Glee 2018: bolder, brighter and brimming with freshness

Glee 2018 was a thriving hub for the garden retail sector. Featuring a bigger, bolder and brighter event, the visually impactful show welcomed more exhibitors, exciting new content, a new footprint and and a strong visitor contingent that delivered across the board and drew praise from all corners of the sector. To find out more, we catch up with Glee’s Event Director, Matthew Mein, to discuss the vital role Glee plays as both an exhibition, and networking hub for the industry it represents.

Bigger, brighter and more vibrant

Glee 2018 was all about arming retailers and suppliers with the tools, inspiration and knowledge to grow their businesses. From a new look with engaging entrances that excited visitors from the moment they entered the show, new inspirational and educational features, bigger stands and a new footprint that incorporates five halls of the NEC, we curated a show that built on the success of previous years, and more importantly, responded to the needs and wishes of our visitors. This latter change – a new footprint – was one change that added extra vibrancy to the event, and helped retailers to walk the show differently, enabling them to source new suppliers and exciting new products along the way – reflective of how retailer change their shop floor each season to keep content fresh and exciting for customers.

In total Glee 2018 welcomed in excess of 5% new brands to the show compared to 2017, and a 7% growth in our show footprint.

We also introduced a much more in-depth programme of content that helped cut through the noise regarding latest consumer trends, merchandising techniques and the future of garden retailing. It was all about future proofing businesses and arming them with tangible and inspiring ‘takeaway’ content; content that can be implemented in their own stores immediately.

Quality visitors eager to do business

We all know that one of the key contributing factors to the success of any exhibition is the quality of its visitor demographic. This year, Glee welcomed more of the ‘big players’ than ever before. Almost every single GCA member was in attendance, with supermarkets and DIY giants as well as leading high street stores all making time to visit the show, many bringing bigger teams to ensure all corners of Glee were covered.

Not only this but revisits continued to increase, with more revisits taking place across the Tuesday and Wednesday when compared to last year. With visitors staying longer, more business could be done, which is why we have heard of many brands breaking their own Glee sales records. It’s knowledge such as this which makes it all worthwhile.


Record breaking rebookings

Happy exhibitors mean a bright future for the exhibition, and what better measure of this than the onsite rebooking process. As exhibitors experience a thriving show, they are keen to secure their space at the event the following year. In 2017 we saw a record breaking 54% onsite rebooking figure, however 2018 set the bar incredibly high with over 60% of the 2019 floorplan already booked. Not only does this stand Glee in good stead but it also demonstrates the strength that the industry is in as we enter the 2019 season.

Features that deliver

Glee prides itself on providing added value content that doesn’t distract from the main show but enhances the experience. From a whole library of seminar sessions to choose from, a must-see New Product display and an enhanced Retail Lab – in association with The HTA – visitors to Glee needed only to take 30 minutes out of their day in order to get inspired, see exciting showcases of the latest innovations from across the show, or simply to learn something new.

This year’s seminar programme featured everyone from Charlie Dimmock, Skinny Jeans Gardeners, Annabelle Padwick of Life at No.27, Lee Bestall to Royal Canin, the RSPCA, the HTA, Romeo Sommers of ByRomeo, Glee’s Retail Lab Trend Forecaster and Concept Developer, and AMA Research.

The Retail Lab also returned for its second year, with visitor numbers to this area increasingly significantly. Created in association with the HTA, Romeo Sommers, Paula Parker, and supported by our amazing sponsorsWoodlodge, Hozelock, Scheurich, Capi Europe BV., Elho, Kaemingk, PTMD, Ivyline, Meadow View Stone, Key Essentials, Barking Bakery, Burgon & Ball, Bord na Mona, Gardena, Link Shelfing, Neudorff, Prices, Seedcell, Sound Leisure, Taylor Made Design, Zest 4 Leisure, Premier Decorations, Profit Plants, Air So Pure, Beanworks, Tea from the Manor and Tea by Me– this dedicated area of inspiration showcased the future bestsellers and new product innovations, exciting in-store experiences and merchandising displays.

What next for Glee?

The 2018 exhibition may be over, but the plans for Glee in 2019 are picking up apace.


Glee at Spring Fair (3rd – 7th February, NEC Birmingham).

Glee at Spring Fair will give retailers the opportunity to see new and best-selling ranges ahead of the spring season. A second addition at this time of year will give retailers an additional destination to refresh their ranges for key retail spikes.  Glee in February will also provide garden buyers with the latest concepts and trends for 2019, helping them to direct their buying.  Categories that retailers can look forward to sourcing will include garden care, landscaping and garden decoration, and outdoor entertaining.


The spring edition will also provide Glee exhibitors with a secondary revenue opportunity in the year, and an additional touchpoint to meet with new and existing customers, whilst also enabling Spring Fair to benefit from having a dedicated garden centre hub at its heart. Glee at Spring Fair will take prime location in Hall 3, considered to be in the main thoroughfare, alongside the complimentary DIY section.


Find out more

Glee is the UK’s leading garden retail show, focussing on building year-round profits for buyers and suppliers within the core gardening and outdoor leisure product categories.  To keep up-to-date on the latest Glee news visit  To enquire about exhibiting at Glee 2019 call 020 3033 2160.


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Don’t forget – Glee 2019 features new opening days

Glee has a proven track record of evolving and changing to meet the needs of the industry it represents. The latest update is a continuation of this theme, as it is confirmed that the 2019 event will take place on Tuesday 10th – Thursday 12th September.


The simple act of moving Glee one day later in the week has been decided upon due to increasing demand from the show’s retail visitors. Visitor trends in recent years have hinted at the popularity of the show days later in the week and following a period of consultation with both suppliers/ manufacturers and retail partners the move to a Tuesday – Thursday format has been confirmed.


Matthew Mein, Glee Event Director, said: “Glee needs to adapt in order to be more responsive to the needs of our visitors. With Sunday trading continuing to dominate the weekly schedule within retailing, we are seeing more and more visitors attending Glee on Tuesday and Wednesday as many dedicate Monday as the day to reflect after weekend trading, to catch up with their teams and order additional stock for the weeks ahead. Recognising this, we have decided to amend our opening days to provide retailers with the opportunity to focus their attention post-weekend, before visiting Glee unhindered later in the week. During our period of consultation, the response to this was extremely positive so we hope the wider industry will be equally supportive.”




For more information, interviews or images please contact:

Kimberley Hornby, Glee PR Team, Hornby Whitefoot PR

Tel: 07851 60573    Email:


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About ITE Group plc

ITE Group plc was founded in 1991 and is now one of the world’s leading organisers of international exhibitions and conferences.

ITE Group’s strategic vision is to create the world’s leading portfolio of content-driven, must-attend events delivering an outstanding experience and ROI for our customers. The Group recently launched its Transformation & Growth (TAG) programme, which is designed to transform the Company from a geographic-led business to a product-led business that focuses on market-leading events, wherever they are in the world. ITE strives to run the best shows and offer the best service to its customers throughout the world regardless of location. By putting exhibitors and visitors at the heart of everything we do, we plan to drive sustainable growth for our shareholders.

ITE Group is a public limited company and has been listed on the main market of the London Stock Exchange since 1998.