Opportunities for growth stimulate debate at GIMA Day Conference

Growth opportunities offered by exporting, online shopping, app-based selling tools, media events and industry-wide marketing and charity initiatives, generated enthusiastic interest from garden product suppliers at the Garden Industry Manufacturers’ Association (GIMA) Day Conference on 26th November.

Around 80 delegates from across the industry attended the conference, which was hosted by Poplars Garden Centre in Dunstable.

Particular interest was sparked by an insight into private members shopping sites, which represent the new, fast-growing face of online gardening retailing: Simon Woolgrove, Senior Buyer at ACHICA – the UK’s largest online, private members shopping site specialising in premium homeware, garden and lifestyle brands, explained: “We have more than 4 million affluent, predominantly female UK members, with 15,000 more joining every week.  We email them daily about more than 12,000 product promotions each year.  Home and garden products are extremely important to these customers.  It’s a huge new retailing opportunity for garden suppliers who have ‘something different’ to offer, backed by great lifestyle images.”

Doug Mendes, Group Sales Manager at Aspin Management Systems, prompted garden suppliers to harness tablets and apps to boost field sales performance.  “The latest mobile technologies mean that sales teams can have incredible customer, catalogue, stock and sales data, as well as images and videos, at their fingertips.  Whether up-selling, order processing or performance tracking, tablets and apps can add value to every garden business,” he confirmed.

A spotlight was also shone on the opportunities offered by export.  Amanda Sizer-Barrett, Director General and Charlie Parker, Commercial Manager at Gardenex, emphasised the benefits of exporting, and urged companies to optimise its wide-ranging support to help expand their sales internationally.  “If you are looking for practical advice on exporting, help in individual markets, legal expertise or contacts with international buyers, we are able to help you open up a world of new opportunities,” said Amanda.

David Arnold, Campaign Manager at the Garden Industry Marketing Board (GIMB) also urged companies to seize the opportunities available through its ‘Love the Plot You’ve Got’ marketing initiative, which is aimed at attracting under 45s to gardening.  He said: “From market research, branding and PR opportunities to product placement, sampling and retailer link-ups, Love the Plot You’ve Got is a campaign that every gardening supplier can join and benefit from, to help inspire the younger, future generation of gardeners.”

In other industry-wide opportunities, Kärcher’s Danny Adamson and Trevor Pfeiffer, managing director of The Garden Communications and Media Company, encouraged GIMA members to combine fund-raising for children’s hospice garden charity, Greenfingers, with kick-starting spring gardening sales, by participating in the fourth annual Garden Re-Leaf Day on 27th March 2015.

Guy Burtenshaw, Director of the Garden Press Event, also highlighted the benefits of exhibiting to 250 gardening journalists at the 10th annual show, which is to be held on 12th February 2015 at the Barbican Centre, London.

GIMA Director, Vicky Nuttall concluded: “The mood amongst GIMA members, both at this conference and other recent events, has been comparatively buoyant; with talk of a generally positive and lengthy 2014 sales season.  It has been extremely encouraging to hear today about the very many additional opportunities and new ideas for continuing that momentum into next year.”

GIMA’s events calendar for 2015 includes its popular Charity Golf Day on 4th June, and the GIMA Awards and Dinner on 16th July.  The GIMA AGM with Day Conference will be held in April 2015, date to be confirmed.  More details are available by calling 01959 564947 or visiting www.gima.org.uk