Squires managing director Espley, who will succeed Martin Stewart in January 2011, said: "I was aware they needed someone for the next year and I do believe the GCA has been good for the industry over the past 30 years. I've learnt a lot through it and chatting to Colin Squire we decided we had got a lot out of the GCA so we felt we should do something."
Espley, who has been with the GCA since it began in 1979, added: "I'd like to see area groups stronger. I'm meeting with (GCA chairman) Martin Stewart this week to develop joined-up thinking. I want to get the enthusiasm back that might have drifted during the difficult economic climate. But there will be no huge changes."
He added: "The great thing about the GCA is that people get the chance to exchange information. The GCA had a huge impact on the way garden centres developed in the UK. Cafes, Christmas and concessions all came through the GCA and made garden centres in the UK what they are today."
The GCA also announced its future chairmen for the next 11 years. Chief executive Gillie Westwood said it was an unusual move but Stewart was anxious to get everyone committed after the GCA had been "relaxed in the past".
South Thames chairman Piers Mummery of Shoots is not included. Westwood said: "We're sorted for the next few years." She added: "Chairmen normally serve two years but Martin can't and Dennis is happy to step in and keep the continuity going."
2011: Dennis Espley, Squires Garden Centres
2012-13: Peter Burks, Sanders Garden World
2014-15: Will Armitage, Armitages Garden Centres
2016-17: David Little, Poplars Garden Centre
2018-19: Ian Richardson, Garsons Garden Centres
2020-21: Tammy Woodhouse, The Millbrook Garden Company