Revitalised, re-energised and harder working than ever before at Glee 2014

Well presented, well attended and reflecting a mood of positivity, the new-look Glee 2014 has been widely welcomed as the beginning an exciting next chapter for both the exhibition and the wider garden retail industry.?

i2i Events, organisers of the annual Glee trade show, had promised a show that would be revitalised, re-energised and delivering something different. ?Initial feedback from both exhibitors and visitors indicated this promise was delivered. ?Featuring a new location and layout within the NEC, plus a raft of value-added features and an unrivalled, international mix of more than 500 major brands and specialist suppliers from across the garden, landscaping, home, pet and leisure sectors, Glee offered buyers and suppliers the market?s strongest business-building and networking opportunity for several years.

Strong attendance: Despite overall buying consolidation across the industry, the show delivered an audience of 7,066* visitors, with revisits boosting overall footfall equal to 8,085* – equaling 2013?s footfall figures – across the three days.

Longer visits: Early data also shows that people were not only staying at Glee for longer ? often attending the entire duration of the show in order to maximise the wealth of new products and innovation on offer ? but the quality of visitors was noteworthy too.

More top buyers: This year?s Glee attracted more visitors from top retailers, such as leading UK garden centres, builders? merchants, multiple retailers, and DIY stores, with many sending large sales teams to the show to ensure no stone was left unturned.

More decision makers: Glee also saw more key decision makers attending the show.? With direct buying power and company strategy at the forefront of their minds, these visitors came to Glee ready and willing to do business ? and they certainly didn?t disappoint, as Glee?s event manager Matthew Mein explains: ?This year Glee was very much about delivering an audience of quality; one that was dedicated to optimising the sales and profit opportunity that the exhibition offers.? For many suppliers, the 2014 exhibition was one of the busiest on record, with sale targets being smashed, order books running out and new product launches drawing more attention than ever before.?

More top brands than ever before: This year?s Glee delivered even more exhibitors, with over 500 brands filling the show.? Key names included Westland, Gardman, Scotts, Kelkay, Petface, Smart Garden, Deco-Pak, Handy Distribution, Forest Garden, Kaemingk, Elho, Johnsons Lawn Seed, Pattimax, Woodlodge, Burgon and Ball, Briers and Apta. There were also 219 companies that had never before exhibited or were making their return to Glee during 2014.

Rebooking surge sees Glee 2015 already 56% full: Matthew Mein also shared some exciting news regarding Glee 2015.? He said: ?The feedback we?ve had from exhibitors and visitors alike has been superb.? It?s clear to see that the changes that have taken place have helped move the industry towards the 2015 season on an incredibly positive and profitable note. ?Feedback has in fact been so great, that we have already rebooked over 56% of the 2015 floorplan.? Our onsite sales team were inundated with booking forms, as exhibitors scrambled to secure their place at next year?s show.? This is by far the strongest response we?ve experienced to our rebooking programme, so much so that Glee present booking status is equal with where we were in January of this year.? This means we?re in a fantastic position to grow Glee beyond the 12% growth that we achieved in 2014. It?s an extremely exciting prospect.?

Finally Matthew Mein would like to extend his thanks to this year?s partners and sponsors GIMA, the HTA, Gardenex, Garden Centre Association, UK Trade & Investment, Garden Trade News, Garden Connect, Garden Trade Specialist, Horticulture Connected, and FCL Global, this year?s logistics partner, and 2014 Food & Catering Hub partners Blue Cap Coffee and Catering Design Group.

Glee 2014 ? here?s what you?ve missed
Packed full of added value, from new products to educational content, with inspiration and innovation at every turn, Glee 2014 was a thriving hub for business and market development. ?For those who didn?t get to see it all, here is a recap of the show?s main attractions.

The New Product Showcase and Glee Awards
Nine, ground-breaking new garden products were confirmed as the winners of the coveted Glee New Product Awards in 2014.? Selected from more than 270 entries on the afternoon before Glee opened, the winning products were chosen by an expert panel of judges representing independent and multiple retailers, the media and international suppliers.

Entries were submitted into nine key garden retail categories, comprising Garden Care ? Accessories; Garden Care ? Chemicals; Fertilisers & Composts; Leisure Products; Machinery & Tools; Home, Gift & Clothing; Landscape & Construction; Plants, Seeds & Bulbs; Pet & Wildlife Products; and Catering & Speciality Foods. Relevant entries from each category were also considered for the additional Best of British, and Green awards.
Judges considered each entry on a challenging range of criteria, including innovation, design, quality, environmental credentials, pricing and retail potential ? resulting in some hot debates and close Highly Commended in a number of categories.

A full list of winners can be seen here:

Nordic Garden Buildings? Veranda Summerhouse was crowned this year?s Glee Retailers? Choice Award, in association with the HTA, scooping the award for the second year running.

Green Heart ? bringing plants back to the heart of the show
Bringing together some of the biggest and most respected brands, the Green Heart was the place to view 2015 plant ranges, as well as to access exclusive, show-only deals from UK growers. Housed in the glass-roofed, Atrium area outside Glee?s new location, this exciting new area brought plants right back into the heart of the show.? Every single visitor upon entry to Glee was exposed to a truly eye-catching display of everything from herbs and bedding plants, to trees, shrubs, alpines and even houseplants.

Key names featured in this area included Gardeners Kitchen, New Leaf Plants, Kilworth Conifers, Gedney Bulbs, Golden Grove Nurseries, John Woods Nurseries, Lovania Nurseries, Hawkesmill Nurseries, Garden Centre Fresh, Chapel Cottage Plants, Chamberlin Nurseries, Viking Nurseries, Morley Nurseries, Beaver Plants, Whartons Roses and Darby Nurseries. Special thanks goes also to Woodlodge who kindly supplied the stunning display benches.

Food & Catering Zone
Since 2012, the Food & Catering Zone at Glee has become a ?must-see? feature for those thinking of setting up a catering facility from scratch, or in need of ideas to reinvigorate an existing one. ?In its short existence so far, it has become renowned as a central hub providing advice, information and inspiration for retailers to take their concept to the next level, as well as offering visitors an unrivalled selection of food and catering-related products to suit all budgets.

i2i Events were delighted to announce two major brands as the main 2014 sponsors for the area; Catering Design Group, one of the UK?s leading restaurant and commercial catering design companies and Blue Cap Coffee, a recognised supplier of the Lavazza BLUE Concept, an exclusive system which enables garden centre caf?s and restaurants to offer an authentic Italian coffee experience.

Blue Cap Coffee?s Managing Director, John Williams, a speaker on How Garden Centres win the Coffee Shop War, hailed this year?s workshops as ?a great platform for experts in the industry to address key issues and arm caterers, whether seasoned or new to the industry, with invaluable insight?.

Steve Hutchings, Director at Catering Design Group, also a partner of the Food & Catering Zone, shared his thoughts on the show. He said: ?This is our second year of visiting the show and our first as partners of the Food & Catering Zone. For us, Glee is all about showcasing the breadth of our offering across design and build for front and back of house. We set out to give visitors a better understanding of what we?re about and to inspire operators with the use of creativity, insight and current trends to illustrate what can be achieved within their own catering space.? Glee provides a great platform in the industry for us to be able to do this.?

Mark Robson, Managing Director of Red Mist Leisure was another keynote speaker, who focused his insight to visitors on sourcing local produce for customers and unlocking revenue streams. Having operated five very successful pubs throughout Surrey and Hampshire for 10 years,? Mark is in an enviable position to deliver a compelling story on Red Mist?s success, which he says is built on an ethos of ?fresh, local and seasonal produce?.

?For us, engagement with the local community and understanding what is good produce has been key to our success? explained Mark who acquired his company?s first pub in 2004. ?It?s imperative that the passion for fresh food ? ?farm and field? ? is communicated through everything we do, right to the plate?.? He cites his first appearance at the show as ?giving my business a new dimension? and adds that he?s ?impressed with what I have seen so far?.

If that didn?t whet the appetite, Patrick Fairweather, Owner of Fairweathers Garden Centre?s session certainly did with his Grow your own: Maximising your land for your restaurant profits and credibility workshop.? Fairweathers, situated in the New Forest, cultivated ?Patrick?s Patch? to be used as a source of home-grown fruit and vegetables for its in-house restaurant, Steff?s Kitchen.? Known as ?Beaulieu?s hidden gem?, the garden is free to enter and supported by a loyal group of volunteers and Primary school children who regularly visit to learn gardening skills and understand where its food comes from. Since opening during the evenings for its renowned Supper Club in 2012, it now attracts interest from Michelin-starred chefs.

?We decided in 2008 to expand the caf? as public interest in food sourcing grew, which was a key decision in our business?, explains Patrick. ?There are so many ways for catering facilities to be self-sufficient nowadays. We?ve hopefully proved it?s not just a ?trendy concept? and there are many ways to get the community involved in your business, which can mutually benefit everyone.?

Finally the Food & Catering area was also home to another new addition ? the stunning Farmers Market. Reminiscent of artisan food markets favored by culinary connoisseurs across the country, this new area was home to passionate suppliers of delicious foods and beverages.

GIMA Business Village

The Garden Industry manufacturers? Association (GIMA) Business Village was home to a great selection of up-and-coming companies exhibiting with the support of GIMA.

It was also home to the ?Buyers Connect? event which saw over 160 10-minute power-networking sessions taking place between Glee exhibitors and top retailers such as Stax Trade Centres, Notcutts, Castle Garden Group, QVC, British Garden Centres, Blue Diamond Group, Wyevale Garden Centres, The Range and Homebase.?

As a first time exhibitor in the GIMA supported Innovators Zone and participant of this year?s Buyer Connect, Mandy Bailey of Plant-n-Grow commented: ?Buyer Connect proved a great opportunity for us not only to present our new products, but also gave us the opportunity to receive feedback on key elements of our proposition and market research.?

Mandy?s views were echoed by Jude Beharall at Neudorff who said: ?We had a very good show and once again the Buyer Connect event was a highlight for us.?

Vicky Nuttall, GIMA Director said ?At GIMA we see one of our key roles as bringing suppliers and retailers together, and Buyer Connect is a perfect opportunity for us to put this into practice.? We were delighted to be asked to run this event again at Glee, but on a larger scale than last year.? We have plans to hold more such events in the future, and hopefully at Glee again next year.?

GIMA also used Glee to launched its A?ID-commissioned, overview and guide to Intellectual Property, coinciding with the legislation changes that will take place in October 2014.

Steadypost, supplier of the innovative FenceFin?, was also confirmed as the winner of the inaugural GIMA Innovators Seed Corn Fund on the opening day of the show. As the winner, SteadyPost is now set to receive funding and help with the development and marketing of their product, together with support from experts within the industry.

Vicky Nuttall added: ?This year?s Glee delivered on all fronts.? The organisers delivered a fresh new layout and location, exhibitors delivered exciting new products and stands, and the positive and enthusiastic attitude of the visitors topped it off.?

Innovators Zone, supported by GIMA
Launched in 2009, the Glee Innovators Zone has already helped more than 100 companies break into the garden retail market.? This special area is designed to help nurture valuable, grass-roots product development and one-off design ideas, as well as bridging the gap between market-ready new product launches from established companies and pre-commercial product ideas.?? This year Glee?s Innovators Zone was home to over 30 brand new companies, together creating a thriving part of the show.

The HTA at Glee 2014
This year?s HTA stand at Glee provided the opportunity for members to meet the HTA CRoP programme partners. From waste recycling to healthcare and insurance services many members benefitted from huge savings available to them as part of their membership.

HTA Chief Executive Carol Paris comments: ?Glee has a re-invigorated feel to it with the new halls and layout giving the show a fresh look. That coupled with all the changes that have taken place across the supply chain over the past year provided suppliers with a golden opportunity to present their offer to an open minded audience.?

She adds, ?It was great to see so many entries within the New Product Awards and the HTA was delighted to support the Retailer?s Choice Award.?

Glee seminar theatre, in association with The HTA
In collaboration with Glee the HTA put together the seminar theatre programme which ran across the three days of the show.

In his seminar entitled Garden Centre 2020 John Stanley took a look at what the industry might look like in 5 years, drawing on his travels to retail outlets around the world. He spoke about a shift away from big home improvement stores and towards independent and neighbourhood garden centres. He predicts that in 2020 the garden market will be 40% instore driven and 60% online driven. ?He highlighted how marketing has changed, and the industry needs to focus on engagement because interaction appeals to the millennial generation. Target bloggers to become advocates for your organisation and use consistent messaging through social media and instore. He urged the audience to ?Forget customer service, online shopping and selling plants. Aim to enrich customer experiences.? Think about what experiences do you want your customers to have ? and how are you going to enrich them? ?Don?t just focus on products, but the whole experience of gardening?.

Kevin Waters presented a visual seminar entitled ?Plants are back but not in straight rows?, which highlighted how important the customer experience was when it comes to selling.? Kevin went into detail about how garden retailers should use moods, colours and scents when merchandising in store, use narration to guide a customer through a display to develop and convert into sales.

Edwin Meijer of Garden Connect presented on how the internet will change garden retailing.? With the UK spending ?91 billion online last year, he emphasised how the importance of web shops, websites and smart phones will change the retail landscape.? His advice was to embrace the use technology to encourage customers to the garden centres more frequently through offers and online coupons and how click and collect could benefit retailers in the future.

Finally, Dave Denny addressed how the industry can appeal to younger consumers by drawing on research commissioned by the Garden Industry Marketing Board into what 30-45 year olds want from their gardens.

This next generation of gardeners has been hit hard by the economic downturn with access to the housing market compared to their parents being extremely challenging. Garden centres need to attract these new ?potential? gardeners by taking this into account and use new hooks to get this group to make the most of whatever outdoor space they have got. The research revealed that making sure you focus on self-contained and achievable gardens, using quirky imagery and novel plants is likely to gain the interest of this group. They are the social media generation and would respond well to ?before? and ?after? shots which demonstrate the transformation of an area.

The research has led to the ?Love the Plot You?ve Got? cross-industry campaign and retailers are encouraged to get involved. See more information about the campaign at

International Buyers Connect, led by Gardenex
The International Buyers Connect meetings that were a new feature of Glee 2014 received high praise from Graham Kinsman, the long stand US wholesaler of garden products.? Graham Kinsman first visited Glee some 30 years ago but had not attended for the last three years. He had been very selective about the number of potential new suppliers he had seen for the 10 minute, one-to-one sessions, but had found this to be an excellent opportunity and hopes to do long-term business with a number of the contacts made.? The two sessions of the meetings on the first day of the show also involved a Spanish distributor.

Graham Kinsman also took in the US market seminar, which was an element of the UK Trade & Investment International Business Theatre, another new feature introduced this year.? ?The Gardenex federation had been invited to share its export expertise to new and potential exporters in three presentations during the exhibition.? The director general of Gardenex, Amanda Sizer Barrett MBE made a presentation on ?How to boost export sales without huge investment? that? covered a wide variety of topics including market research, making the most of exhibiting and finding export customers.? On day two, the commercial manager of Gardenex, Charlie Parker provided information on ?new tips on maximising exports to Germany? and ?The USA: how UK exporters can gain a foothold in the world?s largest garden products market?.? Sessions of the seminar were well attended and gained good feedback.

Graeme Bailey from Plant ?n? Grow Growing Kits, part of the Innovators Zone this year, was just one of several new exhibitors who became a Glee convert. He said: ?I have been absolutely blown away by the interest.? Before coming to Glee I wasn?t sure about the garden trade market, but am now really positive about being a part of it.?

The Glee Workshop and Buyers Connect meetings, run by GIMA, were especially useful to the new exhibitors, including Roger Wilson from Moonshine Drinks.? He added: ?I found the Glee Workshop really useful – we followed the free advice we were given, attended the Buyers Connect meetings and met people we wouldn?t necessarily get to meet.?

Some visitors even had fun and made new friends.? Wayne Howard, Managing Director of Bio-Enzym said: ?Glee has been a lot of fun for us, due to our peculiar products – ?Cricket Manure?.? We have attracted a lot of visitors, some of which were heard commenting ?I?ve seen it all now!?? As a trade show, Glee is a lot friendlier than we were expecting ? we have actually been able to make a lot of really useful contacts with other manufacturers, shared ideas and gain invaluable feedback; all making it unbeatable value for first time exhibitors.?

Leaders for Change lunch
In a move to further facilitate debate and discussion, this year?s Glee also saw the launch of the exclusive Leaders for Change lunch.? This exclusive event, backed by The HTA, GIMA and Gardenforum, was set up to bring together the gardening sector?s 30 most dynamic supplier and retail CEOs and trade association figureheads; those who are helping most to drive forward the garden industry.

Led by Gardenforum?s George Bullivant, the Leaders for Change Lunch ? which is set to become an annual event ? provided a platform where a number of key industry issues were discussed and new relationships forged.

Pull out box
Exhibitors & visitors praise Glee 2014

Michael Hall, Owner of Fallen Fruits
?We have had an excellent show, and are really very pleased with the layout. It?s fresher and lighter ? more open and so much better for being on one level.?

Jo Sensecall, Marketing Manager, Smart Garden Products
?It?s been a very busy show. The new halls, styling and layout have really taken it up a notch. We have seen some really good quality customers including lots of new faces, so we?re happy. Glee is the major launch platform for the whole industry, making it the obvious place to reveal our new Smart Garden brand and over 350 new product lines.?

Danny Adamson, K?rcher (UK) Ltd
?We have been delighted with the reaction from the garden trade for our new watering range which has had an unprecedented.? The new layout has been really well received.? The show feels much fresher, the level walkways have really worked well for us.?

Derek Belcher, Chairman of Handy Distribution
?Customers have said to us: We can come to Glee and actually do business.? We have had a very busy show, seeing new and existing customers that are actively looking to order.?

Mark Butler, UK Sales Manager for Town & Country
?Glee is the only show where you can get your customers to see everything you do in one place.?
?It?s the only major gardening show for us, with the main purpose being to showcase new products; any orders are a bonus.?

Heather Culpan, Managing Director of Burgon and Ball
?The show is so vibrant this year, I love the new layout – it?s an absolute no-brainer for visitors.? Not much more could have been done to make the show better; it?s the right time of year, all of the decision makers are here, everyone makes such a fantastic effort ? we don?t want any other show!?

Simon Goodwin, Director, La Hacienda
?As a winner of the 2014 New Product Awards for Garden Leisure Products for our Bakerstone Pizza Box pizza oven, footfall at this year?s show has been fantastic. I?m a big supporter of Glee, and truly believe that by spreading the word about the show means that even more people will want to come along, which benefits the industry as a whole. For us it?s also about key positioning and we?ve put a great amount of effort into the stand design with a bright colour scheme ? it?s proved a great success with visitors. We can?t wait for next year!?

Ben Smith, Buyer, B&Q
?The show looks great, especially being all on one level. The whole of our seasonal team is here looking for everything from bulbs to pots and leisure. We?ve seen loads of new products and have signed up several new lines. It?s great to see so much innovation all around the show.?

Stuart Kitchen ? KDLT& Associates Ltd
?Any reservations I had about coming disappeared as soon as I walked through the door. It?s all one floor so no steps, the show seems really well laid out and looks great. The organisers have done a good job. There?s so much change in the industry we all need to come to see what?s happening and who?s doing what.?

Mark Robson, Managing Director, Red Mist Leisure (speaker in Food & Catering Zone)
?Being here for the first time gives my business a new dimension. I am impressed with what I have seen so far?

Mike Smith, Smith Nurseries
?I’d like to say that I had a really great day at the show today and the new location and layout was very refreshing. There is just something about the whole atmosphere that felt good, maybe the lighting or the extra space I really couldn’t single out one thing but it really works! Well done to you and your team.?

Find out more
Details of i2i?s plans for Glee 2015 (13th ? 15th September) will be available shortly. To keep up-to-date on all the latest news log onto For details on exhibiting at Glee, call 0203 033 2160.

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