In This Issue
Much loved industry figure passes away after cancer battle
OBE's for Colin Squire and John Athwal
Rachel Doyle of Arboretum scoops Retail Excellence Lifetime Achievement Award
Bunnings UK boss to take a three month break
New Year Greetings to all our readers
When will the For Sale sign go up at Wyevale GCs?
So what went on behind closed doors at the Wyevale suppliers meeting.?
Rising Stars 2017 - The final 12
Owners of garden centre face £21,000 bill after selling 'dangerous' items
Wyevale Garden Centres announces shift away from acquisitions
Wyevale Garden Centres named on 'worst to work for' list
Sad news - Alistair Lorimer dies
Durston Garden Products HOLD prices for 2018
New display ideas, new products, new suppliers at Bunnings first UK garden centre - GTN Xtra picture exclusive
Retail ops restructured as going gets tough for Wyevale GCs
All eyes will be on how Wyevale GCs plans to replace 'unsustainable' growth strategy with core business focus
Sir Terry and Mr M...unfinished business at Dobbies?
Mothers Day bonanza as garden centre records are broken across the country
We cleared out Homebase management too quickly, confesses parent company's new CEO
Carol Paris is leaving the HTA
Dobbies "gets together with Ocado to be the best on-line"
Nicholas Marshall is back in the gardening industry as CEO of Dobbies
Newshound finds Mr M has been busy recruiting 'experience'...
Terra Firma props up Wyevale Garden Centres
So this is what a Bunnings Warehouse looks like...
A bittersweet moment says Scott CEO as he announces UK, Europe and Aussie sell-off
Gardman reports £1.5m loss - but earnings soar by 50%
Blue Diamond buys Bridgford Garden Centre
Exponent Private Equity to buy Scotts business in UK, Europe and Australia
Brothers sell £15m Yarnton Nurseries business
Area Representative/Product Merchandiser
Get your own copy of GTN Xtra
Westland win Sword of Excellence with SafeLawn
Is this the smallest garden centre in the UK?
Glee to hold two shows per year from 2018 onwards
Garden retailers sign up to industry Xylella statement
Marshall's strategy for Dobbies to put focus back on plants
Woodlodge win GCA Associate of the year Award
"The Best Glee for Years" - Retailers verdict on this years show
"Xylella is the most serious situation I have come across in 32 years in the industry"
MEP's vote to ban glyphosate completely by 2022
Blisters, tomatoes, over 100 walkers and runners raise over £22k on Garden Re-Leaf Day
Coolings buys Potted Garden Nursery at Maidstone
Exclusive pictures from Bunnings' biggest store yet
New men at the top at Hillier
Xylella fastidiosa: how Italy has tackled the problem
Town & Country is sold to EP Barrus
Supplier rebates to exceed £1.5m for Choice members
"Garden Centre of the Future" planned for new outlet retail centre at Downtown Grantham
Bunnings UK No. 3 - Hemel Hempstead in pictures
Shoplifting costs retailers £800m a year says research
Scotts: We want out of Europe...but we won't give the business away
New trade show will demonstrate how to cater for vegans
Historic exhibition and new branding for Dobbies
Exciting new-build garden centre underway
Bunnings - Homebase - sales drop by £44m
Glyphosate licence approved for 5 years
2017: A year of transition for the garden centre trade
Top 50 most-read stories in GTN Xtra 2017
Situations Vacant
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Kent/Sussex area. £20k to £23k per annum
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OBE's for Colin Squire and John Athwal


Two stalwarts of the UK garden centre industry, Colin Squire and John Athwal have been awarded OBE's in the New Year's Honours list.


Speaking to GTN Xtra yesterday Colin Squire said; "I'm humbled, thrilled and overawed by the award."  John Athwal from his annual holiday in Goa said he was "absolutely stunned."


Chairman of Squires Garden Centres, Colin Squires' award for services to the Horticultural Industry and to charity, comes after a lifetime working in the family business that started in the fifties when left college in Kingston.  Squires celebrated 80 years as a limited company in 2016 and are currently modernising many of their 15 centres.


Jarnail Singh Athwal, Founder and Managing Director, Premier Decorations Ltd. Was awarded his OBE for services to Business and charity.  


John comments: “Receiving an OBE in the Queen’s 2018 New Years Honours list is a fantastic tribute and I am overwhelmed to have been recognised and nominated by colleagues and peers. Life has not always been as easy as it is today; having arrived at the age of eight in the UK in 1961 with my parents from very humble beginnings in Punjab, I have embraced the opportunities this country has offered me, and it only feels right to give a little something back to society.”


John’s entrepreneurial skills unearthed at college at just 17 years old, where much against his parents wishes, he formed a business with a friend as a music promoter hiring bands for the local town hall and student’s union. His parent’s disapproval of this venture, which involved late nights and selling alcoholic beverages going completely against his Asian culture, led John to run away from home – a decision that he now regrets because of the worry and anxiety it caused his family; but which also altered the course of his life.


As a self-confessed workaholic, John landed a job as a trainee manager in a filling station and, in the days when these generally only sold fuel, recognised the potential to stock add-on merchandise such as jackets, briefcases, garden accessories, bread, milk – in fact anything that caught the customer’s eye. This business model proved so successful that it expanded to filling stations across the country and having been promoted to marketing manager John approached  the board of directors to establish a business wholesaling non-petrol products to other filling stations. At the business’s peak it was selling to 2,500 filling stations in the UK.





At the age of 29, John was appointed to the Board of Directors and established an importing  arm for the company, and a couple of years later,  a friend approached John with an order to supply Christmas decorations to Asda – as his friend did not have the funds to fulfil the order himself. Travelling to factories in Taiwan and discovering the considerable excitement involved  in this type of product, John decided that this was where his future lay. He formed Premier Decorations Ltd – the UK’s first Christmas brand and one which remains a market leader for this type of product today.


This year, Premier Decorations will celebrate its 30th birthday, while John celebrates his own 65th birthday. Although he no longer works full-time in the office John is still an ever-present figure in the company, supporting his staff and guiding the company strategy. He concludes: “Professionally I think that I have achieved most of my ambitions – and receiving an OBE really has to cap it all. I will continue to be active in both my business and charitable work, but also look forward to spending more time in the future with my wife Jito, children and grandchildren.”



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