The first regional meetings of 2021 for Garden Centre Association (GCA) members were held online and were hailed a great success by attendees recently.
Garden centre staff from South Thames, Midlands and Wales & West, North Thames, North West and North East areas got together virtually to discuss and air their views with their peers.
Iain Wylie, chief executive of the GCA, said: “Although slightly different from our usual style of area meetings, we, like many others, are using technology to ensure members have some face-to-face contact, even if it is via a computer screen.
“After what has been a tremendously difficult year, it gave owners and management teams from our member centres the opportunity to meet and discuss various topics, such as current trading conditions and predictions for 2021, issues surrounding supply, including the challenges due to the container shortages and Brexit, as well as phytosanitary legislation. The environment and sustainability matters, were covered too, including the peat debate.”
The meetings had very similar agendas, but the area chairmen were able to facilitate the sessions and tailor the conversations to the topics most important to their respective regions.
Iain added: “The feedback from members couldn’t have been more positive. It is more than apparent that meetings in person are missed but in the current situation these type of meetings are the next best thing and no doubt in the future will have apart to play alongside and supplementing the traditional meetings.
“We held our first online meeting in November 2020 for our Scotland and Northern Ireland areas, and more online meetings are being planned and will take place in the coming months.
“We pride ourselves on our area meetings and many of our members say they are one of the biggest benefits of membership. They are a fantastic motivational and management tool and, in more difficult times, reassuring, as members facing the same challenges are able to share their problems and to look forward to the future with more optimism.”