A round up of news and views from this year's Glee exhibition

Glee 2015 saw consolidation after big changes in 2014, which included moving halls at Birmingham NEC and the fall-out from big distributor and wholesaler Solus closing. This year Glee prizes went to a range of exhibitors, as visitors and stand holders discussed the issues at the annual garden retail trade show.

Baksaver's James Hayes
Baksaver's James Hayes

Big concerns at this year were pressure on active ingredients in pesticides and herbicides, concerns about 'me too' products, consolidation leading to fewer suppliers and retailers in the market, a weaker peat harvest, increases in imports because of the euro, and Christmas tree over-supply. (See more in Horticulture Week magazine this week.)

In the awards, Baksaver Barrows won best tool and best overall product. The back-friendly product was launched at this show but is not yet in production.

Meanwhile Hozelock won best garden care accessory for Cloud Controller, best plant was Raspberry 'Ruby Beauty' from Wyevale Nurseries and best garden care product was Melcourt's Sylvagrow Compost.

Miniature World from Vivid Arts, Fallen Fruits outdoor pouffe, Spear & Jackson's Occasions Gift Range and Loktop 2 Port Mealworm Feeder from Petface were among other winners.

Squire's revealed it will donate the 5p per carrier bag tax which comes in for retailers with 250+ full-time employees on 5 October, to Greenfingers. 

In the seed markets, Mr Fothergill’s had a large stand and Westland had a part of its stand for Unwins Seeds. T&M, Suttons and Kings were not exhibiting. Taylors said its bulb sales were up six per cent this year. GIMA gave its £5,000 seed-corn fund to Green Digit for its SeedCell plastic seed sowing tool.

Garden designers the Rich Brothers promoted tools for Gardman. They have applied for Chelsea Flower Show 2016 with Cloudy Bay as sponsors.

Taylors Bulbs said they were six per cent up this year. Wildlife World said they were 20 per cent up. Thompson & Morgan said it was six per cent up in seed sales to garden centres.

Scotts said they were beginning to win back listings for Chapelwood bird food, bought from Solus in 2014 and said it hoped to get back to 10 per cent of the market. (Gardman said it had taken a big share of the market from Chapelwood in the last year.) Scotts also launched Groables biodegrable seed pods of which it hopes to sell one million units in the first year. Scotts said trade this year was flat against their best year ever in 2014.

Westland exhibited its new acquisition, Sinclair, with its range cut to integrate into Westland's existing offer. The company launched Gro Sure So Smart tomato seed pods at £4.99 and five brands within its new Sinclair purchase - J Arthur Bowers, New Horizon, Cambark, Growing Success and Deadfast, having cut half SKUs to try and overlap less with existing product. GroQubes have been dropped after a year in the market.

Gardman said its bird food was 10 per cent up this year.

Bayer said GfK figures showed houseplant care was seven per cent up in 2015, chemicals were 8.5 per cent down including slug products 16 per cent down. Total fertilisers are 3.1 per cent up, though only one per cent up in garden centres. They said price pressure on weedkillers meant volume was flat but value was several per cent down. Bayer dropped thiacloprid from Provado Bug Killer, with deltamethrin as its replacement, because of legislative pressure on the neonicotinoid.

Pressure on active ingredients from legislative processes and non-governmental organisations meant Scotts dropped metaldehyde and most companies in the sector looked hard at glyphosate, vowing to defend its use. Retailers said they had fewer options to recommend to customers. Neudorff, however, said its slug product sales were up 80 per cent.

In gloves and boots, Town & Country relaunched, while Briers expanded its range.

Squire's said August was 10 per cent up in 2014.

Garden centres to be redeveloped include Notcutts Woodford and Groves Bridport. 

Among launches were:

  • Buttacup launched a crescent-shaped planter for water butts.
  • Bord na Móna launched a 'single brand strategy' under the Growise brand.
  • Walsall Wheelbarrows unveiled Duraball wheelbarrows.
  • Kelkay launched its RHS Gardeners Collection of grits and sands.
  • Stewart unveiled its Blenheim half barrel range.
  • Melcourt showed its RHS-endorsed Passionate Gardener range.

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