Garden Centre Association offer inspection excellence presentations

Garden centres that are members of the Garden Centre Association (GCA) are being offered expert advice on 'how to achieve inspection excellence' through a series of regional presentations.

GCA winner Cowell's
GCA winner Cowell's

The events will take place in six area groups, Wales & West, South Thames, North Thames, Midlands, North West/North East and Scotland/Northern Ireland, from now until the end of February.


GCA chief executive Iain Wylie said: "This is the very first time we have done these presentations and our aim is to help improve standards in GCA member centres while assisting members to achieve the highest possible score in their annual inspections.


"Our four inspectors this year, Liz Hutson, Andy Campbell, Ian Boardman and Roger Crookes, will give the presentations, which will include an explanation as to why we have an inspection process and how it helps improve retailing standards, and on to how better standards lead to greater turnover and profitability.


"The presentations are intended for garden centre managers and their teams. The presentations will not tell members how to run their businesses nor are they just about displays. We value the individuality of all our members and uphold their independence but we also espouse the sharing of best practice and learning from each other to the benefit of all."

Meanwhile, the GCA annual conference at the end of January saw a 15 per cent increase in attendees this year and among them a greater number of garden centres.


The event, which took place at the De Vere Carden Park in Chester, was heralded by chief executive Wylie as "a thoroughly brilliant event on all levels with lots of excellent speakers giving salient business advice for the coming year, plenty to celebrate as an industry with the various awards given out and a wonderful opportunity to network with other garden centres and suppliers.


"This year we had more and more bookings from members attending and the main hotel was oversubscribed. Fortunately, we were able to source additional rooms at two nearby hotels to fulfil demand. However, it does show the benefit of booking early. We had more than 90 garden centres represented this year too.


"During the event we welcomed some new members to the association. Pacific Nurseries, Thetford Garden Centre and Thirsk Garden Centres have all joined as full members. Millbrook Staplehurst and Creative Gardens Galgorm Castle became new subsidiary members.  


"We also welcomed some new Associate Members, joining us Ellis Whittam, Ovation, Kärcher, Paroh, Pacific Lifestyle, G J Handy and Hug Rugs."


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