Christian Dinger, Managing Partner of Dinger’s Gartencenter Köln GmbH & Co. KG
Catrin and Christian Dinger are fourth-generation gardeners. Dinger‘s Gartencenter opened in 1960 and was thus the first garden centre in Europe following the American example.
Dear Mr Dinger, how have you been managing with the corona crisis so far as a family-owned and operated company? Were special measures/actions developed?
Dinger: As a result of the very poor figures in March, we may have initially overreacted and applied for short time work assistance, reduced our opening hours and closed on Sundays. We had definitely been anticipating an official closure during this time. We immediately reinforced our online presence and seem to have been successful in this, because, although we limited customer access very restrictively (ca. 1 customer per 100 m2 of sales area), we still had relatively good sales results, and that with a good conscience.
Let's look ahead. spoga+gafa 2020 is this year following the guiding theme of "Sustainable Gardens". What role does the theme of sustainability play in your product selection?
Dinger: Whether plants, devices, decor or garden furniture, we attach importance to sustainability. We pay attention to product origin and maintain a fair relationship with our suppliers. Dinger’s also participates in the "Ich bin von HIER! – Blumen und Pflanzen von Gärtnern aus der Region" (I am from HERE! Flowers and plants from gardeners from the region) action. We procure around 85 percent of our seasonal flowers and plants from gardeners in a radius of 100 kilometres around Cologne.
We also trust in sustainability as entrepreneurs. Our team consists of well-trained and motivated employees who have often been with us for many years. With a training share of more than 12 percent, we assure new generations of gardeners.
What does it mean to you to be going to a trade fair in September for the first time in a long time?
Dinger: I am pleased to be able to be able to visit such an important trade fair together with my employees. This is because I can only successfully lead our company into the future with competent employees who are very familiar with current market circumstances.I therefore encourage all of my employees, including the trainees, to participate in this trade fair.
What are you most excited about?
Dinger: Like every year, there are many themes of interest to us at spoga+gafa. For example, we are very much looking forward to this year's ideas for the new POS Green Solution Islands. The meaningfulness of the product presentations in our sales areas is more important now than ever considering the reduced number of visitors due to the corona rules. The POS islands once again promise impulses that can be successfully realised and solutions appropriate for the size of our areas. We are also interested this year in the world of outdoor kitchens. An ever increasing number of the products we sell, whether plants and herbs, but also decoration and garden furniture, stand in the gardens of our customers in the context of small and large outdoor kitchens. Even though we have ourselves decided to not carry outdoor kitchens in our assortment, we can still effectively serve the world around them. We are also very curious about the ideas and solutions revolving around the guiding theme of "Sustainable Gardens", especially about the presentation of the sustainable project garden at the trade fair and in the south of Cologne.
Dear Mr Dinger, many thanks for your time. We look forward to being able to welcome you to spoga+gafa in Cologne from 6 to 8 September 2020.