Garden retail show Glee, which attracted around 7,000 buyers and more than 500 exhibitors in 2015, looks to have maintained its resurgence into 2016 with a similar footprint and having seen off a rival event.
The big talking point in the aisles at the show will no doubt be Brexit as well as the EU referendum's impact on currency exchange rates and the subsequent knock-on effect on pricing that could see 10 per cent hikes for 2017.
Some exhibitors at outdoor living show SOLEX in July said they were holding off on pricing until sterling settled down against the dollar. Initial reactions from big wholesalers such as Gardman were that if exchange rates shifted 10 per cent then so would prices. More expensive raw materials and the higher National Living Wage set to £7.20 from 1 April are also influencing the bottom line.
Glee relocated at Birmingham NEC in 2014 and will shift around at the venue again in 2016, but will remain within halls 17-20. Some areas will be rebranded. "Landscape and garden decoration" replaces "garden design and landscape", with the aim to bring back more hard landscaping to the show.
"Garden leisure" becomes "outdoor entertaining". There will be a dedicated pet section returning and "retail services" will be rebranded as "retail experiences and services", including catering.
Top launches this year will include greener controls and feeds such as Sipcam UK's Ecofective range and Westland SafeLawn, New Horizon and Resolva natural products. A move towards expanding the market from core gardening by big suppliers is shown by products such as Westland's Nature's Feast brand pet food and Scotts' Black Magic urban range.
Gardman is seeking to extend the season with "shoulder" month wild bird care promotions. Post-Brexit price consciousness will feature in the new Scotts Levington Essentials range. Otherwise, licensed ranges such as Burgon & Ball's RHS-endorsed hand tools and Treadstone's Peter Rabbit ranges will be prominent. Going against the grain, Roundup wand and product ranges Roundup TOTAL, Roundup TOUGH and Roundup PATH are stronger formulations.
Growers will again fill Glee's atrium, and will hope for greater footfall than previously. Glee needs change in the market to thrive and 2016 has seen plenty of disruption - Brexit, exchange rate fluctuations and a new prime minister and cabinet - so it should be another vibrant show.
On the opposite page we begin our comprehensive preview of the suppliers and products you can look forward to seeing at the event.
Where: National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham B40 1NT
When: 12-14 September
Tel: 020 3033 2500
Glee moved into NEC halls 17-20 in 2014. Last year's show saw consolidation after the big changes in 2014, which included the fall-out from big distributor and wholesaler Solus closing. This consolidation looks set to continue in 2016.
In the biggest markets Glee covers, chemicals and fertiliser sellers have had to react to pressure on active ingredients from legislative processes and non-governmental organisations. This meant Scotts dropped metaldehyde, Bayer dropped the neonicotinoid thiacloprid and most companies in the sector looked hard at glyphosate, vowing to defend its use.
Scotts Miracle-Gro (stand 18M20-N21) has felt the pain of trying to integrate Solus, then discarding most of the brands it bought. Scotts' overall turnover rose 13.8 per cent to £98.3m in the year to 30 July, but there was an operating loss of £439,000. The company blamed the loss on the Solus deal. Profit in 2014 was £4.4m.
At Glee, Scotts will be launching a new urban gardening range through Hawthorne Gardening Co, consisting of Black Magic 20-litre potting mix compost and one-litre liquid fertiliser in early 2017 - products that were originally pitched at the marijuana-growing market in the USA.
Scotts will also be launching a Levington Essentials range to match rivals in the competitively priced market as well as unveiling its latest charity promotion.
Westland (19G20) will launch Gro-Sure Smart Ground Cover, billing the product as a "quick makeover for gardens that will appeal to everyone - a bit like painting a grotty room with white paint when you're decorating".
It looks like freshly dug soil when applied. Natural wood fibres lock into place so it does not slip down slopes or become messy. Research by the University of Reading found it is 75 per cent more effective at weed prevention than bark and gives 50 per cent more coverage than bark. The product is also designed to be lightweight, easy to carry around and "perfect for any gardener frustrated with messy, weedy borders". It is available in a 100-litre bag.
Bayer Garden (18N08-P09) will be exhibiting at the show for the first time in more than a decade as SBM Developpement completes the acquisition of the chemicals and fertiliser company. Brands including Baby Bio, Phostrogen, Toprose and Provado will be on show. Bayer will be focusing on four product areas - Baby Bio, outdoor fertilisers, pests and weeds, and naturals.
Roundup (18M20-N21) has redesigned its offer with three clear product ranges - Roundup TOTAL, Roundup TOUGH and Roundup PATH. The new-look 2017 offering now includes Roundup Optima+ concentrate, Roundup Gel for targeted application and a new Path & Drive range, specifically for use on hard surfaces.
Roundup will be launching its newly designed five-litre Pump N Go that allows up to 10 minutes of controllable spraying, featuring improved packaging for easier storage for both retailers and customers. Also new for 2017, Tough Roundup Gel is 10 times stronger than Original Roundup Gel, for tackling tree stumps and deep-rooted woody perennial weeds. Glee will also see Roundup launch the telescopic Gel Wand, which dispenses the weedkiller through a trigger mechanism.
Bord na Mona (18L10-M11) will expand its Growise growing-media range and will launch the Bord na Mona Growise brand in the fertilisers category.
Some 15 new growing media and soil improver stock keeping units (SKUs) will be on the Bord na Mona UK stand, including specialist blends such as Cactus & Bonsai and Orchid & Citrus, never previously available from the company.
There will also be a number of new pack sizes and packaging initiatives. These will add to the existing peat-reduced to peat-free range, which includes peat-based and peat-free multipurpose growing media as well as specific blends such as ericaceous, sowing and cutting, rose, tree and shrub and tub and basket, a John Innes range, a grow your own collection and peat-free soil improvers.
In the fertilisers category, Bord na Mona Growise will debut with an initial 29 SKUs including Growmore and a Premium multipurpose slow-release fertiliser. The whole launch has a new catalogue with multi-buy promotions across all Bord na Mona UK's core horticultural products throughout the season.
UK sales head Charles Farmer says: "This is a significant level of product development and reflects our confidence in the Growise peat to peat-free brand based on its strong performance in garden retail since launch. The feedback on quality has been extremely positive and we have seen an ever-increasing number of repeat orders, so it was time for further investment in what is clearly a winning formula. It's particularly exciting that we can now take that winning formula into a new category with the fertilisers launch.
"The overall message is that this is a best-in-class peat to peat-free proposition backed by security of supply. Our mission is to ensure that the consumer can buy the very best-performing product whatever the task in hand and with our wide-ranging product developments now entering the market the consumer has even more from which to choose."
In wild bird care, Scotts has relaunched Chapelwood, bought last year from Solus. The company is aiming to get back to 10 per cent of the market.
Gardman (19E30-G31) says it has taken a big share of the market from Chapelwood over the past year.
The company will combat seasonal sales dips with "shoulder" season-extender charity promotions for the Royal British Legion and Marie Curie. It will also exploit an untapped market with children's products, cut barriers to bird feeding by making feed and feeders easier to use and make feeders more attractive to fit garden decor trends.
Analyst GfK reports that Gardman has a 25 per cent share of the wild bird care market. Gardman chief executive Pete Utting says he would like to take turnover from mid £60m to £100m with bolt-on business buys. The company now has 97 per cent average stock availability thanks to more working capital from new owner Rutland Partners, up from mid 80s at times in 2015. Utting wants garden centres to stock more of Gardman's "hot 100 products", rather than just seeking new lines.
There is growth left in the solar lights category through new technology to make them work year-round, adds Utting, while Gardman's business will "probably grow" thanks to new Homebase owner Bunnings' commitment to brands. But Bunnings' preference for a store-delivered rather than remote distribution centre model is a concern, he points out.
Utting says he will price Gardman's new catalogue ahead of Glee at the post-Brexit currency rate. He suggests that currency exchange rate fluctuations could lead to garden goods' prices rising 15 per cent and highlights concerns about employing staff from the EU.
Matt Jones of Sipcam UK (20M50) will be launching an entirely new range of environmentally sensitive domestic feed, weed and control products at Glee. Called Ecofective, it is intended to make the "best professional technology available to British amateur gardeners".
The Ecofective range, from Sipcam in Italy, is made in Britain with the aim to be kinder to the environment compared with conventional products. It includes ingredients with favourable eco-toxicological and health and safety profiles that show efficacy in use. Decco will exclusively handle all Ecofective sales to UK garden centres.
The UK company has a team of 11, with Matt Jones heading retail and amenity. He was previously managing director of Doff Portland. The technical team is led by Dr Anne Noble and Bob Hand, specialists in plant nutrition and regulated products.
"We are taking a very long view, having recognised the opportunities and potential for our products in the British domestic garden market," says Jones. "Sipcam is a EUR0.5bn family owned business that has been trading for 70 years. Our technology has been developed following many years of strategic research and development in co-operation with leading international universities.
"This provides us with a unique skills set in what is an already overcrowded market. All research shows that British domestic gardeners seek environmentally responsible ways to help them. Ecofective makes the bio-technologies we have developed available to them in attractive and easily usable forms. This is particularly relevant now as an increasing number of pesticides, active ingredients and conventional chemicals are being withdrawn from the worldwide market, often due to environmental and safety concerns."
Ecofective products are all produced to international standards ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, and meet all relevant EU and international requirements. The range includes a non-pesticide Ecofective Rose Defender to control aphids and powdery mildew with an added foliar feed. It is available in one-litre ready-to-use (RTU) format and as a 100ml concentrate.
Weed Blast has a patented natural formula that gives visible results after one hour. It is available in one-litre and four-litre RTU formats. Other products in the range include a Path & Patio Weed & Moss Killer, Bug Killer - used extensively by organic farmers and growers - a non-pesticide Plant Defender and a 100 per cent natural and organic Wonder Feed for tomatoes that is preferred by many commercial organic growers.
Garden goods importer Bonningtons (20N16/23) will be unveiling its new business identity in full at Glee and explaining how three core values are woven through its business development plans.
Retail business consultant Jane Lawler says unglamorous products such as aggregates can be given a makeover so customers trade up and spend more money. She has been working with Kelkay (19B20-C21) since autumn 2015 on a "full review" so the supplier can "stay ahead, keep innovating and investing and growing the business".
Lawler says: "We want to keep product range on trend, try to anticipate the next trend and develop the aggregate category. You could say it's just a bag of stones, but it's about making it into an attractive retail prospect and getting customers to trade upwards and spend more money."
She has primarily been working on Kelkay's aggregate and water features, and secondarily on the Borderstone paving range. "It's about explaining the proposition to end users in a bite-sized, easy-to-access way and the different benefits of products," she explains. Some are more for decor, while others are for driveways and more practical uses.
The "segmentation project" includes new packaging, collections and point of sale designed to "make it easier to shop". She notes: "Accessing information can be tough in garden centres as there's so much coming at you. You need to explain the category to customers and get them to trade up, and explain what they're going to get for it. It's also then about design and trends, and how to navigate that so they can create a look in their own garden."
Kelkay will also be announcing its new product development plans for 2017 after seeing 150 per cent growth in sales of stepping stones this year.
Fiskars (19G56) will unveil its new PowerGear X range, an evolution of engineering and ergonomics that aims to make pruning and lopping easier than ever. The PowerGear mechanism "creates three times the power in every cut", says the company. The product has sharp PFTE coated blades and 3D soft grip orange handles. The new range will be previewed at Glee for sale in January 2017. Brand ambassador James Wong will be on the stand for the first day of the show.
Exhibiting at Glee for a second time, Hum Flowerpots (20F36) will return with a new collection of patterns plus an attractive product display stand for retailers. Its new patterns, inspired by Japanese and botanical prints, make a fresh new addition to the range. The company will also be unveiling new spring and Christmas designs at the show for pre-ordering.
DLF Johnsons Lawn Seed (18H26-K25) promises a "big reveal" of a secret product at Glee that it says "will help shape the future and consumer understanding of these latest developments, helping to make lawn seed a much better-understood product".
Nurseries exhibiting in the atrium at Glee will include rose grower Chessum Plants (NB69/NB100), bedding nursery Quality Ornamentals (NB72/NB97), plant importer Javado (NB4-6/NB10-13/20C30), nursery stock growers Anglia Group of Nurseries, clematis grower New Leaf Plants (NB17/NB19), bedding grower Chamberlain Nurseries (NB29/NB104), perennial grower Chapel Cottage Plants (NB30/NB103), bedding grower Channel Island Plants (NB33/NB67), conifer nursery Kilworth Conifers (NB32/NB101), vegetable plant grower Gardeners Kitchen (NB8-9), Dutch company Topbuxus (20M16) and hardy nursery stock grower Wyevale Nurseries (NB21-24).
New exhibitors for 2016 include alpine grower Armlee Nurseries (NB71/NB98) and plant supplier Butters Group (NB95-96). Butters is aiming to sell more to the independent garden centre market under new business development manager Carl Wilson.
Pines & Needles (20C24) will show its new wholesale Christmas tree offer, while Belgian nursery Laurica Plants (20D21) will exhibit bay trees.
There will also be consumer profiling in the Green Heart area, in association with the HTA. This will cover three consumer demographics - gardening elders, garden proud and family focus. It will identify the buying habits of each consumer group and how they can be addressed in-store, recreated as three areas using products from across Glee's eight core sectors.
The Garden Works garden centre consultant Kevin Waters will lead three guided tours around the Green Heart nursery area to demonstrate cross merchandising.
- Over the past few years Vitax (19E10-G11) has invested in revitalising its existing brands including Q4, SBK and Slug Gone. However, this year's focus will be on how it will support retailers and garden centres, along with a preview of its new website.
- Landscaping, paving and aggregates supplier Deco-Pak (20K30/37 & 20J30-K31) will promote its Heritage Stone Company range.
- A new Greenfingers (17P02) tie-in that revolves around children's playtime will launch together with creative learning guides and a dedicated website.
- Garden giftware company Fallen Fruits (18H30) will launch copper bird feeders and waterproof animal ponchos for kids. The new Cream Aged Metal range of Edwardian-styled home and garden accessories, features candleholders, mirrors and small furniture items. The company will also be unveiling flamingo-themed outdoor accessories, incorporating a doormat, novelty watering can, umbrella and shopping bag. Garden carpets will also be on display.
- Garland Products (Worth Gardening) (18H10-K11) will launch more than 100 new products including a range of water butts, composters and watering cans; a new range of fleece and fabric; and a range of tarpaulins and bungees. Extended ranges from the supplier include Christmas stands, furniture covers and propagation.
- Treadstone Products (19H55) is set to launch a bespoke Laura Ashley merchandising module. The company will also be introducing a new merchandising display for its Peter Rabbit-themed Outdoor Adventures range for children.
- Grange Fencing (20G02-J01) will display three garden rooms showcasing its arches, arbours, screens, pergolas and planters.
- La Hacienda (17U20-V21/17T20) will launch new Mexican-style clay chimeneas, firepits, a firebox, oxidised firepits and metal animals.
- First time exhibitor Abacus Cards (20K40-L41) will showcase BBC Springwatch and Countryfile ranges.
- Burgon & Ball (19C26-E27) will launch a new range of RHS-endorsed hand tools and a new design in the "RHS Gifts for Gardeners" range. Taking inspiration from the archive of botanic art at the RHS Lindley Library, the new collection will be available as twine in a tin, gardening gloves, Kneelo and other products.
- Mr Fothergill's Seeds (19G50) will launch sweet peas for Greenfingers and the Royal Hospital in Chelsea as well as revamped point of sale and extended ranges.
- Garden room company Crown Pavilions (17Q10-R11) will launch an outdoor cinema room complete with fingerprint entry, inbuilt surround sound and a solid oak bar, with prices starting at £7,000.
- The Flopro range of watering equipment from Crest Garden (19G21) launched at Glee two years ago. Latest additions to the range include Flopro Elite six-layer hose with Tricot reinforced ATS mesh, and the Cube, a hose reel complete with fittings that can be fitted to a wall or free-standing.
- East Midlands-based manufacturer and importer Charles Bentley & Son (17Q41) is expanding its operation with the launch of a "Dropship" service at Glee, enabling retailers to easily expand their online home, garden and leisure product ranges without big upfront investment. The company will effectively stock, pack and dispatch products directly to customers on behalf of retailers who are looking to explore new product lines. The move means that other businesses will be able to echo the success of its e-commerce operation, BuyDirect4U, which has reached a £10m annual turnover after launching in 2005.
- G Plants (19C10) will be showcasing children's ranges under the Disney brand and a heritage seed range called Bee's Knees.
- In association with Firstpress (Plastic Moulders), Pot Pal (20A13) will launch its first pot holder product at this year's Glee. Pot Pal products are produced using plastic injection moulding and inlaid with Mexican-style artwork.
- Stewart Garden (18K14-L15) will be showcasing its Varese planters, showing how a £400,000 investment in a new rotational moulding machine at its Banbury factory delivered a 27 per cent increase in production and demonstrating how its new website helps consumers and retailers. The company has been working with Ball Colegrave and Scotsdales Garden Centre to create displays in their designed gardens using Stewart Garden decorative planters.
- EP Barrus (19C50) will be launching two new Wilkinson Sword ranges - the Carbon Steel Collection and a collection of axes. WOLF-Garten products will also feature on the EP Barrus stand, including the introduction of a new range of saws as well as an updated handle for the multi-change range.
- Hazelmill (20L22-M23) will launch a new Flower Children range of garden decor.
- Highgrove Food Distribution (17V01) will be displaying its new Light n Go Bonfire - a kiln-dried hardwood birch log. It will launch at the show along with Light n Go fire starters, barbecue smoking mix, mixed hardwood, sacks of European white birch and kindling.
- Lignite BBQ briquettes by Die Kohle-Manufaktur (17X40) will be available in the UK after launching at Glee.
- The Walsall Wheelbarrow Company (19G68) will be launching its newly extended Barrow-in-a-Box range.
- Meadow View Stone (20H20-J21) will showcase new point of sale on its range of decorative aggregates, paving and stoneware.
- Kings Seeds (18H52) says it is a "bumper year" for new varieties. Among its new launches are Broad Bean Karmazyn, Climbing French Bean Cobra, Spring Onion Lilia, Chilli Pepper Tabasco, petunia hybrid Purple Velvet F1 and Sweet Pea Winston Churchill.
- Town & Country (18M10) will showcase three gardening gloves that have all been designed by children between the age of four and 12 who entered a competition to have their gloves made. The firm will also announce a partnership with a gardening tool supplier.
- Woodstock Chimes (19A02) has created "Woodstock Chimes for Autism" to elevate awareness of the condition and support people living with autism. The chimes feature the puzzle-piece symbol associated with autism on its wind catcher and is tuned to Mozart's Piano Concerto number 21. They measure 24in in length and retail for £44.95.
- Melamaster (17S61) will be using the Glee exhibition to launch its picnic range of melamine products. The range is packed together in a carry bag and contains plates, bowls and beakers.
- Nap Brands (17Y40) will launch Stanley Fatmax garden hand tools and watering products as well as Stanley petrol garden tools such as chainsaws and strimmers.
- Scheurich (19G05) is expanding its outdoor product range with C-Cube, a planter with a concrete appearance that comes in a cubic shape and is available in two different sizes.
- Woodlodge Products (19A30-C31) is the UK's biggest supplier of garden pots. This year it will be exhibiting its new pots and planters at Glee in addition to its recently launched outdoor living collection. There are further additions to the existing Fibreclay, Feather and Heritage Garden designs. A new zinc pail has also been introduced to the National Trust range, inspired by the historic farms protected by the organisation.
- Wildlife World (18M50) will be launching a new range designed and created in partnership with wildlife cameraman and television presenter Simon King. The range includes the Wildlife Hide, a new concept for Wildlife World that uses King's expertise to create a hide for keen bird and wildlife photographers.
- Zippo Manufacturing (18J66) has announced the introduction of a new range of eyewear in its collection of lifestyle products that includes apparel, fragrance and outdoor goods. The lighter company has launched a 14-strong collection (seven designs of sunglasses and seven designs of reading glasses) and is currently targeting garden retail as an outlet.