Paris, who starts at the HTA on 13 August and will carry on her work part-time as Garden and Leisure operations director, told HW:
"Firstly to have a good look at the HTA and thoroughly review all activities and services that they offer through talking to members through a membership survey about which services they use and what the HTA can do for them.
"The key thing is to work better with other organisations. With the GCA, RHS things are already set up and with GIMA. We want to do the best we can for the industry as the main industry body. That has to be the absolute priority. We have a good team at Theale who have been running the organisation for the last six months and now it’s time to move things on."
GCA chairman Peter Burks said:
"It will be brilliant. I’ve know Carol Paris for a long time and we’re from the same part of the country and run garden centres in competition with each other. We’ve already started a good working relationship with the GCA and HTA with her a champion.
"The other really good thing is because she’s in garden centres and working in the industry she is somebody who really knows how it works. There won’t be anyone pulling the wool over her eyes. We’ve been working on dovetailing GCA and HTA e-learning and in the past there has been a lot of duplicate effort between the HTA and GCA. There’s not point in that because it’s a waste of time and money."
GIMA director Neil Gow said:
"It has to be good news. The HTA is in need of a strong leader who understands and knows the sector. We have ongoing work with the HTA as a result of conversation with Carol Paris towards the end of last year on training awards and market data."
Squire’s MD Dennis Espley said:
"I’m very pleased. She’s energetic and she’s got ideas. She knows the industry really well-all parts of it with her work with the HDC and communicates well and will be inclusive. I’m quite impressed the HTA took the decision because it’s a brave thing to appoint from within. She’ll be popular and will work with other trade associations well."
Raglan Garden Centre owner and former GCA chairman Martin Davies said: "It’s good that the HTA selected someone from the industry. A lot of garden centres could use the GCA audit system to improve standards and the HTA should promote that to its members."
Scotsdale MD Caroline Owen said:
"It’s great news and I think she’ll do a fabulous job for the HTA and the industry. She’s got to look at the HTA operations and see if any changes are needed."