It was a really busy Glee from a GTN point of view. The Glee Daily News, produced by the GTN editorial team, published more stories about suppliers and products than ever before and the New Products Showcase in association with GTN presented over 300 entries and encompassed a full days judging on Monday before the winners were announced.
But what about Glee from the point of view of the most important people; garden centre owners and buyers?
After the show GTN asked the questions: How useful was Glee 2016 for you? And what was your highlight of the show?
Here are the first ten responses:
Adam Wigglesworth, Aylett Nurseries: “The third year of the new hall layout provided a vibrant and easy to navigate show.
“As a buyer I found that once we were on the stands and talking to the exhibitors there were a variety of exciting new products and tweaks to existing ranges that will improve 2017 s offer.
“I also took part in the GIMA buyer connect for the first time which was a really useful session and a number of the people I met will become new suppliers!”
Alan Mercer, Hillmount Garden Centre: “We found lots of new products for 2017 at Glee. We will be stocking 3 new BBQ brands in 2017. Traeger, unni and Kadi. It was brilliant to see Webers new Genesis grills when will revamp our BBQ range.
“We where able to catch up with Dan from the weber BBQ Grill academy to discuss our BBQ cooking school for 2017. We will become a weber certified BBQ schools for 2017.
“The atmosphere at the show was very positive with lots of suppliers offering fresh new products for 2017.
“We took Kerri the manager from our Bangor store for the first time as the show is a brilliant way to let her see the new gardening products each year. It also let her see new ways to display products that can sometimes be seen as the boring stuff in the garden centre.
“It was also nice to catch up with other garden centre's from N Ireland and Ireland and hear what's happened this year so far.”
Brian Archibald, Coolings Nurseries: “I am certainly going to stock the wall planting system from Lowes when available next year, and also Pot Pal 'The Perfect Plant Pot Partner' as a Christmas line.
“We have sold a great deal of the Roundup Gel and looking at our customer base as the older set I will also stock their extending handle so you don't have to bend over to apply the Roundup gel. A nice add-on sale.
“Another good product was the Westland lawn feed that highlighted it was safe for children and pets on the front. I think this is probably the most asked question for ferts and chems.
“I found Glee very useful, yet again, in finding those smaller suppliers who do not have a large sales force. It is a great opportunity to speak to them and also find new products that are not mainstream.
“I generally don't go to Glee to see the Scotts and Westlands of this world, it is the small companies that I am interested in that makes us different from local competition.”
Caroline Owen, Scotsdales: “A great show I thought and lots of innovation on merchandising solutions. I asked our new manager who as well as taking on food hall and cook shop is going to assist our mangers on visual merchandising across the stores and he was really excited about the merchandising for garden care and we can make the product exciting...he even said sexy!!
“So on this front highlights had to be the Westland stand and some of the Smart Garden stand innovation - What can be done with a lightbulb!
“I actually think the best stand in the show was Kelkay.
“It’s difficult to pick only one or two but we are looking for manufacturers to provide a merchandising solution to enable us to sell volume at good prices and not necessarily cheap. For example the Gardman poppy bird feeder which we have sold 500 already from a simple stand. Burgon and Ball always do the same for their products as do Creative Products.
“I am very excited for next year.
“There are of course many others and it really is difficult to just mention one or two.”
Stuart Whalley, Blue Diamond: “Glee this year has surpassed expectations, especially with the number of suppliers now exhibiting. I hope this will encourage more to come back in future years.
“By having the vast majority of suppliers all under one roof it allows direct comparison of all the products so buyers can make a far more informed and detailed choice.
“There were many great new ideas (some not so new) and innovation and I will be keeping secret my thoughts on those until they hit the centres next year.”
Peter Self, Whitehall Garden Centres: “Good annual showcase for new innovation, seemed busier following a steady year, great for the suppliers.
“Highlights were Smart Solar with their extended ranging of lighting and the new Noma garden lighting ranging, Woodlodge New Chelsea and Heritage range of pots.
Andy Bunker, Alton Garden Centre: “I thoroughly enjoyed the whole event. It was interesting the variation form very busy to steady to quiet over all three days, however it seemed a lot of the so called bag collectors were not in attendance in the usual numbers.
“I am sure some of the big boys are looking at costs and pointing out the fact no need for the tea lady to go to Glee.
“We will almost certainly be stocking the BLOCK BLITZ , the OLIVE CHARCOAL from CPL and look at quite a few of the other lines .
“Highlight; in fairness nothing jumps out but I would say generally the more professional attendance was a big help.”
Matthew Bent, Bents Garden & Home: “Overall I thought it was the best Glee yet. It was more focused to what we wanted which was the garden care and landscape category. There was a real positivity to the show with suppliers seeming to have had a good year.
“There were lots of new products and some really good ideas for next year. Solar powered items were still leading the innovation and a massive category for this year and next.
“Areas not great, the new product area was not as good as previous years and did not show the products off in the best way.
“Highlight of the show was meeting with suppliers and networking.”
Alan Roper, Blue Diamond: “After a decline a few years ago the past couple of years have seen the show strengthen.
“A test of any show is retailers finding new suppliers, new products and on this point it’s getting marginally stronger.
“I am sure that’s what all the visitors want to see.
“More new, more choice, will lead to more GLEE visitors.
“It's important the organizers ensure it's affordable for smaller new suppliers to create choice diversity. In the past price is often sighted as the reason some suppliers stay away.”
Justin Williams, Fron Goch Garden Centre: “I spent two days at the show with three of our team.
“A packed two days of dealing with the nitty gritty of comparing suppliers and products but also of getting a gut feeling for future direction and choices; what are we to stand for as a garden centre; what are we to be to our customers?
“Interestingly, we were looking more than ever at the appeal of impulse products aimed at either decoration or as a gift. A focus which is a reaction to a change in customer demographic; as more traditional customers are replaced by younger ones. A focus which we must balance with authority and ownership of our sector.
“As usual we are looking for innovation to create new opportunities and new revenue but what struck me more than ever was the importance of deciding what not to stock; to control our retail environment for our customers and avoid confusing duplications which can overfill our centre.
“Glee of course provides the opportunity to chat with everyone in the industry; sharing vital information, your own mistakes / winners and having a good laugh with other garden centres.”
And the final word, for today, goes to Nigel Poyner. Nigel has exhibited at Glee for over 20 years and this year was his first opportunity to see it from the other side working as a consultant buyer for garden centres and as one of the Glee New Products Showcase judges: “It was an honour and pleasure to be a judge this year. l think the pitching idea was a real winner it helped the final outcome so much.
“It is so hard to be innovative in this day and age, but from my first walk around Lowes green walling stood out, but also the single seed cell also impressed me and something that could be used with youngsters to encourage them to get into gardening.
“The overall atmosphere at the show was relaxed, positive and upbeat with a lot of effort going into stand design and dressing the Halls and avenues wide and inviting. Not cramped like some other shows, l think the Glee team have done a great job.
“Can't wait till 2017. According to my phone app l walked 19.88 miles during the show!”
The one negative that came back in our initial feedback was about hotels in the area. Andy Bunker commented: "One point I would like to raise and that is of the costs of hotels, I know Glee has a handle on most aspects but hotels are a real issue not just cost but traveling to and from the halls.
"Now they are a lot further away than the old days it is a problem. Surely one should not have to get a taxi from crown plaza to the show!
"They have a captive audience I know, but trust me some will lose out eventually as buyers start to mushroom out further afield.
"Lastly the fact it is now cast in stone for a Monday start so hotels are a must for many more to avoid the Monday motorway madness. My suggestion would be to list hotels from a cost low to high and even a rating like trip advisor type thing, traveling distance etc. I'm sure there are a lot that buyers are not aware of."
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