UK: GCA’s regional award meetings next month are the first in new area format

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The Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) four newly created member areas will meet for their first regional awards next month (July) to find out who has come top in the organization’s 2024 annual inspections.

At the GCA’s conference in January this year, the organization agreed to reduce the number of geographical regions it had from eight to four.

Peter Burks, CEO at the GCA, says: “Our four new areas will be meeting for the first time for their summer regional awards in July. We’ll also be giving more awards this year as we’ve added a third-tier garden center category for members that we’re calling ‘Local Garden Centres’ (LGC). Our Garden Centre (GC) category and Destination Garden Centre (DGC) sections remain the same. Allocation to a specific group depends on turnover. Plus, we’ve also added a new social media category to the inspection process.

“Our annual inspections have not long closed and the feedback so far from our team of Inspectors has been very positive so far. Now we’re inviting our members to attend the regional meeting for their area, where our Inspectors will be highlighting best practice and new ideas and giving their feedback in full, while also announcing all the category winners too.”

The GCA’s four areas are now:

  • North – covering the North West, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the North East.
  • Midlands, Wales & West – covering South Wales, Midlands & South West.
  • East – covering most of the previous GCA North Thames region, plus other Easterly areas.
  • South East – covering most of the previous GCA South Thames Region.

Peter adds: “Our four Area Meetings take place in July and are as follows: our Midlands, Wales & West Regional Awards are on July 9, South, July 11, North, July 16 and East, July 17. We’re hoping for a good turnout at each one and can’t wait to see our members, and to hear all the results.”

Members in West will meet at Melbicks Garden Centre at 3.30pm and are very welcome to come before the official start time to look around the center. Inspector Colin Farquhar will be presiding.

Peter continues: “Our South Area Awards on July 11 will be at Haskins Snowhill from 5pm. Members can arrive earlier to look around the garden center here too and are then invited to join our Inspector Alyson Hayward, and myself, for an enlightening and congratulatory evening with the chance to meet and mingle with others from the area too.”

The North Area Awards on July 16 will be at Strikes Stokesley Garden Centre from 1pm with Inspector Gordon Emslie presiding. Members can look around the center beforehand here as well.

The East Area Awards on July 17 will be at Coton Orchard Garden Centre from 4.30pm, with those arriving earlier once again given the chance to look around the center if they wish. Inspector Phil McCann will be presenting his findings and announcing the award winners at this meeting.

For each of the award events, the Area Chairmen will also be suggesting other garden centers that members can visit en route to their host venue.

Peter concludes: “GCA members say that our unique annual inspections and these constructive feedback sessions are one of the biggest benefits of membership. It’s a fantastic motivational and management tool and really keeps staff on their toes, making sure they are always doing their absolute best.

“Garden centers receive no advance warning about when their inspection will take place and they do not have the option to turn away the inspector. It is all about making sure they are offering a consistently excellent service and improving their customer service standards, which is what all GCA garden centers must do to remain members.

“The results of the inspections form the basis for many GCA awards, including Destination Garden Centre of the Year, Garden Centre of the Year, Local Garden Centre of the Year, Area Winners, Highly Commended and Most Improved Garden Centre. The top 10 centers will receive a Garden Centre of Excellence Award and all centers scoring 75% or above receive the Highly Commended certificate.”

For more information:
Garden Centre Association

Tel.: 01244 952170
[email protected]

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