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In the garden with: Dr. Peter Wüst (BHB)

Dr. Peter Wüst – Photo: BHB

Dr. Peter Wüst has been the Managing Director of the Retailers’ Association for Building, Home Improvement and Gardens e.V. (BHB) since 2010. The trade association represents the interests of the trading companies from Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as further companies from the DIY sector, the industry and service sector. Via its membership in the European DIY Retail Association (EDRA), the BHB is active throughout Europe.

Dr Wüst, the garden year is gradually drawing to a close. In 2018 the summer was extremely hot and dry. How did your garden survive these months?

Wüst: We live in the West of Cologne in an apartment we own that has a large balcony and a view over a wonderful, spacious garden with some old trees and a former swimming pond. The green spaces were part of the grounds of a villa. It is simply a dream that only this old villa was torn down in the 90s and that up until this day the garden has not been altered and has remained intact to a large extent. In the scope of my work on the board of owners, I am involved in taking care of our garden with its flora and fauna. Of course, this summer the same garden issues occupied us as all the other garden owners, we were particularly busy dealing with the themes heat and irrigation. The large barbecue on the balcony survived the summer safe and sound after intense usage. With a view to the coming summer, one can safely say: Next season there is going to be plenty to do. Not only in the plant section. We have to completely rethink the themes irrigation and drainage.


And how die the 2018 season go for the green industry in Germany? Did the heat have a positive or negative effect on the business?

Wüst: The year was certainly nerve-racking! In March, the industry development of the DIY trade was down 17 percent, in April on the other hand it was up by 22 percent. These extreme deviations in the turnover developments are not good for the companies and their operating procedures. Because the garden ranges are incredibly important for us as an industry. The fact that most openings of garden centres and DIY stores are coordinated together underlines this.

Due to the variety of product ranges in the DIY trade, extreme weather conditions have a balancing effect. But if early bloomers are no longer sold because the weather starts improving, the turnover for the fiscal year is irrevocably lost. Furthermore, when the garden season gets off to a bad start, it in turn increases the amortizations. Overall, the industry is demonstrating a slight increase in total. That is good and corresponds with the association’s forecast at the beginning of the year.


At the beginning of September, BHB organised the 5th GardenSummit in Cologne. Following tradition, it did not just take a look back at the last season, but with the aid of different expert lecturers also continually looked ahead to the future. Which trends and developments should the green industry particularly be geared up for over the coming years?

Wüst: We live in fast and agile times. Our customers (in other words we ourselves!) demand changes to allow more convenience. But people never just buy a product feature – they buy the history behind it. People buy the accompanying images. Unfortunately, I get the impression that innovations are increasingly being pushed by the controllers rather than by the customers. That is why we are not just focusing on processes, eCommerce and master data at the BHB GardenSummit, but primarily on the contact points with the customer. The store design has to lose its warehouse charm. Furthermore, customer experiences have to be created so that the customer enjoys visiting the retail trade and its markets. And of course, the trade has to serve current product trends, like flexible battery packs, smart networking and environmental-friendly lifecycles.


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