GCA column: Success stories

Peter Burks, chief executive of the GCA, reflects on the industry winners at the recent annual GCA conference.

The Garden Centre Association (GCA) annual conference took place at the De Vere Cotswold Water Park Hotel, near Cirencester, recently.

Among the many informative speakers sharing insight were HSBC's former head of economics Mark Berrisford-Smith, who helped delegates understand the resurgence of inflation and the challenges that it continues to bring to our industry; and best-selling author and BBC radio and TV neuroscience presenter, Dr Hannah Critchlow, who spoke about well-being, one of this year's key sub-themes.

GCA members also chose to support three charities at the conference this year. Delegates participated in the Sunday Charity Day, and raised funds in a raffle during the week.

The nominated charities were Greenfingers, Perennial and The Colegrave Seabrook Foundation. The mega raffle was run in a slightly different format this year. During the conference, there were envelopes placed at every seat and table. Everyone had the opportunity to buy a ticket for the value that they feel most comfortable with.

And of course, there were the awards, which celebrate the industry's achievements and successes. We added two new awards to the roster this year. The Ian Boardman Indoor Plant Award and the Food Hall/Farm Shop Award were presented to the best Destination Garden Centre (DGC) and Garden Centre (GC) in both categories (full details of all the awards presented can be found on our website).

The commitment and hard work our member garden centres put in each year just gets better and better. Through our annual inspections and awards, we know our members have some of the highest standards in our industry. They should all be proud of the example they set to others. I’d like to congratulate all our worthy winners this year for their dedication to ensuring the public receives an experience to remember when visiting them.

We had another joyous evening celebrating our overall champion of champions and our ‘Garden Centres of Excellence’ winners, too, on 30 January. They have all demonstrated tremendous tenacity, hard work and passion, and couldn’t be more deserving of these accolades.

We were also delighted to announce our Associate of the Year, as voted for by our member garden centres and to present our Worrall Cup to the garden centre the judges’ felt entered the best marketing and community campaign too.

Winners from this year's conference:
Destination Garden Centre of the Year: Bents Garden & Home (pictured)
Garden Centre of the Year: Fairways Garden Centre, Ashbourne
Associate of the Year (voted by GCA garden centre members): Woodmansterne
The Worrall Cup: Tong Garden Centre

Garden Centres of Excellence:
Barton Grange Garden Centre
Bents Garden & Home
Coolings Garden Centre Knockholt
Haskins Garden Centre, Snowhill
Klondyke Mortonhall Garden Centre
Millbrook Garden Company, Gravesend
Perrywood Garden Centre, Tiptree
Ruxley Manor Garden Centre
Simpsons Garden Centre, Inverness
The Old Railway Line Garden Centre

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