19 November 2019
WINDSOR, UK: 31 Canadians attended the 2019 International Garden Centre Association (IGCA) Congress in Windsor, UK, alongside 216 delegates from 19 countries. Visiting some of the best garden centres in the world, with expansive home décor sections, cafés and restaurants, children’s play areas and seasonal experiences, farmers markets, butchers and grocery areas IGCA members had lots of great feedback.
Brian Sipkens with Sipkens Nurseries in Ontario: “The best way to see what needs to be seen is often pointed out by someone else’s perspective. The networking opportunities and feedback are the sharpest tools found on the tours. Seeing how the best garden centres in another country have evolved to meet their economics and demographic helps us to look outside the norm for opportunities that may present themselves in our own respective businesses.”
Networking with other professionals brings new inspiration and rethinking of old processes. Many of the independent garden centres (IGC’s) struggle with similar hurdles as Canada such as new generation engagement, being climate responsible, and HR issues. They are overcoming some of these issues by: hiring fairs/group interviews, investing in staff, plastic use decline, less signage waste by using chalk boards, diversification by offering and selling much more then plants.
During the event, a number of speakers presented on issues that were of importance to the UK garden centre industry. A large part of the congress is the sharing of information, and one presentation members felt would be of particular interest to Canadians was made at Cooling’s Garden Centre, a retail centre that started in 1913 and now includes two sites in the UK.