"Growth in turnover and profit-wise is stable so everyone is saying 'lovely, we're happy'. Once you reach that stage there's only one direction. People have got to recognise there is a risk if you're falling into inertia and they should take risks."
Former GCA chairman Steve Myatt added: "Some people are still expecting to open the door and have people walk in, and are not engaged with the community and not particularly aware of current retail trends and how to grow the business. There are lots of great businesses but some are stuck in a loop. That's one thing about the GCA - it is never stuck in a loop because members are always meeting and seeing the bigger picture."
Garden Retail & Garden Industry Awards lifetime achievement winner Richard Jackson also said garden centres need to take risks during his acceptance speech at this month's awards.
But Squire's managing director Dennis Espley, speaking at the Garden Retail Summit, said an Associated Independent Stores conference heard how adaptable garden centres are in areas such as cookware and other retailers should look to garden retail as a model of dynamism.
GCA immediate past chairman Will Armitage said: "It's a time of change and when there is a lot of change business people tend to try and play it safe, which is probably mistaken as being inertia. There are a lot of garden centres out there doing radical and different things." He gave the Pet Cafe at Bents Garden & Home as an example.
HTA president Adam Wigglesworth said retailers need to engage the generation up to the age of 30 who use mobile technology as a way of life.
GCA chairman Julian Winfield said: "The message to members is we've got to stick together and keep talking and working together as an association to help each other to overcome challenges. We have great businesses and have been somewhat protected but not immune to changes."