Meet the companies set to face the Angels

Which are the companies to face the Glee Garden Angels and what are the questions they will pose them? Common themes are: what do they need to do to get garden centres to take their products? Where should they be made? Should they use agents? What POS support is needed? How do you make a profit?

Whilst the questions are often similar; we discovered at last year’s show the answers are often very different. Many companies share the same challenges as those taking the stage. Listening to the Garden Angels can be as inspirational as appearing before them.

Set aside an hour at lunchtime. Bring your sandwiches. It could be the most fruitful 60 minutes of your day. At the end of the show you will have the opportunity to fire your own questions at the Angels.

Here are the companies and some of the issues that might be discussed.

Monday 19th 1.00pm
The Angels:
Sue Allen, Paris Natar and Boyd Douglas Davies

First onto the stage will be the inventor of the Water Guardian, a new idea that solves many of the problems when watering baskets and containers. Is there room in the market for such a device? Having invested heavily in tooling, how can the inventor get garden centres to stock it? Is it a garden centre product or would other channels be better? What will the Angels advise?

Second on stage will be Squirrel Ban, a new range of wild bird food that squirrels will not eat. Will customers pay a premium? Should they set up a sales force to reach garden centres or market through an existing distributor? Will other suppliers copy it?

Tuesday 20th 1.00pm
The Angels:
Sue Allen, Paris Natar and Stephen Pitcher

You may remember Gardenforum reporting the demise of Craft Central in December 2008. It operated concessions on 40 garden centres. The new owners have bought the name and have set up a new concept for retailing crafts in garden centres. Do the Angels think this will work? Is it a template for other specialist lines in garden centres? Who pays for the investment?

Slug Gone has been successful for several years as a niche / mail order product. Made from wool, slugs are said to hate it. But is it a mulch, a soil conditioner or a slug repellent? How do you sell the concept to the gardener? If successful how do you manufacture the volumes? Do endorsements help?

Wednesday 21st 1.00pm
The Angels:
Sue Allen, Paris Natar and Andy Campbell

The Solar Centre is already successful in other UK markets with its solar powered products, but it has failed to make headway against established brands in the garden market. It believes its products are superior, so what strategy would the Angels recommend?

The final company in the contest is Slugbell . The owner has invented a decorative cover for slug pellets that prevents birds eating them and shelters them from rain. Should the inventor manufacture, sell and distribute himself? Will garden centres trade with a single product company? Where should they be manufactured?

The Glee Garden Angels
Sue Allen
retired as MD of The Millbrook Garden Company last year. Sue continues to be enthusiastically involved within the industry, currently as the President of the International Garden Centre Association, a member of the Board of the British GCA and a member of the Greenfingers Charity committee.

Paris Natar, the founder of Gardman, has been working in the garden industry since 1979. Paris presided over 8 consecutive years (2002-2009) of Gardman winning the GCA-GIMA supplier of the year award here in the UK. Sales now exceed £70m.

Boyd J Douglas-Davies is the CEO of recently created Hillview Garden Centres Ltd and has had 20 years at award winning Webbs of Wychbold, with the last 10 years as Chief Executive. Boyd is also a member of the HTA Marketing Committee, and the creator of Garden Re-Leaf day 2012.

Stephen Pitcher joined The Garden Centre Group as their Purchasing Director in late 2008. Stephen has worked in the garden centre industry for more than 25 years and has been associated with Nicholas Marshall, the CEO of TGCG, for much of that time.

Andy Campbell has run his own highly respected business development consultancy specialising in the Gardening industry for the last 10 years. Prior to that he had nearly 20 years buying experience in multiple retail as Head of Horticulture and Garden Centre Trading with Homebase.
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