Tong collected awards in five out of nine categories for the North East region. It won Garden Centre of the Year in Destination Garden Centre Category, was awarded the Dick Allen award for the Most Improved Centre and the ifse Award for Catering Excellence for Best Garden Centre Restaurant. The Tong Lane centre also won The Gima Award for Best Garden Products retailer 2017 and the Outdoor Living Award for Best Outdoor Living Retailer.
Tong’s commercial manager Sharon McNair, who picked up the awards at the presentation evening in Wilmslow, said: “We were over the moon to win! The fact that we were only awarded membership of the GCA in May 2016, just one year after the centre was acquired by Mark Farnsworth and Tom Megginson, and have gone on to win five awards is a real credit to our fabulous team – they thoroughly deserve it for all of their hard work.”
The GCA is an elite group of 200 garden centres that champions professionalism and membership is only awarded to businesses that pass a stringent audit covering all aspects of garden centre retailing excellence. The results of the annual audit form the basis for the awards. Tong will now go forward to the national awards taking place in January at the annual GCA conference.
GCA inspector Roger Crookes said: “Our inspection is incredibly detailed so success at this level in our industry is testament to the extremely high retail standards that the team at Tong have strived to achieve. I was extremely impressed with the successful combination of garden retail and leisure to create an outstanding family destination. I will be watching Tong Garden Centre closely as they continue on their exciting journey.”
Established in 1966, the GCA believes in sharing information and experiences at all levels, from senior management to the shop floor. Every year, its members must undergo a comprehensive annual inspection to ensure they continue to meet the stringent criteria set out by the association and therefore maintain membership.