The Retail Lab at Glee has been created in association with one of the garden retail sector’s leading trade associations, The HTA. Now in its second year, the Retail Lab benefits greatly from the HTA’s involvement, including sharing of its knowledge, trend foresight and utilising its vast membership base to access exciting new product innovations that fit this year’s Retail Lab theme of Happy Gardening.

 Here we catch up with Martin Simmons, Director of Operations at the HTA to find out more about the association’s involvement in the Retail Lab, and those trends that are helping to shape the garden retail sector in the coming seasons.

1)      Can you tell me more about the role of the HTA within the Retail Lab?

The HTA is very excited to be once again involved with the Retail Lab feature. It is a great way of demonstrating how storytelling can play such an important role in merchandising and selling products. We are helping to support the feature through providing market information and insight, via our relationship with trends agency, Foresight Factory, and providing the data and information behind the themes. We have also been very busy helping to source products and materials for the feature from plants and furniture through to books and biscuits! We have also been encouraging our garden retail members to send along merchandisers to help build the feature – getting an invaluable ‘on the job’ training experience with the Retail Lab Trend Forecaster and Concept Developer, Romeo Sommers.

Of course, we are also involved in the practical element of helping to build and breakdown the Retail Lab and so we are very much involved from start to finish. It also provides a great opportunity for the HTA to showcase initiatives and activities that the association is working on for its members – from the Preferred Partners Scheme highlighting how businesses can save costs, to the trade pot recycling scheme through Ecogen and the development of recyclable taupe pots and National Children’s Gardening Week,

 2)      Which of the Retail Lab trends are you most excited to see come alive?

With this year’s overall theme of ‘Happy Gardening’ each of the areas are sure to make you smile. It will be good to see how the ‘feel good’ area will come together – helping to demonstrate the positive effects of plants and gardening. Features such as a botanical bar and sensory path will also be worth looking out for. Areas like the play zone provides a great link with National Children’s Gardening Week and so it is good to be able to demonstrate how these initiatives can come to life instore.

3)      Why should garden centres make the Retail Lab part of their Glee visit?

The Retail Lab provides great added interest to Glee – helping to make those important links between products and presenting them in different ways. The feature is an oasis amongst the hubbub of the show and seeks to provide inspiration. If visitors just take one element away with them to implement instore then that is great and worthwhile.

 4)      How is garden retailing changing?

The garden retail sector is constantly changing and over the last few years there has been a trend towards experiential retailing. Gardening is a hobby and retailers need to work harder to attract that disposable income spend on gardening rather than an alternative leisure pursuit. Garden retailers are ideally placed to take advantage of this with activities as events, educational programmes etc – and that can work for small as well as large garden retail businesses. At the larger end their ability to offer a wider range (catering, garden furniture, play) to cater for the leisure side of gardening puts them in a unique position.

5)      How can garden retailers implement Retail Lab inspiration in their own stores?

We don’t anticipate that any visitors will take away the whole look and implement in the stores. However, it might just provide inspiration for a forgotten corner or an island site. It is really about sowing the seed and getting people to think differently to how they approach sales and link products together to tell a story in a captivating and inspirational way. Success stories from last year demonstrate the impact that a different approach can have on sales.

 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 www.gleebirmingham.com

 Find out more about the HTA by visiting www.hta.org.uk

Interview: The Retail Lab at Glee, in association with the HTA

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