Q: What will GIMA focus on over the next 12 months?
A: All of GIMA's activities are around our core objectives of saving (money for), connecting, promoting, representing and supporting members. Everything we do in the next 12 months and beyond is based around those objectives. But more specifically, the GIMA Awards is a really big focus and meets our objectives by connecting people and promoting products. We have an active interest in Glee in September and work closely with the organisers to make sure the show delivers what our members want. We had our golf day in June and in November we have our conference. A new event is Meet the Buyer, which (GIMA director) Neil Gow is arranging. This will be of benefit to members big and small trying to get in front of key retailers. Every year in our new product guide members take advertising space to promote products and it is published in September just after Glee. That's the right time to be promoting new products. It's sent to key buyers in the garden retail sector.
Q: What collaborations are you working on at the moment?
A: Glee is always something we're working with. We were instrumental after Glee 2012 in getting people together to talk about what was right and wrong with it and were very pleased with that ongoing collaboration. The Garden Industry Promotions Board (GIPB) is very much at an early stage. GIMA, with the HTA, Garden Centre Association and RHS, are discussing pulling together a funding body to encourage more people to get into gardening and raise its profile. If it comes off, it could be a great boost to the industry. We could use the money to promote a campaign like David Domoney's Cultivation Street, as well as putting together our own campaigns. It has to be good that everyone pools resources on campaigns. We've also been talking to the RHS to forge stronger links. We can connect them with manufacturers for their shows and website.
Q: What are your main roles as GIMA president?
A: Neil Gow runs GIMA day-to-day but the president ensures we guide Neil and the council to focus on key objectives. I represent GIMA where necessary and chair council meetings. We have a strong 16-member council this year and we meet three times a year, and there are subgroups.
Q: How are you working with the media to help suppliers?
A: Neil worked tirelessly behind the scenes on the first series of Love Your Garden making sure people in the production company (Spun Gold) were aware of products and manufacturers, and linking them together. That has bedded down now so we have less involvement in the latest series. He also made sure the industry was kept informed of the products featured. The GIPB is a big project that could ultimately work with TV and media to promote gardening.
Q: Who would you like to speak at GIMA conferences?
A: It would be interesting to get some new entrants into the market from Next and Waitrose to get their view on it, as well as key garden centres. It would be interesting to get Mary Portas's perspective again too.
Q: How are you working with trade shows?
A: We work with Glee and Spring and Autumn Fair, as well as Four Oaks and the Garden Press Event. Neil is in contact with the organisers and those with a potential gardening connection. He's looking to get GIMA members exhibiting discounts. It's less about exports. Gardenex has the expertise with that. It is early days with our move to the Federation of Garden & Leisure Manufacturers offices in Kent (to join Gardenex). The federation supplies our secretariat and Geraldine Poulton is a full-time officer for GIMA.
Q: What market data do you provide at GIMA?
A: We're starting a library of market research reports. Mintel's report is available for members to read in our office. We have member discounts on HTA reports and are talking to Mintel about discounts, and with the HTA about data pooling, when manufacturers in a sector send sales information confidentially to a third party and get market-share information back. Electronic point-of-sales market share is expensive and the HTA does a lot of reports based on data input from garden centres and top-level consumer data. There's nothing from the bottom up from manufacturers and suppliers so to build that picture would be valuable. The HTA worked on data pooling with seed companies and the model is set up for other sectors. From my perspective as a marketer, I can see the benefit.
1995-2001: Product manager, Marley Building Materials
2001 to date: Head of marketing, Forest Garden
2013 to date: President, GIMA