allen, The Millbrook Garden Company UK
Rebecca reports from Canada
Garden Centres Canada recently handed out two National awards, one to Sheridan Nurseries Ltd. form Mississauga, Ontario for the ‘Most Improved’ Garden Centre, based on the 2011 inspection program, and one to Canadale Nurseries from St. Thomas, Ontario for ‘Top Achieving’ Garden Centre, based on the 2011 inspection program.
Rebecca Doutre, Garden Centres Canada
Hello from Switzerland
A short but very cold winter made room for the spring. The lifestyle-exhibition Giardina in Zurich is happening traditionally mid march. 300 exhibitors display their products on 30,000 m2. The clientele are mainly well off homeowners with gardens.
Again this year different landscapers present marvelous private gardens in which they use mainly water features and natural products (natural stones and wood).
The main aspects are to create a feeling of security, well-being and privacy. A lot of room is given to outdoor furniture mainly out classy materials like wood, natural stone and metal. Also fire is again a big issue. The exhibitors don’t display the traditional grill so much. It’s more about fireplaces which need to be aesthetically good for eyes and need to enhance the romance of a fire.
A good range of swimming pools and other opportunities to take or have a bath are rounding off the exhibition.
From Erwin in Switzerland too
I’m just sending you a little idea out of our Garden-Centre (please see the picture below). Often the children are whinging while parents are discussing gardening matters at the information desk. Therefore we installed little steps for children so that everybody can follow the discussions at eye-level. On the steps we also placed some children’s picture books. With this simple construction we experience unwound counseling.
Best regards from Switzerland.
ERNST MEIER AG, Erwin Meier-Honegger
The orchid exhibition in Czech Garden Centres
Joint project of the orchids exhibition was based on positive previous experience of some members of CGCA (Czech Garden Center Association) who have had hosted this exhibition for the few past years. For the year 2012 the group decided to create collective project called ‘The days of magical orchids’.
Promotion of this event was covered by joint publication of an article on orchids in the Zpravodaj - magazine published by CGCA. Advertisement of the event was connected with the article.
Other promotions were covered by the members of the Association themselves, mainly by leaflets on the cash desks in their shops or by advertising in the radio and newspapers. The exhibitions had on display unique arrangements of orchids which were created specifically for these exhibitions so the stores were transformed into a unique exhibition space. All displayed orchids were available for purchase. In most garden centers the exhibition was connected with orchid flower show by famous local florist and consultancy about orchids for customers.
As a group we have also collaborated on a joint purchase of orchids from suppliers in Holland which helped us to gain a wide assortment of high quality orchids at reasonable prices. During the event there is a significant increase in attendance at garden centers and increased sales.
During the exhibition, customers are also frequently buying additional products related to orchids as fertilizers, pots or substrates but also other goods from all over the shop. The exhibition is also perceived by customers as the opening of the spring season in the garden centers which is very good from marketing point of view. All members of Association assess the event as great asset for their garden centers.
Jan Chládek, Chládek garden center
News from France
In February the French garden centres mourned the loss of Daniel ALLETON, 71, former head of 25 garden centres and owner of a garden centre in Nantes, former CEO of the FNMJ and, since 2012, secretary general of the French Horticultural Association.
Hardworking, friendly and competent, Daniel ALLETON was very much appreciated within the horticultural and gardening sector and it was no surprise to see 300 people attend his funeral.
As CEO of the FNMJ he was an active member of the IGCA, and of its Board, assisting Bernard PICAL during his presidency.
We will miss him very much.
UK Report from the New CEO
This is my first report for IGCA e-news since I joined the UK Garden Centre Association in February.
During February I have travelled extensively across the UK visiting over 25 member garden centres, key GCA suppliers and two trade exhibitions. Over the next two months I will be visiting many more members, associates and GCA suppliers to further understand the challenges and opportunities that GCA members face. Based on my visits so far, half of the garden centres visited keep plants as their core offering, whilst the other half are developing into out of town department stores.
Most are investing and developing their centres with multiple million pound building projects to protect their customer base and expand their customer base. I wonder how many garden centres in your country use the power of scent? Though I have visited centres in late winter / early spring which is not the best time to visit, only two have left me with a scent sensation.
Scent is the only one of our five senses that bypasses the logical part of our brains and goes directly into the emotional and memory areas. This makes it the ideal vehicle to use when working to create a memorable experience that will resonate with customers in a lasting way. One centre that put a strong smelling plant display by the planteria entrance sold out in two days and gained add-on sales plus no doubt the customers are still on a high from the scent.
Trading figures for January 2012 have shown a slight downturn against January 2011 with a 3.35% decline in sales. However the decline in sales reported on a year on year comparison needs to be seen in light of the strong sales in January 2011 generated after the heavy snowfall which affected the end of 2010 and kept many people at home during December, plus bird care sales have been challenging all winter and this has had an adverse reaction to members turnover figures.
Further analysis of the sales figures shows that over 40% of GCA members submitting data, expressed sales growth during the month. With outdoor plants, up nearly 20% and hard landscaping up nearly 30% being the star category performers.
The retail environment remains very challenging in the UK, however members are remaining positive with many undertaking further investment in their businesses which is reflected in increasing footfall, customer spend and repeat business.
USA Report for 2012
Spring has sprung! It sprang rather early. Most parts of the US report a mild winter with a fraction of the snow fall usually experienced. While March in the south is often mild it is not quite into the 80’s which have been experienced in the last week or so. Most regions are reporting at least 10 degrees higher with Chicago reaching the 70’s for much of last week.
Unseasonably warm temperatures are making the garden centers move quite excitedly! Many were not quite ready for spring customers but are scrambling to get ready quickly. Optimism was fairly high for this spring for retail with the current increases in gas prices causing some concern. Early warm weather renews hope for a great spring when it is long overdue!
Shanan Molnar, Garden Centers of America®
News from Holland
In Holland we received a report from a consumer panel survey over 2011. This proved that in spite of the European crisis consumers keep spending money on gardening. Compared to 2010 the annual expenditure on gardening reduced only 0,7%. In total, on a population of 16 million people with about 4,5 million gardens consumers kept the money rolling up to € 4,1 Billion. Garden centres had less part in this turnover though.
Especially on one year plants grocery stores took a more than fair share of the market. The publication of these figure had a enormous attraction to the press. On the radio we were opening news for half a day and all newspapers covered the subject. All this was considered as good advertisement for gardening as a whole. Tuinbranche Nederland funds the survey for 2/3. The total cost of this survey are € 82.000.
Hello from Germany
Preparing our Congress in Germany is a lot of work! We didn’t think that it would cause so much problems to divide the congress fee from the hotel booking. We decided to do this because of the volcanic eruption in 2010 when people couldn’t reach their destinations but hotels were booked. We never thought about something like this before and we decided to minimize our risk.
Please note that the registration contains this year 2 Steps: The first one is the registration and the second one the hotel-room booking. It would be nice if you could give this information further to your members. Please remind: Early Bird Fee is ending 31st March!
Our winter conference was with 270 participants the best visited ever. We’ve had 3 garden-center colleagues speaking about their plant conception and also Garry Grüber - formerly working for Kientzler - reported for “winning with plants”. He talked about “instant gardening”, “Urban gardening” , “vertical gardening” and - very interesting - “guerilla gardening” (throwing seedbombs over fences). We had also a very interesting presentation of “Mystery Shopping” in the garden-centres that shows the listeners how confident their customers really are. The Highlight of our conference surely was the visit of the football stadium in Dortmund because it is the actual champion stadium in Germany. All men were fascinated to look behind the scenes.
11 from 35 inspected Garden-centers got the Gold Certification at the gala evening.
These are the Winners in “Gold” 2011/2012!, see above.
The garden-centers from left behind: Henry Brockmeyer, Wolfgang Kiefl, Nils Schley, Heiner Schlößer with his kids, Alexander Wagner, from left in front: Christian Dinger, Eckhard Heinemann with his wife Grit, Dirk and Birgit Michel and Reimund Esser. See pictures on our website http://www.garten-center.de/cms/mitglieder_foerdernde/index.php?rub_id=9&pwd=#bilder-galerie
Best Wishes, Jutta Lenz, German Garden-Center Association
Australian President Milton Reports from South Australia
Every time I do the report it seems to follow the weather, if the weather is good so is the trade. I have however been seeing a change in this pattern, it is becoming more frequent that even when the weather has been good it has not translated to good sales. See my report below for what has happened this season.
December was a month where the temperatures were kind to us and appropriately the sales were good with most people reporting sales even to up. Then comes January which traditionally after Christmas sales can be quite good, but high temperatures saw sales down by most, double figures down was not unusual.
Along comes February typically very hot and dry but no, we had mild temperatures for most of the month and sales were good but not great.
This is where things differed this year even on some stretches of beautiful days with even a little rain, sales were soft taking the weather into account. I don’t know what to put it on but there is certainty caution out there in the market. Bigger ticket items have suffered the most and what I call project buyers (those doing larger jobs) do not seem to be there. Look I’m sure lots are cautious with the GFC still.
Autumn has started with some rain and beautiful days so I’m looking forward to lots of plant sales.
And from our New GCA Director in Western Australia
Despite record breaking heat, garden centres in WA report steady trading. Small independents report that their sales are up on last year. Of course, like in other areas of Australia, many garden centres are closing their doors. The land is often worth much more than the garden centre can hope to make. There are two market leaders in WA: Dawsons and Waldecks. They have both been around for many decades!
Dawson's four centres are said to be trading strongly and are popular with the gardening public, famous for their home grown roses, camellias and azaleas. Waldeck's 6 centres continue to be a major presence in Perth with the new impressive Osborne Park garden centre and cafe due to open at Easter.
Drover's in the northern suburbs are famous for garden furniture and are situated in a complex with fresh fruit and veggie, and other specialty stores. We are all waiting for the cool of autumn, and looking forward to great trading conditions.
Jackie Hooper, Zanthorrea Nursery