Hillier Celebrates Another Record Breaking Year at Annual Awards
Hillier Garden Centre Newbury, winners of Garden Centre of the Year 2018.
The annual Hillier Garden Centre Awards, held on Sunday 25th November 2018, were an opportunity to once again reflect on the successes and challenges for the industry as well as celebrate leading suppliers and Hillier people who have excelled in another record-breaking year for the company.
In a year characterised by extreme cold and hot spells, it was no surprise that the weather was high on the agenda at the annual Hillier Awards. Welcoming guests to the event at the Botley Park Hotel, Chris Francis, Director of Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres, said: “I stood here last year following an ideal year of weather announcing a record turnover year in our garden centre sales thinking, how are we going to match that. I shouldn’t have worried because yet again the teams have delivered another record year for our garden centre business.”
Francis noted how remarkable this achievement was in face of such adverse conditions: “The year started with a wet autumn, moved onto the ‘Beast from the East’ and then almost overnight moved to record high temperatures and drought for the rest of the year. Thank you to everyone for the efforts you put in to achieve this tremendous result in challenging conditions.”
A Season of Makeovers
The last trading year for Hillier has been distinguished by inspirational gardens as much as by financial success. Francis shared: “Once again – and during our busiest trading month - we headed to RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2018. The Hillier team came together to deliver an outstanding exhibit and help us bring home our 73rd consecutive gold medal.
“Not satisfied with one monumental event, we then threw ourselves another huge challenge and all got involved in a DIY SOS style charity project alongside our charity partner, Wessex Cancer Trust. With a huge team effort from Sarah Eberle, MJT Landscapes, many suppliers and volunteers from our Gardening Club we transformed the garden of one of the families supported by Wessex Cancer Trust. Thank you everyone for helping make a real difference.”
Looking to the future, Francis noted some major external factors that will continue to challenge the garden centre retail and wider business in the UK, in particular around Brexit and Biosecurity: “The coming year will provide continued insecurity around Brexit, not helped by politicians who right now appear more concerned about squabbling among themselves.
“Biosecurity will also demand more attention, now isolated Xylella cases have been found in Northern Europe. All of us in the horticulture industry must play our part in trying to ensure we maintain our diverse and healthy plant life in the UK.”
David Domoney compèred the awards, sharing his absolute passion for the industry
A Call to Nature
Compère for the night was TV gardener and broadcaster David Domoney. He made a moving case for the incredibly important role of the garden in a society increasingly consumed by the use of technology and where, according to some research, children only spend an average of 6 minutes a day with nature. Among other things, he shared that gardening is "a better workout than the gym" and how even short amounts of time out with nature can decrease Cortisol levels, combating the increased stress levels that go hand in hand with our fast-paced modern society.
The Winners List
Awards in 2018 went to:
Garden Centre Employee of the Year 2018 - Nigel Fifield
Plant Area of the Year 2018 - Banbury
Garden Shop of the Year 2018 - Horsham
Restaurant of the Year 2018 - Liss
Garden Centre of the Year 2018 - Newbury
Head Office Employee of the Year 2018 - Adrian Hare
Home and Leisure Supplier of the Year 2018 - Smart Garden Products Ltd
Garden Shop Supplier of the Year 2018 - Woodlodge Products
Horticulture Supplier of the Year 2018 - Meon Valley Nurseries
Garden Centre Manager of the Year 2018 - Shane Richards
Marketing, Merchandising and Social Media Award 2018 - Liss
Gardening Club Champion 2018 - Sylvia Ford
Outstanding Achievement Award 2018 - Dan Dunbar
Thank you to our Sponsors
We would like to thank the following companies for their invaluable support towards the Hillier Garden Centre Awards:
Meon Valley Nurseries