As the doors close on the biggest and most successful edition of Glee in years, the organising team looks at key trends emerging from this year’s show and ahead to 27th-29th June 2023 for an early glimpse of what’s in store for the UK’s most important garden centre trade exhibition.
If one key message emerged from the superb content programme offered at Glee 2022, it was that despite the huge economic challenges our country is facing, the gardening industry is better placed than almost any other to not just survive but thrive. Always strong on content, Glee pulled out all the stops with a host of expert commentators who were united in their belief that the future is bright for gardening. Retail consultant, Alan O’Neil, who helped grow the fortunes of Selfridges, Fenwick and Harrods amongst others, put it this way: “Gardening is one of the lucky sectors coming out of the pandemic, in a time where we see the pace, complexity and volume of change accelerating.”
As retailers adjust their business models and learn new skills to keep up with consumer shifts, the trade event that serves them has also changed with the times. This has already seen Glee shift from its historic September date to a late June timeframe which better suits the buying patterns of garden centers and other outdoor living specialists.
Commenting on the new June date, GCA Chairman and Managing Director of Millbrook Garden Centres, Tammy Woodhouse, said: “In the long-term, I think the new slot will help us make buying decisions earlier and allow us to have a summer sale and clear through old stock to make way for new ranges for next year,” whilst British Garden Centres’ Joint Managing Director, Charles Stubbs added: “It was great to see Glee back and in such good health! The level of commitment to the industry from suppliers was obvious through their NPD and investment in existing stock. I was particularly impressed by the number of new exhibitors; every one of them relevant to our industry.”
Robin Mercer, the owner of Belfast-based Hillmount Garden Centres and recipient of the coveted Best Independent Award in this year’s Buyer’s Power List, also shared his thoughts on the show, saying: “We need to go to shows to see what is new, and the stand quality here is very, very good, the layout is great, it’s spacious and easy to get around. People have gone to a lot of effort to make their stands look nice and decorate them well with nice features. We also make a point of visiting the New Product Showcase while we’re here. We have placed a few orders already but there are many more suppliers we still want to see”.
Robin and his retail colleagues were truly spoilt for choice at this year’s Glee, where exhibitor levels were back to pre-pandemic numbers, 170 new brands – never-before seen at the event – showcased their latest innovations and international exhibitors from 22 countries came out in force. Exhibitors were in agreement that the quality of retailers in attendance was also very high, with all the major garden centre groups sending buying teams and a wealth of independents from around the UK turning out to support the industry’s prime new product launchpad.
Lauren O’Neil of Stratford Garden Centre concurred with the positive sentiment, saying: “It’s been good, very strong. We picked up a few new suppliers; more of the smaller people we noticed as we went round and thought ‘they look good’.”
Driving Innovation and Celebrating Newness
Newness, of course, is the name of the game when it comes to inspiring buying and Glee had so much to offer in the way of product innovation, especially in the all-important realm of sustainability, which is firmly at the top of all buying agendas and consumer wish lists. This newness will be amplified at next year’s event, when the show will extend from four to five halls of the NEC, enabling key sectors to expand and opening up new growth areas for Glee.
After an exceptionally strong 2022 showing, which saw buyers turning up in droves to place orders ahead of Christmas, the Home, Gift & Clothing sector at Glee will be transformed into a dedicated village for trend-driven garden home and giftware. A new DIY sector will also debut at the 2023 show, whilst the International Sourcing sector – new for 2023 – will help make Glee an important destination for major wholesale buyers and procurement experts in the years to come.
Outdoor Entertaining – a booming category as Brits give a unanimous thumb’s up to home entertaining – is also set to grow for next year’s event, as demand for outdoor entertainment products remains high. During his fascinating seminar on opportunities for growth in the current economic climate, HTA Head of Research, David Denny, pointed out that:
“Even before the pandemic, outdoor living was on an upwards trajectory, but over the last 12-18 months it has accelerated in growth, and few would disagree that garden retail has benefitted from this positive trend. The question now on the garden industry’s mind is how does it continue to engage with this new consumer group, and can this continuous growth be maintained?”
Glee is here to help meet that challenge, with a host of exciting plans for the development of this vital sector at next year’s show, with the outdoor demonstration zone, Fire, Grill & Chill, playing an important part in this expansion. (Finger’s crossed for some summer sun!).
Glee Event Director, Matthew Mein, said; “We are incredibly excited about the continuing evolution of Glee at such a pivotal time of growth and change for the gardening industry. Through the support of innovation and by driving newness in every market sector, inspiring buyers and helping to inform their purchasing decisions in a rapidly changing environment, Glee has a vital role to play. We are more than ready to meet the challenges and help our customers to make the most of opportunities, facilitated by our new June date which opens up Glee to the most important buying cycle for trade.”
Find out more
Glee is the UK’s leading garden retail show, focussing on building year-round profits for buyers and suppliers within the core gardening and outdoor leisure product categories. To keep up to date on the latest Glee news visit www.gleebirmingham.com. To enquire about exhibiting at Glee 2023 which will take place June 27th – 29th, please call +44 (0)203 3545 9752.