Glee boss Nick Davison is banking on a much more focused show for garden retailers this year with "the right tools, brands, products and innovation" to help centres in the year ahead.
Show organiser i2i (formerly Emap Connect) has had to grapple with challenges such as the loss of the show's Pet Index hall thanks to competition from specialist pets and aquatics trade shows in Sandown (March) and Harrogate (September). Combined with a fall in Chinese exhibitors, the show could have up to 100 fewer exhibitors than in 2011, which had 650 in total.
But Davison said as far as other sectors were concerned the show would not be too far behind last year. "It's been a particularly difficult season so we are delighted with where we are."
The show is down to two halls this year. Big names such as Sinclair, Solus and Bolsius are not attending. But Sinclair has signed up for 2013 with several new products in development.
New features include Glee Guided tours that maximise the value from the show halls and the Trend Tunnel that is designed to give visitors insight into future trends. Also the food & Catering Zone will provide ideas, and expert advice on making the most of the growing catering and speciality food trends.
Davison said new companies are signing up daily. He added that Chinese exhibitors will be vetted to make sure their products are relevant to garden centres.
A Chinese agent used last year has been dropped. Davison said with Chinese companies receiving up to 80 per cent government subsidy to exhibit, they sometimes brought irrelevant content.
He said garden furniture would be smaller, as would plants. Home and gift, retail services, landscaping and garden care are holding up. "The key for us that content is relevant to the audience." Without the Chinese pavilion and pets, "I don't think we'll be too far behind last year."
Davison said Glee is not the event to place container orders for furniture but is relevant for the independent market. He added: "I'm not sure how many container orders will be placed this year anyway on the back of a difficult season."
Andrew Maxted, marketing director, HTA
"I recognise there is not as much pre-Glee information around. Given the challenges in the market businesses are being careful and this has made it more difficult to sustain the product development work."