Industry awards reflect on transformed garden centre supplier market

A new garden centre supplier landscape was on show at the Garden Industry Manufacturers Association (GIMA) Awards (17 July), following Scotts' purchase of a number of Solus brands, but many past winners won through again this year.

Taylor's Bulbs won GIMA supplier of the year for the third year in succession. Hozelock's Pico Reel won two awards but the 2013 "sword of excellence" winner was succeeded by Burgon & Ball's RHS Gardeners Gift Collection for 2014.

Taylor's Bulbs sales director Steve LeSage said: "Being a family business we all wear two hats. We all go on the road but we're back on the yard in busy periods. We know how important it is to get the product out to the customer because they have a short window to sell it."

With the £80m-turnover Solus's demise, Scotts' buyout of Solus bird care and tools, new management at Gardman and former Solus managing director Nick Davies setting up Crest with Westland, the supply market transformed in 2014.

Former Gardman owner Paris Natar is expanding new venture Smart Solar, which won the GIMA export award.

Quality was on the minds of many suppliers after it emerged The Garden Centre Group dropped Solus tools brand Joseph Bentley this year because India-sourced products are poorer than previously China-sourced tools. Solus subsequently switched back to China.

Scotts general manager Martin Breddy said: "Quality is hugely important and we will apply our rigour and process the same as across all our brands. We're fully committed to high levels of consumer satisfaction."

GIMA director Vicky Nuttall said: "Everyone is relieved the Solus situation has drawn to a conclusion but we're disappointed to see a valuable distribution channel go. It gives a chance to look elsewhere for distribution opportunities - Decco is favourite at the moment."

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