Taking place at the NEC in Birmingham over three days, Gardensite partners David Coton, David Hall and Andrew Hall were present to collect the award.

They were taking a break from the important business of seeking out new and innovative products on show at Glee that could be offered online at Gardensite.co.uk

Award winners

Having won the award for Best Online Selling Team in the previous year, David and his colleagues from GardenSite were again invited to the awards ceremony on Tuesday.

David said, 'We had no idea that we were going to win again, but we did. These  Buyers Power List awards are highly sort after and it was very satisfying that our team's efforts over the past year have again been rewarded.'

The online buying team were congratulated by GardenSite's Senior Partner, Robert Hall, who said that it was fabulous that their hard work in sourcing great products at the right prices was recognised by the industry and our customers.

'It's particularly pleasing just to be nominated for the award as we are still a family business and there is stiff competition from many major retailers'.

He went on the say,

'Winning the award will make us even more determined over the coming year to maintain our track record of buying products that delight our customers both in their quality and price'.
'GardenSite has now become the place to shop if you want a huge choice of gardening products at prices you can afford'.
glee location

Meeting Suppliers, Discussing Trends

Each year GLEE gives GardenSite an excellent opportunity to catch up on everything that is currently happening in the garden and leisure industry, meet suppliers, discuss trends and source new products for our customers.

The 2016 show was very well attended with manufacturers such as Rowlinson returning and all the regular exhibitors present including many current and potential suppliers.

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 were 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.

New products

There was an impression that manufacturers had consolidated their range rather than introducing a raft of new products. This might be due to the uncertain economic climate but there were certainly exciting items in the 'New Product Showcase' and 'Innovations Zone'.

It was good to see plants make a come back at the 'Green Heart' of the show but disappointingly there were no greenhouse exhibitors, 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 have been great to see aquatics return to the exhibition.

Future trends

When David was walking around the stands he had the chance to talk with suppliers about new products and what they thought the future holds in the garden industry.

Two subjects kept cropping up, one concerned the development of garden centres and the other focussed on the nature of the products GardenSite offers.

Firmly established as part of our garden centre in Birmingham is the award winning Garden Room coffee shop where outstanding food quality and service is key to its success. Once seen as an adjunct to the business, the range of food, how its served, and the ambiance of food outlets must continue to improve so they become established as a destination in their own right.

Another trend that will only continue to gain momentum is outdoor merging with indoor living. This is exemplified from the increasing amount of outdoor furniture, sofas, armchairs etc, we are selling on GardenSite that resemble those found in your living room but made from weatherproof materials.

Other garden furniture in teak, rattan, metal, and plastic will enhance people's gardens in the coming years, and of course you have the continuing popularity of barbecues and built-in kitchens.

There's no doubt that modern gardens are becoming smaller and this has created another trend, that of miniaturization, with smaller ornaments in demand such as those from Vivid Arts and Enigma. They may be compact but, due to their detailed design and colourful nature, lack nothing in impact.

On the other hand, large resin ornaments that enable dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals to roam your flower beds also continue to sell in increasing numbers.

Traditional ornaments such as water features show no sign of slowing, possibly as the result of people spending more time outside and wanting a focal point that offers so much interest.

Finally, instant gardening and immediate delivery will continue to make demands, driven no doubt by television programmes that turn wildernesses into Chelsea winners over a weekend.

These are certainly developments we must as a business address in order to satisfy our customers and attending shows such as Glee offers offers a tremendous opportunity to anticipate and keep up with these trends.

Breakfast Briefing with Diarmuid Gavin

Breakfast briefing

A breakfast briefing with Diarmuid Gavin was one of the high points of Glee 2016 for Nathan James Dodd, when the discussion focussed on how to attract young people into the gardening industry.

A familiar face on television, Diarmuid Gavin is an award winning gardener who passionately wants to increase the attraction gardening as a career. As part of the team that won one of the Glee 'Power Buyers' awards, Nathan was asked to join him for a breakfast briefing.

It was obvious to everyone that social media has a huge role to play in increasing the perception of gardening among school leavers, but not all employers are comfortable with this relatively new strategy.

At GardenSite we have always realised the significance of social media and used apprenticeships to invigorate the business with youthful enthusiasm.

In essence, we can teach an apprentice about gardening but as a business we can also prosper, as the people we take on are very knowledgeable about social media trends, apps and latest technologies.

As for GardenSite, it's beyond doubt that over the past four years our apprentices and the business have both benefited greatly from the experience.

Community engagement

Engagement with the community is also a winning strategy, we need to inform and educate, and establish horticulture as a part of a school's curriculum.

Mainstream education can learn from Forest Schools where children develop their confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland or natural environment.

GardenSite invites school children to visit our garden centre, encouraging these children to engage with gardening at an early age will hopefully sow some seeds of interest that will grow stronger in the future when they are considering careers.

Nathan thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with Diarmuid, it was a great opportunity to share ideas with someone who is determined to revitalise gardening as an aspirational career that school leavers see as a positive and rewarding career path.