Glee 2019 Set to Showcase the Future of Garden Retailing

As garden retailing continues to thrive, with double-digit year-on-year growth, the future for the industry continues to look bright. One place where this optimism will shine through will be the upcoming Glee exhibition (September 10-12, at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, U.K.), where 550-plus suppliers will join with 7,000 U.K. and international decision makers, buyers and trendsetters, to showcase the future of gardening.

“The market is reporting a strong start to the 2019 season, with sales up 37 percent year-on-year,” said Matthew Mein, Glee’s event director. “We move into the 2019 event with a sense of excitement regarding the future development and growth of our sector. From an engaged audience, the potential of the ‘millennial pound,’ new tech hitting the market, and a wealth of existing ranges continuing to hit the mark, Glee 2019 will be a thriving hub for the garden retail market, offering unrivalled value for both suppliers and visitors.”

What’s new at Glee 2019

Building more content to help support the continuous growth of gardening in the U.K. will be a key theme of the 2019 event. Look out for more features, seminar sessions and new-for-2019 workshops, as well as year-round information relating to trends, merchandising and practical advice on ways to build better business, while also tackling the most burning issues set to affect the industry in the years ahead. 

The Retail Lab @ Glee – in association with the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) – was introduced in 2017 to showcase the latest trends within the garden industry, while providing retailers with hands-on advice and inspirational content that they can take back to their own stores to drive sales in the coming season. The response to this new area surpassed expectations, with suppliers and retailers remarking on the immediate ‘take home’ value of the Lab’s content. This year the Retail Lab will focus on eight key themes: Do it Yourself, Plant and Gift Shop, Garden Therapy, ‘Do Nothing,’ Plastic Free Future?, Urban Green City, Outdoors = Indoors, Nurturing Nature, and Pet Alley. 

Sector-by-sector update

Whether you are looking to source the latest innovations or core best sellers for the year ahead, Glee will offer it all. Encompassing eight dedicated product sectors, Glee is the leading annual showcase for the whole of the garden industry and an essential date for any garden retailer, landscaper or merchant.

  • Garden Care is Glee’s most thriving area, and this year is set to feature everything from growing media, compost, fertilizers, and GYO products to garden machinery, garden tools and accessories. 
  • Glee’s Landscaping and Garden Decoration provides an unrivalled showcase of influential brands and leaders in garden and landscaping design. Featuring stunning displays, this area of Glee is a must-see section of the show, featuring many best-practice examples of how to cross-sell products in situ. From hard landscaping and aggregates to fencing, garden buildings and decorative accents such as pots, structures, soft landscaping, statuary, water features and timber supplies, Landscaping and Garden Decoration has everything to help garden retailers, builders’ merchants and landscapers to maximize those products that create the framework of every garden.
  • Outdoor Entertaining is the place to source products that really enable people to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle and will feature the best from the industry’s leading companies, making it the ideal opportunity for buyers looking to source next year’s ranges and tap into growing leisure demand. Everything from garden furniture, barbeques and parasols to chimeneas, conservatory and indoor furniture, play equipment and camping essentials will be showcased.
  • The plant sector is where buyers can shop for the best in nursery stock, bedding plants, houseplants, cut flowers, trees and shrubs, herbs and florist sundries from U.K. and international growers; as well as seeing the latest plant trends. As always, Glee Plants will also be supported by Glee’s dedicated Green Heart, which places plants right at the entrance of the show to help inspire buyers the second they enter the exhibition. 
  • Gifts, homeware and outdoor clothing are increasingly becoming big business within garden retail. Offering an unrivalled opportunity to maximize year-round sales, these product categories are also ideal for driving impulse sales as consumers look to add value to their homes and gardens with stylish accessories, as well as wanting to look good in the garden. Glee Home, Gift & Clothing brings together a huge selection of product ideas to help your gift offering stand out. A new Home & Gift Village has been introduced for the 2019 event, providing home and gift suppliers with the opportunity to participate and exhibit as part of a larger group. 
  • Pet suppliers looking to maximize the boom of pet product sales within garden centers will find their home within Glee’s dedicated Pets at Glee sector. Supported by the PetQuip Business Village and featuring exhibitors within the wider parts of the show, Pets at Glee will showcase the newest product innovations.
  • Finally, any garden retailer wanting to maximize the profitability and efficiency of their own store won’t want to miss the wide range of retail support suppliers within Glee’s Retail Services and Experiences and the dedicated Food & Catering sectors.

Special show features for 2019

A packed awards program

With more than three quarters of Glee’s audience coming to source new products, with many stating the importance of being able to touch and feel products previously only seen in catalogs, Glee 2019 will see even more focus on new products, including the New Product Showcase. This ever-popular competition sees new designs and products perfectly displayed for your consideration, with the best of each category receiving the accolade of a ‘Glee Award.’ Show visitors can also cast their vote for their favorite, awarding one lucky entrant with the title of ‘Retailers Choice Award’.

Plants will also be celebrated through the ‘Best Green Heart Display’ award, in partnership with Woodlodge, while Garden Trade News’ annual Great Awards will be celebrating the ‘Greatest Awards Best Plant Retailing Team’. 

The Great British Growing Awards

Having hosted the ceremony to critical acclaim at Glee 2018, following a move from their previous home at the Edible Gardening Show, the Great British Growing Awards are set to return to Glee 2019. These awards recognize all that is great within the gardening industry – from tool companies, to seed suppliers, garden writers to fruit nurseries and everything in between, as well as garden volunteers and community growing spaces. 

The winners of the 21 categories for the 2019 awards will not be announced until the exhibition itself, making it an even more thrilling prospect for nominees and the wider market.

Seminar content, in association with the HTA

As always, Glee will offer visitors a free, three-day Seminar Program organized in conjunction with the HTA, providing an enriched program of expert business and garden retail advice to help grow your business through challenging trading conditions. This content will be derived from extensive industry research, and is set to tackle key talking points, struggles and successes. This year, speakers will focus on sharing their insight on the health and outlook of the industry and also how garden centers can engage with millennial and younger gardeners who will really drive the growth of the sector in years to come.

Glee Innovators Zone

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, the Glee Innovators Zone has already helped more than 275 companies break into the garden retail market. This special area is designed to help nurture valuable grass-roots product development and one-off design ideas, while also bridging the gap between market-ready new product launches from established companies and pre-commercial product ideas.

Innovation will also be celebrated within GIMA’s Innovators’ Seed Corn Fund (GISCF). Since its launch in 2014, the GISCF has already witnessed great success. All previous winners have gone on to enjoy great commercial success; going from new brands to established and growing suppliers within the garden retail market. 

“The GISCF is designed to help start-up businesses take their product from concept to reality, and with a £6,000 grant up for grabs it is always a hotly contested part of our annual program of activities,” said Vicky Nuttall, director of GIMA. “The caliber of entries in recent years has been of the highest quality, and this year is certainly no different.”

Buyers Power List

The Buyers Power List is designed to provide suppliers and retailers with a platform to recognize the individual buyers and buying teams who have gone above and beyond to make a difference, and whose decisions are helping the garden retail industry to thrive. This year there will be six individual categories: Best Independent Garden Centre, Best Multiple Garden Centre, Best DIY/Builder Merchant Buyer/Buying Team, Best Online Buyer/Buying Team, Best Supermarket/Department Store Buyer/Buying Team, and Best High Street Garden Retailer Buyer/Buying Team. Votes are invited from throughout the industry, with everyone from heads of purchasing to suppliers eligible to vote.

GIMA Business Village

The GIMA Business Village is home to a great selection of up-and-coming companies exhibiting with the support of GIMA. Glee is also presenting the GIMA Business Lounge, an ideal place to take a break, arrange meetings and catch up with key suppliers. It is also home to the “Buyers Connect” speed networking sessions, which will see selected exhibitors meet with show visitors for 10-minute power-networking sessions.

International Buyers Centre

International visitors will find the International Buyers Centre (IBC) in partnership with Gardenex a useful resource. Located in Hall 6, the IBC will be led by the team at Gardenex, who will be on hand to provide support and advice, as well as translation services to international buyers and visitors. The International Buyers Centre will also be home to a two-hour session of “Meet the International Buyer,” enabling U.K. suppliers to have short introductory meetings with a few selected international buyers. 

Register for Glee

Entry to Glee is free of charge to all pre-registered visitors. Simply register via the Glee website: All pre-registered visitors will save £20 on the door, as well as receiving the Glee show preview if requested before the show to help plan their visit.

Glee 2019 takes place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, U.K., September 10-12, 2019, and will be open 9- 6 p.m. Tuesday & Wednesday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday. For more information, visit

Add the new Glee app to maximize your time at Glee 2019

In 2019, Glee joins the digital revolution with the launch of its new exhibition smartphone app, designed to provide an unrivalled matchmaking solution to help suppliers and retailers to get the most out of their time at the show.

Visiting retailers will be able to better measure – and even increase – their ‘Return on Time’ spent at the show, through personalized exhibitor recommendations, and an easy-to-use meeting scheduling function. The Glee app will also include an overview of all of the exhibition’s wider educational content and seminar programs, helping retailers to plan their trip around Glee all from the palm of their hand. The app is fully integrated with Outlook, Google Calendar and Apple iCal, making it even easier for all parties to stay up to date on appointments. The Glee app is available on Apple and Android.

Getting there

Glee takes place at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, U.K., and is easily reached by car, rail and air. If you are arriving by car, follow regional signs to the NEC where visitor car parking is plentiful and free. All halls are within walking distance, but a free shuttle bus service is also available from car parks to the halls. Rail travel is equally convenient with Birmingham International railway station located on the NEC site. Plus, with an additional 25-percent discount on all Virgin Train advanced tickets (see for more info: it’s never been more cost effective to visit Glee.

For international visitors, Birmingham International Airport (BHX) is linked to the NEC by the free SkyRail, which departs every few minutes and takes just 90 seconds. National Express Coaches run a regular service to and from the NEC covering most U.K. locations.


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