Robert Hall attends the 2017 GIMA (Garden Industry Manufacturer's Association) Awards as an appointed judge and offers his experience about the judging day and the many products there for review.
I received the invitation from Vicky Nuttall (GIMA Director) way back in January to be a judge at the GIMA Awards 2017.
I was both surprised and honoured to be asked as I well know that these are the leading industry awards for the manufacturers in our industry so I was very happy to accept.
They were held on 28th June at Warwick Racecourse, a venue that is ideally suited both for its central location (one judge flew down from Scotland and back on the day) and the available space needed both indoors and outdoors to properly display all the entries.
It was obvious right from the start that many manufacturers had entered the best of their new products as the large display hall was full and outside was a range of the larger products including structures, garden furniture, paving and even a very large van that had been especially customised to showcase the manufacturer’s goods that could be driven anywhere.
The Judging Process
Vicky explained the judging process for each category which were clearly identified and each judge had to choose his or her top 5 entries and give a brief description of why we had chosen our individual winning nomination from each category. The judges were encouraged to discuss the relevant merits of the entries but each judge made his or her decisions independently. Each of the entries had a full A4 page written description about the product so there was plenty to absorb. It was also obvious that a lot of thought and preparation had gone into this written presentation as everyone wanted to be a winner. Once the judging was under way there was no communication from any of the GIMA organisers who left the room with the exception of Vicky who was available only if guidance was needed.
After each section had been judged all the results were handed back in and taken away to be collated. I was impressed by the procedure and the complete impartiality which was very necessary for the integrity of the awards.
Once the individual categories had all been judged the winners were all presented to us to select the overall winner for the Sword of Excellence. The debate was fairly intense as there was no immediate unanimous winner but eventually, a show of hands produced a majority in favour of one winner.
There were 9 judges that were purposely made up from a really good cross section of our industry. One or two had judged previously but for the majority, it was their first time.
When I go to a Trade Show I will always try and focus on new products but inevitably you also spend time with current suppliers which is also important. At the GIMA judging though only the products and the accompanying literature spoke to you so it was refreshing to look without any prejudice at the products entered. It was also pleasing to see so many less well-known brands competing and I also came across some brands and products that I had never heard of or seen before, which was great.
The accolades will be awarded at the annual GIMA Dinner on 13th July at Celtic Manor where I will be presenting one of the prizes, as will each of the judges.
So there is one final question. “Who was the winner?” asked my wife as I walked back in the front door. I didn’t tell her and I won’t tell you just yet I’m afraid either.
Very well done to all the entrants, thank you for your efforts! I have listed below the judges for 2017 and the categories. Good luck to all who entered.
2017 GIMA Judges
- Julie Burrell, Head of Trading Seasonal and Stationery, Wilko Retail
- Tony Kersey, Buying Manager, Homebase
- Neil Grant, Managing Director, Ferndale Garden Centre
- Robert Hall, Hall's GardenSite
- James Hollingworth, Garden Products Buyer, Suttons Consumer Products
- Nick Liszka, Buying Manager, Wyevale Garden Centres
- Neil Pope, Garden Trade News
- Andy Schofield, Commercial Trading Manager, Home & Garden Group
- Allan Wilson, Senior Buyer, The Klondyke Group
2017 GIMA Categories
A1 Garden Care
A2 Growing and Planting Equipment and Sundries
A3 Garden Tools, Machinery and Implements
A4 Outdoor Leisure
A5 Plants, Seeds and Bulbs
A6 Garden Landscaping
A7 Garden Clothing & Gifts
A8 Pet Care, Aquatics and Wild Bird Care Products
A9 Garden Lighting, Water Features & Ornamentation
B1 Best Point of Sale Material
B2 Best Consumer Product Packaging (consumer packs only)
B3 Best Marketing Communication Award