Presidents Report March 2020

The COVID 19 crisis and the Federal and State Government's response to it, will define our economy and our industry for several years.

That’s not an intent to be negative, but a statement of opportunity for our industry.

The last few weeks have tested a small GIA organisation to its fullest extent (perhaps overextended in some respects). However, I‘m pleased we’ve been invited to sit at the highest levels in the Federal Government, to discuss the full ramifications of the virus to our industry and the vital role that our industry plays in the feeding, sustaining, developing and renewing our society.

These meetings have been well received. However, there is an incredible amount of anxiety in our Industry about whether enough has been done and what else could be provided. Unlike some industries that have been shut down or have been slow to react, we have been very proactive with our advocacy. You can read my letter to Minister Littleproud HERE.

The GIA Board convened this afternoon to discuss our continued response to the crisis and consider the future of the industry when the virus emergency is finished. This is where I believe a tremendous opportunity exists. There will be big lessons learned at all levels when this is over, but the lesson of home isolation is the importance of building a sanctuary; and the role of the garden in sustaining, physical and mental wellbeing of a family.
Another lesson we must consider is the media’s portrayal of those people not adhering to the distancing protocol such as we saw last week on Bondi and St Kilda beaches. At all costs, we want to avoid this media reaction for the public face of our industry- retail garden centres. We are encouraging all businesses to follow the published guidelines strictly and supporting retailers with resources and ideas to avoid this happening.

In the last few weeks, we’ve had a captive audience at home rediscovering their backyard. We need to build on that interest, using the best marketing minds in the industry. I am seeking the involvement of Garden Centres Australia and other allied industry groups and corporate support in developing and marketing these messages. More to follow.