The event, held at De Rougemont Manor hotel in Brentwood, was a collaboration between the national trade body which serves the gift and home industry and the non-profit making association of garden centre businesses, co-operating in buying and marketing.
There are 11 member companies of The Tillington Group with 38 garden centres between them, representing a combined turnover of over £200 million.
GA said The Tillington Group ‘gave us exclusive access to their annual meeting of buyers and store owners, allowing us a unique opportunity to showcase our members and get them in front of buyers.
‘From The Tillington Group’s point of view, they got to view a huge selection of products from a cross-section of our members, before having the hard task of whittling it down to a select few of 17’. This list included New Soda, Heather May, India Jane (Interiors), The English Cream Tea Company and Jersey Pottery.
‘The buyers got to meet the chosen companies and their products for a couple of hours on the day. As an added bonus, The Tillington Group shortlisted a further 32 companies just to view their products – either in sample form or catalogue – which was great, due to the amount that entered this initiative. It felt that a lot more got a chance, even though we were limited on numbers.’
GA chief executive Sarah Ward added: “The event was hugely successful. All the companies that we brought along enjoyed the day and were really thankful.
“It was great for these companies to get feedback and meet buyers face-to-face in an industry where it’s becoming increasingly harder and harder to get your products in front of the right people.”
Commenting on the proceedings, a New Soda spokesperson said: “We are so grateful for the support that GA provided. It was the best-organised ‘meet the buyer’ event we’ve ever attended, with a huge amount of attention to detail, which really made the difference. We look forward to many more.”
The Tillington Group and GA will be looking to replicate this event in the future. GA added that it would like to work with other companies too, as well as potentially organising its own Meet The Buyer Day.