Garden Centre Retail April / May 2018

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Garden Centre Retail ISSUE 36


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elcome to the April/May issue of Garden Centre Retail. Firstly, I want to say thank you for all of your kind words about our Independent Business Supplement, which we sent out in March. It was great fun to put together, and the carefully chosen content has certainly got tongues wagging and brains ticking. Hopefully, as we move onto our April/May issue, the bad weather has shifted and customers will be through your doors to ready their outside space for the longer days ahead. It’s been strange this year – the dawn of spring usually brings a positivity and a burst of life with it, not just from the flowers blooming but from the general public’s enjoyment of the sunshine. That feeling has been delayed a fair bit, but it does seem to be coming through now, much like the daffodils. This issue is, as usual, full of useful business-related content. We’ve got GDPR info, a look into how to make your business more profitable, and the trend tips that you’ve all been waiting for. Conna Powles and Dean Ripley of Haskins are our interview subjects; the pair talk about working collaboratively to succeed. That brings me onto our feature all about collaborative working – we’ve spoken to the GCA, Tillington, Future Marketing, Choice Marketing, AIS and a host of member garden centres to see why the collaborative nature of the industry has led to a wealth of success where other industries have failed. Our products section includes outdoor cooking trends, a look at pest control options, watering and machinery products, and information on how to sell gift books within garden centres. We’ve added an extra 16 pages to this issue, and would love to hear your feedback – good, bad or ugly. That’s it for this month, see you for the start of summer.

EDITORIAL Managing Editor – Joe Wilkinson Tel: 01903 777 577

Subeditor – Kate Bennett Tel: 01903 777 597 ADVERTISING Sales Manager – Tina Savelle Tel: 01903 777 582 Horticulture Careers – Laura Harris Tel: 01903 777 580

Joe Wilkinson Managing Editor Garden Centre Retail

PRODUCTION Design – Lyssa Rutherford Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, Gwent, UK Published by ©Eljays44 Ltd

Hopefully, as we move onto our April/ May issue, the bad weather has shifted and customers will be through your garden centres’ doors to ready their outside space for the longer days ahead


MANAGEMENT Managing Director – Jim Wilkinson Director – Lisa Wilkinson Business Development Manager – Jamie Wilkinson MARKETING AND CIRCUL ATION Client relations – Amber Bernabe Tel: 01903 777 581 Subscription enquiries – Emily Maltby Tel: 01903 777 575

Garden Centre Retail is published bimonthly by Eljays44 Ltd. The 2018 subscription price is £95. Subscription records are maintained at Eljays44 Ltd, 3 Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, West Sussex BN16 3DA. Articles and information contained in this publication are the copyright of Eljays44 Ltd and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publishers. The publishers cannot accept responsibility for loss of, or damage to, non-commissioned photographs or manuscripts.

@GardenRetailUK Garden Centre Retail Garden Centre Retail

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Production Editor – Charlie Cook Tel: 01903 777 578

Joe and the GCR team

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Whilst every effort has been made to maintain the integrity of our advertisers, we accept no responsibility for any problem, complaints, or subsequent litigation arising from readers’ responses to advertisements in the magazine. We also wish to emphasise that views expressed by editorial contributors are not necessarily those of the publishers. Reproduction of any part of this magazine is strictly forbidden.

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 3

must haves 2018/19

Discover at Tendence the outdoor living and floral display musthaves, as well as lots of other highlights from the home and gift segments for the autumn/winter season and the coming spring/ summer 2019. All details can be found at: Tel. +44 (0) 14 83 48 39 83

International trade fair for consumer goods.


Garden Centre Retail ISSUE 36


April/May 2 0 1 8





06 NEWS EXTRA Blue Diamond launches a new store



A roundup of the latest news

Haskins’ Conna Powles and Dean Ridley Boost your staff’s performance with clear objectives

from the sector

18 T RENDS What to look out for



How to use data to increase sales


Bringing some clarity to the new laws



Why garden centres need to take a more sustainable approach








We visit Farplants to find out about the cooperative’s Nemesia production


Products for outdoor dining


The importance of placement for pest control products


From firebowls to pizza ovens, we break down the options


How to maximise your sales in this category




Lessons to learn from Hillier Garden Centres’ ambitious revamp


Making your garden centre an attractive prospect to buyers




Everything you need to know to create an effective café design



Mowers and watering products




Widen margins with our expert advice



Champions Blend Peat Free Compost





Our special report on cooperation within the garden centre industry

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 5

News Blue Diamond


We take a look at the group’s new store in East Bridgford, Nottinghamshire


lue Diamond’s East Bridgford store opened its doors for the first time at the end of March. Boasting an impressive 81,000ft of retail space, Alan Roper told Garden Centre Retail magazine that the store follows the outlay on the group’s Redfields store, and its subsequent refits since that store opened. Alan, who has been designing garden centres for around 25 years, explained that every time he is involved with a new centre, they all have the same look and feel but with an added extra that takes the design to the next level. In the East Bridgford store, the added extra is the café, home and garden section, which includes a table-service café, a sit-down restaurant and access to the outdoor plantarea. This store is the industry’s first new-build garden centre since 2016 – but Alan has said that Blue Diamond will be following it up with two or three more over the coming period. w


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

Blue Diamond News

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 7



Mark Higgins announced as head of horticulture for Bord Na Móna Horticulture competitive environments. He has spent much of his career to date in Ireland and the UK, and has extensive experience in delivering business performance targets. Mark’s recruitment is well timed for the organisation’s horticulture business, which is the leading Irish supplier of growing media and barks in Ireland and the UK and has an expanding footprint in international market. It is the fastest ark Higgins has recently taken growing player in the UK garden centre over the position as head of trade, and holds a significant market share horticulture for Bord Na Móna. in both the private label and professional Mark joins Bord Na Móna Horticulture sectors. Its Bord Na Móna Growise with a strong strategic commercial and operational background that he has gained branded range for home gardeners was within the FMCG sector, with considerable launched in 2010 and has won a number experience in growing market share in very of awards, including the Which? Best Buy


compost award seven times; Mark believes that this brand presents a substantial growth opportunity. “The opportunity to grow the horticulture business is considerable,” said Mark. “The turnover for Bord Na Móna Horticulture in the UK retail sector has grown by 70% over the last two years, and we have ambitious plans to continue to grow strongly. Our brand heritage and quality of our product is exceptional and there is no doubt in my mind that Bord Na Móna Horticulture and our Bord Na Móna Growise brand has substantial growth potential in the UK and Ireland, and selected international markets.”

Chris Pateman steps down as HTA chairman


he HTA Board has announced that Chris Pateman has left his post as chairman due to family reasons. “I find a number of family issues are now requiring my attention and the long commute had made it harder than anticipated,” said Chris. “As a result, I no longer feel


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

able to contribute to the HTA as I would have wished. In my short tenure with the HTA, it has been both a privilege and a pleasure to have witnessed the enthusiasm of the teams.” HTA president Adam Taylor said: “We are sorry to see Chris go, but we understand his situation and wish him all the

best for the future. Naturally, we identified the distance between Horticulture House and Chris’ home in Kent and had discussed it, but it has had a greater impact on Chris than was first thought. The board will be discussing the vacancy in the near future.”


Charlie Dimmock opens Woking Squire’s

Man arrested in connection with Gardman warehouse fire


nowy conditions could not defeat the crowd that came to see much-loved gardening expert and TV presenter Charlie Dimmock officially reopen Squire’s Garden Centre in Woking on 17 March. Charlie was at Squire’s all day, hosting a number of gardening activities – including planting up pots to raise money for the charity Greenfingers, a Gardeners’ Question Time and a Spring Container Workshop; she also launched Squire’s ‘Grow Your Own Chips’ initiative for schoolchildren, showing them how to grow potatoes in pots.



“I’d like to thank Charlie for coming to officially reopen Squire’s in Woking,” said deputy chairman of Squire’s, Sarah Squire. It was lovely to welcome her back to Squire’s, as she has previously been to some of our other garden centres. She has so much energy, enthusiasm and horticultural knowledge.”

HTA introduces recycling scheme for members

he HTA has launched a recycling scheme for its members, which will enable businesses of all sizes to responsibly recycle their plastic and other waste, enhancing their green credentials. Partnering with Ecogen, based in Winchester, the scheme will provide a cost-saving solution for most by reducing the need for skips and amount of waste going to landfill. For those that have the ability to accumulate volume, it could even provide a


showing how waste plastic impacts our natural world,” said Martin Simmons, HTA director of operations. “Within the source of income. Ecogen, which garden industry we do have a responsibility to recycle what is fully accredited, registered we currently use, as well as and licensed in all aspects of specialist waste recycling, already develop innovative alternative solutions. works with a number of garden “This is an issue that we centres and wholesale nurseries take very seriously, as do our across the country. There are a number of solutions members and their customers. While plastic recycling has been on hand, depending on the size more economical for our larger of the business and the amount members, this is the first time of plastic generated. that we have been able to offer “Plastics and recycling have a national recycling solution for become even higher on the members of all sizes.” national agenda since the coverage on Blue Planet II

man has been arrested on suspicion of arson, in connection with a large warehouse fire. Shortly before midnight on 11 March, more than 50 firefighters were called to the building in Parsons Road, Daventry, which is owned by garden centre suppliers Gardman. The roof appears to have collapsed, and a plume of smoke could be seen for miles around on the afternoon of 12 March. Nobody is believed to have been injured, but fire officers remained at the site for several days. Deputy chief fire officer David Harding, from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “It will be some time yet before investigators can gain access to the building; however, police have launched an arson investigation.” He advised people living nearby to close doors and windows. A number of surrounding roads at the Drayton Fields Industrial Estate have been closed by police.


01694 771800

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 9

News PRODUCT NEWS Hills Plants launches the Magical Hydrangea to the UK market Hills Plants, the parent company of The Little Botanical, is the only British business with a licence to grow Magical Hydrangeas, and is proud to have this indoor flowering plant available for the UK market. Starting out pink and blue when exposed to daylight the hydrangeas slowly change tone to become something altogether more magnificent, and keep on blooming all the way through to autumn. The Magical Hydrangea is available in two varieties: the Magical Revolution, which ends up a dark red, and the Magical Amethyst, which becomes a deep green.

Everflow Hose’s patented technology keeps water flowing Copely Developments has designed and manufactured the RHS Everflow, a premium British-manufactured garden hosepipe. Featuring patented technology, water flows at normal pressure even if the hose becomes kinked, crushed or knotted. Users benefit from its flexibility, durability and low weight. It is UV resistant and REACH compliant. Copely provides retailers with competitive pricing for healthy margins, as well as a complete package of merchandising material, including PoS units for effective customer engagement.

Spike’s Hedgehog Food donates to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society As part of its continued support for the preservation of hedgehogs, Spike’s Hedgehog Food has partnered with registered UK charity the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, giving a 10p donation to the charity for every purchase of the brand’s Crunchy Dry or SemiMoist products. From 1 April, all packaging will display the donation message, to help encourage consumers to feed their garden visitors and in turn help hedgehogs thrive in their natural environment. Spike’s Hedgehog Food is a complementary feed that supplements a hedgehog’s natural diet.

Rebrand for WildThings range of swan and duck feed New for 2018, the WildThings range has been rebranded to maximise shelf presence while communicating the premium quality of the products. The rebrand includes a new logo and packaging, highlighted USPs, and more precise guidelines. WildThings Swan & Duck Food is a small, dry pellet that will float on water, remaining accessible on the surface for much longer. It provides much-needed nutrition wildfowl, while also helping to prevent the pollution caused when uneaten food sinks to the bottom of a body of water.


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

Perrywood Garden Centre suffers loss due to ‘The Beast From The East’ Perrywood Garden Centre lost out on more than £50,000 takings because of February and March’s snow blasts. The garden centre in Tiptree, Essex, shut on the second day of the bad weather, when many roads across the region became impassable. From Monday 26 February to Wednesday 28 February, the store was £37,000 down, compared to the same three days the previous week. “We would normally take £15,000 per day in that week,” said manager Simon Bourne. “On the Wednesday we didn’t take a single penny, but every day that week was very short. There were barely any customers in, but I doubt we would have made more than a few hundred pounds anyway. We have the misfortune of being on a hill, which causes problems for our car park if there is lots of snow.”

Kemps Plants Garden Centre expands with five-figure backing from HSBC A garden centre in Bristol has opened a 4,300-square foot extension, having received a five-figure finance package from HSBC. Kemps Plants, which has banked with HSBC since 2003, has built the extension to meet consumer demand for its growing range of dry goods, including plant chemicals, garden furniture and barbecues. This follows a major renovation project in 2010, which involved the owner of the business, Lee Kemp, using a £310,000 funding facility from the bank to rebuild the centre. “HSBC has played a pivotal role in the success of the business over the last two decades, especially when we rebuilt the site eight years ago, and more recently when we extended the dry goods building,” said Lee. “The larger space means we can now stock more products, in line with increased demand from our customers – many of whom have been loyal shoppers since the start.” Sarah Lucas, HSBC’s area director for Bristol, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, added: “We’ve been lucky to work with Lee and his family for many years now, so we have a thorough understanding of the business’s changing finance requirements and can tailor funding packages to them accordingly. “This latest loan has enabled Kemps Plants to grow the business, fulfil demand for its products and support plans to increase its customer base.”



THE INTERVIEW Conna Powles and Dean Ridley of Haskins


GOAL SETTING Engage employees with clear objectives

18 TRENDS Prepare for the latest crazes 21

DEMOGRAPHIC DATA Take a targeted approach to consumers

22 GDPR Clearing up the confusion around the new regulations 24

ETHICAL HORTICULTURE Why we should be doing more

26 PROFITABILITY Vital tips for boosting your margins 28 CATERING The considerations of café design 31

STORE DESIGN How one garden centre revamped its look


SELLING A CENTRE Selling up? Here’s what you need to know


COLLABORATIVE WORKING Our special report on industry cooperation

Business The Interview


GCR met up with Haskins buying director Conna Powles and its head of retail Dean Ridley to discuss generational changes, young-at-heart consumers, and the importance of technology in running a garden centre How did you both get into the industry – what were your career paths? Conna Powles: I had previously worked for Hobbycraft for seven years, where I was head of buying and product innovation, so I had worked with Warren Haskins before, and liked the culture. When the vacancy of Haskins buying director arose I met with Julian Winfield, the CEO, and he gave me the opportunity to move up into the director role. That was six years ago, and I am still learning every day. Dean Ridley: I was with Homebase for 18 years previously; I had run garden centres but not on the same scale as Haskins. I joined Haskins 12 years ago, initially running West End garden centre in Southampton and then becoming retail operations manager. I’ve run all the Haskins centres at one stage or another, and I love that our common goal is to grow the best garden retail business that we can. What do your day jobs consist of? DR: Conna, myself, Julian Winfield and brand director Lisa Looker always meet up on a Monday as a team. We discuss where we are and where we want to be in the short-medium term. CP: We frequently walk around a centre and look at it from different perspectives. We look at it from a commercial perspective to make sure we have thought through the customer journey in terms of product placement, linked sales opportunities, hot spots, points of sale, etc. This includes standards of retail merchandising and a display point of view. We have recently done a whole series of visual merchandising training to increase our skills as a business, which has helped to give us a common language and style


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

of doing things. We will also look at it from the point of view of estates management, so we make sure jet washing, pipes, wires etc. are all as they should be. If something needs replacing or washing, it is picked up both weekly and as part of a regular programme to look after our centres. DR: We also look at stock levels. What makes us unique in the garden centre industry is that about 88% of our stock is now ordered centrally by head office. CP: If I had a structure to my week rather than my day, Monday is my ‘discipline day’. I go through all the reports, looking at sales, stock, margin, wastage, etc. Friday is a communication and strategy day – I’ll have one-to-one meetings with my team and with other departments to ensure we are all on the same page. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday involve going out and looking at the competition, seeing suppliers and having meetings. There isn’t a typical day, it’s more of a typical week. DR: That’s pretty much the same for me. I’ll have a conference call on Monday afternoon and cascade anything from our walk-around directly to the general managers. What has been the biggest change to the industry since you joined Haskins? CP: In terms of the industry, it’s amazing how much change there has been just during my six years at Haskins. There was the demise of Solus and the sale of Scotts, as well as consolidation of centres with Wyevale purchases. There has also been a change in customer shopping habits. I call it the Uber-Amazon generation – those customers who want an instant solution to everything, be it a planted container or

their garden furniture delivered tomorrow. Over six years, the move from growing from seed to wanting a ready-made product has been big. People used to buy a commodity product, but now they’re buying lifestyle experiences. They aren’t interested in just buying one plant, they want to see the bigger picture; they want to buy a whole outdoor lifestyle. DR: Retail is such a fast-paced business now. Garden centres six years ago were a bit hidden away from all that. Now the experience that customers are expecting is so fast-paced that garden centres have had to get on that ball. We’re in a great place to be able to offer that, because we have 500-seat restaurants, we have a great experience and we have destination sites with free parking. The demise of the high street has helped the rise of the garden centres. This is further supported by GCA garden centres working together and sharing best practice to make us even stronger. What about the use of social media? CP: Social media is definitely something that is growing for us, especially in terms of how people want to contact us. DR: Customers now expect companies to have social media – and they expect a response quickly, too. Unless you’re on 

The Interview Business Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 13

Business The Interview

that 24/7 in terms of your Twitter feed and Facebook, you’re not responding to their news. CP: It’s that Uber-Amazon generation again – they want it and they want it now. If they have a complaint or a suggestion, they want a response now. We now have someone dealing with that all the time. The nice thing about it is that customers feel they have a more personal relationship with us, and love that they have been listened to when they give us their feedback and get a quick response. It makes them feel valued. What about the typical garden centre customer, have you seen that change in the past six years? CP: I don’t think they have changed in age, but they have got younger in attitude, and fashions come around again. The actual age is irrelevant because people are fitter and stronger. My 19-year-old daughter’s bedroom is filled with houseplants and macramé hanging baskets, which is what my mother used to buy in the Seventies – they are now back on trend. DR: Because we’ve got large restaurants, we’ve become a meeting place and a whole retail experience, so you see families of all generations meeting and shopping together and enjoying cake and coffee. How have buying habits changed? CP: The age at which you have the highest disposable income is 55. That is our core


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

Customers now expect companies to have social media – and they expect a response quickly, too customer, and we see that in our marketing data as well. Our customers are mainly 45 and over, but it’s the customers aged 5560 that spend the most money. We don’t really get the younger generation in as we find they mainly shop online, but they have heavily influenced the ‘silver surfers’. DR: I think Conna was right when she said we still have the same customer base, but they are younger at heart. Take our clothing range: that has completely shifted in the last few years. Now we’re selling brands such as Joules, which wasn’t the case a few years back. Our customer base likes quality and is willing to pay a bit more to get that, along with a reliable service. Garden centres don’t have to be at the cutting edge of trends because that’s not necessarily what their customers are looking for. We must make sure that we are relevant to what they are looking for at that time. What are your strongest product areas? CP: We have had a really positive start to the year, with good early season sales from garden furniture, the new decorative

garden stakes and what we’re calling ‘garden décor products’. Solar lighting is really big for us, and we have extended this category to include more solar ornaments, which have started well. Garden plants have also started strongly, helped by a few bright days in among the cold ones, so we are optimistic for a good season. Books and wild bird care have been more challenging – we are looking at ways to improve these areas. What about trends? DR: Houseplants have made a big comeback and they are selling really well. CP: Succulents and cacti are very much on trend, as are foliage plants. Where we previously sold more flowering plants, we are now selling more foliage. The recent trend advice has been about llamas, mermaids, unicorns, cacti, pineapples, tropical botanicals, far Eastern zen, hanging basket houseplants, succulents and so on. This was certainly evident at the recent trade shows that we went to. However, we are not cutting edge or high fashion, and have to stay true to our customer profile. This spring we are offering ‘tropical botanical’ and ‘zen’-themed gift ranges alongside our usual nautical theme, but in terms of younger trends such as mermaids and llamas, we are more likely to offer a novelty mug at Christmas rather than stock the whole theme – it isn’t reflective of our customer profile. We will have a ‘fantasy’ theme at Christmas,

The Interview Business which will include unicorns as we feel they have a wider appeal. What about reacting to trends, such as peacock tables? CP: I don’t think that is so much a trend, more a really commercial line. It’s a great feeling when you see a product that you know is going to sell well. Does that mean you need a certain amount of trust in your suppliers? CP: You need to work with your suppliers because not only are they experts in their individual fields, they also have wider market knowledge and want to retain a long-term relationship with you. DR: We expect innovation from our partners because our customers are looking for new things all the time. Garden lighting is a really good example of this, and is now a really big category for us at Haskins. Is the growth in the lighting sector part of the trend of consumers using their garden as an extra living space?

Our customer base likes quality and is willing to pay a bit more to get that, along with a reliable service. Garden centres don’t have to be at the cutting edge of trends because that’s not necessarily what their customers are looking for CP: Absolutely. Garden décor is a big trend for this year, and it is a focus for us in a way we haven’t approached before. How has technology, such as EPOS, made a difference? DR: It’s one of our big strengths at Haskins across the group. We’re very systems-

orientated, and have been working with our EPOS system for the past 10 years. Technology allows us to manage our stocks tightly. CP: We’re part of a user group with other garden centres. We identify what challenges need to be solved and discuss ideas, and how technology can resolve them. At Haskins, the buying team is currently developing sales models in order to maximise stock turn and sales, based on a five-year average per subcategory. Garden centre sales, in terms of regular patterns, are very difficult to anticipate, as each season is different. DR: The other thing we’ve introduced over the past couple of years is a new system to manage our promotional POS. It’s saved us a lot of money as we’ve reduced the wastage you get with POS, but the biggest benefit is that the centres can find the POS format they want and print what they want when they need it. It just makes us much more efficient. This is something we are hoping to introduce to the restaurants this year. w

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 15

Business Goal Setting ownership in the goal-setting process ensures intrinsic motivation (engaging in goal achievement behaviours because they personally want to). Intrinsic motivation is having an innate drive that doesn’t require external prompts, which makes it more powerful than extrinsic motivation (engaging in a behaviour to satisfy someone else). It takes less effort to work towards goals that have personal meaning. Once your employees have a grasp on company goals, ask them to write down any personal work-related goals that align with these. This process helps them visualise their goals and forms a strong commitment to meeting them. Your role doesn’t end when the goal setting is complete, however. Be sure to schedule time to check in on their progress. If you want them to engage with company goals, take the time to engage with their personal work-related goals.


TO IMPROVE STAFF PERFORMANCE Psychologist Dr Nicola Davies shares her four golden rules for successful employee goal-setting


ften, employees are unaware of their employer’s mission or goals. For example, they might not be provided with information on the targets needed to reach their sales goals, or the opportunities needed to enhance their skillset. It’s important for garden centre managers to support their employees in establishing their own professional growth goals. Effective managers find ways to boost employee motivation and engagement, leading to increased productivity. If a system for setting and tracking goals is implemented, along with the provision of effective feedback, your employees will not only grow as professionals, but they will also value your leadership. You can help your employees set goals and accomplish them in the following ways: COMMUNICATE YOUR MISSIONS AND GOALS The company culture must have a welldefined mission that is communicated to employees. Once employees are aware


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

of the objectives of the organisation, they can set goals that align with them, so that everyone benefits – both the garden centre and its individual employees. For example, a manager’s objective may be to ensure better quality plants or more satisfied customers. Employees who are aware of this can set goals such as learning about better soil quality, the proper use of fertilisers, and timely weeding so that healthy plants are grown. Similarly, to establish a satisfied customer base, employees can create goals related to professional conduct, offering good service, and understanding and catering to individual customer requirements. ENGAGE EMPLOYEES IN COMPANY GOAL-SETTING Begin a dialogue with employees about company goals. Management expert Robert Ford suggests that the more employees are involved in the goal-setting process, the more likely they are to set higher personal goals than those assigned by their manager. Giving your employees

CREATE RECOGNITION PROGRAMMES Everyone likes rewards for a job well done. When employees feel their efforts are acknowledged and appreciated, it boosts their self-esteem and job satisfaction, which then encourages them to continue aiming for quality output. Establish a system that gives recognition and/or rewards to those who meet their goals in a timely fashion. Rewards may include time off, a raise, a bonus, or even a verbal acknowledgement. Other options include a pin, badge, gift voucher, or an item from the garden centre. BE A ROLE MODEL As a leader or employer, you set the standard for goal achievement. Make sure you are setting goals for yourself and that your staff are aware of your efforts. As an example, when your staff see you converting telephone enquiries into customer visits, they will be inspired to emulate you. Goal setting is a dynamic process that should keep changing over time. It is important to work with your staff to continually update their goals and ensure they have the skills and tools they need to be successful. w

magrini high chairs The Magrini Breeze commercial high chair stacks up to 8 high for easy storage and comes in a choice of colours that will not fade or peel. The strong, sturdy design allows your smallest customers to feel safe and the chair pushes up to the table to create a relaxed family mealtime. The Breeze high chair is manufactured in the U.K. by Magrini.

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Business Trends



In part one of our series on garden centre trends, Lisa White, head of lifestyle and interiors at global foresight business WGSN, tells us about the trends that will hit mass in the next two years


ardeners are changing. As we move from baby boomers, through generation X, and now into millennials, it’s important to note that we’re moving from the era of the experienced gardener to the era of garden experiences. Gardens are becoming the symbols of a life well lived. In the future, gardens will be powerful symbols of all the things in life that people enjoy and aspire to. People want to be the ones cutting beautiful bouquets from their cut-flower garden.

They see the garden as a place of pleasurable experiences, and it’s important to get them to that stage as soon as possible. Gardens are a lifestyle addition; places to live life, be with friends and family, and have shared experiences. Since 2008, there has been an increase in people sharing their wedding experiences in gardens, as well as an increase in people sharing food in a garden setting. Most importantly, gardens are now about experiences. The ‘experience economy’ is

upon us – people are now less willing to buy things and more willing to buy experiences. In the future, people will buy less products and more ‘moments’; plants will never be considered materialistic – they are living things, and planting and caring for them are true experiences, so now is a key time for them. Gardens are increasingly about taking the indoors outdoors, expanding a home’s living space. There is a move towards making the garden a cosy space. Gardening has been proven to provide both mental and

physical benefits, and in the future, we will see gardening therapy become much more widespread. A garden is a place where people go to feel transformed, as it is itself a place that transforms throughout the seasons. Another trend is the increasingly strong link between garden and kitchen. We have seen an increase in consumers buying plants for their produce – not just fruit and vegetables, which have been something of a lifestyle trend for some time, but also cut flowers that they can decorate their homes with or use in cocktails. People relate to food in such an instinctive way, making gardening for produce exciting for them. It’s up to garden retailers to make it easier for customers to ‘grow their own’. The popularity of food kits has been rising for years, and grouping plants with related accessories, information and instructions will also be key to creating linked sales. People want the garden lifestyle, and if you can give them the techniques that will help them to profit from their gardens – perhaps in the form of workshops or events – it will also help to put your shop on the map. w ABOUT

WGSN is an online resource covering trends from consumer to fashion, design, beauty, garden and outdoor.


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

OR 2018! F W NE





COLD FRAMES ACCESSORIES @VitaviaLtd 01473 218100

Demographic Data Business



CONSUMERS Simon Beer of Big Wave Media explains why, whether small or large, businesses need to take a targeted approach to consumers – using demographics gives you a head start in understanding your market


emographic data is statistical data collected about the characteristics of a population, such as age, gender and income. It is usually used to research a product or service and how well it is selling, who likes it, and/or what areas it is most popular in. Data can be collected through methods such as sample surveys and questionnaires. When it comes to consumers, there are very few things that we are able to predict – but by using demographic data, businesses can understand why customers make the choices they do. Is it because of where they live, their age, their gender? This understanding may enable businesses to forecast products in the future, as well as predict how customers will react to them. Demographic data is an excellent opportunity to make sure your products are the ones that your customers expect, as well as ensure that your service levels and facilities are right. It also helps you to gain a great understanding of your local customer base – are they wealthy? Elderly? Used to the finer things in life? Once you have this data, you can do several useful things with it.

like a new location, and if so, how far they are willing to go out of their way to get to it. Knowing what your customers want can also help you avoid making costly mistakes, pushing the business forward. Is it worth adding an extra space to your store to house the products in the garden lighting category, for instance? Is this a growth area that you are focusing on moving forward?

GROUP CUSTOMERS BASED ON VARIABLES By grouping consumers using demographic data, businesses can understand each customer segment, what it wants, and how it wants it. This can help your business to market products differently based on the consumer groups they target. Are your customers more likely to buy a pot if it has a delicate feel, or are they

more likely to go after a blocky, industrial-looking version? Looking at the trends, are you offering enough houseplants in your store, which is what the younger customers are looking for? DETERMINE THE NEXT STEP When you understand what your customers are looking for, you can determine things such as whether customers would

CUSTOMISE PRODUCTS Demographic data can be used to customise products, helping garden centres to find out what is wanted by consumers and change the offering to fit. The whole idea of customising products is to save time and money on products that aren’t wanted, or that don’t fit your consumer specification. It’s all well and good surveying your customers, but it is by acting on the results that will make the biggest difference to your business. w ABOUT

Big Wave Media is a full service creative agency with offices in Exeter, Plymouth and Torquay.

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 21

Business GDPR



he much-heralded General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becomes law on 25 May. A great deal has already been written about GDPR, much of which I have, personally, found confusing. I don’t know about you, but it feels like there’s a certain amount of scaremongering and hype going on, with talk of €20M fines and the like. On the face of it, the underlying requirements of the GDPR are straightforward, the primary tenet being that all natural persons (that’s you and me) have the right for any personal data that relates to them and is held by a third party to be securely protected, and that this data can only be used for the legal purposes to which they have explicitly agreed. Such data, which is referred to as Personally Identifiable Information (PII), must be: • Obtained with the explicit knowledge and agreement of the data subject • Held securely • Accessible and rectifiable within a reasonable period • Portable and readily available to the data subject when requested • Erased in its entirety if the data subject so wishes. Most importantly, it should be remembered that the data belongs to the data subject, and can only be gathered, edited, used or disseminated with their knowledge and agreement.


Chris Corby of Corby+Fellas talks us through the General Data Protection Regulation laws that are coming into the market at the end of May

All the above seems eminently reasonable and should, I believe, be achievable without too many sleepless nights – or the need to acquire a degree in international law. Here is some more detail on those five basic requirements. ‘OBTAINED WITH THE EXPLICIT KNOWLEDGE’ The regulation requires that data subjects (i.e. your customers) must consent to their personal data being obtained and used. The regulation says: “Consent of the data subject means any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her” (GDPR Article 4 [11]). The key word here is ‘affirmative’ – no pre-ticked boxes, please! ‘HELD SECURELY’ Security is of prime importance. Things such as firewalls (physical and/or software), network security, user access permissions, password protection, physical security of data backups, input forms, printouts, etc. must all be considered. To make things really secure, it would be best to encrypt the data – both when it is being transmitted and when it is at rest (i.e. when it is being

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

held on a disc). However, this is discretionary and not a requirement of the regulation.

from one IT environment to another in a safe, secure way, without hindrance to usability.

‘ACCESSIBLE AND RECTIFIABLE’ Individuals have the right to obtain confirmation that their data is being processed, and to know what purpose it is being processed for, as well as the right to have access to their personal data and to have it rectified. The regulation requires that: • The identity of the person making the request must be verified using ‘reasonable means’ • If the request is made electronically, the information should be provided in a commonly used electronic format.

‘ERASED IN ITS ENTIRETY’ This right is fundamental to the regulation. The right to erasure is also known as ‘the right to be forgotten’. The broad principle underpinning this right is to enable an individual to request the deletion or removal of personal data where there is no compelling reason for its continued processing. Although the upcoming GDPR seems daunting, just keep in mind this basic fact: if you hold customer’s personal information, the data belongs to them and must be held securely. w

‘PORTABLE AND READILY AVAILABLE’ The right to data portability allows individuals to obtain and reuse their personal data for their own purposes across different services. It allows them to move, copy or transfer personal data easily


Corby+Fellas specialises in the design, development and deployment of systems for the control and management of retail businesses.

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Business Ethical Horticulture


Rosi Rollings of Rosybee Nursery issues a rallying cry for horticulture to do more to protect the environment – and tells us what steps she’s taking within her business


am a small-scale grower and I specialise in plants that attract bees, so it’s natural for me to also want to ensure that my product is environmentally friendly. More than that, my customers also want my products to meet their standards, and they often ask me about it – they too want to satisfy their ambitions to help the environment. I don’t think that my customers are a minority – they are part of a slow change in gardening practices. Messages about global warming and humans’ impact on nature make the news daily; we all now recycle our rubbish and consider our water and fuel usage. Many gardeners now want to use their garden as a place where they can feel closer to nature, rather than simply being an aesthetically pleasing extension of their house. They also want to attract wildlife, as is shown by the increase in sales of bird food and bee hotels, growth of which has exceeded plant sales in recent years. The increasing interest in


community gardens, green roofs and ‘growing your own’ are all further indications of a changing culture. But this does not align well with an industry that has traditionally encouraged the extensive use of chemical treatments for all problems and issues, and that prioritises pretty plants above healthy ones. It’s time for horticulture in the UK to consider how it can best support the ethical gardener, and provide more relevant products choices with helpful labelling. I originally come from a background in financial services – not exactly an industry with a great reputation for ethics or listening to customers – and yet I have been surprised by the culture within the horticultural trade. I realise that it’s much easier for me to be flexible and try different growing practices than it is for larger established businesses, but I have now been peat-free for seven years without any difficulties. In fact, I would hate to use peat, as I find it gets either too wet or too dry. I also collect

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

and manage all the rainwater from my polytunnel roof, so only occasionally need to draw from the mains supply. I am pesticide-free and just accept that some damage will occur; it’s not difficult to simply be vigilant and treat with non-pesticide alternatives when necessary. I do find it more difficult to avoid using fungicides on certain crops, and need to investigate alternatives. I know margins are tight, but surely there is room for some in the industry to take the environmental high ground and try to meet customers’ expectations, rather than arguing that it is not possible. At the very least, let’s try to discourage the tendency among some growers to cut corners. I regularly find plants on sale that are labelled as ‘good for pollinators’ when I know they are not, and I know one large retailer found that the ‘peat-free’ plants it had been receiving actually had peat hidden beneath the top dressing. We need to start leading the way and considering what the elements of environmentally

ethical horticulture might look like – surely this is something we can sell. w TIPS FOR RETAILERS

• Put more focus on peat free and pesticide-free products • Talk to your suppliers about how the products are labelled, and check the validity of the claims made by the plants you sell • Try stocking ‘green’ versions of slug pellets, pesticide sprays, etc. • Resist stocking glittered plants and products, which add more microplastics into the world.


After a 30-year career in financial services, Rosi Rollings became a beekeeper in 2010. Having found that good information and beefriendly plant sources were limited, in 2012 she started Rosybee Nursery to address the problem.


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Business Profitability



Garden Centre Retail speaks with Bobby Lane, a partner at London-based accountancy firm Blick Rothenberg, about profit, decent accounting, and how controlling costs is the easiest way to raise the profitability of your garden centre


he oft-used business quote ‘revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is reality’ highlights the three main drivers of business performance, and their increasing levels of importance. At the heart of a business’s survival is a healthy cash flow – even when a business has a huge turnover, it won’t survive if it runs out of cash and isn’t profitable. In simple terms, a business must always focus on the simple mechanic that there must be more money coming in than going out. If you are selling for more than you are buying for then, provided your overheads are under control, you should be making a profit and generating cash. INCREASING PROFITABILITY I could write an entire article on this topic! However, at the simplest level, many people will confuse growth in turnover with increased profitability. You could double the amount that you


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

are selling, but if you are not making a profit on that amount then you could actually be losing money. Remember, SALES – COSTS (VARIABLE AND FIXED) = PROFIT. Try to increase the sales side of the equation and reduce the costs side. To increase income, you could obviously sell more – but you could also simply increase your selling prices, generating more income from the same quantity of products sold. Can you increase the prices enough to benefit the business without driving customers away? Can you open up new revenue streams, such as an online business, or use some spare space to offer customers extra services such as a café? If you have spare space, can it be sublet to a tenant who provides complementary services that may bring in new customers? On the cost side, look at the price you are buying your products for, and where

you are buying them from – you may be able to reduce your purchase costs. Also look at your fixed costs – the costs of opening your centre’s doors, and the bills that you have to pay whether you sell a product or not. If you reduce your overheads, you reduce the amount that you need to sell in order to break even. CONTROLLING COSTS Two of the main cost drivers in a garden centre are rent and salaries. Can a deal be struck on the rent, or are there alternative premises that would be cheaper in the long run (don’t forget the costs of moving)? Do you need the level of staffing that you currently have, or can this be reduced or restructured in any way? Look at every fixed cost and overhead, and how you could reduce them. In addition, look at the costs of the products and see if there are alternative suppliers, or discounts that can be negotiated.

Profitability Business

Even when a business has a huge turnover, it won’t survive if it runs out of cash and isn’t profitable


S – Suppliers. Can you change suppliers, get cheaper prices or shorten delivery periods so you don’t have to order so far in advance, sale or return? T – Taking Stock. Regular stocktakes are important to check the accuracy of the systems and identify the exact position of products. O – Observe. Look at what is going on within the business. What are the slow-moving lines, what moves quickly, what is working and what isn’t? C – Controls. Put in place a decent inventory control/stock control system that will give you information on what is happening within the business – scraps of paper will not help. K – Keep Cash. Do not have your cash tied up in stock if it is not moving. Try to turn it back into cash with a clearance sale; it will do you no good sitting on the shelves gathering dust.

IMPLEMENTING SYSTEMS Every garden centre should have a business forecast for at least the next 12 months. Time also needs to be spent preparing monthly management accounts and comparing the actual results to what has been forecast. This will not only show you see departures from what has been anticipated, but also identify areas of concern. A good integrated stock control, EPoS and CRM system is also a must. These are now accessible to smaller businesses, available at a fraction of their former cost, and they give businesses information that will allow them to make decisions based on fact rather than guesswork. ACCOUNTING A good accountant (either working within the business or externally) is crucial to the success of a garden centre. You can have all the information in the world,

but you need an experienced finance brain to translate the numbers into meaningful information for management. An accountant can also help build the forecasts to deliver the strategy developed by management, as well as raise any red flags before issues may arise. ISSUES Maintaining a healthy cash flow and forecasting cash requirements are always an issue, depending on when the buying process takes place. The key issue in a retail business, though, has always been stock control and management. Managing what and how much to buy is key to success or failure. If you have all your cash tied up in stock, you may not have enough to pay the bills if you can’t sell it quickly enough. In addition, bricks-and-mortar businesses face the challenge of competing with online businesses, which

do not have the same overheads to pay. Think about how you can demonstrate a point of difference and get previous customers to return – while also attracting new customers. Provide a clear and attractive proposition so that they have a reason to visit your garden centre. Don’t forget to implement marketing campaigns and effective social media to drive engagement to your garden centre and get people through the door. w ABOUT

Bobby Lane is a chartered accountant with more than 18 years’ experience in professional practice. He provides consultancy for fast-growing businesses, assisting with start-ups and helping to get struggling companies back on track. @bobbylaneUK

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 27

Business Catering


Carla McKenzie of MYA Consulting takes us through everything that needs to be considered when designing a catering offer, including modern technologies, servery versus table service, and ways to incorporate sustainability


arden centre café location is important. Retail scientists say that the café is best situated on the entrance or the exit of the store, thus capturing the customers before they start shopping, or when they have finished. However, this can often leave customers with a view of the car park and a draught as the doors open and close. When selecting the location of your café, think about environment, view, and your ability to offer external seating or expand the café’s capacity at peak times. The first thing to do when designing your catering offer is to establish the numbers. What is your customer footfall by day, by hour and by season? What projected uptake do you anticipate? Uptakes can vary considerably; having one in six customers visit your café is good, but what is your customer


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

demographic likely to be? This is important when it comes to establishing the style of service you will offer. What will your food offering be? Will you be cooking from scratch? Are you looking to utilise a local supply chain, ‘from farm to fork’? If so, you will need more space for preparing foodstuffs. What will your opening hours be? Do you anticipate attracting a café-only audience from passing traffic? What labour recruitment issues are there in your area? Is this affordable and sustainable within the catering model and service you want to deliver? What will the price point be? Model your business case before you model your catering space. SERVERY OR TABLE SERVICE? Should you opt for table service or a servery offering? There is no right or

wrong answer to this, but there are several things that should be considered in order to make the right choice for your establishment. The typical garden centre café will have a large servery, and customers will self-serve onto a tray, pay at the till and dine at an available table. The pros and cons of servery service are as follows: Pros 1. It is generally quicker than table service, and provides a one-point pick up for the customer. 2. Dwell-time can be reduced, allowing for a quicker turnaround of customers and more efficient use of the available seating space. 3. The food is visible and on display. 4. The customer has the opportunity to prepare or specify their own beverage.

Catering Business more ‘of the moment’, rather than structured to be held under hot lamps. 7. This in turn can broaden your offer. 8. Space can be given over to seating, rather than countering. 9. Dwell time is longer, so additional seating may be helpful. 10. It allows you to embrace technology, allowing your customer to self-order at tables via a tablet. That, in turn, will reduce staffing requirements. Cons 1. A restaurant with this style of service can be off-putting to customers who simply want a cup of tea. 2. The restaurant may alienate the more economically-challenged customers. 3. Lengthy dwell times may reduce turnover compared to servery operations in busy centres.

5. 6. 7.

Staff and skill requirements are generally simpler. It can deliver an enticing centrepiece. Generally, servery style is cheaper for the customer.

Cons 1. It can cost a substantial sum to fill the counters with product, and in the low season this can make management challenging. 2. Older customers, or those with children or a disability, can find balancing a tray challenging and exhausting. 3. Counters can look unappealing during peak if they are not replenished. 4. Often, in larger environments, there can be significant labour costs in replenishing and servicing. 5. Customer experience is reduced, especially if queues are lengthy. Queues are usually generated when there aren’t enough tills. A good operator should be able to process four transactions per minute. 6. Another queue-clogger is the espresso machine. Although it is nice for customers to have their coffee individually made, it can lengthen queues and reduce your speed of service. 7. The service is very visible to the customer – all its strengths and all its weaknesses.

If we look at table service, the pros and cons are as follows: Pros 1. Generally, customers will perceive the offering as a quality-led service. 2. The average transaction spend tends to be higher. 3. There is less movement and therefore a more relaxing ambience and improved acoustics. 4. The staff can make an impact on how much customers spend. 5. Wastage can be more readily controlled. 6. The menu can be developed to be

Whichever your choose, the design needs to be carefully thought through, using your numbers and analytics. In a world where the living wage is becoming the norm, garden centre café designs need to have a watchful eye on the labour models required to deliver them. Garden centres tend to be poor at planning the production of food for the appropriate time of day. You will often walk into a centre at 9am to a table full of cakes, yet it is unlikely that a customer will want cake at that time of the morning. FUTURE-PROOFING In the wake of Brexit and escalating costs, efficiency is going to be key. Minimising resource use, as well as the impact on the planet, will be top of companies’ agendas in the future – so garden centres need to look to the future and purchase the very best equipment they can afford. Modern pressure cooking equipment, 

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 29

Business Catering and supply it all with great service? Think about what your brand’s core values are.

for example, can save significant time and resources. Potatoes cooked conventionally on the stove would take an hour; in a combination oven, around 25 minutes. Under pressure, it can take just six to seven minutes. This technique also improves yield, nutrient impact and flavour, and uses far less water and power to deliver, meaning it is kinder to the planet. Modern dishwashers, meanwhile, will save you money on energy and water.

Minimise your equipment requirement by linking your refrigeration and freezer units, operating them under one piece of plant. Ensure that you have sufficient power for your equipment, and make sure your design is compliant with food safety legislation. Look to modern technology – many pieces of modern equipment can be driven by an app on your phone. We’re increasingly coming under pressure to remove disposable containers;

Create classic, lasting designs – these will ultimately give you greater longevity Design your kitchen to allow it to operate at peak efficiency. This means studying the relationships in the space, and minimising labour impact. It is important to recognise that current staff will be retiring later, and that the kitchen is a physical working environment. Look at where you can ease physical burdens. Design your kitchen so it is waist-high and above, and remove cabinet fridges – they are cheaper, but refrigerated drawers are easier to use and kinder to your team. DESIGNING THE KITCHEN Include ways to safely preserve products in your design; these may also help to minimise wastage. For example, introduce blast freezers, sous-vide technology and dehydrators. Think about how you might manage waste; increasingly we are asked to divide our waste in readiness for recycling, so design this process into your kitchen carefully.


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

if we think about, for example, the ‘latte levy’ that is likely to come in, we want to be backing the use of china and removing disposables altogether. In this case, you need space for storing china safely and cleanly, and for proper dishwashing. For many, a garden centre is an extension of the ‘escape to the country’, much like external space at home. Gardens are places of self-expression, and garden centre cafés should continue this sense of freedom. It doesn’t necessarily need to focus on the flora and fauna of the retail space, but it should be in sympathy with it, and have a unique identity that the customer can relate to. While it’s important to have a brand, it’s also crucial to build that brand. Looking to establish your brand values is ‘missioncritical’. For example, do you want to serve local fresh produce, or hand-crafted produce? Do you want your customers to know you use delicious ingredients

THE BEST POSSIBLE To create the best café possible, you have to research your numbers and understand tomorrow’s customers, as well as today’s. If this isn’t your core expertise, get professional advice, as it is quite a science. Challenge your design assumptions at each stage, and make sure you get the very best value for money. It’s important to understand that the framework for operating a café is quite substantial – there is a stringent legal framework to consider. Above all, we’re delivering a perishable product. Once it has been eaten, you need return on that. It’s a complex product and a specialist subject. It’s important to understand that it is one thing to run a café, but something else entirely to optimise it. If you have a café already and the design is well-thought through, changes should be minimal, and effort should be focused on changing the food offers to reflect the seasons. Design your concept independently of the kitchen procurement and installation company. Procurement and installation companies will often offer design free of charge, but they are unlikely to be able to advise you on modelling the operation. Also, an independent design should ensure that you are only buying the equipment that you really need. Look to the future and get the design you need for when you’ll need it. If necessary, phase the costs and the work, but understand where you want to be. Create classic, lasting designs – these will ultimately give you greater longevity and be more reflective of your business; avoid faddy designs which irritate your customers. It’s okay to borrow from the high street when appropriate, but remember the business demographic in the high street can vary drastically from that of your garden centre. Take your team on that design journey with you – they are the people who will be working in that environment, and they are often from the same community as your customers. Most importantly, make sure your catering offering is unique. w


Carla McKenzie is managing director at MYA Consulting. 01453 765643

Store Design Business


DRIVE SALES Charlotte Speculo, director of KI-Design, walks us through her extensive store redesign for Hillier Garden Centres, demonstrating how the right design and merchandising can drive sales and repeat customer spend


The project involved the redesign and Hillier Garden Centres knows that ritish garden centres have become refit of 10 centres over the course of a its clientele largely consists of affluent, popular destinations for the whole year, with Sunningdale in Windlesham, mature and knowledgeable gardeners. family throughout the year – not Surrey, being the first location to The business’s brief for the redesign was just from spring to autumn. Today’s relaunch with the new design. as follows: consumer expects more than a hurried • Attract a wider audience, including shop through the A-Z of shrubs; they IT’S ABOUT THE JOURNEY younger, less experienced gardeners want an inspiring experience in a relaxed The first task was planning the layout of • Create display areas within the shop, and free-flowing environment. Our brains the centre, with the customer journey allowing customers to envisage process information primarily through being a crucial sight – so it’s part of the design vital for a garden process. Hillier’s centre’s primary customer journey design focus to be It’s crucial to use analytics, insight and market outside its layout, visual intelligence to create a compelling story for your business begins and undercover, aesthetic and among the merchandising before starting a redesign company’s core methods. business – plants. When you are It’s crucial to get the entrance right, as products within their own home looking at the design and refit of a this is where customer’s first impressions • Display an upmarket, natural style garden centre, there are many things to are formed. Their senses need to be • Create a customer journey to direct consider. Who is your customer? What stimulated and their emotions provoked traffic from point of entry to exit, products do you sell? How will your if you want to inspire them into making allowing for unconscious inspiration store flow? How do you want customers purchases. Colour and scent are fabulous and impulse purchases to perceive your brand? Once your key ways to do this. • Use lighting to enhance products business motives have been identified, Garden centres regularly change their • Create signage and information to the design process can begin. I took this products according to season, which can direct customers in a straightforward, approach for one of my largest projects, cause disruption to fixtures. You should  efficient way. Hillier Garden Centres.

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 31

Business Store Design

Today’s consumer expects more than a hurried shop through the A-Z of shrubs; they want an inspiring experience in a relaxed and free-flowing environment develop a concept that allows for certain areas to remain static, so that customers are able to find key items year-round. Areas that change with the seasons will include such products as garden furniture and Christmas decorations. Hillier’s new customer journey first takes them into the shop from the plant area. They enter the garden department, then go through to bird care, and are then led into the homeware area, which consists of a home and gift department, furniture and food. Finally, customers are taken through to the checkout. Along this path, promotional gondola ends and pick-up lines are situated at various stop-off points, predominantly to the right of the customer, due to the way people shop; these grab attention at eye level and promote sales. Working with both Hillier’s present demographic and a potential wider audience in mind, I create a shop style that felt both natural and high end while also being commercially friendly. Each department’s design had its own identity, as follows: • The seasonal garden area had wooden back wall bays in a dark oak stain, with green headers, handmade wooden


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

carts for spring and summer bulbs, rustic-style signage and wooden plinths for large bags of fertiliser. • The home area included light grey back wall units, a display area, and tables to showcase relevant products for both seasonal promotions and delicate, decorative items. The tables were painted in light tones to create a light, fresh feel. • Houseplants are increasingly popular, and their merchandising is key to promoting sales. Wooden cable drums display succulents and cacti, while more common sellers, such as begonias and orchids, need larger, more generic display tables. These were finished in a whitewash and include inner storage for link sale pot covers.

Signage is also a crucial part of the design process – never forget, signage is a customer’s go-to source of information when staff are busy. It also has to suit the aesthetic of the shop, and of the specific area of the shop it is being used in. At Hillier, clear price points on blackboard-type signs were used for larger items within the garden section, while the homeware area had acrylic A5 holders for promotional offers, and highdirectional signage made from rough sawn timber planks with white letters. Bespoke metal sign holders were also made, to add to the authentic style. The plant area also had a significant makeover. New benches were introduced throughout, as well as merchandising with vibrant-coloured block perennials and shrubs, display areas for vegetable plots, and a Chelsea-style show garden – all changeable through the seasons to retain with customers’ interest. The refit at Hillier was successful not only in increasing sales and footfall, but also in establishing a new brand identity for the business, which is paramount for longevity of achievement. Ki-Design believes it’s crucial to use analytics, insight and market intelligence to create a compelling story for your business before starting a redesign – this enables a business to fully appreciate its full potential and create unique, authentic shopping experiences with the consumer in mind. w ABOUT

Ki-Design is an interior design company that specialises in assisting garden centres, restaurants and farm shops with design, procurement and refit

LIGHTS, SIGNAGE, ACTION Good lighting is imperative for bringing functionality and atmosphere to a retail environment. For the Hillier redesign, high level LED lighting was installed to provide overall natural light, with additional spotlights and hanging pendants used to create an ambient setting within certain areas, such as furniture and home.

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Selling a centre Business



Thinking of selling your garden centre? The process of selling a business can be complicated, with buildings and staff to consider. Darren Earnshaw of Alexander Mackie Associates walks us through some of the key points a prospective seller needs to know, as well as providing tips for making your garden centre more attractive to potential buyers


pring and summer are excellent times of year to sell a garden centre or retail nursery, as, typically, they are well stocked and at their most colourful during this period. They should also be experiencing heavy footfall due to the (hopefully) good weather – which obviously appeals to prospective buyers. The most important aspect is to instruct an experienced valuer to give you a current open market valuation. An experienced valuer will investigate all aspects of the centre, including: the planning consent attributable to the site overall; location; quality or age of the buildings, glasshouses, polytunnels, outbuildings etc.; site services; plant, machinery and equipment; the business; and goodwill. All these items are factored into the final value attached to the garden centre or nursery business.

It is always important for sellers to provide decent, profitable accounts for the prospective buyer. Should they wish to borrow money, the funding source – the bank, investor or venture capital/ private equity – would ideally like to see a minimum of three full trading years’ worth of accounts, plus management accounts for the current trading period and the last year’s equivalent trading period. If the buildings or structures are heated or air conditioned and they have a total useful floor space of more than 50 square metres, the seller will need to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for each building before the garden centre or nursery goes on the market. Some exemptions apply, such as workshops and agricultural buildings that don’t use a lot of energy, temporary buildings that will be used for less than two years, and some

buildings that are due to be demolished. An EPC will also be required for any residential property being sold. STAFF We are frequently asked about the impact on staff when a business is sold. If the sale of the business is via an asset sale (the majority of garden centre and nursery sale transactions we deal with are sold this way), the business’s employees are protected under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations (TUPE). WHEN TUPE APPLIES: • The employees’ jobs usually transfer over to the new company – exceptions could be if they’re made redundant, or in some cases where the business is insolvent.

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 35

Business Selling a centre Spring and summer are excellent times of year to sell a garden centre or retail nursery, as typically they are well stocked and at their most colourful during this period


• Their employment terms and conditions transfer. • Continuity of employment is maintained. TUPE will generally not apply if a business is being sold as a share sale. These types of transfers are called ‘business transfers’. Employers should take legal advice to find out whether TUPE applies to their own particular situations. Should the prospective buyer not have the industry experience to operate the garden centre or nursery, they may request the seller to remain on site for a period of up to 12 months as a paid consultant, to guide the new owner through its early ownership period. In some cases, this may also be stipulated by the lending source.


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

Once a buyer has been secured and an offer has been accepted, it is requested that the buyer confirms their offer and funding in writing. Upon receipt of these items, ‘heads of terms’ will be drawn up and the transaction is placed in the hands of the respective solicitors. We will then follow the transaction throughout its time at the solicitor’s until the sale is completed. w ABOUT

Alexander Mackie Associates has been providing valuation and consultancy to the garden centre and nursery industries for more than 25 years. 01732 522222

1) Make your garden centre or nursery appealing to a potential buyer by maintaining the attractive appearance of the site. 2) Remove any dying plants. 3) Varnish or paint any timber plant display units that look shabby. 4) Freshen up any gravel or Mypex plant display bases. 5) Make sure the signage is clear and precise, and applies to the specific displays. 6) Make sure the site is clean, tidy and in good order, and that the plant displays are bold and colourful. 7) Make sure the staff are available for the customers, and knowledgeable in their departments. 8) If there is a residential house on site, make sure the rooms are clean and tidy. If necessary, freshen up the walls, ceilings and doors with some new paint.

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ON THE INSTRUCTIONS OF ADAM HARRIS AND PATRICK LANNAGAN, MAZARS LLP ADMINISTRATORS TO HOME & GARDEN LTD WE ARE INSTRUCTED TO OFFER FOR SALE 8 LEASEHOLD GARDEN CENTRES INDIVIDUALLY OR AS A GROUP The Garden Centres ISE Garden Centre, Northamptonshire Willington Home & Garden Centre, Bedfordshire Plowmans Garden Centre, Dorset Davids Garden Centre, Worcestershire Leighton Buzzard Garden Centre, Bedfordshire Shopwyke Garden Centre, West Sussex Floralands Garden Centre, Nottinghamshire Stansted Park Garden Centre, Hampshire Further details can be made available Please contact either Simon Quinton Smith 07785 732460 Or Rachel McMordie 01635 262525 Quinton Edwards Chartered Surveyors, Bartholomew House, 38 London Road, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 1JX

Collaborative Working Business




One thing that garden retailers excel at is collaborative working; Garden Centre Retail finds out why the industry is so successful at working together

ther retail industries cannot believe the openness of the garden retail industry. It baffles some to think that figures and information is shared so commonly between perceived competitors – but this is a factor that has helped garden centres to survive where high street retailers haven’t, and to thrive despite the garden centre offering’s dramatic change over the past few years. The beauty of sharing is that the industry wins. Garden centres countrywide are seeing a change in their customer bases; the baby boomer generation – a staple garden centre customer for the past 40 years – is giving way to the millennials, who use garden centres as destinations where they can meet friends, have coffee and get closer

to nature. Despite reports that gardening is dying out as a hobby, garden centres are proving time and time again that they can adapt and weather the storm. One of the reasons that garden centres have survived recessions, while other businesses such as high street butchers, greengrocers and so on have succumbed, is the industry’s openness and willingness to share knowledge, ideas and – in some cases – sensitive information. Competition in this market is exactly what competition should be: striving to be the best, but bringing the rest along for the benefit of the market. Associations such as the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and the Garden Centre Association (GCA) are ably assisting their members, putting on conferences, seminars and exhibitions

so that members can increase their knowledge on useful subjects. One of the best aspects of these events is the networking opportunity they present, too. Buying groups and marketing collaborations also come into play, offering garden centres the chance to become part of something bigger. Yes, there are plenty of financially beneficial reasons for a garden centre to be part of a collaborative group – rebates have been mentioned once or twice, and the terms these groups are able to negotiate leaves more margin for profit – but it is much bigger than that. Garden centres are also keen to reap the rewards that come with being a buying group member. Those that are members of the groups often state that without the groups, trading would be 

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 39

Business Collaborative Working and experiences, to help answer the challenges of running a modern-day garden centre. Whether it’s at area meetings, our annual conference or via our online members’ forum, the GCA Exchange, there will always be someone who has had a similar experience to the issues you might be facing and is willing to assist. “We also aim to help our members achieve the highest standards across all areas of their business, including customer service, merchandising, plant quality and marketing. “We will continue to stick to what we do best and ensure our current activities meet the needs of members by improving and adapting the benefits the association offers. When an opportunity to increase the range of benefits arises, we will of course take it – GCA GROW was such an example in 2013. It is imperative that we remain relevant and fit for purpose without losing the heart and ethos established over many years.” much tougher. Again, the networking opportunities these groups and the associations throw up are priceless, and the information shared is vital. ASSOCIATIONS Ian Wylie, the chief executive of the GCA, explains what the organisation does for its members: “We enable members to learn from each other and implement best practice, whether this is through our monthly Barometer of Trade, area meetings, annual inspections, annual conference or, perhaps most importantly all, visiting each other’s centres. “We also offer members access to our GROW e-learning initiative, which is a modern way to bring high quality education and training to individuals employed in the garden centre sector. The initiative helps garden centre staff to improve their knowledge and gain confidence and expertise, and improves the quality of the customer experience. “Each year we hold regular regional meetings, where the member centres from each area get together to hear from our inspectors, who visit centres and see how they’re performing. The inspectors report what they have found back to the centres, including what works and what can be improved, and our members can take this feedback away and prepare for a second set of inspections. “During our annual conference, members can meet and network with peers from garden centres and suppliers from across the country. We arrange


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

Confidentiality is key – it enables members to discuss all aspects of the business and trade in the knowledge it will not leak to competitors lots of insightful and inspirational guest speakers for the event; they share their entrepreneurial and business experience with our members, who will then be able to put it into practice. We also present our national awards and it is a real opportunity for all our members to celebrate a successful year and plan for the next. “In 2013 we launched our e-learning programme, GCA GROW, with the aim of bringing garden centre-specific training to the staff at member centres with online delivery. Since its launch, the uptake has been phenomenal, and we have a full-time member of staff dedicated to GCA GROW. From the feedback we get, whether via formal surveys or by direct conversations, members certainly seem happy with what we offer, and value the benefits that we can deliver to centres collectively. “The greatest benefit of membership is the opportunity to meet with likeminded people and share information

BUYING AND MARKETING GROUPS Founded in 1989, the Tillington Group of Garden Centres is a collaboration between of the best independent garden centre businesses in the UK, who cooperate in buying and marketing. There are currently 11 member companies, with 38 garden centres and a combined turnover of more than £200m between them. It includes some of the biggest single-turnover site centres in the UK, and winners of many National GCA Awards. The group is non-profit making, with all revenues passed on to members. Tillington offers a great resource to members. “We offer competitive buying terms, along with exclusive products and offers for our customers,” says Dennis Espley, non-executive chairman of the group. “Confidentiality is key – it enables members to discuss all aspects of the business and trade, safe in the knowledge it will not leak to competitors. Over the years we have learned which areas work best for full cooperation and are more flexible in other areas, so it works for all members. “The garden centre trade is dynamic and ever-changing, hence its relative success when it is compared to other retail areas, and we want to be at the forefront of this. Our members are constantly growing by acquisition – such as Otter, Scotsdale and Whitehall – while others, such as Squires Woking, Frosts, Ruxley and Hayes, are constantly extending and refurbishing.”

Collaborative Working Business Future Marketing Group (FMG) is another marketing and buying group, launched in 1997 when a group of independent garden centre owners came together with the primary aim of working jointly on marketing projects. “The group has evolved mainly into a buying group, although some joint marketing remains,” explains group chairman David Little. “Supply agreements are in place with around 60 of the leading manufacturers and suppliers across gardening, giftware, furniture and Christmas products. “FMG is very much run by members, for members. We have no offices and no employees, so there are no overheads. Each member contributes their time and/ or their buying expertise. “Members of FMG receive preferential buying terms depending on the group’s needs. I should emphasise that it is very much a two-way relationship. Our garden centre members will make the commitment to range, exclusivity, payment terms and volume. Members and suppliers also save time. Instead of 18 separate negotiations, one FMG buyer can meet with one supplier representative and negotiate. Feedback is always encouraging, and as chairman I maintain

Members regularly comment that they would not want to be an independent garden centre that is not part of a group, particularly when the chips are down a regular dialogue with members. Overall, we have a very high level of satisfaction from both members and suppliers.” Choice Marketing, meanwhile, was established in 2002 by 10 likeminded independent garden centre operators, with the aim of building a business that offered solid, sustainable benefits for its members. The business model enabled centres to retain full control while benefiting from enhanced purchasing and marketing services. Choice is a notfor-profit organisation that works in the background with its own staff – leaving members with more time and energy to spend on running their retail operations.

“Choice offers enhanced profitability through economies of scale, group purchasing and annual rebates,” says Michelle de Lavis Trafford, who runs the group. “It also provides cost-effective professional marketing solutions via a specialist marketing agency that has a deep knowledge and understanding of the UK garden market. This includes advertising, digital media, web design, rebranding, personalised POS, instore promotions, and direct marketing management and distribution. “Essentially, we are working together to create the buying power generally only enjoyed by multiple retailers, with all the associated benefits, particularly in challenging times. Choice made a conscious decision to grow its membership slowly, to ensure that it could continue to deliver sustainable benefits. There are now 39 centres within the group, and new members are being added at the rate of around two per year. Centres must be the right size, so that they can make a solid contribution to the group, and be located so they do not directly compete with an existing member. Geographical restrictions are in place, but opportunities do exist in certain 

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 41

Business Collaborative Working

Working in splendid isolation does mean that you can act quickly, but you work in the dark and sometimes with your hands tied counties, with Surrey being a current example. Membership is unlikely to exceed 50 in the next five years. “Members regularly comment that they would not want to be an independent garden centre that is not part of a group, particularly when the chips are down,” explains Michelle. “As a Choice member, there is a significant upgrade in the way centres are supported by key suppliers. Choice is able to speak to suppliers at a very senior level.” David Standing, commercial director of the buying group Associated Independent Stores (AIS), which is not garden-centre specific, explains how the group can be a big help to independent garden centres. “Our buying throughput is £500m and we act as a paying agent for the business that members are placing with suppliers on our list. We simply process all of that business. The principle was simply to help independent retailers, and we are set up for independent retailers as a way to help them harness buying power. “When garden centres join the group, it’s for the areas that they aren’t as strong in. That typically relates to housewares,


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

anything around cooking, that kind of category. We have toys and soft furnishings and gifts, with candles being a massive area for us, and maybe some fashion. The biggest things that garden centres use us for are toys and home. “We have very strict criteria, and the most important one is financial robustness. Our model is based on guaranteeing payments to suppliers, and we absolutely guarantee 100% the payment of suppliers and take that risk on ourselves. Therefore, it is crucial to us that, when we take on a new member, we are confident in their accounts. We shouldn’t have to mitigate the risk of a bad debt. We won’t just take anybody, and that probably is the most black and white of the criteria. “In return for guaranteeing payment to supplies, we expect enhanced settlement from them. Extra settlement discount is the main financial benefit, and we normally would suggest that it’s in the region of 5% extra to the member. We leverage 6%, but we keep 1% as part of our revenue and pass everything else back to the member. In addition, and this varies by supplier, there will be some

supplier rebates. If, with some of the major suppliers, there are some volume rebates in place, then any member who has contributed to that volume will get a pro rata rebate in relation to their turnover with that supplier. Finally, we have a group rebate. As a group, if we have an operating surplus – and we usually do – we will rebate that back to the members, pro rata to their turnover. “There are a lot of other soft benefits too. For example, we have a procurement team that operates in areas that are not for retail. They can deal with utilities on behalf of members, insurance, almost anything. I know some of the garden centre members have used them to source ovens and catering equipment. “I wish I had a crystal ball, but we’ve been around for so long and I’ve got no reason to believe we won’t be around for as long again.” GARDEN CENTRES As well as being the chairman of Future Marketing, David Little runs Poplars Garden Centre in Bedfordshire. Unsurprisingly, Poplars is a member of Future. “Poplars joined FMG in 2012,” he explains. 



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It is great to understand what is working in other companies – there are always ideas and things that we can learn from and take on board ourselves

“We joined because it made commercial sense; a group can achieve so much more than an independent. Working in splendid isolation does mean that you can act quickly, but you work in the dark and sometimes with your hands tied. What attracted us most was the level of input members have. We’ve been introduced to new suppliers and shared successes with other group members. “As chairman I’m very involved, but my level of input is no different to any other member. Our group treasurer and group buyer both put in a huge amount of work. Each of the product buyers has a high level of input, and they do much of the unseen work. Each year we go to market to make sure we have the best products from the best suppliers at the best prices. I organise the meetings, produce the agendas, deal with problems and give some structure to operations. It’s made easy because the group members completely understand the benefits of working together. There is a little give and take, but we trust each other’s judgement and recognise the importance of getting the right deal for all. “Future has its own email group and there is daily exchange on all manner of subjects. Details of exclusive offers, trading reports, supply issues and potential new products or suppliers are all regularly circulated. “The Future family really does look after one another. We are not in direct competition with each other, so stock transfers, sales figures, advice and information are all freely exchanged. I’m often asked for information about concessions, credit card rates, equipment suppliers and consultants that we have used. There is a lot of referral between members. Sometimes this will save thousands, other times it’s just good to know you are heading in the right direction. “Joining a group, whether it’s the GCA, the HTA or a buying group, has many benefits. My telephone directory is full of other garden centre operators that I know well. We all support each other. As long as you are prepared to give, then


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

you will receive – Poplars learned this during our time as an RBIS member. I’m yet to encounter a problem that someone, somewhere hasn’t already solved. The GCA exchange is an excellent tool for getting advice and information. “A group gives you the opportunity to build relationships with likeminded people and I can guarantee that you will learn from each other. Future Marketing Group opened my eyes to commercial activity and what can be achieved with careful negotiation.” Garden Centre Retail recently interviewed Mark Winchester of Blackbrooks, who is chair of the board at Choice; he credited some of Blackbrooks’ success to the collaborative working of the group. “We have a strong board which meets up on a regular basis, and it’s all voluntary,” he told us. “I would guess that one day out of my week is spent working on Choice. We have a CEO and a manager of operations who run the day-to-day functioning, as well as various forums that specialise in certain areas. “Choice is a cooperative organisation that buys collaboratively. In terms of the support offered, it has been vital to the success that Blackbrooks has enjoyed. It’s very hard to pinpoint exactly how; the obvious answer is the rebate cheque we get, but it’s much, much more than that. The profitability of the business has improved enormously through economies of scale achieved from Choice membership. Tammy Woodhouse, partner of Millbrook Garden Centre, has been a member of the Future Marketing Group for around 10 years. “We felt at the time that it would be good for our marketing activity,” she explains. “The group used to produce central leaflets and postcards, plus the benefits of group buying on our margin and costs. “In the early days it did help us to move our marketing forwards. Now the group is more focused on group terms and has certainly helped us to grow our margin. Group terms and rebates from certain suppliers, volume discounts on products

that we can use for promotions, and marketing are huge benefits of being part of the group. Plus, the sharing of sales, bestsellers and successes from other group members really helps us too. We don’t employ any buyers at FMG, so each member company takes responsibility for an area of buying.” “The support of other independent garden centres is really important to us, as a relatively small independent company. It is great to understand what is working in other companies – there are always ideas and things that we can learn from and take on board ourselves. “If you can join a group like Future, go for it, but go into it with the right attitude. In the early days you will have to compromise – perhaps lose a supplier you have worked with for ages – but in the long term, the benefits will outweigh the negatives.” The buying, marketing and association groups are continuing to drive the garden retail industry to be the best it can be, providing a helping hand for garden centres as they adapt to the market’s changing landscape. w

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Plant Focus Nemesia


GCR visits the five-nursery cooperative Farplants to speak to the business’s managing director Brett Avery, as well as Steve Carter, technical manager at grower member Fleurie Nursery. We talk collaboration, the magic of Nemesia, and the cooperative’s wonderful breeding programmes


n the West Sussex countryside, not far from Chichester, sits the fivegrower nursery cooperative Farplants. Fleurie Nursery, Binsted Nursery, Star Plants, Toddington Nursery and Walberton Nursery collectively grow more than 11m plants every year for Farplants to sell to garden outlets throughout the UK. Although each nursery has its own identity, 99% of their products are grown for Farplants. Farplants Sales then forges relationships with the UK’s garden centres and gets those plants on the shelves, as they have done for 45 years. The south coast of England, particularly Sussex, provides the perfect growing


conditions for plants – it has the most sunlight hours per day and fewest days of rain in the country, as well as an abundance of flat coastal plains. “A lot of the growers who set up nurseries in this area were originally from the Lea Valley area around London,” explains Steve. “As London expanded and more houses were built, they looked to relocate, and the south coast offered the best climate for glasshouse production. Initially a lot of the nurseries that were established produced cut flowers, tomatoes and other salad crops. Later, as these companies moved to bigger sites to gain economies of scale, the older facilities left behind were perfect for ornamental plant growers.”

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS Farplants has long-term relationships with many garden centres around the country, with a dedicated sales team that looks after specific garden centres within their portfolio. “It is relationship driven,” explains Brett. “We speak with our contacts all the time and meet them regularly. Once a year, we go around with our catalogue and forward sell what’s going to be available for the following season.” He tells us that it’s vital for a garden centre to trust its supplier nurseries, and feels Farplants has been afforded this trust because of its loyal and long-serving staff. “One of the members of our sales team has been with us for 20

years and has been calling these customers for that whole period, so we are able to build that trust and loyalty,” he explains. “Our company is 45 years old and well-respected. We consistently deliver highquality and innovative products – the garden centres know they can trust us to provide wellperforming plants.”

Martine Tellwright was the first person to introduce the bicolour varieties – there are a lot more around now, but she broke the mould

It’s not all about telling garden centres about the Farplants offering, though; the business also has a strong focus

Nemesia Plant Focus

on new product development. It welcomes new plant requests from garden centres that want to expand their portfolios, and its new product development team is continuously working on promotional ideas and product ranges. “That’s how our portfolio has grown, in some ways,” says Brett. “The garden centres are in touch with the consumer, so they get the market intelligence. We listen to the garden centres and find out what the consumers want. We trial new ranges so we can see how they are selling in the centres.” NEMESIA Martine Tellwright, until recently the joint owner of Fleurie Nursery within the Farplants group, is the world’s leading Nemesia breeder; her breeding programme is primarily focused on producing larger flowers and a flowering period that is sustained throughout the season. “Some Nemesia will flower very quickly, with a

big display, but then they’re finished,” says Steve. “Martine is focused on scent and overall garden performance. Those are the key drivers for the varieties we have.” Martine has been growing for Farplants for 30 years, pushing the Nemesia breeding programme for the past 15. The flower wasn’t particularly popular when she began to breed it, but interest has skyrocketed thanks to her programme. “The biggest success she had was with a variety called ‘Amelie’, which is still grown – we sell 70,000 a year,” Steve tells us. “We currently sell around 20 varieties in various pot sizes, from Martine’s breeding.” Fleurie Nursery has produced around 550,000 pots of Nemesia per annum for the past five years. “This easily makes us the biggest Nemesia grower in Europe, if not the world,” says Steve. “Thanks to Martine’s breeding, it has become a popular plant in the UK.”  Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 49

Plant Focus Nemesia THOROUGH PROCESSES Martine grows around 5,000 Nemesia seedlings ever year, from a selection of new crosses. She takes these to the flowering stage, before calling on a team of people to help select the best breeds; the selected plants are grown on further throughout the year, and she assesses how they perform. Of the original

the original trials go through another selection process. Those that pass this stage are produced on a small commercial trial of 5,000 plants per variety, and are then released into retail. “Normally, at that stage, we’ve probably taken three or four of the varieties from the original 5,000 seedlings,” explains Steve.

The south coast of England, particularly Sussex, provides the perfect growing conditions for plants – it has the most sunlight hours per day and fewest days of rain in the country crosses, around 10 are selected to be taken to the next stage of the breeding programme. At this point, the successful plants are taken into Walberton Nursery’s micropropagation lab. Nemesia can be particularly prone to viruses, and they need to be kept in a clean, controlled environment at this stage. “Hopefully, the crosses we’ve selected take,” Steve says. “Unfortunately, it’s sometimes the best varieties that don’t! These plants will get cleaned up, and then, the following year, we grow 200 plants of each variety on a small scale.” This is when a few examples of each variety are sent to Farplants partners in Europe, to see whether, commercially, these plants work in production. After this, the 10 or so varieties selected from


Once these are released into retail, commercial production trials in Europe are expanded and stock plants are sent securely to Ethiopia, Israel or Kenya, where they are held in a clean facility. “Cuttings from the plants we send to Africa or Israel will come back into Europe, and we will grow them on until they are finished plants,” Steve says. This is when around 15,000 plants are released onto the market; how many are produced from then onwards depends how the marketplace takes to them. This is an ongoing process for Farplants and Fleurie Nursery – in any given year, a huge number of varieties is at various stages of the programme. “Obviously, the aim is to create varieties that are as

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

popular as ‘Amelie’ and another of our strong varieties, ‘Wisley Vanilla’,” Steve tells us. “We do around 100,000 units per year of these, and that’s what we aim for. Putting a variety through the lab costs £500-1,000 a year, and there does become a point where we have to admit that a variety has had its day.” KEY ATTRIBUTES Consumers look for several qualities in a new variety. The first and most obvious is colour. “Martine was the first person to introduce the bicolour varieties – there are a lot more around now, but she broke the mould with that,” says Steve. Another important attribute is large flowers with sustained flowering periods. “As a consumer, you want a flower that does well,” Brett tells us. “If it doesn’t, the chances are that a customer will think twice about buying a plant from that garden centre again. Bleaching is also an issue; Fleurie Nursery tries as much as possible to select varieties that aren’t overly affected by sunlight. This is particularly important when it comes to bicoloured varieties –it’s vital to get a crisp contrast between each half of the flower. Another key factor that Martine looks for is scent: not all Nemesia carry a strong scent, and the varieties that do are by far the most popular. During the preliminary selection process, the first question asked is whether a variety carries a scent – and if it does, it is more likely to be carried over to the next stage.

For every successful new variety, many others don’t make the cut. A variety can be withdrawn at any stage of the breeding programme, but once it hits the shelves, longevity depends on its public perception. “People will go for something different and exciting,” Steve says. “The ‘Provencal Blue’ and ‘Provencal Pink’ varieties that we produced in the early days of the breeding programme only lasted for about two years. From my perspective, they were very good varieties, but they were just plain blue and plain pink. They never really got much traction – but we now grow a ‘Fleurie Blue’ that sells well.” Interestingly, much of the feedback that Farplants currently receives is calling for a better selection of single block colours. “We have ‘Wisley Vanilla’, which is a great white, and we’re on the lookout for a new great blue and a great pink – that’s where Martine and her team are starting to focus,” Steve tells us. “We have a blue coming through and a new white coming through, which has even larger flowers, but we need to do some more work on a pink variety.” For now, though, innovation and pioneering remains top of the agenda; with the introduction of bicolour flowers nine years ago having changed the Nemesia market, Farplants is now doing its utmost to come up with the next big thing. w

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Outdoor Eating GIMA

OUTDOOR EATING – AND AL FRESCO DRINKING FROM GIMA MEMBERS GIMA’s outdoor cooking suppliers are getting ready for a hot summer packed with garden parties and World Cup barbecues – bookended by a sunny Easter and a long Indian summer, like many enjoyed last year. However, there are a few other variables, including trends for sustainable picnicking, that can also affect sales of outdoor cooking products…


allen Fruits has launched a 100% biodegradable Picnic range, which contains natural areca palm leaf plates. “The areca palm leaves are a sustainable and eco-friendly resource,” explains Fallen Fruits director Carole D’Arcy. “The veins of each leaf ensure that each plate has its own unique character. The range also includes disposable, biodegradable cups and paper straws – an excellent substitute for the plastic variety that pollutes our environment, particularly waterways. “To complete the range, there are wooden knives, forks and spoons, paper napkins, placemats and a

matching tablecloth – for the perfect ‘green’ picnic!” Panacea managing director Malcolm Andrews says that garden retail will be looking forward to the World Cup. “With many games broadcasting from Russia later in the evening, and on Sundays, many families will choose to host World Cup parties at home, rather than going out to the pub. With football fans packed in the house, the garden is well placed to offer respite for those that want to get away from it all – but also for pre/ post-match barbecues. Our garden party range is ideal for summer garden parties, and includes bestsellers such as the

washtub beverage stand, folding party bar, and wine bottle and glass caddies.” Steve Morgan, managing director at Zest 4 Leisure, a leading trade supplier of quality timber garden products, says he believes the rise in popularity of dining al fresco shows no signs of fatigue. “It is clear to us as a business that more and more consumers are looking for solutions to outdoor cooking and entertaining, and so to cater for that demand, Zest 4 Leisure is putting further investment into creating new and innovative solutions allowing people to eat in the garden.” Zest has released a number of new products for the 2018 garden leisure season, including the elegant Madison Picnic Table and Bahama Large Round Table and Stool Set, which features a high bar-style table and four stools. w

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 53

Products Pest Control

PEST CONTROL There are so many products in the pest control category, dealing with problems created by everything from slugs and snails to rabbits and deer. But is it a better option to display the products from within this category all together, or closer to the products that will be affected by the pests? Garden Centre Retail speaks to Chris Blackburn of Concept Research and Emma Boyle of Pelsis to find out


hould slug pellets be placed by the seeds? Should pigeon spikes be put with the fencing products? Or should all products that deal with unwanted animal attention be in one aisle, making it easier for staff to direct customers and offer expert views on a range of items? “Garden centres can display pest control products in several ways, using support from their suppliers,” says Emma Boyle of Pelsis, a distributor of Pest-Stop products. “A popular merchandising technique is shelf strips and shelf wobblers, promoting or highlighting selected products. Shelf space is key, and garden centres that already have fixed fixtures for each season, but still want to add new products, can take advantage of FSDUs (free-standing display units) to promote items instore. Suppliers are often able to provide these. “It is also important to remember garden centres’ online presences. With click and collect orders increasing in popularity, additional content, including videos and


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

additional instructional content; should be used to increase the sales within the pest control category.” Chris Blackburn, of Concept Research, tells us: “If packaging and instruction leaflets for pest control products are clear enough and self-explanatory, then displaying in packs should be sufficient. However, we have had instances where garden centres have removed our products from their packaging and made a display feature of them, which has worked well.” Pest control products are usually a need, not a want, meaning customers generally come into stores knowing the type of product they are looking for. How can garden centres inspire more sales in this department? “In our experience, there is no substitute for comprehensive product training, giving garden centre staff the inspiration to sell our products,” says Chris. “We offer free staff training for all our clients, and the feedback and sales increase justifies the investment of our time.

“Garden centres that think outside the box can benefit from increased sales in the pest control arena. Instead of positioning pest control products just within chemical and fertiliser, consider displaying them in other areas of the store. Both our cat and mouse deterrents become excellent add-on purchase opportunities when positioned with bird care. When customer who enjoys feeding wild birds and buys bird food from a garden centre sees a cat deterrent within bird care, it makes sense to them. Another example is our indoor batterypowered mouse deterrent, which protects bird food against mice in a garden shed.” Emma agrees that pest control products can lead to good add-on purchase opportunities. “For certain pest control items that are of low value, such as slug traps, end users are more likely to impulse buy,” she says. “However, instore location is important – proximity to related items is key in order for pest control products to be purchased as an add-on.”

Pest Control Products CATWatch cat deterrent CATWatch, the ultrasonic cat deterrent, is the only cat deterrent that has been tested and approved by The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). When the CATWatch unit is triggered, the ultrasonic bursts cause the cat to retreat away from your garden, without harming the cat. It has a detection range of up to 12m (125 square metres of coverage) and a two-year manufacturer’s warranty. RRP £54.95

Defenders Slugs Away STV has introduced three new sizes of natural deterrent to help gardeners tackle slug and snail damage without using chemicals. Defenders Slugs Away is available in 1L, 3.5L, and 5L packs. The wool-based pellets deter slugs and snails naturally, forming a blanket mulch when watered. Perfect for organic gardening and safe for use around children and pets, this 100% biodegradable deterrent also acts as a weed suppressant and reduces the need for watering plants. RRP £3.99 for 1L

Pest-Stop aerosol range Pest-Stop has launched a brand new range of aerosols: Flea & Crawling Insect Killer Spray, Bed Bug Killer Spray and Wasp & Flying Insect Killer Spray, all available in 300ml cans. This range consists of up-to-date formulations that provide one of the strongest knockdowns in the market, and longterm protection for the home. RRP £2.99-£4.99

Grazers G4 Grazers G4 is a new addition to Grazers’ nature-friendly range, protecting plants from lily beetle damage. The unique formula gives garden lovers peace of mind that they are spraying their edible and ornamental plants with a safe, nutritious spray that is effective against damage from most major garden pests. RRP £6.99 for 750ml ready to use, £9.99 for 350ml concentrate

Fito Slug Stoppa The safe natural barrier to keep slugs and snails away from your vegetable patch or your prized pots. Slug Stoppa is natural mineral and is suitable for organic gardening as it contains no harmful chemicals; it is also safe around food, pets and children. Moreover, Fito Slug Stoppa is harmless to wildlife and will protect the food chain. Launching in April, Slug Stoppa provides an alternative to the chemical slug products on the market. RRP £6.99 for 2.5L, £9.99 for 5L

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 55

Products Outdoor Cooking



Those in the know are predicting a rise in outdoor living culture over the coming years; we take a look at the options retailers have in the outdoor cooking category


he typical garden has changed over the past few years; they are now often used as ‘extra rooms’, providing more living space during the warmer months and a place to host barbecues and parties. The rise of outdoor cooking has coincided with this shift. According to the US-based Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, 61% of North American barbecue owners barbecue all year round, and 43% say they use their barbecue at least once a month in winter.


Gas barbecues are as popular as ever, though we’ve seen a move from standalone one-grill versions to varieties that look more like ovens. Often at the pricier end of the spectrum, these barbecues are perfect for customers who have a large garden and need to entertain a large number of people. The beauty of these is that they are ready to go almost as soon as the gas is turned on. Grillstream Gourmet 6 Burner with Gastro System Grillstream’s new Gastro Modular System includes a removable circular griddle plate and clay pizza stone as standard, unique patented Grillstream technology and a stainless steel warming rack. The Grillstream also comes with a double-skinned stainless steel window hood that has a built in thermometer. RRP £875


It’s also worth mentioning portable grills – both gas and charcoal versions are now available to stock within your garden centre. These are best for customers who often go camping or travelling, spending a lot of time in the wild.



These are the most traditional barbecues, with enthusiasts insisting that it is only a barbecue if you cook on charcoal-flamed grills. Charcoal barbecues come in a host of shapes and designs, and are generally smaller than their gas-based cousins. Kettle-type versions, drum varieties and combi styles provide plenty of choice. “Charcoal may take a little more time to heat up than gas, but the end results are just as good,” says Simon Goodwin, global merchandise manager at La Hacienda. “With today’s trend for cooking ‘low and slow’, charcoal is the perfect partner and is recommended by professional chefs worldwide for authenticity and taste.” La Hacienda Kamado Oven Designed to give customers the options of grilling, searing, roasting, baking or smoking a host of different foods, La Hacienda’s Kamado Ovens come in a range of sizes and colours, and offer unrivalled cooking flexibility, aesthetic design and quality construction. RRP From £779 (Medium)

LotusGrill Standard Grill The LotusGrill is a unique barbecue that heats up in less than five minutes. Small and portable, it weighs less than 4kg and is available in a range of colours. The barbecue’s ingenious fan design is powered by four AA batteries, while the double skinned bowl stays cool on the outside. RRP £150

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

Outdoor Cooking Products PIZZA OVENS

It has become clear lately that outdoor cooking doesn’t have to mean barbecuing food. Usually reserved for Italian restaurants, pizza ovens are featuring in people’s gardens more frequently than ever before. Not only do they offer a different dinnertime option, they also look amazing, and provide a real feature for a customer’s garden. These are best for people who want to serve up something different at gatherings, or for pizza fans who want to take their creations to another level.

DeliVita Wood-Fired Ovens At only 30kg, the DeliVita oven is one of the lightest clay wood-fired ovens in the world. A multi-use product with ‘kerb appeal’, the ovens are portable and simple to operate. They take 25 minutes to reach 450ºC and are a fast and healthier way of cooking than the traditional barbecue – they cause less harmful carbonisation, but still infuse food with that wood-fired aroma. RRP £1,200


Firebowls are a highly versatile product that can be used as a barbecue, a firebowl or a stunning ornamental planter. With their attractive circular designs, they allow everyone to get involved with the outdoor cooking experience, and the vast range of accessories available means that customers can cook just about anything on it.After cooking is finished, customers can transfer the firebowl from a high stand to a low stand using drop handles that allow the bowl to be safely moved, even after hours of use. “Kadai firebowls have been used by some of the best barbecue chefs across the country and can be used to produce some impressive cuisine,” says Holly Doyle-Wilday, marketing manager at Wilstone House and Gardens.


For something a bit different, why not add a smoker to your range? These may be best suited to customers who are looking for something new, who don’t mind experimenting, or who have seen the trend in America and want to try it at home. “Including a smoker barbecue within any outdoor cooking range is essential to add a point of difference to the usual gas versus charcoal offering,” explains Landmann marketing manager Emily Palmer. “Consumers are drawn to something different, and the striking design of a smoker barbecue draws people into a display, inviting consumers to engage with the product on the shop floor. “As a relatively new trend in the UK, smoker barbecues are becoming increasingly popular due to their notable look and versatility. Our Vinson 200 Smoker, for example, offers the options to smoke, cook directly or indirectly, and cool smoke, giving consumers an array of new barbecue recipes to try.”

“It’s a perfect way for your customers to get into the increasingly popular live fire cooking, and with three different sizes to choose from, they will fit almost any garden.” Kadai Original Firebowl Made in India from recycled oil drums, and based on authentic old Indian cooking bowls, Kadai firebowls have their own unique charm and charisma. The firebowls can burn wood, charcoal or briquettes, meaning that customers aren’t limited by just one source of fuel – and their builtin filter systems allow water to easily drain away. RRP From £430

Landmann Vinson 200 Smoker BBQ New to the Landmann smoker range for 2018, the Vinson 200 is a classic 16in smoker that offers direct grilling, indirect grilling, American barbecue smoking and cold smoking – giving customers plenty of options for summer family feasts. An integrated thermometer, air vents and an adjustable chimney vent help to regulate the temperature. The Vinson range is designed with a curved chamber and smoker box to ensure optimal air circulation throughout. Each Vinson smoker comes with a five-year warranty. RRP £399.99

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 57

Products Gift Books


GIFT BOOKS Bob Harper of Allsorted Books tells GCR how garden centres can increase turnover within the book category – an area that offers year-round opportunities


or many years now, books have been a regular product category in garden centres of all shapes and sizes. Until recently, however, most garden centres that sold books offered them as a year-round clearance item or bargain product area. In fact, books was probably the only product area within the garden centre sector that found itself on offer for 52 weeks of the year. Much of this bargain positioning was due to Amazon, whose wide-ranging, price-slashing influence seemed to mean that no book could ever be sold at its full price again.


Happily for both average transaction values and profit margins, as well as shopper enjoyment, the more recent move away from the reliance on bargain books has changed things. Those garden centres that have decided to develop their books offer, making it more in line with the expectations of today’s garden centre customers, have seen higher sales and increased profitability. Books, or rather gift books (a more accurate description of the buying intent of most garden centre customers), are not the reason that shoppers decide to visit garden centres.

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

When the range and location of the offer is right, books can become an impulse gift – much like other products offered in garden centres, such as fragrances, plush toys, puzzles, and so on However, when the range and location of the offer is right, books can become an impulse gift – much like other products offered in garden centres, such as fragrances, photo frames, plush toys, puzzles and games, and so on. Garden centres should not be aiming to compete

with the likes of Waterstones and WHSmith, but rather to curate and edit a selection of books that best meets the impulse gift nature of the shopper’s purchasing intent. In other words, make it easy for shoppers to consider gift books as just that – presents for friends and family, or even

Gift Books Products for the customer themselves. Interestingly, one of the fastest growing suppliers of gift books and gift stationery to garden centres describes its approach to the category as ‘selling gifts that just happen to be books’. This attitude sums up the approach that garden centre businesses should take when integrating their books range into their overall gifting offer. Bob Harper of Allsorted Books gave his top tips for garden centres wanting to increase profits within the book category. FACTS AND FIGURES • The average price paid for a full-price book is £7.25- £7.50. • The average price paid for a bargain book is £3.50- £3.75. • Gardening books are, surprisingly, a small part of the offer, responsible for no more than 6-7% of total sales on average. • Children’s books are 4050% of total sales. The rise of book sales over the past two years has been led by children’s books. • Nostalgia sells, as do books of heartfelt words and warm quotations. • The royal family and Winston Churchill are also great sellers. • Humorous books, such as the Ladybird and Enid Blyton books for adults, have been big business over the past 18 months. • Design and character trends work well; flamingos are still strong for the start of 2018, but they are being overtaken by the popularity of unicorns, llamas and sloths. • Adult colouring was a big trend in 2015/16, and has now become part of the overall offer. More complex adult dot-to-dot books are continuing to sell well into this year. • Puzzle books and brain teaser titles also work well, and are important to older shoppers.

• Many of these sales opportunities, trending styles and characters are not available if your offer only includes bargain books. • Books are the second highest product purchase after confectionery during the Christmas period, so it’s vital to have the right space and selection in Q4. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION • Don’t segregate your books offer as a standalone department or ‘book shop’ – it reduces the opportunities for impulse purchases. • Gift books are an impulse purchase so are best sited within the gifting area; they often perform well next to greeting cards. THE RIGHT SUPPLIER • Service isn’t just about how many times the salesperson or merchandiser visits your centre – the entire service offer is important. This should cover product, margin, availability, quality, relevance, sales information, development of the offer in your space, inventory levels, time-saving for your team, and the fixturing solution to make books look great. • Sales analysis is a key element of developing your gift books offer. Find a supplier who can do this for you to save you time, and who can help to build your sales and profitability. TRADING PACKAGE • It should be competitive! • ‘Sale or return’ does not solve the problem of how to grow your sales. Be careful not to have excess stock on hand, thinking that it’s fine because it’s SOR (recent research has shown that some garden centres are carrying 20-30 weeks’ stock). You have paid for it, and thus you have overpaid if there is too much of it. • Find a supplier that you believe can develop the

category, save you time, range correctly for your shopper, and also deal with slow sellers appropriately.

CARE AND ATTENTION Make sure that daily housekeeping takes place. Unloved and uncared-for displays of books look untidy, and could cost you 20-25% in lost sales potential. It will pay off for your business if 15 minutes is spent, once or twice a day, on giving the book displays a tidy. There is no longer any reason for the gift books area to be the place that customers leave Dad or Grandad while they are paying a visit to a garden centre. Parents, grandparents, indeed the

whole family, can now all be engaged with a garden centre’s books category – providing that the store’s offer and approach is right. There are few products sold today that have as much lasting value or educational benefit as a book does; take this as a great opportunity to develop your gift books offer further within your garden centre business. w ABOUT

Allsorted Books is based in Watford and has an experienced sales team covering both the UK and the Republic of Ireland. 07712 734089

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 59


Products that deliver on their promises

For over 25 years, we have manufactured quality ultrasonic animal deterrents here in the UK

...from design to install For over 45 years Clovis have been working with their clients to make the most of their outside space, how can we help you? A well placed canopy, or covered walkway, can transform your outside sales space from a seasonal to an all year round destination for your customers. Call us today for a free no obligation quote on 01622 873907

The whole of the Hartman Wicker and Cast Aluminium collection now comes complete with our Weatherready permeable cushions. Come rain or shine, these cushions can be left outside all summer long 01952 231231

Our products deter cats, foxes, mice and other pests from gardens and homes. We want to help you achieve the best with our products so we offer: Free staff training Low MOQ’s Custom packaging Continuity of supply

CATWatch is tested and approved by the RSPB Contact our friendly team to find out more: 01438 727183 Bowmans Trading Estate, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, SG1 2DL

Mowers Products

MOWERS Flymo Mighti-Mo 300 Li battery mower Lightweight, compact and quiet, with the ability to mow a lawn the size of a tennis court on a single charge, the Mighti-Mo 300 Li is a powerful 40V wheeled lawnmower that uses a rechargeable, interchangeable lithium-ion battery. With the option of five different cutting heights, ranging from 25-65mm and easily changeable by a single lever adjustment, this mower is great for those looking for an easy-to-use and lightweight piece of gardening equipment. It also includes a safety key, which needs to be inserted to start the mower – ideal for families with children. RRP £199.99

Bosch Indego 400 Connect robotic mower The Indego 400 Connect robotic mower from Bosch Home and Garden is a connected product that can be managed remotely via the Indego Connect App. The robotic mower can be cutting your lawn even when the user is away, on a schedule of their choice. This summer, Bosch will also be launching the option to personalise Indegos to a colour of the customer’s choice. RRP £949.99


Allett Liberty 43 battery cylinder mower Allett’s Liberty range of 40V 4Ah lithium-ion powered lawnmowers delivers the traditional striped finish that the brand’s cylinder mowers are famed for. The Liberty 43, which has a self-propelled feature, steel front roller and double section rear roller with geared differential, gives the ultimate in cutting perfection. To complement this, it has a vast 62L grass box collection, and is compatible with the Allett Lawn Care cartridges. RRP £1,179

Cobra RM513SPBI petrol mower With more than 150 products in the range, Cobra’s gardening equipment offers something for everyone. The RM513SPBI rear roller lawnmower is ideal for larger gardens, with a 20in cutting width, 70L grass bag capacity and 163cc displacement, courtesy of its Briggs & Stratton 675iS InStart engine. RRP £649.99

Webb ER33 electric rotary mower Webb has launched a new range of electric rotary mowers, from 33-40cm in cutting width. Its 1,300W motor will drive it through the thickest grass, and it stores the cuttings in a 35L box. It also has single-lever height adjustment from 2.56.5cm, a track of 33cm and a handy 10m cable, and weighs only 8.8kg. RRP £69.99

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 61

Products Watering

WATERING Neat Ideas Decorative Aqua Globes These Decorative Aqua Globes provide a simple and effective way to water both indoor and outdoor plants while adding a beautiful feature to a home or garden. The glass globes keep plants watered for up to two weeks and ensure you don’t under or overwater them. You can also add plant feed to help provide nutrition. RRP £6

Lechuza Balconissima Adding greenery to the balcony has never been easier. Balconissima Color offers room for three pots and is easy to use, without the need for repotting. This speeds up planting decorative flowering plants or practical herbs and, thanks to the Lechuza wick system, they receive the right amount of water for many weeks. RRP £19.99

Copely RHS Everflow Garden Hose The RHS Everflow garden hose, manufactured in the UK by Copely, features patented technology that allows water to flow even if the hose becomes kinked, crushed or knotted. It is flexible, lightweight to handle and durable, as well as UV resistant and REACH compliant. Available in 25m, 50m and 100m coils, with attachments. RRP From £29.99

Rainwater Terrace Water Butts Rainwater Terrace is an awardwinning water butt that features an innovative self-watering plant growing system. Stunning flower displays, herb gardens or mini vegetable plots can be grown in the integrated planters, which are fed from the stored rainwater. The clever design keeps the rainwater store fresh, allowing new rainwater in and letting old water out. RRP Three-tier (200L) – £179, two-tier (134L) – £129

Flopro Eco Smart Watering The solar-powered Flopro Eco Smart Watering system is efficient, easy to set up and simple to operate. Users simply place the solar unit in a sunny area, connect it to a water butt or other non-pressurised water source, and let the system do the rest. Plants are watered every three hours, and a night mode switches off the controller automatically. A 200L water butt typically lasts for three weeks. RRP From £99.99 for a 12-dripper system


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

Showcase Seasonal Displays

Wasps Away FROM STV

Natural timber merchandising solution for fresh plants


M&M Timber retail display stands are the ideal solution for fresh plants, trees, shrubs, gardening or building products and seasonal promotional displays. The range includes: • 3 and 4 Tiered displays

• Tables compact and tall

• Square and hexagonal displays

• Trellis

• Pot Holders • Box display units

Call 0333 003 5133 for brochure and prices E: M&M Timber is a Division of Forest Garden Limited.


TV, the specialist home and garden pest control product supplier has introduced a new amateur-use product to deter wasps from outdoor, garden areas without killing them or using chemicals. Wasps Away from The Buzz is a visual wasp deterrent. Both natural and effective, wasps will assume that the territory has been claimed, creating a 10-metre wasp-free zone. It’s simple to use, just hang in plain sight displaying anywhere that you eat or drink outside such as parasols, trees, eaves or play areas. Hang in early spring to maximise deterrent effect and repel wasps all year round. Mimicking a wasp’s nest, this chemical-free, child safe deterrent

protects households from wasp attacks, ensuring that BBQs, picnics, and outdoor activities can be enjoyed once more. Product is available for immediate delivery through preferred wholesalers including Decco, Stax and Home Hardware. To fi nd out more about how to become an STV Key Stockist call 01953 881580 or contact your local STV representative. | | 01953 881580

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or maintenance?


More information: +31 174-638 000


Our beautiful designed and compact ovens are easy to use and entirely portable, for delicious home-made food anywhere you want


Products Compost


The Bathgate Horticulture range for the serious grower has recently expanded to include a Champions Blend Peat Free Compost Growing results

Product trials have been conducted on a wide range of bedding plants, pot plants, container plants and hanging basket plants. The results have been outstanding, with even plant growth, good foliage and leaf colour.

Natural zeolite has been infused with organic seaweed extract to provide a slowrelease stream of nutrients

Natural ingredients

The coir-based formulation is lightweight and easy to use, and benefits from the inclusion of Remin volcanic rock dust, which contains more than 50 micro- and macro-elements. The compost also features Envii Foundation, which provides natural bacteria to stimulate plant growth and increase resistance to disease. Furthermore, natural zeolite has been infused with organic seaweed extract to provide a slow-release stream of nutrients, complementing and enhancing the organic blend of base nutrients.

Soil Association Certification

Not only is the formulation peat free, it is organic approved and certified by the Soil Association, and is available in attractively packaged 50L recyclable bags. w

CONTACT Tel: 01270 762828 Email:


Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018

Planters Products



Garden Centre Retail talks to Lechuza key account manager Ian Riggs about the company, its USP and working with garden centres Can you give us a brief outline of the Lechuza brand? Lechuza is a world-leading sub-irrigation system for both indoor and outdoor plants. In simple terms, Lechuza is a welldesigned, high quality planter that keeps plants alive, shows when a plant needs watering, negates the need to water daily, and makes it difficult to over or under-water plants. What makes it different to similar products? Lechuza is an award-winning system, manufactured to exacting standards. It also meets all codes of practice and ETI. The designs are both contemporary and stylish, and great attention is paid to producing on-trend colours and shapes that look attractive in a wide range of environments. What are the key selling points of the product? Lechuza is a quality product undergoing vigorous quality control, and is assembled from components that are manufactured to the highest European standards. In practice, Lechuza fulfils the ideal combination of the subjective and objective, of form and function. It aims to combine the ‘nice-to-have’ with

the ‘need-to-have’ and, from experience, we’ve found that Lechuza does perform and exceeds customer expectations, which we’re extremely proud of. What are the lead times for a garden centre ordering your products? From order to delivery, it’s no more than 10 working days. Of course, our target is to improve on this and get the lead time down. What support are you offering garden centres? This is something we care very much about. Lechuza offers a full suite of retailer support, from merchandising stands, POS and picture boards to product information material and display enhancement material. Our marketing team is also on hand to design any required display planograms to help with presenting products, and our merchandising team is there to install them. Why should a garden centre sell Lechuza products? Firstly, because the houseplant trend is gaining pace. The more interesting houseplants require exacting maintenance to uphold appearance and health. This is something that

Lechuza planters are perfect for. Secondly, the increasing trend for using fresh culinary herbs, as opposed to cut or dried herbs, due to their enhanced fresh flavour, is something that Lechuza planters help with. Lechuza containers are well suited to maintaining herbs and are an integrated accessory for the home. There is also the case of specimen plants. The benefit of larger plants in the home is being recognised, from improved air quality to the sense of calmness. With larger plants, maintenance increases, and Lechuza self-watering planters are perfect for these. Our large planters also come in a wide variety of styles and sizes, to suit all decors and plant species. In terms of gardening, many people lack the skills, knowledge or strong desire to garden. However, they would like to have plants in their garden or open space. Lechuza gives them that opportunity with the assurance that plants are always going to be correctly watered – watering being the biggest worry for the non-gardener. Lechuza planters are extremely attractive to retailers. Unlike other products and ranges, it is an year-round sale. Whether it’s a purchase for the

self or a gift, Lechuza always has something great to offer, including during the seasonal peaks, such as Mother’s Day, Easter or Christmas. Lechuza planters make a worthy, permanent display or feature, and we work with retailers to create attractive, easy-to-shop displays that include customer product information, POS and leaflets. We work with retailers in both their publications and websites to promote Lechuza and its advantages. What’s the next step for the brand? Lots of exciting things are in the pipeline. Lechuza is gaining popularity and becoming more widely known, with a reputation for consistently performing. As we work with retailers, we aim to broaden the market for planters and plants, to introduce people to the benefits and pleasures of owning plants. w


01268 490184

Garden Centre Retail April/May 2018 65

New and second hand aluminium benching: Fixed, Semi rolling, mobile and sales benches.

VALEKA BV • Heliniumweg 14 • 3133 AX Vlaardingen, The Netherlands Tel: +31-10 599 74 02 • •

coming up in

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• Plant-buying special report • Gift supplement • Exclusive Glee content • Another independent business supplement • The run up to Christmas And lots more! Garden Centr e Retail I N D E PE N D



Garden Centr e Retail ISSUE 36

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ISSUE 1 • MARCH 20 18



Give Room to Nature with Elho Elho is on a mission to bring more nature into people’s daily lives. The new Elho brand, launched to shoppers this year, does just that. It inspires customers with many ways to connect with nature – to feel happier, healthier and boost energy. Now is the perfect time to further your partnership with Elho. Elho’s sophisticated instore marketing techniques ensure customers are seduced with eye catching displays, inspirational lifestyle imagery and planted up pots. Elho is your future proof and inspiring business partner – for innovative grow your own, outdoor, indoor and designer pots and planters. Making your offer relevant for consumers today and tomorrow. 07910 212155



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