A new joint initiative between the Garden Centre Association and The Garden Industry Manufacturer’s Association has launched to enable debate and communication between retailers and suppliers.
A programme of joint virtual forums between members of both associations has been created to aid healthy debate to enable a stronger, more resilient, and dynamic supply chain going forward.
Iain Wylie, GCA Chief Executive explained: “We are delighted to have joined forces with GIMA to create a space where members of both associations can come together to discuss the industry and how we move forward after the recent COVID restrictions and closures.
“Our first forum took place on July 14 and we heard from representatives from both the GCA and GIMA who discussed the pressures everyone faced and how we could work together to come up with improvements that will help us all in the medium to longer term.”
The panellists on behalf of the GCA were Mike Burks, The Garden’s Group Managing Director and GCA Chairman, Simon Bourne, Director at Perrywood Garden Centre and David Yardley, Chief Executive at Klondyke Strikes.
Representing GIMA was Simon McArdle from Westland Horticulture and newly elected GIMA President, Craig Hall of Deco-Pak and newly elected GIMA Vice President and Simon Taylor of Plantworks, which is a GIMA member.
Vicky Nuttall, GIMA Director, said: “After a prolonged and unprecedented period of heightened demand for gardening products, both retailers and the supply chain have been put under severe pressure. Many of whom have had to reinvent their businesses overnight. Iain and I posed a series of questions to our panel about their experiences over the last few months.
“It soon became clear that suppliers across all categories had experienced similar challenges keeping up with the nonstop demand for gardening products leading to stock availability issues and extended lead times. Issues where compounded by social distancing in factories and distribution centres hampering efforts to fulfil orders”
Attendees to the forum shared their experience during lockdown and how they managed the situation with regards stock, manufacturing, and personnel.
Iain added: “As an industry we were very fortunate to have been allowed to reopen ahead of other sectors. The GCA and GIMA worked with the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and others to help bring this about, showing what can be achieved when the industry works together. It is important we keep these lines of communication open between garden centres and their suppliers to ensure disruption to the supply chain is minimised in the coming months and looking ahead to 2021.
“The forum was extremely helpful for everyone who attended. The key thing that came out of it was that the season is going on longer, tailing off less quickly and we doubt we will see a stop to summer and a start to autumn, it will be more of a transition.
“Gardening has led the post lockdown recovery of sales – notably compost, plants but, also, furniture. All agreed there had been supply issues, often beyond the direct control of the garden product supplier themselves but retailers had been understanding, as had garden centre customers, in taking available alternatives.
“The important thing that must be learned is communication and honesty through the supply chain is critical, whatever the issue, as only with honest and realistic understanding of lead times and availability can centres plan ahead and give accurate information to customers.”
The virtual forums will continue to take place during the next six to 12 months and a range of topics will be discussed. Sessions are free and exclusive to members of both trade associations.
Registration details for the next event will be sent to GCA and GIMA members shortly.