Andy Bunker, Alton Garden Centre:
“Overall a great show and all really positive with a huge number of new products from all corners and very little talk of Brexit, almost everyone was upbeat.
“For me it's the fun garden category where the products are good quality and in many cases astoundingly good value. Good examples being Smart, Fountasia and Vivid Arts to name but three, and the diversification made by the big three pot suppliers; Apta, Woodlodge, Cadix, into this sector has really brought dividends.
“If I have to nail my colours to the mast then I would go Cadix houseplant pot cover range, Smart Wind Chime stand and last but not least Fountasia metal flowers as the stand out new products. These three will bring in extra cash and offer something different be it product or pricing strategy.
“There were also lots of little winners such as Ivyline hardwood planters and Apta stone vehicle planters.
“Lastly with regards to attendees over the years the numbers of our teams attending has dwindled but its turning round now with the need now for our BBQ team and Landscape team to attend at least one day.
“New Products I thought were in the wrong place. All the European shows and indeed the HTA National Plant Show make it a must not misscentral point.”
Alison Marsden, Barton Grange Garden Centre:
“I found this year’s Glee rather interesting and found I didn’t have enough time with 2 days to cover everything that I needed to. There was a lot more to be said on each of the stands due to who owns what and who is doing what now. I found all the chemical changes interesting and I am still debating how to rationalise our range to make it more customer focused.
“The product that stood out the most for me was the nematode products from Neurdorff. I like the title Job done on SBM, but that does not help me shrink the range. For dry goods outside I liked the grow your own products from Zest.
“As far as buying decisions we have seen what is out there, but I still feel there is a fair amount of work to be done here, especially as I would like to give the department a little shake up. We need to decide on some great promotions.
“I did visit the retail lab, but very briefly as time was short.
“In a nutshell, I enjoyed the show very much (which is unusual for me at Glee). We came away with lots to consider but no real decisions made, a big pile of catalogues to review and a whole load of brain power to be used.”
Colin Barrie, Caulders Garden Centres:
“Glee 2017 was a great event for the Garden industry and based on the quality of the Show for the last two years was a hard act to follow.
“All our key suppliers were there and it was great opportunity to focus on our ranging for 2018. Within the industry it's always quite easy to see what the larger suppliers are doing in terms of range and NPD, however Glee gives the opportunity for the medium and smaller suppliers to showcase their products and get them in front of the customer.
“For me, Kelkay and Zest had some great new products and are driving their categories well in terms of Product and retail innovation.”
Mel Livingston, Fron Goch Garden Centre:
“Seeing everything together helps to distill the zeitgeist, whether that is colour, styling, message or future trends. It helps to confirm that maybe even though we want to uplift the stoneware section, no one is actually making what we are looking for... yet! When it comes to pots and containers, we are already buying from the companies with the best offer.
“We went to the retail lab, great, made sense to me, Alicia loved it and she took loads of photos. A really good addition to the show. It's fair enough showing new products but a physical representation about new ideas is where we should be going at UK shows.
“Stand out products: Woodlodge Houseplant pots - that study tour (to Holland with GTN and the HTA) was useful! Neudorff nematodes, just wow, how handy are these going to be! Senecio Angel Wings - it was all over Fouroaks, it's just so different and I'm going to enjoy enthusing customers about it!”
“I thought it was a better show this year, it reflected the fact that everyone had traded well over the past 12 months. More retail lab stuff please, let's encourage everyone to up their game when it comes to inspirational displays!”
Boyd Douglas-Davies, Hillview Garden Centres:
“Another great GLEE! Lots of positive vibes, plenty of money making products from well-known suppliers plus an interesting range spread around the edges from hitherto unknown companies.
“We placed orders with existing suppliers and new discoveries through the show so certainly a productive three days. We were very excited by the range extension from Smart Garden and we placed our biggest single product order with Crest.
“The Retail Lab was an excellent addition to the show and we'll be working with our teams to ensure the displays find their way to store over the next few weeks.”
Colin Dale, Notcutts:
“Yes this was a very good GLEE for us this year. We had pre-planned ourselves better this year, which helped to focus on genuine potential incremental sales and improved options for the Notcutts range.
“I was particularly keen to see how some of the new natural/ organic products have come together, from virtually all suppliers.
“LED windowsill GYO potential has been in the press recently and it was good to see a couple of potential supply options at GLEE.
“House plant pots are doing well this year. Again there were some new options on range and suppliers in this area.
“The Retail lab was a great idea, but unfortunately I ran out of time & missed the tour. I will ensure that I do next year.
“It was great that Notcutts at Woodford Park gained the recognition that it deserved in the GTN Greatest Plant Retailer Awards.
“As a group, I encourage input from our colleagues in Garden Centres, where they gain the best customer feedback. I invited a team to join Hayley & myself at GLEE, and I know that they fully enjoyed the experience this year.
“After a few years of slipping backwards it does now feel the GLEE is back on positive growth trajectory.”
Caroline Owen, Scotsdales Garden Centres:
“As always a great Glee and certainly the best in the last few years.
“I don't think there was a standout product as such but new ranges of garden ornaments will add some volume to sales for 2018.
“So many great stands showing products in lifestyle situations, Cadix and Ellho particularly. If only we had the space to have these displays at the garden centre. Without doubt it always helps buying decisions to see the products rather than looking at a catalogue and for us in Cambridge means that I can send my garden care teams to see all the suppliers in one day which certainly they all enjoy.
“It's a great networking event catching up with colleagues and friends all in a short time.”
Neil and Nicci Gow, Fresh@Burcot Garden Centre:
“I cannot imagine operating in our sector without Glee. How else can you see so many potential suppliers and products in one place at one time. Professional Buyers may have time to trip around all over the country visiting supplier show rooms but the independent garden centre does not have this luxury, so I cannot imagine how a garden centre can operate effectively at the leading edge we require to stay ahead of the sheds, multiples and discount retailers invading the high street. The opportunity to shuffle back and forth between exhibitors comparing products is invaluable. Now with the likes of Bayer (SBM) back at the show we can make ranging decisions there and then without having to wait until their rep eventually gets around to seeing us. Suppliers not at Glee missed out on shelf space with us when they are not at Glee. As a business, we are being squeezed too and no longer have the time to hang around waiting. Those day have gone. We have defined our chems and ferts range for 2018 now, along with our pots and other garden sundries. All that is left to do is work out the orders and get these placed. We can now get on with key autumn retailing and prep for Christmas.
“Maybe I have been in the industry too long but really all The Retail Lab did was frustrate me: - that there is so much more we could do if there were the hours in the day, the margin in the sales, the profit in the operations, the skills in the folks we have in our industry and the perception in the customers we serve? We took a few pictures to act as aide memoirs but I am disappointed at the follow up material available, or lack of, that we could relay back to the team at the centre who did not get to see it. I thought at least there would be a virtual tour by Romeo on the HTA or Glee website, some material we could download from one of those websites with some of the phrases, saying and statistics we could use in POS and that sort of thing. That would be really constructive towards alleviating some of my frustrations! There was obviously a huge amount of work and expense put into it and just a spoonful more would have made it so much more valuable.
“Stewarts/Keter had some interesting lines, some certainties in new pots and planters and others that are growing on me. The storage solutions are something that could be an interesting trend. We were doing well with this until 2 or 3 years ago when the multiples murdered the value of this group, so it could be ripe for a comeback now?
“The new packaging/presentation concepts of Vitax have certainly got some legs. Link sales is something we have barely touched on yet and something the independent garden retailer has an advantage over the discounters on so we must capitalise on this.
“Woodlodge had some great looking pots, and some interesting lines for indoor pot covers which could work in well with the re-surgence we are seeing in pot plants?
“Green Heart showcased some great looking new plants from Wyevale and Channel Island Plants for next season. It was really useful to see the Christmas added value range from Farplants and I think there could be some winning lines in there for us. Baldwin Nurseries, who I had not come across before. They had some really great looking plants, especially their climbers.
“It is really encouraging to see some companies turning their back on the ‘race to the bottom’ that has been so prevalent in our industry over recent years. Quality products with sensible retail prices and margin for both supplier and retailer are what we need. Be this tools from Kent & Stowe, Lawn Care from Westland, Bird Care from Peckish, sundry lines from Garland and Tildenet and garden decoration from Fountasia and The Solar Centre.
“On a scale of 1 to 10, we would rate Glee 2017 as probably 10 if not 11!”
And finally, a word from one of the Glee New Product Award judges…
Brian Archibald, B&H Solutions:
“I thoroughly enjoyed judging this year and felt the show was the best for many years.
“I was not looking at products as a buyer, but as a consumer so a slightly different slant this year.
“To me, the stand out product was the I-|Glo decking disc. It was unique, British made and also looks good from an export perspective. They were the only supplier who came to the judging to explain their product and have looked at applications other than decking. Good luck to them.
“Neudorff’s vine weevil, chafer grub and leatherjacket nematodes should do well as customers become more environmentally aware. They have a shelf life of 6 months and are non-returnable, so buyers need to be aware as the season for each one reaches the end.
“Kelkay look set for another year of growth with an ever-increasing range of water features and aggregates.
“I visited the retail lab and thought it was good. Something new for buyers to mull over.”
If you would like to add your comments, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or use the comments link below. We will add them to this story and publish more in the Glee Daily News Omnibus Issue at the end of September.