Record number of GCA members awarded Highly Commended certificates

The Garden Centre Association (GCA) has announced a record number of its members have received Highly Commended awards after its annual inspections and these have helped drive standards and profitability.

One-hundred-and-two garden centres were Highly Commended, which is awarded to those that score 75% and above in their annual inspection.

Iain Wylie, its chief executive, said: “Our members tell us how beneficial the annual inspections are for them. The process itself sees an independent inspector visiting each year and as they don’t know when the inspections will be held, it means they are always ‘on their toes’ to ensure everything is running to the highest level at all times. This guarantees that customer service and retail standards are always top notch throughout the important spring, or in this case, summer trading period, as inspections were delayed due to COVID-19.

“If garden centres are scoring 75% or above, as well as having increased standards, members will also see increased turnover and profitability, which is a huge asset in being part of the GCA. They can also benefit by using these awards to market their centres – in advertising, publicity, social media and on their websites – and this helps generate greater awareness and additional footfall too.”

One of its inspectors for 2021 was Gordon Emslie, who visited centres during the summer. He said: “This year we saw 102 centres achieve the Highly Commended certificate. This is the highest number of centres achieving this certificate in any one season, which is outstanding. This was purely down to the hard work of centre teams in delivering excellent standards of consistency throughout all the categories.

“The one thing that did stand out was the high-level execution of Covid-19 compliance protocols across all centres, which set an exemplary example to others in the retail industry.”

The top 10 scoring centres will receive, in addition, a ‘Centre of Excellence’ Award and these will be announced during The GCA’s annual dinner at its 2022 Annual Conference on January 23 – 26, 2022 at the Mercure Blackburn Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa in Blackburn, Lancashire. Members will be able to book in October 2021 for the event.

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