GLEE, held at the NEC in Birmingham last week, gave David Coton an excellent opportunity to catch up on everything that is currently happening in the garden and leisure industry and what the future holds. Here is his review of the exhibition.
Attending GLEE, the garden retail industry's annual show, which took place between 12 – 14 September, allowed me the chance to meet current and potential suppliers, discuss trends and source new products for our customers.
First impressions were that the show was very well attended with manufacturers such as Rowlinson returning and all the regular exhibitors including many current and potential suppliers present.
There were companies representing the entire industry including landscaping, garden design, clothing, garden care, gifts, even pets and speciality food. Naturally this offering attracted retailers from national chains to independent garden centres.
The layout of stands and exhibition spaces seemed more inviting than I remember and intelligently planned, easy to get around and firmly aimed at the garden trade.
Companies offering similar products and services were grouped together which made it far easier to locate who the people I wanted to network with and collect information from.
Having won the award for Best Online Selling Team last year, I and my colleagues from GardenSite were again invited to the awards ceremony on Tuesday.
We had no idea that we were going to win again, but we did, and it was very satisfying that our team's efforts over the past year have again been rewarded.
These 'Buyers Power List' awards are highly sort after and it crossed my mind that they could be further expanded to include other garden sectors.
I gained the impression while walking around the show that manufacturers have consolidated their current product range rather than introducing a host of new products.
This might be due to the uncertain economic climate, but the fresh merchandise I did see in the 'New Product Showcase' and 'Innovations Zone' will certainly enhance the range we sell on GardenSite in the coming months and next year.
It was good to see plants make a come back at the 'Green Heart' of the show but disappointingly there were no greenhouse exhibitors, I presume probably due to a competing European show.
As a major part of our business, and as fishkeeping is an essential part of many of our customers' gardening activities, it would also be great to have aquatics return to the exhibition.
There's no doubt that the start of the year was disappointing, but after attending this year's show it is clear to me that the good summer has created a sense of optimism that's shared by the whole gardening industry.