Centres in the North West, including Barton Grange, Grosvenor, Hayes and Bents, hosted 220-plus International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) Congress delegates last week from 27 countries around the world.
Seabrook, a delegate at the conference, said: "It looks as though the North West has been able to cope with planners better. There is no doubt that in the south-east quarter of the country, garden centres are being held back unnecessarily by planning. Our best garden centres are in the areas where planners have been open-minded and sensible.
"The North West did a very good job hosting the conference and there is little doubt we now have some of the finest garden centres in the world. On my visit to Barton Grange I found the centre jaw-dropping. You wonder where they can go from here."
The Garden Retail top-100 garden centres research, unveiled last month, found that the top five centres in the North West had higher turnover on average, at £10.8m than any other area of the country.
Hungarian delegate Klara Biza said: "The IGCA congress was a great success, it was far beyond my expectations. We have visited 15 top garden centres and I was with Eve Tigwell the whole week, so you can imagine, I have learnt a lot."
Meanwhile, the introduction of a programme for younger delegates revitalised the IGCA Congress, its organisers said.
Bents managing director Matthew Bent said: "It is important to share ideas and thoughts with others to keep the garden centre industry strong.
"Competition from large retailers is always a threat, which is why the GCA and our international links are so important to our industry."
Karl Stensson of Sheridan Nurseries in Georgetown, Ontario, said: "The last time I was in the UK was in 1997 but this is the first time we have been to Bents and there is nothing else like it — it is just beautiful."
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