GIMA Day Conference report: Dobbies, Disruption & Megatrends

The Garden Industry Manufacturers’ Association’s AGM and Day Conference took place on 10th April at Ettington Chase Hotel, Stratford-Upon-Avon, with 60 members in attendance.  With a packed agenda, the day tackled everything from how consumers are changing the face of retailing, to the impact of technology upon purchasing decisions, the importance of inspiration, and how one retailer is forging ahead in this new retail landscape. GIMA’s Director, Vicky Nuttall kicked off proceedings, updating the room with positive news, in that GIMA has witnessed its fifth year of member growth, with 171 brands now forming the membership roster. Vicky continued to highlight a great start to the year with events such as Glee at Spring Fair and the Garden Press Event. The association also has a number of key events upcoming such as Buyer Connect (May 29th, and July 10th) as well as the Charity Day (June 6th) and annual GIMA Awards (July 4th), to which members were invited to attend.

Following Vicky was Philip Benton, Research Manager for Euromonitor International’s Home & Tech division. In his session Philip highlighted opportunities for growth through ‘megatrends’. According to Euromonitor’s data, key drivers for future growth of the garden market will be technology, the shifting economic power, population change, and environmental shifts, which Philip broke down into three megatrends. The first was ‘Ethical Living’ best summarised by more eco-conscious consumers, who will be focused on sustainability, veganism and the anti-plastic movement. 

The next megatrend was ‘Shopping Reinvented’, which will span all phases of the shopping journey. This can relate to the way people source product, interact with brands post-purchase, smartphone payment, and even micro-retailing and subscription models. This megatrend highlights the importance of online shopping, which is expected to see 18% growth by 2023 (currently accounts for 13% of all gardening related purchases).

The final megatrend Philip highlighted was ‘Hyperconnectivity’. As the UK is a key adopter of smart home technology, Euromonitor expect to see this continue through all aspects of the home and garden. Expect to see more robotics, click and grow options, and AR for the garden. 

Steve Collinge, MD of Insight Retail Group Ltd, and Executive Editor of Insight DIY followed with a presentation entitled ‘The UK Gardening Industry – futureproof or ripe for disruption?’. Opening the session Steve mentioned that the sector is not ripe for disruption, but only because the disruption has already happened! Steve’s session focused on why the UK high street has suffered so many casualties in recent years, and what we can expect to happen in the next five – 10 years, particularly in regards to intensifying competition amongst discounters, grocers and Amazon. But it certainly wasn’t all doom and gloom. Retailers who are willing to adapt and create a retail experience that appeals to a new range of consumers will thrive. Key drivers for success will be ensuring inspiration is front and centre – from aspirational instore displays, to utilising the power of social media to ensure the millennial market is catered for. The shopping experience is vital, and needs to optimise both online and bricks and mortar retail environments. Retailers who get this right have the opportunity to take a slice of a fast growing and profitable market.

The Conference also aligned perfectly with a major industry announcement, which saw Dobbies purchase 31 Wyevale stores, making it the biggest garden centre operator in the UK. With the company’s Horticultural Director, Marcus Eyles, presenting, this announcement made his session even more of interest to those in the room.

Marcus focussed his session on the future of Dobbies and how they are working to react GIMA Day Conference report: Dobbies, Disruption & Megatrendsto changing consumer needs and wants. Working one year ahead, the company recognises the value of social media, online channels and the power of the millennial market, and how they are looking for instant gratification with ‘create the look’ and ‘one click purchasing’. 

Marcus called for a more collaborative approach across the garden retail supply chain, and how together we can optimise new sales periods by changing our attitudes such as autumn gardening, to presenting GYO through fresh eyes. Additionally, Marcus also highlighted a number of key trends which Dobbies will be focussing on, including container gardening, low maintenance outdoor gardening, and a shift to gardening styles that reflect UK living, such as small spaces, terrace living, balcony gardens, and contemporary designs. 

To complete the day, presentations were also given my GIMA Associate members, Phocas. Phocas’ Ed Smith explained how the company can assist with data management, streamlining processes for businesses. With 90% of the world’s data created in the last two years – and this has been true for last 30 years – Ed certainly provided food for thought for members in attendance.

Glee’s Marketing Manager, Luke Murphy, updated delegates on plans for Glee 2019. With 75% of the floorplan now sold, and expansion plans in place for the show’s Outdoor Entertaining, Retail Services, and Pets at Glee sectors, expect Glee 2019 to be another thriving event full of new product inspiration, networking opportunities, and educational content.

Finally, Colin Wetherley-Mein provided an update on the Greenfingers Charity, which is currently busy preparing for its first evershow garden at RHS Chelsea. With the charity expecting to break ground on its 60th hospice garden within the next year, the team are also rallying the industry to raise much needed funds. Forthcoming sponsorship opportunities come in the shape of the Greenfingers Wing Walk, which will see GIMA’s very own Vicky Nuttall, along with two other brave souls, strap themselves to a bi-plane and take to the skies. The Monte Carlo Rally Challenge (leaving Glee on Thursday 12th September) is still looking for participants to join this fun challenge, whilst schemes such as Old into Gold, continues to deliver vital financial resources to the charity. Colin invited anyone interested in helping Greenfingers to get in touch.

Vicky Nuttall, concluded: “On behalf of the GIMA Council I’d like to extend our thanks to all of those attended the GIMA Conference, as well as those that kindly joined us as a speaker. The content was varied, thought-provoking, unique and endlessly fascinating.”

Membership of GIMA is open to all manufacturers and suppliers of products to the garden retail sector, with a UK or EU base.

For further information about GIMA and the benefits membership brings click here or contact the GIMA office on 01959 564947 or email