James Barnes is to be HTA Chairman

James Barnes, the former CEO of Dobbies, is to become chairman of the HTA.  He will be association’s ambassador with members and outside the industry.

As Chairman he will be a non-executive director of the board of the Horticultural Trades Association, although not chairman of it.  That is the role of the President who is elected from and by the members and changes every 2 years.

The Chairman’s role

The chairman’s role is to be the link between the board and the senior executive team and, together with the president, to speak on behalf of the association with members and outside the industry.

The HTA sees the chairman as its ambassador, bringing continuity for organisations like the Government, DEFRA and other national organisations in their business with the horticultural trades.  The appointment is for 3 years but can be extended for a further 3 years.

The chairman will also be an influencer.  He will be both part of the decision making process as non-exec member of the HTA board and their link with the senior management team who carry out board policies. 

Barnes will not be based at Horticultural House but will be a regular attender of meetings.

James Barnes

James Barnes (57) was CEO of Dobbies garden centres for 23 years.  During that time turnover grew from £4m to £140m. 

Barnes led a management buyout of Dobbies in 1994 and floated the group on AIM in 1997.  The business was bought by Tesco in July 2008 after a battle against Sir Tom Hunter, then the owner of Wyevale.  5 years later, in 2013, Barnes left the business.

Since leaving Dobbies, Barnes has held a number of posts including chairman of Dunedin Smaller Companies Investment Trust Plc. He is currently a non-executive director of a number of small companies in the food and leisure sector, and also chairs a charitable Trust charged with sustaining one of Scotland’s premier castles.

Horticultural roots

James Barnes is a member of the Waterers family that owned the Floral Mile nurseries between Maidenhead and Reading.  Waterers bought Dobbies in 1969.  When the group was split in 1982, the Barnes family took control of Dobbies.

When James Barnes joined Dobbies in 1989 it was a nursery and a landscaper as well as a retailer. He therefore makes clear that his industry experience is broader than being merely a garden retailer.

The senior leadership team

The senior leadership team that will be reporting to James Barnes is led by Alex Vick, senior executive director & finance director and includes Martin Simmons, director of membership, and Anne Clark, director of HR & learning.  A director of policy & communication will be recruited in the New Year.


Commenting on the appointment, Adam Taylor, President, HTA, said “The Board and Executive are delighted to welcome James as Chairman of the Association. His wealth of experience and knowledge of the garden industry as well as other business experience will ensure that at this exciting and challenging time, the Association continues to be in the strongest position to represent and assist its members in every way.”

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