Westland picks its 2019 Rising Stars
Each year Westland and the Garden Centre Association (GCA) search for the most up-and-coming employees at garden centres who show great potential and would benefit from the opportunity to further their skills and experiences as part of the Rising Stars Program.
This year’s star have been announced and they have begun their mentorship with Westland to help them further their skills and expertise, with the first three stages of the programme now complete.
During the first stage of the programme, the 20 candidates met the Westland team for a briefing about Rising Stars and found out more about Westland and the insight the company can offer into the data behind the garden market.
As part of the programme, the Rising Stars have to devise and present a sales campaign based on one of Westland’s four key categories (indoors, lawn care, growing and wild bird care), and during the first round candidates had to select their project category.
During round two of the process, Westland showcased information about its marketing strategies within the sector, including point of sale materials, wider content and social media. They also received information about merchandising, driving sales, financial delivery and presentation skills to give them a rounded view of what it takes to bring a product to market. At this stage, the candidates outlined their projects and received initial feedback from the Westland team.
In the third round, each Rising Star gave their presentation, which was also recorded to help develop their presentation delivery skills for the future.
The next stage will see each of the participants speaking with Gordon Emslie from the Garden Centre Association, to receive feedback on their presentations and discover if they are through to the final stage.
Jo Wilkinson, head of communications and Insight at Westland, commented: “This year, to celebrate the 10th year of Rising Stars, we have changed the format. Instead of picking one person to win, we want to champion and support as many people as we can, which is why we will be selecting 10 of the Rising Stars to go through to the final stage to make their presentations at the GCA Conference in January. It’s been brilliant working with the candidates so far and to see how passionate they are to learn; we’re really looking forward to see how their presentations evolve.”
The Westland 2019 Rising Stars have been named as:
Dominic O’Donnell: Ruxley Manor
Arif Khan: Perrywood
Josh Gilbert: Bosworths
Rachel Atkinson-Young: Stewarts Broomhill
Nathan Heywood: Bents
Michael Knight: Haskins Ferndown
Sarah Jane Toop: Haskins West End
Paul Birch: Planters Bretby
Charlie Watts: Squires Twickenham
Stuart Sullivan: Squires Badshot Lea
Bronwen Dains: Thurrock
James Townsend: Garsons Esher
Ben Lodge: Notcutts
Emma Lamb: Barton Grange
Rachel Wilkes: Webbs Wychbold
Jack Appleton: Webbs Wychbold
Naomi Smith: Poundbury
Adam Wallbank: St Peters
William Biehler-Wallis: Baytree
Members of the Garden Centre Association (GCA) in the North East and North West are celebrating after picking up awards during a presentation yesterday (Tuesday, July 16) at Bents Garden & Home.
The North East’s Garden Centre of the Year in the Destination Garden Centre (DGC) category was Tong Garden Centre and Cowell’s Garden Centre in the Garden Centre (GC) category. In the North West, Barton Grange Garden Centre (DGC) and Fron Goch Garden Centre (GC) received the accolade.
Iain Wylie, Chief Executive of the GCA, said: “It was great to see everyone in attendance at our second regional awards meeting and paying close attention to our inspector, Gordon Emslie’s feedback. Now is the optimum time for our members to take this feedback on board, relay it to the rest of their team and start making any changes needed.”
Barton Grange Garden Centre also won the Customer Service Award for Best Customer Service and the GIMA award for Best Garden Products Retailer (DGC) in the North West during the awards meeting.
Claire Bryce, Farm Shop Manager at Barton Grange Garden Centre, said: “Winning these awards at yesterday’s GCA area meeting is such a fantastic achievement, especially seeing how close the competition is. It’s an excellent boost for staff to see that all of their hard work this year so far has paid off. It truly shows our team’s dedication and determination to do the best they can.
“These meetings are always beneficial. It’s a great opportunity to see the developments centres are making. This helps us to keep on moving forward and upping our game.”
Fron Goch Garden Centre also won the Environment and Community Award, the ifse Award for Catering Excellence for Best Garden Centre Restaurant (GC), Best Outdoor Living Retailer (GC) and Best Indoor Lifestyle Retailer (GC) in the North West.
Justin Williams, Managing Director of Fron Goch Garden Centre, said: “We have a very happy a team here! We are very proud of all our team and their hard work. The GCA is a wonderful tool that enables our team to network, share and learn via the regional meetings, inspections and conference. We would not be as motivated and engaged without it and it adds a personal and family feeling as we get to know other owners and teams.”
Tong Garden Centre has now won Destination Garden Centre (DGC) in the North East three years running.
Mark Farnsworth, Managing Director of Tong Garden Centre, said: “We are delighted to win this award again, we took over the centre four years ago and have set about restoring its reputation as one of the best garden centres in the North East and to receive this award again is very satisfying. This award is testament to the hard work of the whole team here at Tong, they have worked tirelessly, and we are incredibly proud of all of them”.
GCA Inspector Gordon Emslie was responsible for inspecting member garden centres in the North East and North West areas.
He said: “It has been a real pleasure visiting the North East and North West regions this year where again the standard of garden centre retailing has been outstanding. All the centres visited deserve recognition for continuing to strive to provide the best experience for their customers year after year.
“The overall customer experience has been exceptional where year after year each centre continually raises their operational standards. I would like to congratulate all this year’s award winners.”
The full results for the North East and North West regions GCA area awards are as follows for the GC and DGC categories:
The GCA represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide. Through sharing information and its inspection programme the GCA helps members to achieve high standards in customer service, plant quality and reliability.
For further information, please call 01244 952170. Alternatively, please visit www.gca.org.uk, log on to www.facebook.com/pages/GardenCentreAssociation or follow the organisation on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GC_Association.
The full results for the South Thames region are as follows for the GC and DGC categories:
Customer Service Award for Best Customer Service: Garsons – Esher
The Barton Grange Trophy for Commercial Innovation and Creativity: Squire’s Garden Centres – Badshot Lea
The Dick Allen Award for Most Improved Centre: The Gardens Group‘s Poundbury Gardens