GCA Conference 2017

by | Jan 30, 2017 | Community, News | 0 comments

This year?s GCA Conference began with a welcome from chariman Julian Winfield, with the first seminar of the day led by John Ashley, who outlined the hard work and tremendous support received from the industry for Greenfingers and Garden Re-Leaf day in 2016; with the former raising an incredible over ?430,000 in total, and the latter over ?140,000. The 2017 Re-Leaf day date will be Friday 17th March, and John urged anyone who is yet to take part to approach him and discuss what they can do to support the charity.? Mike Burks followed by thanking the four GCA Inspectors for their continued hard work over 2016, welcoming new inspectors Gordon Emslie, Michael Cole and Hedley Triggs and saying farewell to Alyson Haywood, Andy Campbell and Ian Boardman, who will be stepping down from their roles this year.

The four 2016 inspectors shared best practice in their respective areas, and suggested various methods and ideas for improvement in the Inspection Roundup. Andy Campbell, judge of the 2016 GCA Christmas Competition, gave a presentation showcasing the best of this year?s entries, and awarded:

Garden Centre winners:
1st Place ? Castle Gardens
2nd Place ? Sunshine Garden Centre
3rd Place ? Squires Shepperton

Destination Garden Centre winners:
1st Place ? Barton Grange
2nd Place – Whitehall Lacock
3rd Place ? Bents Home and Garden Centre

GCA inspector Roger Crookes followed with an overview of this year?s Ruxley Rose Competition, and urged garden centres to prioritise plants, promote colour themes and maximise demand for wildlife plants. The final round of Ruxley Rose included 21 garden centres, with winners as follows:

Garden Centre winners:
1st Place ? Cowells
2nd Place ? Planters Bretby
3rd Place ? Thompson Welling

Destination Garden Centre winners:
1st Place ? Squires Twickenham
2nd Place ? Bents Home and Garden Centre
3rd Place ? Barton Grange

?After a lunch break, marketing director of Westland Keith Nicholson and Ian Boardman introduced the five finalists for GCA Rising Stars, with each giving a presentation outlining their chosen project, what they achieved and how they have benefitted from the programme. Founder and managing director of Visual Thinking Karl McKeever followed, who stated that retail today is fundamentally more complex than ever before, with the threat of online a firmly established threat to bricks-and-mortar businesses. Karl advised various strategies to propel ideas forward within a business, and highlighted the importance of team work to deliver the best possible results within a company.

The conference continued with the Annual Inspection Special Awards, presented by Ian Boardman, who awarded:

The Customer Service Award:
The Old Railway Line Garden Centre, Brecon

Barton Grange Trophy for Commercial Creativity and Innovation:
Haskins West End

The Environment and Community Award:
Garden Wise

The Dick Allen Award for Most Improved Garden Centre:
Langlands Loxley

Best Outdoor Living Retailers ? The Weber Outdoor Living Award:
Garden centre winner: Fairways, Ashbourne
Destination garden centre winner: Bents Home and Garden Centre

Best Indoor Living Retailers ? The Indoor Lifestyle Award:
Garden centre winner: Squires Shepperton
Destination garden centre winner: Barton Grange

Best Garden Product Retailers ? The GIMA Award:
Garden centre winner: Cowells Garden Centre
Destination garden centre winner: Barton Grange

Best Garden Centre Restaurants ? The ifse Award for Catering Excellence:
Garden centre winner: Squires Shepperton
Destination garden centre winner: Bents Home and Garden Centre

Founder of Jon Wilks Associates Jon Wilks concluded the first day of seminars, using his years of experience in marketing, sales and business development to inspire garden centres on ways to increase their profits. Jon focused particularly on the importance of staff engagement within a business, how humility and strong company values can make all the difference in retail success, and for garden centres to never forget the power of the ?distressed buy?.

Paul Cooling opened the second day of the conference with a look at the 2016 trip to Switzerland and a preview of the Congress set to take place in Canada this year. Pete Goss MBE, one of Britain?s most celebrated sailors followed, describing his rescue of French rival Raphael Dinelli, whose boat capsized in a hurricane during the Vend?e Globe. Risking his own life, Pete managed to reach Raphael and continued the race, coming in 5th, showing the amazing feats that can be achieved with passion and teamwork.

Next came Mike Burks from the GCA Executive Committee, who gave a presentation on GROW, from its initial concept in 2011 to the most recent developments, including the recent work with the HTA to make the programme available to all HTA members, and future aspirations. To date, GROW has nearly 10,000 users registered from 87 garden centres, and currently includes 86 modules.

After a short break, HTA Academy and Careers manager Penny Evans outlined the benefits e-learning can bring to the sector, and the factors to consider for garden centres deciding whether GROW or the HTA Academy is right for their business. Writer and acclaimed leadership and performance expert Rasmus Ankerson followed with a detailed look at how to maximise performance within a business, giving tips on how to select the best candidate for a job role and getting the most out of a team. Rasmus implored industry members to keep in mind that success can change the perspective of a company, which can ultimately lead to its demise if a constant strive for better results isn?t maintained.

Professor Gareth Jones encouraged garden centres to give their employees leadership experience early on to get the best out of them, and explored what makes an authentic, successful leader within a business. Tim Harford concluded the seminars for this year?s conference with a look at the current British economy, future predictions in light of Brexit, and the necessity for businesses to be adaptable to achieve success in the next few years.


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