QVC and Wilkinson call for innovation at GIMA event

Retailers talked to suppliers about the products they are seeking at GIMA's business meeting this week.

QVC head of home innovations Stephen Davidson told the event at Wyevale Bicester Avenue garden centre, a new home and garden channel called QVC Extra to be launched this June will give more opportunities to sell garden products and plants.

Topselling garden book nationwide is QVC presenter Richard Jackson's Container Gardening, while QVC sold 24,000 geraniums in one day this week.

The channel features a presenter, Jackson or Matt Biggs plus a company representative, selling products via 6-10 minutes slots on TV and the internet, which makes up 15 per cent of business.

Davidson said QVC customers are over-represented in wealthy and comfortably off social 'Acorn' groups.

He said he wants problem-solving products that are branded or non-branded and are "great value".

Top sellers are Jackson-branded composts and fertilisers. Two 70 litre compost bags are £25.95 delivered. QVC looks for non-comparable priced "point of difference" products. They want 100 per cent sale or return and 100 per cent credit on customer returns.

GIMA director Neil Gow said QVC's offer was particularly attractive this season "because you can buy from the comfort of your armchair".

Wilkinson garden buyer Simon Moore says retaining brand loyalty is important in the "tough retail enviroment". He said GfK data shows the garden market declined 17 per cent in the last 12 weeks but the recent change in weather brought hope.

Moore said differentiation, exclusive products and following trends was as important as price. Wilko trends for 2013 are 'Wilde' a gothic look, 'Sustain', a retro 1970s trend and 'Pixel', a bright technology range. He said any garden product could be redesigned to fit these trends.

Moore said own brands were growing faster than branded goods and retailers and manufacturers need to work harder together on non-branded goods. He added that "£5 off a hosepipe does not drive value for either side".

He said Wilko compares itself closest to B&Q "but we are cheaper". He added: "Price is important but not always the defining characteristic; best quality and value for money is important; as is uniqueness; and retailers and brands should work together to share risk to make the offer different."

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