Garden retailing has done well so far this year, with the help of good Spring weather and the increase in grow-your-own, but the underlying recession affecting the whole of British industry still needs to be taken into account and retailers need to make sure they are as lean as possible to face the rest of the year.
The response of consumers to the recession has so far worked in favour of the garden industry and a full understanding of consumer behaviour, both now and into the future, is at the heart of the new Strategy. This includes how people use the internet all the way to consumers perceptions of brands and the environment. Environmental issues remain a strong feature, despite the recession, and as soon as the economy picks up all the evidence shows that this will be back on the top of the agenda.
The analysis of the sector, within the Strategy, is followed by a detailed Action Plan covering what needs to be done to stimulate further growth within the sector and business profitability. The Action Plan is divided into five sections:
Pruning for the Downturn – Driving business efficiency through the use of lean, Business Improvement Schemes, trading terms and conditions and improved electronic trading.
Growing Sales for the Upturn – Promoting the sector through the PlantforLife campaign, National Garden Gift Vouchers and providing marketing support to members with further workshops and study tours.
Cultivating Staff – In conjunction with the HTAs Developing People Strategy a clear programme of improved training provision, with the new Diploma in Garden Retail, and promotion of sector careers as well as clear guidance on HR issues.
Nurturing the Environment – Attention will continue on tackling waste and promoting the environmental benefits of gardening and how this can help consumers reduce the effects of climate change.
Cutting Back Red Tape – The constant barrage of new legislation will continue to be critically assessed with lobbying as required to protect the sector.
According to Caroline Owen of Scotsdales Garden Centre and Chair of the Retail Management Group, “This new HTA Strategy for Garden Retail clearly outlines the challenges faced by every garden retailer but more importantly identifies the opportunities to be exploited and actions to be taken to grow our businesses into the future.”
The full Strategy can be downloaded from the HTA website at www.the-hta.org.uk. Hard copies will be mailed to all HTA retail members.