Martina Mensing-Meckelburg, President of the German Garden Centre Association (VDG) e.V.
The Corona crisis is currently presenting the German garden centres with huge challenges. We spoke to Martina Mensing-Meckelburg, President of the German Garden Centre Association (VDG) e.V.
Dear Mrs. Martina Mensing-Meckelburg, what is the current situation in the German garden centres? How have you got through the Corona crisis so far?
Mensing-Meckelburg: Our members (220 owner-run garden centres, 170 manufacturers and suppliers) werer able to bring the year 2019 to a strong close with turnover growth of around 3.5% and a 2% increase in the number of customers. After a good start to the year in January and February, the market crashed in March 2020 due to the Corona virus. In the states, where the garden centres were allowed to carry on selling goods, hygiene and safety distance measures were able to be implemented at short notice so that a new normality was restored pretty quickly. The garden centres in other states were not allowed to open for a long time and thus suffered large losses in turnover. Due to the current situation, people are staying at home much more and are making their house and garden cosy. We hope that the green industry will benefit from the large interest in green products long-term. For example, raised flower beds that were self-built this year, will no doubt also be used again next year.
What are your expectations for the coming weeks and months?
Mensing-Meckelburg: We all hope and are assuming that the world will continue to act as positively as it is doing at the moment. The infection rates are dropping and the attentiveness of our members remains intact. In this way, we will make a contribution towards our customers finding a reliable partner in our garden centres also over the coming months.The customers have a tangible need for garden products. For example, we are presently recording an exceptionally high demand for fruit, vegetable and herb plants. We even partly experienced delivery bottlenecks here in May 2020. In general, we are observing that the customers of the VDG garden centres tend to be active in the natural gardens section. A theme which is also a focus of the POS Green Solution Islands at spoga+gafa and which we are eagerly looking forward to.
Together with the Retailers’ Association for Building, Home Improvement and Gardens (BHB), the German Garden Industry Association (IVG) and the Central Horticultural Association e.V. (ZVG), the VDG has initiated the joint platform www.mit-abstand-gruen.de. Via this database of companies, the industry makes the protective measures transparent for its customers and employees. You are additionally also participating in the #zusammengartenbau (horticulture together) campaign. The aim is to strengthen the solidarity, the mutual understanding and the interaction within the industry. spoga+gafa also stands for good networking, a transparent exchange of information and long-term partnerships in the green industry. So, how important is it that you and the garden centres visit spoga+gafa this year and what are you looking forward to most?
Mensing-Meckelburg: The garden centres of the VDG need and want trade fairs. Staged in September, spoga+gafa is the ideal platform for us and our garden centres because it will allow us to come together with our customers, interested parties and partners for the first time again and engage in a personal exchange on-site, As long as the positive tendency doesn't reverse, we are recommending the garden centres to visit spoga+gafa in Cologne. The feedback of the members is good, of course there still are uncertainties, but one can definitely reckon with our presence at the trade fair in Cologne in September! As an important source of inspiration for the entire industry, spoga+gafa 2020 is indispensable for the exhibitors and the trade. We are thus looking forward to engaging in a personal exchange with all of the garden centres, members and trade fair visitors at the VDG stand in Passage 4-5 at spoga+gafa.
Dear Mrs. Mensing-Meckelburg, thank you for your time. We look forward to welcoming you to spoga+gafa in Cologne from 6 to 8 September 2020.