British garden retailers and suppliers urged to cement relationship

An uncertain recovery awaits as the economy pulls out of recession, according to speakers at the HTA's business update at Webbs Garden Centre in Ryton last week.

But what was certain was the need to cement the "new-found love" between British retailers and suppliers, said HTA director-general David Gwyther.

Gwyther and marketing director Andrew Maxted outlined trends for 2010 to a regional garden industry audience. "The overall picture is not golden but it's not bad either," said Gwyther. "The big question is what happens after the election when politicians want to claw back the £200bn they have spent stimulating the economy."

He added that the past year's currency exchange rates had forged a "new-found love" between British retailers and suppliers and emphasised the need for good relationships to be cemented.

He identified the internet, the "retreat to the garden", the power of local brands and the environment as key ongoing trends that the industry needed to exploit.

Maxted said the importance of social networking would continue to rise and forecast that this would put a greater emphasis on value for money, with the emergence of a "recommendation generation".

HTA northern business development manager Martin Simmons said: "We're now kicking off a whole new range of market research looking at garden and allotment ownership, who buys the plants in the garden, garden content and buying channels."

He identified upcoming topics for special garden insight reports. They included the gardening continuum, grow your own, bedding and colour and Christmas in garden centres. "We have identified the moderate gardener as the most important but that work was done some time ago and it is important to re-evaluate it. It is worth looking at grow your own to see how important it is going to be in the future.

"We need to understand what people consider bedding to be and how important colour is in their gardens. Christmas is a huge market and very important part of the turnover of the average garden centre."

Gwyther also revealed the possibility of a major initiative for the 2012 Olympics to link parks and gardens under the slogan: "London is the garden centre of the world."

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