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Greenworld – Spring 2016


he garden centre owners and staff I speak with are positive

about our industry and love it with a passion. I can’t stress

enough the importance of having passion. You need it in life

and business to prosper.

There was lots of passion on show at the recent International Garden

Centre Association Congress in Switzerland in August. The Swiss are very

passionate about gardening and proudly showed their excellent garden

centres to those who attended the Congress. A delegation of Australian

GCA members were there and we will bring a full report on the event in

the next issue of



The industry’s passion came to the fore during our garden RELEAF

promotion earlier this year, which raised around $70,000 for the charity


. The success of garden RELEAF shows that events-based

promotion can produce excellent results for garden centres.

Like anything else, the amount of effort put into an event determines

the result. One prominent Victorian garden centre owner told me that

garden RELEAF added $10,000 to his sales for the day. He was delighted.

It doesn’t end there. Garden centre owners and managers also spoke

about the lift in staff morale, the delight in the eyes of customers and the

camaraderie that comes in working with supportive suppliers.

Measuring the PR benefits

This year, GCA employed a public relations company to help generate

publicity for garden RELEAF. We were very pleased with the results and

already have plans for next year’s promotion. The following list shows the

type of media coverage for garden RELEAF. Much more occurred that has

not been captured.

• 89 pieces of print coverage, leading to a circulation of 3.76m in print

media reach.

• An estimated 117,000 page views online.

• 106 social shares.

• 10 radio interviews.

Put aside Sunday March 19, 2017 for our next garden RELEAF. GCA

invites all independent garden centres across Australia to participate in

this industry event.

Decorating with plants

The trend of decorating with plants rather than simply gardening with

them has been strong in Europe for years and Australia is just catching up.

While it’s true that Europe’s climate is different, the way we live here is

changing also. As gardens become smaller and green thumbs are confined

to a balcony, courtyard or even a well-lit room, people still want to have

plants and they want them to look good.

Despite the confined growing space, catering for small gardens can be

profitable for garden centres as they offer lots of opportunities for add-on

sales. Gardeners in small spaces need attractive pots to display their plants.

They also need a top-quality potting mix and an easy way of feeding their

‘living decoration’. The specialist knowledge on offer at their independent

garden centre can ensure their efforts are met with success and so build

their loyalty to individual businesses.

Part of this trend of plants as decoration is the return of indoor plants.

For sales success stock must be good quality, plentiful and shown off in

creative displays. Meet these three criteria to get the best out of this trend.

What’s interesting about the return of the indoor plant is that many of

the varieties selling now are the same ones I sold in my garden centre in the

1970s! The difference is mainly in how they are presented and marketed.

Mini gardens and fairy gardens have boomed overseas and again I

feel we are just catching up. Terrariums or open top gardens (call them

what you like) are selling well. If set up properly, they are an excellent

decoration requiring little attention. US garden centres have access to

exquisite handcrafted furniture for their fairy gardens and now several

suppliers are offering good-quality miniature accessories for these gardens

in Australia.


Leigh Siebler is the Manager for Garden Centres Australia. He can be

contacted by email at

. For more on the garden

RELEAF promotion, see

Stay positive and reap rewards

Leigh Siebler says passion and a positive approach to your business and local activities help businesses to thrive. He also

reveals the wider benefits that flow on from garden RELEAF, plans for local cooperation and comments on what’s trending

in garden retail.

Garden Centres of Australia News

Maintaining local links

GCA is working with many state associations through its board

members and is planning various programs for retailers. Australia is a

vast country so it makes sense to work locally with state associations

to maximise programs rather than replicate and compete with each

other. Some sessions are already underway, including a number of

add-on sales sessions in Victoria run for GCA with Grow Better

Garden Products and the Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria.

Local is a buzzword for retailers – for example it is widely used by IGA

supermarkets in their advertising and promotions. Don’t underestimate

the strength of local: it is a strength for any garden centre.

An impressive indoor plant display in Germany with add-on products and colour-blocked

pots nearby.