E-News: March 2016

Vol. 8, Issue 1  |  March 2016


Message From Your President

John Zaplatynsky

I recently had the opportunity to attend the International Green City Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.  The meeting included the joint meeting between the Association International Producers Horticulture (AIPH) and the European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA) where I was invited to attend and provide a brief description of what IGCA represents in the horticultural industry.  

The AIPH is a grower’s organization representing many more countries than IGCA and is currently working on a visioning process to determine the market potential for the plants they produce as well as what growth rates might be expected.  The AIPH also regulates various horticulture expositions around the world with the 2016 one being held in Antalya, Turkey where 52 countries will be exhibiting.

ELCA represents most European countries and focuses on political action within the European Union along with promoting worker exchanges, skills competition, and the promotion of landscape standards.  The various countries described some innovative approaches to apprenticeship programs and biodiversity.

I believe it would be in our best interests to continue to foster links with these two organizations as I know that as garden centre owners who meet face-to-face with the eventual consumer we can play a critical role in providing feedback to the industry from those consumer gardeners and also be leaders in encouraging the developments of trends from the industry that will ensure the long term success of the industry and a green, healthy world.

Best wishes to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere for a successful spring and summer and to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoy the slower time of the year!  See you in Zurich!

John Zaplatynsky
President IGCA, Canada GardenWorks Ltd.


Click below to jump to stories from this issue:


Czech Republic

The New Competition



South Africa





Spring has arrived

By Julia Ricottone

Some areas of Canada have seen an early spring and soon garden centres across the country will be full of customers eager to get started on their gardens.  Garden Centres Canada, the sector group representing garden centres at the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association, has been working hard to offer more programs and services to our members.  Last year, we launched a national gift card program that allows customers to purchase and redeem gift cards at participating stores through their smart phones.  New this year, we are giving our members an opportunity to use an online benchmarking program so they can track their sales and make comparisons against their own business, and also see aggregate information about other garden centres across the country.  This information will help all of our members improve their business, and will also provide insight to nursery growers who sell to garden centres.

2017 will be here before we know it and we are looking forward to welcoming everyone to Niagara Falls in September next year.  For those who are attending this year’s congress in Switzerland, you will get a sneak preview of what we have to offer and have a chance to pre-register and save your spot!

Julia Ricottone
Canadian Nursery Landscape Association

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Spring from Czech

By Michal Ferenčík

After almost no winter in Czech it is time for spring. This year we are introducing one new concept for our customers, with the help from a supplier of strawberry plants. The idea comes from our concept of the balcony plant, which have been very successful for several years. After growth in sales of strawberries we have decided to improve displays and create a new concept for them.  The pictures show the new displays we are using.  Different colours are used depending on the the strawberry. One colour is used for the berries that fruit once a year, a different colour for those with repeat flowering and the third colour for the exclusive types of the strawberries. We hope that this concept will also help in the presentation, making it easier for the customers to understand and improve sales overall. The colour is similar on the plant, the CC shelf and the CC trolley. 

Now we are all preparing the stores for the spring season. We hope there will not be as many weather surprises as last year and we will start the year with nice sales. I wish you all a good start of this year with lots of satisfied customers.

Michal Ferenčík
Garden Centre Ferenčík

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An example of effective co-operation in Czech GCA – Garden café project

By Stepan Smerda

We decided to open a café in our garden centre based on the foreign experiences and recommendations of our advisers. We came to the same conclusion in two garden centres (of 2 owners) from our group in the same time. The situation in the Czech market disabled us to buy a ready made concept because of know-how shortage in garden centre cafés. There was just one option how to get a suitable project for our shops – to develop the garden café by ourselves.

This was a completely new business for both of us, with no knowledge from the gastronomy industry. We decided to co-operate in the project development for the two garden centres in the same time. The reasons were to save the design time, share information, increase the buying power for technology and learn faster together.

We analyzed the situation and the conditions in our local markets and we found out, that the “final product“ is comparable – the highest quality of desserts, coffee and drinks, the capacity of 45 seats, linked with the garden centre events.










Here are the areas we found the same solution for both companies:

  • Place and potential analysis, economical calculations
  • Garden café style, design and project – the same architect
  • Kitchen equipment and furniture purchase together
  • Building operations and material supply (construction company, joiner, floor supplier)
  • Food concept and ingredient supplier for cakes and desserts
  • Café checkout system

Both projects are ready (the first was opened a week before, the second will be opened the the coming week), each company saved approximately 13% of the total costs of investment. But the biggest benefit of such project co-operation consists in information sharing and faster solution finding in a team of involved motivated people.

Stepan Smerda
Zahradnictví Líbeznice s.r.o. 

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The New Competition

By Erwin Meier-Honegger

In Europe, discounters are on the fast lane to out-perform the traditional channels for garden products. Please have a look at the new gardening catalogue of the French branch of the discount grocery chain Lidl. Well done! That’s the new competition. Well its not new but they take it to a new level.

See the new catalogue here: https://meier.link/uyiCf 


Erwin Meier-Honegger


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REI Garden Group Update

By Fergal Doyle

Despite months of inclement weather, the Garden Centre sector in Ireland in recent months, has been performing well.  According to the latest statistics – Q4 2015, the sector grew by 11.5% against Q4 of the previous year, which far exceeded the growth in retail overall, which was 4.7%.  

However, whilst most of the growth is being experienced by the destination Garden Centres, or Garden Centres with food offerings, many of the smaller more traditional centres, are struggling.  

After a long winter, spring is finally here and the REI Garden Group have just re-launched their major initiative which aims to promote growing to people of all ages and to direct footfall into Garden Centres large and small, across the country. 


GroMór 2016 

Four expert Ambassadors have been appointed as the face and voice of GroMór 2016 and each will host demonstrations across the country throughout the season at 40 GroMór events nationwide.   In addition, they will promote these events on local and national radio and on social media channels.  The Ambassadors aim to prove to the public, that growing is not only fun and easy, but a healthy hobby for body and soul.

Consumers will be directed to gromor.ie and the GroMór Facebook page, where they can find out what’s happening in their local GroMór centre and view video demonstrations and top tips from the expert Ambassadors.  

These events will serve as a good measure of success of the campaign and stores are encouraged to submit post-event reviews with extra footfall recorded. 

Fergal Doyle
Arboretum; Chairperson REI Garden Group 

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Report from Japan

By Akihiro Ozaki

I wonder if everyone around the world experienced the same warm conditions this winter. It was an extremely mild winter in Japan. The lack of snow caused the winter sport industry in the mountains to suffer.  The mild winter has also been closely related to our sales. Potted plants for gardens seems to have been selling very well.


With spring coming, we have become busy with preparations for Mother’s Day. Speaking of Mother’s Day, the flower for this day is Dianthus in Japan.  This is the flower everyone thinks of, but alone it can be quite boring.  It is also preferred to sometimes give different flowers like Orchids, Roses, Clematis and so on. But among them Hydrangea is very popular. Breeding of this flower is very active and new varieties are announced every year in the country. The Japanese Hydrangea is enjoyed by many people.

Akihiro Ozaki 
Ozaki Flower Park 

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Update from South Africa

By Gerdie Olivier

It is currently our Autumn season in South Africa and due to warm weather and insufficient rainfall, sales haven’t been as good as expected.   

Our country is still gripped in what is called one of the worst droughts in 50 years and some areas, like the central and northern regions, have not of yet received sufficient rain to relieve the situation.  Other regions have had ample rainfall during the past few weeks and flooding even occurred in some areas. These weather conditions will have a negative impact on our country’s economic growth as well as food security in the long term.  

South African municipal elections for all districts and municipal councils in the nine provinces, will be held between 18 May and 16 August 2016.  Municipal elections are held every five years and the previous elections were held in 2011.  These elections will elect the members of the district, metropolitan and local municipal councils, who, in turn, will elect the mayors of the municipalities to office. Municipal councils have been established to ensure services that impact the daily lives of citizens in their areas, including water, electricity and sanitation.  

Coinciding with Autumn Trade is our SANA Trade Fair – this trade show provides a one-stop shopping experience to retail nurseries and landscapers with a variety of plant and nursery supply exhibitors and was held on Wednesday, 9 March.  The show was well supported with 117 Exhibitors who displayed a variety of products and over 700 visitors.

Our annual winter Convention will be held in Cape Town during June and the SANA President- Elect, Tanya Visser, will be inaugurated as President at the Annual General Meeting during this event.  

The annual GCA Garden Centre competition is nearing completion.   Each participating grading centre is evaluated and a grading – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum – allocated.  The announcement of these grading awards will be done at a gala dinner in May.  Top awards and Garden Centre of the Year will be announced at our annual Convention in June. 

Our marketing initiative, Life is a Garden, is still growing strong, and the administrator contract has recently been renewed for another year.  This project that has been going for over 6 years promotes gardening to the general consumer and part of the new strategy is to focus primarily social media.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and e YouTube are used to spread the message to consumers and are supported by regular print media (local and national magazines and newspapers).   Promotional themes have been developed and are marketed through our extensive media strategy.  These themes are also supported by POS material that is available for retailers to use in their garden centres. 

SANA continues to act as an information portal for its members by keeping them informed and up to date with industry related news.  This is achieved through The SANA Facebook page and regular EDM newsletters.  

Gerdie Olivier
South African Nursery Association

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EXPOGARDEN: Spanish Garden Centre Congress

By Santiago González

Our annual conference brought together about 250 participants, 76 garden centers and 43 suppliers last 4th and 5th of February 2016 in Madrid. 

The event was of great interest and very enriching for all its attendants. Mr. Oriol Batlle, AECJ’s President opened the session emphasizing the opportunity it gives to the sector to work together, offering a space for interaction and reflection.

Main topics discussed were:

Innovation and Marketing: Pilar Alcazar talked about how to attract consumers, about prices adjustments without falling into low cost, and gave some ideas for reaching new consumer segments.

Happiness for success: the international coach, Mikah De Waart focused his presentation on the idea of being happy as the best way to get more customers, and also talked about the best way of getting the best of ourselves and our teams. 

Consumer Analysis of flowers and plants in Spain: Carmen Hernandez, specialist in statistics and operational research presented the study made by Nielsen Company and commissioned by AECJ.

Undercover Boss by Manuel Bazán (emulating the famous TV show) was infiltrated into some garden centers to identify areas to be improved in communication and customer service. 

Trends in domestic Gardening: Iñigo Segurola (landscaper and excellent TV communicator) gave us all kind of tips and guidelines for present and future gardens and terraces’ designs.

Santiago González
Spanish Garden Center Association

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News from IGCA Congress 2016 Switzerland

By Othmar Ziswiler

In less than half a year we will meet for the occasion of the IGCA Congress 2016 in Switzerland. We are proud of the 200 bookings so far and would welcome any further registrations. Thirty people have already signed up for the study tour.

As in the past few years, the study tour program will start on Sunday afternoon with an event in the most known vegetarian restaurant in Switzerland. Not only cooking together, but also the recently inaugurated “bar of plants” (based on a concept of our member “Gartencenter Meier”) with its innovative advertising campaign might be of interest in the afternoon. 

https://www.hiltl.ch/de/ueber-uns/hiltl-ag/werbung / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skv8CIvtSb0

The study tour will also stop by at three additional garden centers. The discussions in the coaches will be moderated as usual by the coach guides. Please do not hesitate to register now, as there are only few seats still available. 

At the moment there are also places still left for the “official” IGCA tour. We would be delighted to receive your registration. Further information and the registration form can be found at www.igcc2016.ch. 

Othmar Ziswiler

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