THE GARDEN Centre Association (GCA) has seen a record number of new members join in 2019 – with 10 signing up so far this year.
These include three centres from the Klondyke Group, an additional centre for Perrywood Garden Centre, as well as six other independent garden centres from across the country.
Iain Wylie, chief executive of the GCA, explained: “We’d like to welcome all of our new members, Bellis Brothers Farm Shop & Garden Centre, Buckingham Garden Centre, Dunbar Garden Centre, Haddenham Garden Centre, Parkers Garden Company, Waresley Park Garden Centre, Klondyke Garden Centres in Edinburgh, Livingstone and Polmont and Perrywood Sudbury.
The centres have already received visits from their regional inspectors. These differ from the GCA’s annual inspections as the date is pre-arranged, rather than unannounced, in order to give the new members a chance to meet their inspector and be talked through the process.
Michael Cole, one of the GCA’s regional inspectors, said: “Our members say our unique annual inspections and feedback sessions are one of the biggest benefits of membership. They are a fantastic motivational and management tool, they keep everyone on their toes and make sure we’re always doing our best.
GCA members are also able to access the Association’s e-learning initiative Garden Retail Online Workshops (GROW), which helps member garden centres keep their customer service at the highest standards.
Mike Burks, Chairman Elect of the GCA for 2020/21, said: “There are so many benefits for centres to join an organisation like ours. We’re a friendly and inclusive bunch and membership enables businesses to easily share information, experiences and ideas, which helps them make decisions.
Elizabeth Bellis-Marks, Director at Bellis Brothers Farm Shop and Garden Centre in Wrexham, said: “Our staff work incredibly hard to offer our customers a unique and memorable shopping experience and being able to promote our centre as GCA approved reassures them that we are a quality garden centre.
“We have already benefitted in many ways from our membership. GCA Inspector, Gordon Emslie’s introductory visit and feedback proved incredibly informative. He offered us thought provoking advice regarding our unique selling points and we felt reassured that we are on track with our ideas.
“We also attended the recent regional awards meeting at Bents Garden & Home and were delighted to realise that networking wasn’t as frightening as we had thought! The other members were incredibly welcoming. We are looking forward to our journey as a member and our staff have renewed enthusiasm to improve their departments with next year’s visit in mind.”
The GCA represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide.