Now in its ninth year, the GCA Rising Stars project, sponsored by Westland, is a fixture - and the final presentations session from the candidates at the annual conference is a keenly-anticipated highlight in the programme.
The project recognises the importance of training and motivating the garden centre managers of tomorrow and, to judge from the work put in by this year’s five finalists – for the first time, all women – it is producing impressive results.
The candidates clearly enjoy what is a highly-competitive process to reach the final stage, often discovering in themselves hidden skills and abilities. The results of the merchandising projects with which they are tasked after attending a series of masterclasses (facilitated until this year by training consultant Ian Boardman of IBBIS) are measured against sales, so the candidates are never under any illusion about what has worked or flopped.
This year’s winner, Jayne Scott of Klondyke Daleside, told her GCA audience how she couldn’t wait to get back to work and start putting ideas learned from the masterclasses into practice. Some worked, some didn’t – but a trial she devised in the growing media area revealed that customers preferred a brand offer smaller pack sizes, a useful nugget for her centre’s buyers and suppliers.
This year, the Rising Stars mentoring programme will run over a shorter period between June and October, with a greater emphasis on the garden sundries and plant areas. Sponsors Westland are aiming for up to 60 participants, with 31 April the deadline for applications.
Jayne Scott from Daleside Klondyke, who won the vote from delegates at Conference to win the title of 2017 GCA Rising Star was presented with her award by John, McDowell of Westland (second left), in a ceremony hosted by comedian Jo Caulfield and GCA chairman Mike Lind. Jayne wins a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show.
Jayne (second left) with her fellow Rising Stars candidates and Mike Lind.