ASSOCIATION COMMENT Adapting to the new normal

As I write this, garden centres in England and Wales have been open again since mid-May and those in Scotland and Northern Ireland have recently re-opened, all with strict social distancing measures in place. Mike Burks, GCA Chairman, updates on the latest in garden retail


@Homebase_uk Talk about flower power! Presenting the first ever Homebase UK plant map, showcasing the bestselling plants across the

as you’ve all been getting green-fingered in during lockdown.

country the sun

Got room for some new blooms? Fresh stock now in-store Sunflower

@Screwfix We are delighted to introduce the finalists of Screwfix Trade Apprentice 2020. Next week, they will compete for the title & the winner will walk away with the ultimate trade bundle! We wish them good luck in our first ever digital final.

@TravisPerkinsCo This week is Men’s Health Week - this week’s theme is ‘Take Action on COVID-19’. It’s important to protect your health and mental wellbeing, with support offered from the gov for self-employed and employers.

Check out here: https://gov. uk/business-coronavirus- support-finder

@Graham_Merchant Our website holds the entire Always Available Range as well as lots of useful information on our business.

We have worked with the HTA (Horticultural Trades Assocation) to provide advice and guidance to our member garden centres on the different measures they can implement to ensure the safety of staff and customers, and we’re very pleased that everyone has followed these to the letter, and have even gone above and beyond. Many have created queuing and

procedures one-way

systems, as well as placing markers on the floors and hand sanitising stations where possible. They are also limiting the number of people in their centres at any one time. The lockdown has given


everyone the gardening bug. Those who didn’t have a single green finger have taken up gardening, as they found themselves with lots of extra time at home and this meant, when centres re-opened, stock flew off our plant benches and shop shelves. It has been reported that bedding plants and compost have been extremely popular, even to the point of waiting lists being created. Since the re-opening of

garden centres in England and Wales, we have been extremely lucky with the weather, as we have enjoyed some absolutely fantastic sunshine, which has really helped sales and has given a much needed kickstart to this

‘new’ season we’ve all had to deal with.

Now all of our members are

pretty much open again, we hope to re-start the collecting of


centres for our Barometer of Trade reports and it will be really interesting to see the numbers. Many centres still have gifts and clothing departments closed in order to help customers social distance, so this will affect sales figures and, at the time of writing this, restaurants and cafés are still closed. There have been murmurings of a possible July re-opening date for catering and hospitality businesses, and it is hoped that this will include restaurants and

figures from garden

cafés in garden centres too, but only time will tell. When they do re-open, we’re confident our members will be able to stick to the strict social distancing measures that may be required. It seems as if this will be the ‘new normal’ for our member garden centres and the general public for quite some time to come.

It has been extremely

interesting to see how centres have adapted to this new way of trading and how understanding customers have been during this time. We also know how appreciate and grateful they are to see centres open again, allowing them to get back to planting and growing.

From here you can access Parts Arena, our Branch Locator & information on all of our Trade Kick Starter initiatives Smiling face with open mouth

@Wickes Our stores are now open. We’ve put strict social distancing and safety measures in place


protect our colleagues and customers.

@RobertDyas We’re excited to announce that 11 of our stores are safely reopening from 1st July.

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