Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

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Garden Centre Retail ISSUE 37


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elcome to the latest issue of Garden Centre Retail magazine. It’s coming up to show season, one of the most exciting times in the garden retail calendar, with the HTA National Plant Show just around the corner, Solex just after that and Glee not too far in the future. We love this time of year, it brings positivity, excitement and intrigue into the market. New products tend to be launched at this time of year, and garden centre buyers are eager to get their hands on new stock to keep customers coming through their doors. We’ll have a presence at the shows, so if you see us, come and say hello. Onto this issue. We’ve revisited Rosebourne Garden Centre and spoken with managing director Neville Prest to find out how the business has matured since we visited two years ago. Spoiler alert, it’s going well. Read the full interview on page 12. We’ve also taken a look into the plant buying process within garden centres. A good plant offering is still core to the garden retail industry, and it often separates the good from the great. You can find out how this part of the market has changed, and what some of the leading names in the industry predict for the future on page 39. On top of all our usual business-related content, we’ve taken a look into the pet products sector, have advice on how to sell more hand tools, and the latest in the outdoor living market. You can read all of this from page 47. Have a lovely summer,

EDITORIAL Managing Editor – Joe Wilkinson Tel: 01903 777 577

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Joe Wilkinson Managing Editor, Garden Centre Retail

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We love this time of year, it brings positivity, excitement and intrigue into the market

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Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018



Garden Centre Retail ISSUE 37


June/July 2 0 1 8






A roundup of the latest news from the sector


Updates from the GCA and HTA


Rosebourne’s Neville Prest


Make your centre stand out by boosting your online strategy



Get the best out of employees with our six top tips


Understanding different generations’ approaches to buying


Keep your premises rodent-free



A look at the factors involved


How Brexit could affect your centre’s catering operation


Boost sales through merchandising












How to make the most of your cactus and succulent offer


Members report positively on garden tool sales


We talk environmental concerns with Durston Garden Products


Get expert advice on making your pet displays work


How to display tools for upselling


Garden furniture and outdoor living

64 ANATOMY OF A PRODUCT Fiskars Powergear X Telescopic Tree Pruner

66 TRADING WITH Floralsilk

Methods for collecting that allimportant customer feedback


Garden centre signage solutions


Our special report on the future of this crucial aspect of garden retail

61 Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018



NEWS CENTRE Profits bloom at Scottish garden centre firm

they reckon the company is following an effective strategy in a sector with good prospects. “Garden centres are well positioned to offer a unique retail offer that high street and big box retailers Scottish garden centre struggle to match,” wrote group Klondyke has directors in the accounts. underlined its growth Klondyke centres sell a ambitions after recording a 20% increase in profits over the range of products besides plants, with restaurants to latest period. persuade people to spend The latest accounts for the time in the centres all year group show Klondyke made round. “Investment in better £5.9m profit before tax in the year to 30 September, compared facilities leads to customers being able to shop in with £4.8m the preceding year. our stores no matter the Turnover increased around 6% weather, and the enhanced annually to £54.5m. product offer makes us less Directors noted the reliant on just the sales of economic backdrop is our garden products,” noted challenging, with consumer directors. spending under pressure amid sluggish wage growth. However,


Hayes Ambleside increases revenue with temporary structure


ayes Garden World in Ambleside is the largest garden centre in Cumbria, attracting more than a million visitors each year. In the run up to the festive period, it wanted to transform its furniture section into a Christmas shop, and approached Worldwide Structures to provide a singlestorey temporary structure that would accommodate some of its garden furniture over the winter months. During the development stage, drawings and images of the proposed structure were sent through, and project

details finalised. Installation took two days, with minimal disruption to the centre’s dayto-day business. With 100% of the structural elements reusable, the environmental impact is negligible. Lighting, heating and internal fit-out was carried out by the garden centre staff, and the temporary furniture showroom was open for business within four days. As a result of temporarily relocating the furniture department, Hayes Garden World saw 110% increase in revenue from 2016.

Fosseway Garden Centre extension passed despite objections


plan to extend Fosseway Garden Centre has been passed, despite fears that the store is “becoming a shopping complex”. The centre will now have a soft play area, a new events space building, a new office, and staff facilities, as well as a mezzanine storage area. There will also be a storage building, an outdoor sales area, a bigger car park, and a new store entrance. Moreton Town Council told Cotswold


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

District Council: “There are concerns that products for sale will replicate those sold in town and will subsequently take trade away from the high street.” Other commenters on the website, including Andrew Burrows said: “The garden centre is becoming a shopping complex for most goods now and this is unfair on the tradesmen and women operating in the centre of town”.


Garden Centre directors raise £3,400 riding the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire challenge for charity


team of cyclists from Tong Garden Centre recently completed the Maserati Tour de Yorkshire ride – and raised £3,400 for the charity Candlelighters in the process. On Sunday 6 May, the team of nine, including directors, staff, suppliers and friends, rode 84km on some of the same roads as the fourth and final stage of the professional Tour de Yorkshire race.

The ride included 1,228m of ascent, but the riders were rewarded with stunning views along the route. Tong Garden Centre managing director Mark Farnsworth said: “Candlelighters is a fantastic Yorkshire-based charity that supports families both financially and emotionally when they go through the horrendous ordeal of a child having cancer. As a business, Tong would like to raise

Wyevale Garden Centres to find new long-term owner Wyevale Garden Centres (WGC), the UK’s biggest garden centre operator, has been put up for sale by Terra Firma as it seeks to complete a full exit for investors from its third fund, TFCPIII. Christie & Co, the business property advisor, has been appointed to explore a range of sales options. The centres are expected to be attractive to a wide range of buyers. The sale comes at an advanced stage of WGC’s turnaround programme, which

has seen significant investment in the core business. Customers and colleagues have responded positively to improvements, with the business now achieving sales and profit growth. Justin King, vice chairman of Terra Firma and chairman of WGC, said: “The improvements made by the new leadership team at Wyevale Garden Centres means that now is the right time to seek new, longterm ownership.” www.wyevalegarden

£10,000 for it this year. I was joined on the ride by my fellow directors Tom, Charlie and David, and we set ourselves a fundraising target of £2,000, so we’re naturally delighted

to have smashed it!” There’s still time to donate, so if you wouldd like to support, simply visit uk/team-tong-s-tour-deyorkshire-challenge

Solar helps power Europe’s largest garden centre


urope’s largest garden centre has installed a 250kWp solar PV array on the roof of its new building, which is now open to the general public. Bridgford Garden Centre in Nottingham now features the latest technology, including underfloor heating and rainwater harvesting, and is powered by 925 solar panels installed by energy solutions developer EvoEnergy. The 270W Trina solar panels will generate more than 200MWh of clean energy for the garden centre every year while also reducing the business’s annual carbon footprint by around 70t. EvoEnergy designed and installed the array using SolarEdge inverters and optimisers to increase the generation of the system, which it will also provide full monitoring for. The array also has an automated safety element that reduces the voltage of the system to a safe level, if necessary.

22 - 23 - 24 August 2018 Boskoop/Holland


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018



PRODUCT NEWS Neudorff launches brand new nematodes Neudorff’s brand new nematodes can be sold directly from the shelf and do not require refrigeration, providing customers with accessible biological control of leatherjackets and chafer grubs in lawns. LawnGrubFree should be used when the grubs are present between April-June and, depending on the level of infestation, again between August-September, making these products ideal to incorporate into autumn lawn-care displays and promotions. Garden centres now have a simple and cost-effective nematode product that can be sold in store.

Melmar Stone launches new 2018 Dinova Garden Art ornaments With stocks available for immediate delivery, backed up by a nationwide team of sales agents, Dinova Garden Art Statues are now launched for the 2018 season. Combining modern materials and traditional skills, Dinova Garden Art ornaments fuse the weight and feel of stone with the beautiful finish and durability of modern resins. All ornaments are made from crushed marble, mixed with high quality resins to achieve a smooth alabaster marble finish. They are frost resistant, suitable for outdoor or indoor display and come in four ranges – Classical, Oriental, Contemporary, and Fairies and Fantasy.

Vitavia celebrates 10th anniversary in 2018 2018 marks the 10th Anniversary for Vitavia Garden Products Ltd – a major supplier to both the UK and European greenhouse markets. Managing Director, Tony Hutchinson says “We are part of a truly international business and can arguably claim to be the market leader in Europe.” From their warehouse in Suffolk, the greenhouse company provide home and trade deliveries throughout the UK together with a comprehensive greenhouse installation service. The company hopes to expand its market in the UK and in Europe through continued development of the Vitavia Range.

Farplants transforms plant ordering with web portal


lant orders can now be placed direct from bench side with Farplants’ brand new trade portal. The West Sussex-based nursery wholesaler has released its web and mobile-friendly portal, enabling garden retailers to view stock availability in real time, and to secure plants instantly. Through the web shop, UK garden retailers can access the full range of more than 2,000 plant varieties, including seasonal planted containers. It is tailored to the needs of the busy plant buyer, who can now order however and whenever they want. Access is 24/7, and with the web shop being both mobile and tabletcompatible, it is perfect to use straight from the plantarea. Farplants managing director Brett Avery is delighted with the project and the benefits it will bring to customers. “We understand that plant buyers have many demands on their time. We have listened to their requests and built a user-friendly portal to act as a vital tool for managing their plant orders.” The portal is the latest development in Farplants’ focus on innovation. It has been shortlisted for three Horticulture Week Business awards, including Best Sales or Marketing campaign for its new range, Small Plant for Small Spaces. This is a new concept for selling small hardy plants to consumers who are limited by space. It is the largest product launch in the history of the co-operative group, and is now stocked in garden centres up and down the UK.

innovate WE


Grow your sales with our new products and innovative merchandising. Together we will inspire shoppers to bring more nature into their daily lives.


2180447 Adv. Garden Centre Update juni t/m juli_def.indd 1

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018 28-05-18 12:44

GCA News


AT BALL COLEGRAVE The Garden Centre Association (GCA) is hosting its third annual GCA Plant Area Forum for plant area managers and plant buyers at Ball Colegrave. The event on Wednesday, July 25 will once again be facilitated by GCA inspector Roger Crookes, who believes that plants are still the core business for garden centres

Our past Plant Area Forum events have been a huge success, and this year’s promises to be just as inspiring and motivational for all who come along,” Roger says. “This year we are responding to feedback from delegates who attended in previous years, and are looking at how we can work more closely with suppliers. We have an opportunity to shape how UK plant areas look and perform in the future, and for this to happen, we need suppliers of plants, pots and plant area services to join us at the forum and be part of the discussion. “We’ll also be aiming to understand our customers better – what they are looking for, and how we can help them to invest time and money into their gardens. We’ll discuss how we and our suppliers can develop our plant presentation to make it easier for customers to become lifelong successful gardeners. “The day will also give delegates the

chance to see the Ball Colegrave trials grounds, and its new introductions for 2019. There is also the opportunity to network with likeminded people from garden centres across the country. “The potential to grow our market is still huge, and the Plant Area Forum is a fantastic opportunity for delegates to share ideas and information, discuss the challenges we face, analyse sales and profitability, and discover potential opportunities. By talking with other plant area teams and suppliers, I hope we can develop more commercial opportunities to bring our plant retailing into the 21st century.” Roger will also be joined by GCA inspector Michael Cole, who will be bringing his knowledge of commercial plant retailing to the forum. Places cost £79 per person and are still available; members can find a booking form on the GCA website (www., or contact the GCA office

direct on 01244 952170. The GCA represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide. Through its inspection programme and sharing of information, the GCA helps members to achieve high standards in customer service, plant quality and reliability. ◗


The GCA Plant Area Forum takes place at Ball Colegrave in Oxfordshire on Wednesday, July 25 from 10am4pm. Food and refreshments will be provided. For further information about the GCA, please call 01244 952170. Alternatively, please visit, log on to GardenCentreAssociation or follow the organisation on Twitter at

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


News HTA


Matthew Bent


he Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has announced the appointment of Matthew Bent, managing director of Bents Garden & Home, near Warrington, to its board as a non-executive director. “I am delighted and proud to have been selected for this post,” said Matthew. “The HTA has a strong and meaningful purpose in the garden industry, and I am looking forward to working with the board and members to help provide additional support and advice from a retailer’s perspective.” Commenting on the appointment, HTA president Adam Taylor said, “We are delighted that Matthew has joined the HTA Board. Bents is recognised across the industry as an exemplar of garden retail practice, and the appointment of Matthew will strengthen our retailer representation at board level.” Matthew will attend his first HTA Board meeting in June, along with Richard Pyrah from Kelkay, who takes his place on the board as the new GIMA president. “I would also like to take the opportunity


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

Richard Pyrah

to welcome Richard Pyrah to the board as the new GIMA president, and thank Chris Ramsden for his contribution during his tenure,” said Adam. “Both Richard and Chris will attend the next meeting to ensure a slick handover.” Report highlights uptake and benefits of primary school gardening Ahead of this year’s National Children’s Gardening Week (26 May-3 June), the HTA has published a report on the uptake and benefits of school gardening in UK primary schools. The report, ‘Together, we help children grow – The state of primary school gardening in the UK’ highlights that nine out of 10 primary schools run gardening activities. The vast majority – 94% – of primary school heads and deputies believe that school gardening benefits either pupils’ health, mental wellbeing, social skills, concentration or learning. Despite this, schools have only 33p per pupil to spend on the activity, and are in need of more funding and volunteer support.

The report highlights the tremendous job that schools are doing with limited resources; with more support, they could deliver even more benefits to the UK’s children. School gardening has been shown to have many benefits to health and wellbeing: • Children with access to decent green space are 24% more likely to be physically active. • There is a strong correlation between happiness and feeling connected to the natural world. • Working towards a common goal with peers (e.g. growing food for the school kitchen) helps break down many barriers to social interaction. • Research has found that school gardening can give a greater sense of achievement and responsibility. • School gardening has also been shown to improve concentration levels, with children returning to the classroom ready and willing to learn. “The rise of school gardening has been staggering over the past decade,” said Chris Collins, lead ambassador for National Children’s Gardening Week. “Gardening covers so many parts of the curriculum, and it is the perfect vehicle for hands-on learning. The benefits from involving kids in gardening are huge, from social and physical to emotional and educational, and I look forward to highlighting this through National Children’s Gardening Week and The Great Escape Industry exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.” While the research shows that teachers clearly believe in the benefits of school gardening too, they need for more funds and volunteers. Most – 83% – primary school heads and deputies feel that more funds would help their school get more benefits from school gardening, and 61% feel that more volunteers would help their school get more benefit from school gardening. w



THE INTERVIEW Neville Prest of Rosebourne


MARKETING How to stand out from the crowd


MOTIVATING STAFF Tips for encouraging employees


SPENDING TRENDS The generational divides in spending


PEST CONTROL Stamp out rodent infestations for good


VALUING A CENTRE Why you need to consult the experts


CATERING FOCUS Will Brexit affect your catering operation?


STORE DESIGN Merchandising your plantarea for success


GAINING FEEDBACK Gathering those valuable customer opinions


SIGNAGE Step in the right direction with our signage guide


PLANT BUYING How top garden centres select and source their plants

Business Rosebourne Garden Centre


NEVILLE PREST, ROSEBOURNE GARDEN CENTRE Garden Centre Retail catches up with Neville Prest of Rosebourne to talk about how the garden centre, built in 2016, has developed over the past two years

How have the last two years been? They’ve been fantastic. The reaction from the customers has been wonderful. We were hoping it would go well, but it’s exceeded our expectations in terms of the response we’ve got. Our restaurant is full virtually every lunchtime, and the weekends are really busy. It has surprised us how well it has gone – we weren’t really expecting it to take off as immediately as it did, so we spent a fair amount of time trying to catch up with ourselves. We’ve learned a few lessons: for instance, we moved the entrance to the restaurant and we’ve got more seating space in there now. It’s also taken us about two years to get our restaurant EPoS systems and everything up to scratch, but we’ve done that now.


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

You have increased your staff numbers from from 80 to 123 since starting out. Yes, we needed to. The restaurant is one of the biggest areas for staff. At the weekend, there will be 15 staff in the kitchen, and 22 working front of house. That’s because we offer a waiting service, and that takes more staff to run correctly. We’ve settled in now, and it’s going well, which is why we’re very confident about opening another store in Aldermaston. We’ve learned a lot from here – it really was the prototype. Tell us about the four key values you started the business with. Absolutely, the key areas are the restaurant, which is the biggest draw to bring people in, and the food hall with

all our local produce, which again is very popular. Then we have the gifts and Christmas department, and the horticulture, including garden sundries. It is one of the key things we said at the outset – we wouldn’t stray into other areas because that focus is what makes us a different proposition to many other garden centres. Has Rosebourne’s turnover grown at the rate you thought it would? No – it’s rocketed. We’re way ahead of budget. We’re now at the beginning of year three, and we’re now achieving the budget of year four. We’re still growing, too; this year’s budget is 20% up on last year, so it’s growing at a good rate.

Rosebourne Garden Centre Business

Has the business plan changed since you opened? Our business plan was always to have three centres. We raised the money through funding from the Enterprise Initiative Scheme. We initially got that from high net worth individuals, and part of the way through that fundraising, we teamed up with a company called Puma Investments. It provided the balance of that funding to do this centre and the one we’re building in Aldermaston. Under that scheme, you can only take £12m as a single company, and we’re up to our limit as Rosebourne, so we’ve set up a second company, Somerton. Somerton will get £12m funding as well, and will operate Rosebourne under licence, run by Carol Paris.

It is effectively a franchise. To customers, it will be a Rosebourne. It will look identical to this one, it will sell the same products, with a focus on local produce. What problems have you had to overcome on this journey that you weren’t necessarily expecting? The planning process has become increasingly difficult these days. I have been doing this for a while and I remember 10 years ago, if you decided that you wanted to go and do something, you would go and have a chat with the planner. Now, you’re not allowed to do that, you must do a pre-application, and the entire process and the number of reports means there must be an easier way to do it. 

The Facebook page does a huge amount for us. When we recruited for the Weyhill store, we didn’t do any traditional recruitment advertising at all – it was all done via Facebook

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Business Rosebourne Garden Centre

We host four or five member evenings each year, where attendees get 10% off shopping and receive a glass of wine. Those have been popular – we have had more than 500 people turn up to the last couple There are about 25 reports that need to be done every time, for ecology and the like. It’s expensive, as well as time consuming. Things like ecology studies can only be done at certain times of year, when birds aren’t nesting. The whole process is taking much longer and is a lot more expensive than it used to be. All the board members at Rosebourne have done this before, but this is the first time we’ve come across these difficulties in the way the councils have changed. It’s been made difficult because the councils have made a lot of their staff redundant. Planning departments may have used to have nine staff members, now they have three. Everything takes so much longer. When going through the planning process, did you come up against many objections? No, there wasn’t any from here at all. We have a local councillor who lives over the road, and he’s very supportive. We spoke to him before we opened, and he loves what we’re doing. The chairman of the Amport Parish Council from down the road is also very supportive. The support from the customers and the community has been fantastic. What is the customer base for you? It’s quite a wide customer base because we’re appealing to all sorts of people, as we have the food hall and the restaurant. The restaurant is very popular. Our customers aren’t necessarily of a similar age or in the same demographic. Were you expecting this variety in your customer base? We based this on the experience of Beckworth Emporium in Northampton, but one of our concerns was whether that was a one-off. We spent a lot of money building this, hoping that the same sort of customers would come to


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

us. There was no guarantee that this would happen, but it has, which is great, and we’re very pleased. We also promote ourselves on Facebook and the like, and we get a lot of feedback from that. That seems to be showing us the same results. Does social media play a big part in your local marketing campaigns? Yes, it does. We’ve got a mailing list too, but the Facebook page does a huge amount for us. When we recruited for Weyhill, we didn’t do any traditional recruitment advertising at all, it was all done via Facebook. We held some open days in the local village hall, just to get people to come and have a chat and leave their CVs with us. We had over 250 people for that. They were queuing up in the car park, in the rain, to get in. We’re going to use the same thing going forward, too. In terms of staffing and recruiting, has that been relatively easy to do here? It’s not easy – recruitment is never easy. In terms of the number of applicants we had, we have done well. We have quite a

lot of people expressing interest, which is great for us – we just need to make sure we select the right people, out of those candidates. Bank holidays and the Christmas period are obviously peaks for the garden centre industry, but do you host events at other times of year to get customers through the door? Bank holidays are the busiest days for us, but because of our restaurant and food hall, we’re much more evenly spread across the year than a normal garden centre would be. We don’t really see big peaks; we do have them, but not the way other garden centres do. We host four or five member evenings over a year; attendees get 10% off shopping and receive a glass of wine. Those have been popular – we have had more than 500 people turn up to the last couple. We also do targeted campaigns and events at set times of the year. Are you predicting growth in this centre going forward?

Rosebourne Garden Centre Business

Yes, we have budgeted for 20% growth. We’ve obviously had to close for about three or four days this year due to the snow, so we’re slightly behind budget now, but during one week in mid-May alone we clawed back about a quarter of the deficit the snow left us with. We only need a few weeks of good weather and we’ll be back on budget. If you had your time again, would you have done anything differently? I don’t think we would have. We’ve learned a lot and we’ve been far more popular than we thought we would be from the outset, so in a sense we would have done something different – we’d have had a lot more staff on hand ready to go on day one, as opposed to building staffing levels up gradually. Will the two Rosebourne centres and the Somerton centre conclude the launches for you? No, the two, Aldermaston and Weyhill, are for Rosebourne, so in due course, we will look for a third. Somerton is

separately looking to have three stores itself. It will be all under the Rosebourne franchise, and there are several sites we’ve been looking at that will probably go over to Somerton. Are you looking locally here, or are you going to take the brand national? We’re trying to keep it relatively to the south – at least south of Birmingham, along the M4 corridor. We’re not planning to go beyond that at this stage. If anyone knows of any sites, then please do get in contact!

What does the future hold for the Weyhill site? More of the same, we’re very happy with the way it’s going. We’re always looking to keep the product offering refreshed, and the other thing we’re doing is doubling the size of the plantaria and adding car parking spaces. ◗

Are you looking for sites that have preexisting garden centres, or for empty sites with planning permission for a garden centre? Both, really. We can do what we’ve done here, which is knock down an old nursery with a polytunnel and rebuild, or we could go down the route of a completely new build. If a site already has a building on it that we can utilise, we would be interested. One of the criteria is that it must be about seven acres in size.

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Business Marketing


here is no doubt that competition for independent garden centres has increased dramatically over the last decade. DIY and grocery stores’ entries into gardening territory, combined with the ever-increasing growth of online spending, is a challenge not for the fainthearted. Consumers have more choice than ever – so you need to fight harder than ever in order to win their custom. If you are willing to play the game, though, you can offer things that none of the groups and chains can follow – and certainly that no online retailer can compete with. Increasing footfall in physical stores can be split into two areas: Customer experience – encouraging consumers to return to your store Marketing – increasing awareness of your


store among new customers. Compared to other retail categories, garden retailing has the advantage of being a comparatively joyful category of shopping. Maya Angelou said it best: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Is your store a nice place to visit? If the environment is right, this will encourage customers to come back time and time again – and tell their family and friends to visit, too. Invest in staff – they’re your most valuable asset. They are the face of your business, and can drive or kill customer loyalty. Employ knowledgeable horticulturalists to add value to your customers’ shopping experience; you could even get them to run educational workshops. If you are offering more than your competitors, you are more likely to win business. With hundreds of businesses competing for your customers’ attention, you need to make sure that yours are heard. You have two choices: compete on price, or compete on differentiation. Many retailers feel that their only option is discounting, but with smart marketing initiatives, you can demonstrate how you are different and build a following based on brand loyalty rather than price. Digital marketing is effective, as it is easy to test, analyse and optimise, so you make sure you get the best ROI for your


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

THE COMPETITION The garden retail market is increasingly crowded, with competition from e-commerce, supermarkets and DIY stores. Paula Parker, owner of PP8 Marketing, shares her top tips for differentiating your business from rivals – and winning custom marketing spend. Review your SEO strategy. Online competitors can’t compete on a local search level, and yet surprisingly few retailers have a thorough strategy to

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel ensure they appear in local Google searches. You could be missing out. Get social! Use Facebook ads, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. Tap into where your customers are on social media, and become a part of their downtime. Encourage your customers to share their positive experiences and purchases on

social media – this will help to create a buzz around your brand. Don’t forget traditional in-store marketing, either. Surprise and delight your customers by creating frequently changing and interesting displays. Inspire them with new ideas to try at home, and give them the confidence to make purchases. Look to your suppliers and the industry associations for ideas and advice. Many will even provide free-of-charge adaptable marketing material to support their initiatives in your store. For more top tips and inspiration, as well as the opportunity to share your success stories, don’t miss PP8 Marketing at the Retail Lab @ GLEE in September. ◗ ABOUT PP8 Marketing is a Surrey-based consultancy that works with clients to build marketing strategies and drive growth

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Business Motivating Staff Any employer worth their salt knows that motivated workers are productive workers; Dr Nicola Davies shares six top tips for encouraging staff


mployees who feel motivated at work will be inspired to work hard, meet sales targets, and achieve their performance goals. In addition, research has shown that managers who promote teamwork, support a formal appraisal and recognition programme, and foster a family-friendly atmosphere are successful in motivating their employees. Here are some strategies you can implement to promote employee motivation within your garden centre:

If employees feel like they own their work, they will engage with it more intensely and with greater passion

THE PSYCHOLOGY 1. BE COMMITTED TO EMPLOYEE HAPPINESS Happy employees are productive employees. Cultivate a positive working environment and provide your staff with reasonable benefit packages, flexible working hours, and opportunities to relax and enjoy their time at work. This could include providing staff discounts – a strategy used by Wyevale garden centre, the UK’s largest garden retail group, which has more than 150 centres throughout the country. It gives employees a 20% discount in its coffee shop, a 50% discount in its restaurants, and a 30% discount on most garden centre products. This also has the added benefit of promoting employees’ interests in plants and the other items they are selling. 2. HEAR THEM OUT If your employees feel heard, they will become more involved in problemsolving, and offer ideas on ways to improve customer service and promote sales. Showing appreciation for their feedback and suggestions will make them feel like valued members of the business’s team. 3. BE A ROLE MODEL If you operate with integrity when dealing with customers, suppliers, and


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

OF EMPLOYEE MOTIVATION staff, you will command the respect of your employees. This will inspire them to emulate you and give their best efforts at work. 4. ENCOURAGE AUTONOMY Trust that your employees know their jobs, and let them establish and pursue their own professional goals. Allow them autonomy in their work, and support them in taking on additional responsibilities such as managing a section of the garden centre or leading a project. If employees feel like they own their work, they will engage with it more intensely and with greater passion. 5. CHART PROGRESS AND CELEBRATE RESULTS Most employees want to do well at work. Encourage their efforts by charting their progress and discussing results with them. Give them constructive feedback and create individual goals and development plans. Show your employees how their work has benefited the garden centre. If employees meet or exceed their goals, celebrate them! For example, management at Tong Garden Centre in Yorkshire awards monthly

prizes to employees who are honest, respectful, positive, and professional. Rewards include pin badges and high street gift vouchers, as well as trophies for employee contributions to customer service and business promotion. Recognising your employees’ hard work will further boost their motivation and maintain high standards. 6. BE FAIR Do not discriminate between employees. Employees need to trust you if they are to be motivated to work hard for you. Everyone should have an equal chance of getting promoted, and receive the same pay for doing the same work. Motivating employees can be challenging, but your garden centre will reap the rewards from a happy, motivated workforce. Implement strategies to create a positive workplace environment that fosters motivation through promoting autonomy, sharing progress results and recognising efforts. When your employees feel a sense of belonging and appreciation at work, they will be happier and make a stronger commitment to help grow your centre into a thriving business. ◗



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Spending Trends Business SILVER SHOPPERS Retailers need to catch up with changing consumer behaviours among the over65 demographic, which has the most disposable income and an appetite to spend money. Populations in Western society are aging, but few businesses have developed a proper strategy for this group. They enjoy gardening and DIY, and are the most knowledgable gardeners – but they still want experiences. Garden retailers need to futureproof their businesses by acknowledging this powerful and changing consumer group. Create experiences and services catered to the needs of the silver shopper, focusing on convenience and leisure – but without assuming that those in this category are frail and technophobic. Silver shoppers differ less that you think from Generation X-ers and Millennials; they tend to be young at heart, and limited

UNDERSTANDING GENERATIONAL SPENDING TRENDS Lisa White of WGSN looks at important consumer trends and how they relate to different generations

mobility does not mean a limited mindset! A study by Trinity College, Dublin found that quality of life improves once people hit the age of 50, and continues to increase until the age of 78. Spending corresponds with this statistic. Experiences are important for this group, too. Over the next 20 years, retirees in the USA are forecasted to spend $4.6tr, with a great deal of this being on travel, group activities that bring the family together, and making their living spaces more attractive. The spending will be as much online as it would be in a bricks and mortar shop.

Time is of the essence for these people, so shopping online for can be a pleasure and a form of escapism – and they can do it late at night. Interestingly, this generation is less impulse-driven than millennials, tending to research products online before buying. Retailers can assist this research by loading product information on their websites, with a push towards ‘click and collect’, or ‘pick it up in store’ messages.

GENERATION X This generation is often forgotten, as a smaller part of the population – but its spending power makes it extremely important. Gen X-ers are the influencers behind a huge number of purchases, with many caring for elderly parents while also raising the next generation. They are the decision makers, and the majority have a ‘family first’ mentality. They work hard, but also want to enjoy life. The garden, for them, is a symbol of productive leisure. Gen X grew up with shopping malls, so still like a physical shopping experience, but they are also omnichannel, with 56% preferring to search and purchase online.

MILLENNIALS Millennials are also known as the ‘selfie generation’, but this group of people isn’t as hedonistic as you may think. Millennials have been described as lazy, self-centered narcissists who still rely on their parents; in reality, this generation is taking life in a completely different direction. They are the most stressed group, and their desire to slow down, live in the moment and increase productivity is driving their more mindful attitude. In many cases, they are rejecting drugs and alcohol in favour of clean living, in order to help balance their stressed lifestyles. As such, they put more importance on health that any other generation.

Gardening can fit into this lifestyle if it is presented in the right way. Millennials are looking for a higher meaning in an increasingly agnostic society, so being in touch with nature, plants and the earth appeals to them. Garden centres could look at adding a spiritual element to their offering, mixing jewelry and plants with healing products and spiritual books. The key here is to position gardening as a mindful experience, connecting people with the earth. Using social media channels such as Instagram to showcase how plants can be used in real life situations also appeals to millennials, who are increasingly driven by good design. ◗

ABOUT Lisa is the head of lifestyle and interiors at WGSN, an online resource with an enormous amount of reports available to subscribers. WGSN covers trends from consumer to fashion, design, beauty, garden and outdoor.

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Pest Control Business

PREVENTING RODENT INFESTATION David Cross, head of technical training academy at Rentokil Pest Control, explains how to keep pests at bay


ats and mice are always in search of warm, dry harbourages and new food sources, particularly during periods of inclement weather. Garden centres offer the perfect place for rodents to hide, thanks to the numerous areas of shelter and food sources they provide. Given centres’ open layouts, many managers may find keeping pests out a real challenge – particularly as mice are capable of squeezing through tiny gaps, and, like rats, are good climbers. A rodent infestation can represent a major health and safety risk, as rodents are known carriers of diseases, and this can damage the reputation and bottom line of any business. It is therefore vital that garden centre owners and employees are clued up on how to spot and deal with a rodent infestation, as well as knowing how to prevent the pests from returning in the future.

SPOTTING THE SIGNS Rodents are nocturnal, so they can be difficult to catch sight of during business hours. However, a number of tell-tale signs can indicate an infestation. These include: 1. Smell and sound: Rats and mice smell very strongly of ammonia, and are also often very noisy, making audible scrabbling noises as they move around your premises. 2. Droppings: Rats excrete about 40 dark, pellet-shaped droppings per day, which are up to 14mm long; mice, meanwhile, can produce 80 oval-shaped droppings, which are typically 5mm long. These can be found near any harbourages or entry points. 3. Smears: Rodents use established routes along walls, due to their poor eyesight. You may notice grease marks where rodents brush up against walls and surfaces.

Rodents have a relatively quick reproduction cycle, so failing to act could allow an isolated issue to become a full infestation

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018 23

Business Pest Control

Failure to meet the required environmental health standards could result in a garden centre being subject to fines, or even temporary closure by the local authority

4. Footprints: Rats can leave foot and tail marks in dusty, less-used areas. Shining a strong torch at a low angle should reveal tracks clearly. To establish whether an infestation is active, sprinkle fine flour or talc along a small stretch of floor near the footprints, and check for fresh tracks the next day. 5. Damage: Rodents can chew through electric cables, which is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of an infestation – it creates a fire hazard, while also being very difficult to spot. Gnaw marks, shredded paper and damage to storage containers are also common signs of rodent activity. You might not think that one mouse sighting warrants immediate attention, but a problem can quickly escalate into something more serious if it is left untreated. Mice typically like to stay hidden out of sight, as it helps them feel safe, so just one mouse could still be an indication of a larger problem. They also have a relatively quick reproduction cycle, so failing to act could allow an isolated issue to become a full infestation. PREVENTION TACTICS If you do identify a rodent problem, there are a number of simple steps that can be taken to minimise the risk of a full infestation developing in your garden centre premises: 1. Seal any gaps: Mice are capable of squeezing through gaps the width of a biro pen, so seal holes in the exterior of


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

the premises with wire wool, caulk, metal kick plates or cement. Rats are also known to enter premises through damaged drains, so it’s important to make sure that these are well maintained and checked regularly. If you’re unsure how rodents could be entering your garden centre, don’t hesitate to ask pest control experts to analyse the site and advise. 2. Declutter and clean: Keep clutter to a minimum, and move objects away from walls to ensure you can check what’s hiding behind them. Less clutter means less hiding places. Ensure that refuse on site is kept in closed bins, and clean pipes and drains regularly. 3. Quick detection: Non-toxic monitoring blocks are another way to detect rodent activity as early as possible without deploying toxic substances. Some of these contain fluorescent materials that reflect UV light, highlighting rodent droppings and making it easier to identify their presence. RODENT RISKS Rats and mice can pose a significant risk to the health and safety of customers and staff, as they are carriers of diseases such as hantavirus, salmonellosis and Weil’s disease. Mice are also hardwired to gnaw hard objects, as this helps to keep their teeth at a manageable size, so they will chew on just about anything they can sink their teeth into. This can result in damaged stock or electrical equipment, and can also increase the risk of fire at your premises.

The cost of replacing damaged equipment can also be exacerbated by other financial penalties resulting from a lack of health and safety compliance, or from a downgraded good hygiene rating if there is a food outlet within the garden centre. Failure to meet the required environmental health standards could result in a garden centre being subject to fines, or even temporary closure by the local authority, which could have a huge impact on its finances and reputation. Prevention is always better than a cure when it comes to rodents, so adopting a proactive strategy is vital to your business’s reputation and safety. FINAL THOUGHTS Whether you’re dealing with a pest problem or are simply looking to prevent one, it’s important you know who to contact. It’s the role of external contractors to be fully up to date on the latest legislation changes in their area of expertise. Pest controllers are no different, so if you’re in unsure of best way to prevent rodents in your centre, then it’s always best to check with the experts. w

ABOUT David Cross is the head of the technical training academy at Rentokil Pest Control. For more information visit or call 0808 278 8192.

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Business Valuing a Centre



If you’re thinking of selling your garden centre or nursery, you’ll want to get a trustworthy and reliable valuation for the business; Darren Earnshaw of Alexander Mackie Associates explains the factors that go into valuation, and why it’s important to consult a specialist

e’re often asked, “how do you value a garden centre or nursery?”. Do we value a garden centre or nursery using a £/square foot or square metre measurement, or by using a multiplication of turnover, gross or net profits? These questions are often posed by non-specialist valuers who are used to valuing residential properties or general commercial properties, as well as, obviously, by garden centre and nursery owners.


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

A number of factors need to be taken into account when valuing a garden centre or nursery, which is why you should seek specialist advice if you are looking for a valuation. The following are factors that should be taken into account: 1. What planning consents are attributable to the land that the garden centre or nursery occupies? This can vary dramatically, even within one site. Each category of land has a different value, so the combined values need to be calculated.

A number of factors need to be taken into account when valuing a garden centre or nursery, which is why you should seek specialist advice

Valuing a Centre Business

2. How old are the buildings and structures on the site, and what is their value? 3. What is the value of the fixtures, fittings, equipment, plant and machinery on site? 4. What is the value of the business? 5. What is the value of goodwill created, if any? 6. If there is a residential property on site, what is the value of the residential property? Does it have an agricultural occupancy restriction attached to it? If it does, the value of the residential property is reduced. Non-specialist valuers often ask us whether we can provide comparables; our answer is always negative, as no two garden centres or nurseries are alike, and each garden centre or nursery should be valued on its own merits. A residential agent can use comparable evidence, especially when valuing similar houses in the same street, but this method cannot be used when it comes to the garden centre or nursery industry. We do charge a fee to undertake a site visit and meeting, and to provide a ‘current open market valuation’; this is based on a set charge plus travel and VAT. However, once we have undertaken the site visit and meeting, and provided you with our valuation in writing, if you then decide to place your garden centre or nursery with us to sell, we work on a ‘No Purchaser, No Fee’ basis, which is where we differ from some other agents. It is therefore obviously in our best interest to sell your garden centre or nursery in the shortest time possible, and to maximise the price on your behalf. Once we have sold your garden centre or nursery our commission becomes due and payable by your solicitor from the sales proceeds on the date of the sale completion. ◗ ABOUT Alexander Mackie Associates has been providing valuation and consultancy to the garden centre and nursery industries for more than 25 years. 01732 522222

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Business Catering Focus



Carla McKenzie of MYA Consulting takes a look at some of the potential pitfalls a garden centre catering operation could face after Brexit

e’re currently in the pretransition phase of Britain’s exit from the European Union, and there is much yet to be negotiated. Two key things are likely to affect costs in the world of catering post-Brexit: the first is the impact of Brexit itself, and the second is a chronic labour shortage, which is forecast to become even more prominent post-transition. Before we start to look at the impact of Brexit on a garden centre’s food offering, I want to explore the numbers. If Theresa May and the Brexit team can secure a free trade deal with Europe, then, as far as goods we import are concerned, it will be ‘business as usual’. Brexit does, however, yield an opportunity to disentangle Britain from some of the agreements and levies we have outside of the union. For example, the prices of products from New Zealand could potentially decrease, as tariffs on New Zealand products are currently negotiated through the EU.


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

The food commodity prices since the Brexit vote in June 2016 have been more volatile than anything we have seen for many years, with dairy products being particularly hard hit. It’s not as simple as just saying it is all about Brexit, however. Fuel prices have climbed due to the impact of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) quotas, and food prices generally climb with increases in fuel prices. Uncertainty is also hindering businesses from making predictions and forecasts. We are certainly expecting to see price rises of more than 9% after the Brexit transition in 2019. This prediction assumes that there are no other impacts, and that the free trade deal has not been signed. Labour costs are also causing the industry concern. In February 2018, 12,000 jobs were being advertised in our industry. Hospitality is the UK’s fourth biggest employer, with 3.2m directly employed and 2.8m indirectly employed in the industry –

and 12.3-23.7% of the sector is made up of EU nationals. While we now know that none of them will be obliged to leave because of Brexit, many may choose to do so of their own accord. The industry is anticipating a 60,000-person recruitment shortfall from 2019. By 2029, the hospitality sector could face a recruitment gap of more than a million – a quarter of its anticipated requirement. To place this in context, Britain currently has 32.21m in work, and unemployment is at an all-time low of 4.3%. According to the Office for National Statistics, the forecast for population growth up until 2025 is less than 1%. Living wage pressures also continue to be a competitive force in the market, and while the national living wage is set for the next five years, the Living Wage Foundation is not. Forecasting forward at its current rate, it is likely to be as follows in the table opposite:

Catering Focus Business

Food commodity prices since the Brexit vote in June 2016 have been more volatile than anything we have seen for many years

2 0 17

2 0 18

2 0 19






















The living wage in London will go from £10.20/hour now, to £11.61/hour in 2020. Many small businesses will also need to start mandatory pensions across this period. WHAT ADVICE CAN I GIVE TO GARDEN CENTRES, CONSIDERING ALL OF THIS? First of all, examine every detail of your operation, and start making it as efficient as you can. Remember: every

unproductive step taken by an employee is a step you are paying for. Start to think about the menu, which has the potential to be generated from your own resources, or from local ones. We currently import a considerable number of lettuces and tomatoes from Spain – if the right trade deals aren’t struck, these could become prohibitively expensive. In addition, when you use your own or local resources, your environmental credentials improve.

WILL BREXIT IMPACT A GARDEN CENTRE MENU? This is difficult to answer without a crystal ball with which to predict the post-transition deals and agreements. Generally, when the market sees substantial increase on certain commodities, it seeks alternatives to replace them with. The answer is seldom to push costs onto the consumer. A good example of this is recent butter price increases. The catering trade paid the uplift, but the large supermarket retailers shielded the consumer from larger increases. That said, though, the overall price of butter did increase. Food trends are likely to have far more of an impact on garden centre menus than Brexit. The increase in vegetarian and vegan eating is substantial, and clearly here to stay. Allergen and special dietary requirements also continue to soar, and this is having an impact on menus, too.

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Business Catering Focus

WILL BREXIT SEE PEOPLE MOVE BACK TO EATING SEASONAL PRODUCE? In reality, this is unlikely. Food growth technology is developing all the time. Hydroponic techniques give us access to year-round growth, as does solar technology. If anything, we are more likely to see trends started by disruptive companies in California, such as Finless Fish (a biochemical company helping to make seafood more sustainable) and Impossible Burger (a 100% plant-based burger for meat lovers), which are both unique vegetable-based substitute products making their way to the UK. Another consideration is that Britain is a truly cosmopolitan country with a large population from across the world; it is unlikely that our seasonal ingredients would satisfy this part of the population.

If centres react now by driving efficiency and developing a creative proposition from available affordable resources, they should be able to keep ahead of the game

WHAT WILL WE SEE LESS OF ON A GARDEN CENTRE MENU? We will see fewer high-fat, high-salt, highsugar dishes, as well as less meat and possibly less fish – which are at risk – and less emphasis on cakes and biscuits. We should see more healthy, light dishes, more vegetarian and vegan food, and more lowsugar cakes and biscuits. WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR IF I’VE OUTSOURCED MY CATERING? The contractor market will be experiencing all the same issues as an in-house operator. Most collaborations here are generally under a fixedprice agreement, or rental based on revenue, and the contractor is unlikely to have been able to forecast these unprecedented events when bidding. It is worth revisiting your contract to look at where the contractor’s pinch points might be. The likelihood is that the contractor will have to reduce costs, and the risk here is that the service proposition may diminish. SHOULD THE GARDEN CENTRE RESTAURANTS BE BRACED FOR A DOWNTURN IN CUSTOM? If centres react now by driving efficiency and developing a creative proposition from available affordable resources, they should be able to keep ahead of the game. Health and wellbeing, for example, is set to be a trend for the next decade; looking at healthier, lowcalorie solutions might be part of the answer to driving down cost and inspiring a whole new generation of customers. w ABOUT

Carla McKenzie is managing director at MYA Consulting. 01453 765643


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

Store Design Business



Charlotte Speculo, garden retail consultant, explains how garden centres can take advantage of the four fundamentals of plant buying through effective merchandising


arden centres need to take advantage of how people shop – and connecting with the shopper is crucial. Effective merchandising involves more than creating display areas and keeping the plantarea tidy. The plantarea should be the hub of the store, where you interact with your customers. Shopping habits have changed, and people are now far more aware of the numerous channels that they can purchase through. Within a plantarea, plants are bought on these four fundamentals: IMPULSE A quick, automatic response based on features such as colour, price and new interest. KNOWLEDGE A purchase based on a customer’s or staff member’s knowledge of the kind of plant the buyer wants, knowing which plants will thrive in their garden and what style suits them. HABIT Many customers repeatedly buy the same plants year after year. QUALITY The quality of both the plants and staff knowledge can sway a purchase.

Above: Grouping beds into colour schemes and plant themes is a great way to merchandise, inspiring customers to plant a particular style of garden and buy flowers in bulk. Pastel shades work well for cottage garden plants, for example, while bright and bold flowers and textures signal a more modern feel

For customers with less experience, create plant zones that help them identify plants for different purposes, such as groundcover plants, plants for shady gardens, and plants for acidic soils With these four main aspects forming the basis of any plant purchase, you need to ensure your merchandising and staff knowledge are perfectly placed to drive sales. Your team must be knowledgeable and able to answer questions with enthusiasm – and there must be enough of them to meet customers’ needs. A customer’s first impression as they walk into your plantarea is crucial. Some may know what they are going in for, while others want to meander and wait to feel inspired. The impulse purchase is so important at this stage. It’s not a matter of positioning your cheapest plants at the front – it’s about choosing the plants that attract attention. Putting colourful seasonal plants at the entrance will show customers how

they can achieve the ‘wow factor’ within their own garden. A useful tip is to merchandise in blocks and in height order, to maximise colour impact. Foliage can also be colourful, especially in autumn when plants such as Hebe, Cornus and Heuchera are at their best. Implement a customer path within your plant area to encourage customers to walk through most of it before leaving. Merchandising impulse-buy plants along this route is imperative to promote sales. Many people love their gardens. Some, however, don’t have the time or the interest to find out what plants are named or how to care for them properly. Keen gardeners who know their plants well, want a wide selection of varieties and an easy way to buy them. Other people would rather be inspired by visual interest and staff’s knowledge. Having a small A-Z, shrub and herbaceous area with information cards on the beds is helpful for the more experienced gardener, enabling them to find the plants they are looking for easily. For customers with less experience, create plant zones that help them identify plants for different purposes, such as groundcover plants, plants for shady gardens, and plants for acidic soils. Good signage is also key – whether it’s signs guiding customers to different locations around the plantarea, or 

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Business Store Design

Larger plants such as shrubs and herbaceous can be merchandised in various locations. This can force the creature of habit to hunt for what they want, being inspired by other merchandising as they go

Another way to get knowledge to the customer without having staff on hand is to merchandise plants on beds within other areas, such as bulbs. Promoting plants relevant to bulb planting and other themes will help increase sales and interactions with customers

Seasonal herbaceous and shrubs /promotional interest plants

Seasonal interest plants Herbaceous/alpines

Plants for purpose

A-Z shrubs


Impulsive zone – colour and texture, including flowering trees and shrubs

Trees Bedding and annuals Herbs/vegetables/fruit

Display garden

Link sale items

Plants from display garden for sale next to display


promotions showing prices, offers and information. If you have too many of these promotions, your plantarea can end up looking like a sea of sign holders; too little and customers can miss sales opportunities. Hand-written information boards are a low-key way to interact with customers when discussing new topical plants or dispensing hints and tips. Choose small promotions where you want the plant to sell itself, and larger promotions for offers and directional signage. People are generally creatures of habit. Many shoppers will like things to be where they saw them last time! This also means they will buy certain plants over and over again, such as bedding. To take advantage of this trait, ensure key lines such as bedding and other annuals


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

are in a secondary position. These are not generally impulse buys, unless you pricepromote them. Multi-buys are the perfect way to push plants through quickly. You don’t want to be holding onto bedding, as it can grow fast, becoming unsaleable. Larger plants such as shrubs and herbaceous can be merchandised in various locations. This can force the creature of habit to hunt for what they want, unconsciously being inspired by your other merchandising as they go – and hopefully buying more than what they came in for. Quality is one of the most important points to drive sales. Repeat sales come from satisfied customers, and with online competition becoming stronger every year, it is so important to sell top quality plants. Years ago, it was the norm for

Large specimens

Other outdoor landscaping goods

nurseries to overwinter plants, carefully pruning and top dressing, hoping for a sale in the spring. These days, customers expect fresh plants all year round – and overwintering can waste space and staff time in the plantarea. Careful buying is now paramount. The quality of the plantarea itself is also very important. Make sure the area is swept regularly, benches are kept tidy, and plants are well maintained and watered – these are all obvious signs of a good garden centre. ◗ ABOUT 07834992381

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Gaining Feedback Business

HOW TO GAIN HONEST FEEDBACK Honest customer feedback, which can be acted on and used to stay ahead of competition, is one of the most powerful devices at an organisation’s disposal, explains Simon Beer of Big Wave Media


apture the true ‘voice of the people’ and you’ve struck gold – but encouraging customers to open up can be challenging. Here are five key ways to acquire that allimportant feedback. INCENTIVES Your customers’ time is valuable, so providing them with something in return for their feedback will maximise interest. You could opt for a standalone prize, or give something to each participant (such as a free hot drink) – both options are likely to sway people’s willingness to participate. You could even use it to your advantage and hand out companybranded sports flasks for additional exposure. Whatever you choose, be creative about it. ONLINE MONITORING You don’t always have to ask – social media platforms and review sites have created plenty of opportunities for a spot of eavesdropping. Do some digging: check up on your company’s Twitter mentions, keywords and relevant hashtags. What are people saying about you? This indirect approach is one of the easiest ways to gain truly honest customer opinions. Listing your organisation on TripAdvisor

and using its Review Express email facility to proactively encourage visitors to write a review is also an effective method of gaining honest feedback. SURVEYS Whether your survey is conducted online or using feedback forms in person, timing is key. If you are planning to approach customers face-to-face, pick a moment immediately after a customer has experienced your product or service, so that it will be fresh in their mind. If the opportunity to fill out a 10-minute survey arises on their lunch break, when they have just walked into your facility, they are likely to be rushed and uninterested. Make the questions as clear and concise as possible, and avoid the use of leading questions such as “How have our plant care sessions benefited you?” – opt instead for something like: “What are your thoughts on our plant care sessions?” CUSTOMER-FACING STAFF Your greatest source of information about customer satisfaction comes from the people who deal with them first-hand. By addressing the subject of customer feedback at regular staff meetings, or keeping a record that can be updated as events occur, you are able

to keep track of situations as they arise – straight from the frontline. MYSTERY SHOPPERS Mystery shoppers provide a professional, impartial service, putting themselves in the customer’s shoes to experience the overall customer journey for themselves. This is the crème de la crème of customer satisfaction methods. The mystery shopper will operate as a critical friend and deliver thorough reports that will enable your company to find out exactly what you want to know, while bypassing any potential issues related to gaining feedback from real customers. All five of these methods hold great benefits for gaining invaluable customer insight. By varying your approach to include a combination of channels, feedback facilities and timings, you are more likely to gain a representative feedback sample – ultimately strengthening its credibility. ◗ ABOUT Big Wave Media is a creative agency with offices in Exeter, Plymouth & Torquay, marketing, design and digital services with a focus on excellent results.

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Business Signage


SIGNAGE Print 2 Media explains how to select the right signage for your garden centre

WALL AND WINDOW STICKERS Thin vinyl can be printed and contour-cut to produce wall stickers that look as if they have been painted onto a wall with a stencil. These can be stuck to any smooth, flat wall or pane of glass. FOAMEX Foamex is a cost-effective plastic board that can be printed and cut to shape. It can be printed in large sizes if fixed flush to a wall or backing board; in smaller sizes it can be clipped into a support and freestand. Foamex is perfect for shelf-headers and trolley and bench dressing. DIBOND Dibond is a composite material of two skins of aluminium around a polyethylene (PET) core. This rigid and robust sheet material is perfect for shop fascia signage. CORREX Correx is a fluted plastic board that is cheap enough to be used as temporary, one-use signage (don’t worry, it’s recyclable!). It can bend without breaking, and is commonly used to create decorative pallet-wraps and kick-boards.


he modern garden centre needs to cater to a wider variety of visitors than ever before. It’s not just about selling plants to knowledgeable gardeners; you must also provide a retail experience to savvy shoppers of all ages - many of whom need advice throughout the buying process. Friendly, informative staff are essential for imparting information to potential buyers. But there are other ways to ease your visitors through your store, delivering them the information they need to make buying decisions and getting them to your checkout with everything they came for. You know your branding is crucial to portray your garden centre as a credible place to spend money. You know that your floor layout is important for guiding customers through your store, and that your way-finding signage is critical to help them discover what they want. You know customers want basic information, advice and guidance without having to track down a member of staff. You know your promotions and seasonal updates need to be effectively communicated for them to


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

ACRYLIC Acrylic can be printed and makes for a premium sign-board when used as such. It is available in a huge range of colours and finishes, and is commonly used to create 3D cut-out letters. be successful. But what’s the process of creating great signage? We break it down. ARTWORK Your first goal is to procure the artwork for your signage. The designer or agency that worked with you on your branding may be willing to produce the artwork required. Alternatively, they should have provided you with a branding ‘style guide’ – a document that includes your logo, your corporate colours and your fonts – to ensure there is a consistent feel across all your branded elements. PRINT AND MAKE You will need to source a printer that identifies itself as ‘wide-format’, ‘largeformat’, or a ‘sign-maker’. Wide-format printers use specialist printers to print at large scale onto a variety of flexible and rigid substrates. A good wide-format printer will have CNC cutters and routers for trimming printed items to any shape. So what materials can you print to, and how can they be used to satisfy the retail needs of your garden centre?

BANNERS Woven PVC banners, with hemmed edges and eyelets for easy attachment to walls, posts and railings, are traditionally used for promotions. POSTERS These can be printed onto paper for interior use, or onto a polypropylene film for use outdoors. Posters can be used with clip frames for a neater finish. DISPLAY CARD Thick stock card that can be used on shelf-strips or as a short-term shelfheader. Printed double sided and with eyelets in the top edge, it also makes for a perfect hanging display over aisles. ◗ ABOUT Print 2 Media is a large-format printer based in Cornwall, supplying signs and graphics for many of the country’s biggest outdoor exhibitions and events.




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Plant Buying Business


f you ask most people what a garden centre sells, the first thing they will say – perhaps obviously – is ‘plants’. But with the industry branching out, selling items such as gifts, homewares and toys, how has plant buying changed? Jeremy Hall is the group plant buyer at 15-centre Squire’s Garden Centres. His role is to support the company in selecting the best suppliers and product mix, and to help put together a promotional programme that gives customers excellent value. “My role also covers how we present the plants, with an increasing emphasis on bespoke display solutions,” he tells us. “Our plant managers are some of the very best in the country and play a big part in how we develop relationships with suppliers – sharp-end input pays dividends for us.” Peter Newson is the group plant buyer at four-centre Frosts Garden Centres. He sources stock, puts together reserve orders, plans seasonal catalogues, sets the retail prices, and manages and monitors the stock that is bought at store

GCR takes a look at the plant-buying habits of the garden retail market, finding out what’s changed over the years of garden centre expansion and what the future holds for this particular skill level. “I also do site visits to stores on stock management, and do promotional planning: writing briefs and information to send to marketing for the point of sale equipment, planning shop floor layouts and seasonal changes with the store teams, and then working with the senior team for budget and target setting. I also attend trade shows when I can too.” Wyevale Garden Centres’ plant buying manager is David Mitchell. Buying for 150 stores nationwide, David’s role is more specialised – he is supported by the marketing, merchandising and logistics teams, which leaves him more time to source plants. “I’m just one link in the chain,” he says. “If I was a buyer for a single garden centre, or a small group, I would be putting together promotions and organising deliveries and the like.”

SOURCING PLANTS Plant buyers are always looking to add more to their ranges – which often means that they have to increase their supplier bases. David has several ways to do this. “I’ll have a presence at the trade show,” he tells us. “The HTA National Plant Show is important for the UK grower network, and then there is the Plantarium exhibition in Amsterdam. “The trade shows are great for meeting new suppliers, but there are also speculative introductions from companies that aren’t at the shows,” says David. “They often send in samples, send us an email or make a phone call. We will also get recommendations from other Wyevale buyers. They might see something when they’re out and about, and I end up with a plant on my desk 

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Business Plant Buying

What tends to happen at the trade shows is that you meet up with quite a lot of other plant buyers from across the industry, and there’s a great networking opportunity in the evening when I come into the office! I’ve been on holiday before, down in Cornwall, and I’ve been looking at exotics and succulents and small, niche nurseries. I’ll quite often do this when I’m out in my spare time.” Peter agrees that trade shows are important, telling us that this is one of the biggest areas for him when sourcing suppliers. With Frosts belonging to the Tillington Group, a garden centre buying group, Peter is able to use some of his group colleagues’ supplier relationships, too. “We get some feedback from the group and try those suppliers out,” he says. “Also, what tends to happen at the trade shows is that you meet up with quite a lot of other plant buyers from across the industry, and there’s a great networking opportunity in the evening. We talk about things and work out what’s interesting. We do pick up information that way, before we approach suppliers.” Jeremy, in contrast, places more importance on loyalty. “Loyalty to our


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

existing suppliers is vital – we need continuity, and with the increasing necessity for forward planning, we value long-term trading partners. New suppliers are only added if they have a genuine competitive edge in areas that do not conflict with our longer-term strategy.” He does, however, recognise the benefits that trade shows offer. “The shows enable us to be aware of what is going on in the wider marketplace. Being part of the Tillington Group is great, as it means that we get a lot of information about suppliers from our fellow members.” On the other side of the equation, suppliers know that it’s vital they are seen at the trade shows. Adrian Marskell, managing director of Bransford Webbs, a plant supplier to the garden retail trade, exhibits at the HTA National Plant Show on a yearly basis. “We were a founding member of the HTA Plant Show, and that’s really important to us. That’s really the only show we do now.”

PARTNERSHIPS Wyevale is a huge company, and David believes that its nursery suppliers need to focus their entire attention on supplying the business – meaning that it’s vital to build long-term relationships with them. “We want new ideas so that we can stay ahead of the competition, we want good account management, where we get help managing the reserves through, and we want the product to be pushed at us when it is looking its best,” he tells us. “We need suppliers who are agile, so that they can help us deal with the demands of the season. It’s important that the supplier can put an extra truck on the road if it is needed. That flexibility is important. We are looking for a collaborative approach; we want a supplier to work with us through the challenges.” Jeremy also favours the proactive approach. “A can-do attitude goes a long way. We work on many bespoke product lines that require suppliers to

Plant Buying Business

Garden centres don’t want to have to look at every plant to check the quality. It takes time to build up that kind of reputation, but I’d like to think we’re there

buy into our long-term goals. Suppliers who consistently deliver excellent service and products that meet or exceed our expectations, and who believe the relationship is a two-way street, are most attractive to us.” What each of these businesses has in common is a focus on building partnerships with suppliers – something seen throughout the industry. “It’s about superior plants,” says Peter. “We’re also looking for regular deliveries, a good service, and effective communication and collaboration – it’s great when you have a company that is very proactive on bringing ideas to the table. “It’s working in a partnership where we can take ideas back to them, doing site visits sometimes, and getting feedback from them – as well as us giving them feedback. That works well for us, and a lot of innovative ideas have come out of that in the past.” Adrian knows what a garden centre is looking for in a partner. “They want

someone they can trust with the quality. What they really want to do is just wheel that trolley of plants into the centre and put it on the bench – they don’t want to have to do any work, or to continually check numbers to ensure they aren’t being short changed. They don’t want to have to look at every plant to check the quality. It takes time to build up that kind of reputation, but I’d like to think we’re there.” Andy Merrick, sales director at West Sussex-based Farplants, praises the quality of all British growers, but says it’s trust that can make the difference between supplying a garden centre and missing out. “First and foremost, it comes down to creating and nurturing relationships. All nurseries are producing some top-quality stock, so relationships are what set us apart. Independents have more flexibility with regard to who they deal with, so if they get on with somebody, that’s a massive step forward.”

THE PROCESS Peter’s process starts with him and the Frosts buyers contacting the suppliers. “We normally start around the time of the HTA National Plant Show for autumn the following year. We start by reviewing the season by category and then by supplier. We get feedback from the stores, and then we start putting together reserves and promotions; that carries right on until February. “Once the reserves are done, we can confirm them with the supplier, input the retails and load them onto our EPoS system – but at the same time, we’re constructing things such as promotional calendars that are based on marketing during the season, or on what we want to achieve at certain points during the season. “We might have, for example, a rose festival, which will affect the promotional set-up. Once we have the marketing setup sorted, we will send it out to the stores via a weekly communication and site visits. Finally, we always have a 

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Business Plant Buying

The biggest change has been that we have switched from supplying a range of plants – the A-Z plants – to supplying ‘impulse purchase’ plants

spring launch day. This year, we did it in February – before it snowed.” The plant-buying process never stops, says Jeremy. “The process is ongoing, but will start with seasonal range reviews across the supplier portfolio. Historical data plays a large part in shaping the future ranges, together with innovation, which keeps our offer current and exciting, and motivates our customers to keep coming back. When we understand the customer, we can position products that meet their needs.” With more stores to look after, Peter takes a slightly different route. “We have a budget number we have to hit, and we work back from that. We work out a theoretical number that we need to hit in terms of volume. We then cut the range accordingly. You can look at what you have done in the past five years or the past seven years, and that will tell you a lot about what you’ve sold and what sells well. “The most difficult part is putting the new ranges in – the things that are untested, which you might have come across at a trade show, or a new plant from a trusted supplier. These are things that you have got to take a punt on, but you don’t know what the forecast volume will be or what the customers’ appetite will be. But you must slot newness into the range every year. “There is a seasonality aspect, too; the customer is buying a different range in February to the one they are buying in August. A lot of it is forecasting and trying to second guess what the weather is going to do. We are such a weatherdependent industry.” BRITISH GROWN? “Roughly 80% of our plants are from UK suppliers,” says Jeremy. “The remaining 20% comes from the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Germany, France, Spain


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

and Portugal. I see this moving to 85% of plants coming from the UK over the next two years.” Peter is looking at similar numbers. “In terms of volume, we buy 85% of our stock from the UK, excluding houseplants, and the other 15% from Europe. We use all the key suppliers – Hillier, Farplants, Bransford Webbs, etc. We aim to keep as much of our stock as UK grown as possible, but there are products that we can’t do without from the Continent.” CHANGES A fair amount has changed recently in the garden retail market, and possibly none more so than the differences in plant buying. “One of the biggest impacts to our industry was when we had a very cold winter and a very cold spring, back to back,” says Andy. “Business was generally okay, and then we had a very, very early winter and it came and hit us at the end of October. Lots of businesses that were carrying quite a good offer lost hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of stock – it was their businesses as much as they can. Then the problem was compounded by a very early spring.” David thinks that there has been a change in loyalty, too. “I’ve bought horticulture products for a supermarket as well as a garden centre. I’ve now got more 10 years of experience in retail buying. I’ve seen my competitors becoming increasingly promiscuous, moving business and tendering every year. “It’s a tough marketplace – prices have got keener, and with the exchange rates against the Euro not being favourable, it’s been difficult. Our job has been to drive value in an increasingly competitive sector, and that is challenging. The job is getting harder.” Adrian has seen a change in the types of plants that garden centres purchase. “The biggest change has been that we have switched from supplying a range of plants – the A-Z plants – to supplying ‘impulse purchase’ plants. The buyers have changed, and they are looking at the ‘here and now’.” Peter agrees with that assessment. “We’re certainly booking and reserving less what I call ‘classic shrub A-Z lines’, for want of a different description. We’ve become much more focused around impulse purchases. “At one time you could always say that you could buy Forsythia in spring, but it is much more fluid now. We’re always looking for something different to make us stand out. We’re also doing 

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arwickshire based Hawkesmill Nurseries, are an award winning family run business, who grow over 3.5 million plants throughout the year.

super opportunities. Hawkesmill Nurseries will be at the show on stand 47/54, where they will be showcasing some super new varieties, including their selection of plants which are now available in larger pot sizes. The team will be showing a superb array “We relish the opportunity to be involved of their collections at the forthcoming with the National Plant Show every year. HTA National Plant Show, which will be It really is one of the gems amongst the taking place on 19th and 20th June. horticultural events held annually and allows us One of the ‘go to’ annual horticultural to kick off our next selling season admirably.” events in the UK, the National Plant Show says Richard Evans Sales Director, Richard is the ideal opportunity for attendees continues. “Visitors are treated to a visual to be able to see examples of the display of a whole host of ornamentals and British grown perennials and seasonal edibles, which proves beyond doubt that UK collections that Hawkesmill Nurseries growers are the best in the business”. are so well known for. All plants will be Garden Retailers can contact Hawkesmill available to order for immediate delivery Nurseries for more information about their or as advance orders, enabling customers stand at the National Plant Show as well as to reserve stock for the weeks ahead or general availability by contacting the company indeed the spring of 2019 thus making on 01676 532334 or by emailing sure nobody has to miss out on these Twitter: @HawkesmillNurs Facebook: @HawkesmillNurs

Business Plant Buying

The gardening public tends to be more mature, and people are living longer, so that proportion of people with money to spend in garden centres is always going to be there

fewer direct allocation to centres now, and it’s more about setting up the supply chain and the listings so that our centres can then buy on a weekly basis to fit with what they are doing.” THE FUTURE Despite the challenges, Andy is optimistic about the future of British horticulture. “We have some fantastic British growers. We’ve got problems with biosecurity, but generally we’re doing a great job. When you look at how garden centres have set themselves up these days, they’ve really de-risked their businesses with the inclusion of coffee shops, turning themselves into destination locations. Plant departments and garden centres in general haven’t had the same fall from grace as the shops on the high street.” Adrian believes we’ve already had a glimpse of the future. “It will be more impulse-based,” he predicts. “I don’t know whether plant supplying will become franchised – I hope it doesn’t,


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

as I like it the way it is – but I can see it going that way in years to come. “Plants scare some garden centre owners, because they die, and they need looking after, but they are what makes the garden centres stand out. The industry supply will be little and often; it’s going that way now. There will be regular supply runs so that garden centres aren’t lumbered with stock that could die, and it will all be about the service levels provided.” Peter is finding the future of plant buying a bit harder to forecast. “It’s constantly adapting. There are fewer growers in the marketplace, and fewer new stock lines, in smaller quantities of excellent quality, which everybody is chasing.” He does, however, foresee an impact from foreign pests and diseases. “Another thing that’s very current is the phytosanitary aspect – pests and diseases such as Xylella and the palm beetle. These are making the plant

supply chain difficult, as you’re suddenly having to fill gaps in stock.” David thinks the art of plant buying will live on. “It’s fantastically exciting, there is a lot of development and a lot of exciting innovation when it comes to plants. I also see a strong future for the plant market in general. The gardening public tends to be more mature, and people are living longer, so that proportion of people with money to spend in garden centres is always going to be there – in fact, it will get bigger. Because of this, there is always going to be a place for plant buyers. We will always have to put a plant offer in front of people.” Looking a little shorter term, Jeremy thinks political uncertainty will continue to affect the market. “One of the challenges we face is the uncertainty of post-Brexit trade with our European suppliers. The drive to reduce the use of plastic packaging is also gaining momentum, and we have a moral obligation to find more sustainable solutions.” w

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PLANT FOCUS Succulents and cacti


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Plant Focus Succulents and Cacti


Fiona Wemyss, owner of Kent-based succulent and cactus nursery Blue Leaf Plants, tells Garden Centre Retail how stores can make the most of their succulent department


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

here is no doubt that houseplants are as popular now as they were in the Seventies – but the rise in the popularity of succulents is down to a mixture of things, explains Fiona. “First, succulents are easy to look after, which means they are great for people with busy lives and limited time to spend on cosseting plants,” she tells us. “They appeal to younger age groups, many of whom live in smaller homes without gardens, but still want something that is stylish to look at and easy to maintain.”

The strongest pull of these plants may just be their photogenic nature. “Social media is the driving force here,” Fiona says. “Succulents are very photogenic and have captured people’s imaginations. Instagram and Pinterest are full of thousands of images of these plants, with more added every minute.” Succulents in clean, white pots or handmade concrete planters are particularly popular on social media, as are hanging pots in macramé holders, and Japanese ‘kokedama’ moss balls. “Plant-wise, there seems

Succulents and Cacti Plant Focus

to be two camps,” says Fiona. “There are those who like colourful and romantic-looking Echeveria and other plants from the Crassulaceae family, and those who prefer ‘green’ plants with more of an architectural look, such as Sansevieria, Haworthia and cacti.” Garden centres need to make the most of this trend to maximise this category’s sales potential. Those that offer a good range of complementary containers, or the full pot and plant solution, will see customers flock to the shelves, as this saves them time. “Offering workshops on succulent care, or helping customers to make something succulent-related, is a fantastic opportunity,” Fiona tells us. “They could be on planting up a container, making a simple pot, or crafting a macramé plant hanger. People are very hands on, and love doing something themselves.” The British Cactus & Succulent Society has branches in most counties in the country, and it could be worthwhile to approach these groups to see whether members are willing to sell plants (these will be unusual, well-grown and reasonably priced), or offer

advice to your garden centre and its customers. Branches can be found through its website ( In terms of caring for succulents and cacti, Fiona advises that customers should immediately repot their purchases when they get them home. “Succulent nursery stock is started off in peat or coir-based compost, but succulents do best in freedraining gritty compost,” she says. Garden centres can pass on this advice, and increase link sales by placing suitable compost directly beneath the benches that hold their succulent stock. Garden centres should also be able to advise customers on the best conditions and plant care for their particular succulent, so that people can get the best out of their purchase. Echeveria, for

Offering workshops on caring for succulents, or helping customers to make something succulent-related, is a fantastic opportunity example, requires four to six hours of bright sun every day, whereas Sansevieria can cope with shade, and many hanging cacti like the humidity of a bathroom. The most crucial piece of information to pass on, according to Fiona, is the fact that succulents are killed by overwatering more than anything else. Although some water is needed, infrequent irrigation is best, with less required in the winter when the plant is at its least active. It would be worth telling the customer to only water when the soil has completely dried up. But how can garden centres encourage succulent sales in the first place? Fiona 

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Plant Focus Succulents and Cacti

Succulents should obviously be near the houseplant section, but the main requirement is that they are in good light recommends that garden centres really push the benefits that succulents can bring to a home: various studies have indicated that leafier succulents are good plants for keeping in the bedroom, as they can help to purify the air – beneficial for people with asthma and other breathing problems. Presentation is also key. “Succulents should obviously be near the houseplant section, but the main requirement is that they are in good light,” Fiona says. “There’s nothing worse than going into a garden centre and seeing a display with pale and drawn-out plants. I would also feature a good range of small pots and hanging succulent plants, and some care literature beside them.” Succulents have always been popular plants, and not just with customers in their twenties and thirties. “Children are very attracted to cacti and succulents,” Fiona


tells us. “Often, they are the only plants that young boys are interested in. Introducing children to plants at an early age is important, and garden centres need to do more to encourage younger customers – the customers of the future. A lot of older people also love succulents, and growing cacti and succulents may be a great indoor hobby if they are no longer able to garden outside.” Outside of their natural environment, plants are unlikely to reach their full potential, so many succulents and cactus will remain compact. However, some succulents, if fertilised and watered well, can grow quite tall. “One example of this is Sansevieria ‘Fernwood Punk’,” explains Fiona. “Generally, this small, spear-leaved plant will grow to about 15-20cm, but it can grow to almost four feet in ideal conditions! “Having said that, most succulents won’t offer too

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

many surprises. Echeveria and other rosette plants will tend to stay flat and grow outwards slowly, forming offsets. Shrubbier succulents such as Crassula, Sedum and Senecio can grow quite bushy and may require pruning. Some of the sprawling succulents, such as Sedum morganianum and Ceropegia woodii, need to be grown on a high shelf, to allow their long hanging stems to grow downwards.” The main pest affecting cacti and succulents is mealy bug, identified by the cotton wool-like substance they deposit in between leaves and on stems. “These insects can distort and eventually kill a plant, and will spread quickly if not treated,” says Fiona. “Inspect new plants as they arrive, and dispose of infested plants immediately. Use either a soap-based spray or

Provado Bug Clear to treat.” Other succulent pests include red spider mite and vine weevil grubs. What does the future hold for these increasingly popular plants? Currently, the succulent trend shows no sign of waning, and people will continue to look for different and exciting ways to display them. “In the US, succulents are grown very widely, and there are many specialist nurseries growing them and running workshops for people who want to improve their collections,” Fiona tells us. “These are compact plants, and it is easy to start a collection that will fit on a windowsill. As people are exposed to different and fascinating specimens from this diverse group, I think their popularity will grow.” w

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Garden Tools GIMA


After an extremely challenging spring we are well and truly back to work, with GIMA members, including garden tool suppliers, reporting an unprecedented level of orders being fulfilled – matched by a concerted increase in consumer marketing activity


ai Wärn, president and CEO of the Husqvarna Group, noted the delayed start of the gardening season during the group’s interim report, but remained positive. “Despite the weather issues, the three divisions in growth mode continued their growth trajectory with higher operating income and margin, at the same time as continuing to invest in growth initiatives,” he said. “Robotic lawnmowers and other battery-powered products continued to grow.” President and CEO of Fiskars, Jaana Tuominen, shared this positive view: “The exceptionally cold spring in Europe and in the US had an impact on the net sales in the gardening category, which are typically strong in the first half of the year,” she said. “Despite the performance during the first quarter, we remain confident in our ability to deliver according to our outlook, and we expect to increase our comparable net sales and EBITA in full year 2018.” Burgon & Ball has been busy

developing its tool offering with the core garden centre customer in mind. Head of sales Ruth Posey said: “A key trend we’re seeing is tools that make gardening easier. We hear a lot about the mental and physical benefits of getting outdoors and doing some gardening, yet we need to bear in mind that the average age of the garden centre customer is 45-plus. Also, many gardeners find some tasks difficult, for one reason or another. We’re seeing strong interest in tools designed to help reduce muscle and tendon strain from the cutting action. Tools which allow users with grip or wrist problems to use them very easily are also proving popular.” Select has teamed up with Walther Strong in securing a distribution deal for Galago Tape. Galago is an awardwinning, easy-tear (no scissors required), waterproof double-sided tape that is manufactured in the UK. Repositionable and leaving no residue, the tape bonds to wood, plastic, card, metal, glass, leather, china, rubber, and carpet. It tape

is available in two lengths: 10m and 25m. Bulldog Tools is having an especially busy year with appearances at Spring Fair and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (joined by many other GIMA members including Bosch and Spear and Jackson), as well as Hampton Court and Tatton Flower shows in July. Fallen Fruits national sales manager Edward Cantle says the company’s copper tool ranges had been particularly good for the company. “These are obviously selling well as gift items, but the functionality of the range has been the driving factor. A specific tool we have been doing particularly well with is our Japanese ‘hori-hori’ knife, which roughly translates as ‘diggy diggy’! A multi-functional tool with several uses, it has a serrated edge for cutting, can be used as a transplanter, and also has measurements for planting depths.” Upcoming GIMA Events 7 June – Golf and Activity Day at Telford Hotel and Golf Resort 12 July – GIMA Awards Gala Dinner at Celtic Manor, Newport For further information, please contact the GIMA Press Office on (01959) 564947 or

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018


Products Peat Compost


GARDEN PRODUCTS Garden Centre Retail visited Somerset to meet Dan Durston of Durston Garden Products; we spoke about the company’s vast history, peat’s environmental issues, and how to give back to nature


n 1860, Aquilla Durston moved to Sharpham in Somerset to dig peat for fuel. His business remained unchanged for three generations, cutting peat and selling it from a horse and cart to towns around Glastonbury. By the time the fifth generation of Durstons took the reins, the horse and cart had been replaced by a Land Rover and trailer, but the business model remained the same. THE DECLINE OF PEAT FUEL As peat for horticulture became more popular, its use for fuel declined. “We had a machine that used to cut the peat blocks, but we found that the demand for peat burning blocks was


shrinking”, Dan tells us. In 1960, Dan’s grandfather moved on to selling peat for

In 1989, Dan’s grandfather retired, and his father and uncle set up their first processing

We had a machine that used to cut the peat blocks, but we found that the demand for peat burning blocks was shrinking horticulture. “In the midsixties, my grandfather sold peat to another company” Dan explains. “In those days, my father Steve and my uncle Chris hauled peat with tractors and trailers to a factory seven miles away, doing ten loads a day”.

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

facility. Since those early days, Durston Garden Products has increased its sales to around 50,000 pallets a year. A FAMILY BUSINESS Dan is the sixth generation of Durstons to work within the

business – although it wasn’t his original plan to go straight into it. “When I left school, I was going to go to university and study accountancy, but I decided in the end that it wasn’t for me”, he says. “I spoke to my father about a job here, and he didn’t want me joining – he wanted me to further my studies and become an accountant and come into the business later. I went away and did a few jobs that I didn’t really enjoy until a job became available here in 1998. That was in the production team, driving a forklift and filling and stacking bags”. Dan became production manager in 2007, having worked his way up the ladder.

Peat Compost Products “Then in 2016 a vacancy became available in sales”, he adds, “and as I’d already been doing one or two days a week in sales it was a natural progression, which then led to the position I currently hold today as national sales manager.” There are currently three family members on the board of directors at Durstons; Chris, who oversees the sales and marketing side of the business, Steve who runs production and looks after the estate and Dan, who now works closely with his uncle Chris. ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS The environmental impact of peat extraction is well documented and one of the conditions of extracting peat these days is that companies involved have to be environmentally responsible. That said, Durstons is no exception and prides itself on the environmental policy it has in place and the stringent work practices it adheres to, to ensure the details within that policy are met. Whilst the carbon issue may well be a valid point on some raised bogs, at Durstons peat is only extracted from land that was drained centuries ago by the monks of Glastonbury Abbey, so the carbon has already been released. “In fact”, says Dan, “We have created fantastic wildlife habitats. All the land that we exhaust, we give straight back to nature by building clay bunds and flooding them, this in turn has attracted all sorts of flora and fauna. Five years ago, if you were talking to a customer or a potential customer, they would want to have lots of recycled material, so we tried to cut-back on the amount of peat we used. As it happened, everybody jumped on the bandwagon and produced peat-free products, but since then we’ve come full circle. Customers now tell us they don’t want any of that ‘recycled

We have created fantastic wildlife habitats. All the land that we exhaust, we give straight back to nature by building clay bunds and flooding them. This in turn has attracted all sorts of flora and fauna

stuff ‘– they want peat! Consequently our reduced peat blend, incorporating Gro-Boost is the ideal middle ground solution.” The bags into which compost is packed and used by many growing-media companies, also have an impact on the environment as they are not recyclable, but Durstons has found a way around this. “It was pointed out to us that laminated films, used by our competitors as bagging material, are not recyclable anywhere”, continues Dan. “However, at Durstons we have found a plastic that is 100% recyclable, and whilst we encourage people to re-use their bags before disposing

of them, we’ve come up with a form of plastic that is totally recyclable. In Somerset, as in many other parts of the UK, a kerbside collection for plastic bottles, yoghurt pots and similar has been introduced, and Durstons bags can go into that. However, there is currently no other alternative than to use plastic for our packaging, but we are always keeping an ear to the ground to find other solutions”. THE COMPETITION “Being smaller and a less well known brand, means we can offer a difference, which many garden centres seem to like” continues Dan, “it also means our products aren’t going

to be found cheaper in the supermarkets”. Durstons also prides itself on its Britishness; it doesn’t export or import anything, which Dan feels gives the company a great advantage over its competitors. “What this means is that overseas companies will struggle to compete with us in the future” he adds, ”and we see this as a great advantage”. The business currently has a turnover of around £4 million per year and is experiencing a growth period. “We have around 5-10% of the UK amateur gardening market, and it is our aim to get more in the future”. w www.durstongarden

Garden Centre Retail June/July


Products Pets


PET PRODUCTS The pet product market represents a significant opportunity for garden centres to increase revenue. British pet owners are spending more on their four-legged friends than ever before, and garden centres are in prime position to profit from that. GCR speaks with Gemma Kelly at Petface to find out what garden centres can do to drive more sales in the pet sector

What are the options a garden centre has when it comes to showcasing pet products? Petface offers a selection of stands, both high and low level, that can display products either on a shelf or by hanging them. For bedding, Petface has a fantastic tiered display solution, allowing centres to create a lifestyle setting that includes other products from an extensive range of pet products and accessories. What works best for a garden centre that has limited space for pet products? Secondary display solutions are a fantastic option. These would be best filled with seasonal products and offers that can be easily rotated throughout the year.


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

How can a garden centre inspire customers to buy more products in this category? Lifestyle merchandising is key – it creates theatre and encourages multiple buys across the pet ranges. What are the key things a garden centre should do when deciding how to display its pet products? Make it look like a home! If your clients find the displays comfortable and engaging, then their pet is certain to feel the same. What are the key things centres should avoid? All garden centres are different; each and every one will face their own challenges. However, one thing you must always do is be consistent and fresh in your approach to merchandising your pet area.

Pets Products

Medium Animal House Norfolk Industries • Award winning product (PATS Sandown 2018) • Engaging young children with their small pet and an art and craft activity • Good value for money - lots of products included for the price • Supporting employment of people with disabilities (Norfolk Industries employs people with disabilities and also provides work placements to others with barriers to work) • Aimed at small rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, chinchillas, squirrels and hedgehogs RRP £6.99

Penetrator Spray – Urine & Odour PowAir • Safe and non-toxic • Produces 5 probiotic enzymes, unrivalled formulation • 40 essential oils • Will remove all urine stains/ odours on any surface • Fresh and natural fragrance RRP £12.85 Does having livestock for sale increase spend on the pet product sector? Lauren Huntley of Coletta & Tyson Garden Centre in Beverley, East Yorkshire says: Yes – selling live pets increases our pet product sales. When we sell live animals, the customer will often buy the full set-up at the same time: the housing, bedding, toys, food, treatments etc. We also advise customers on what products their new pet will need, not just for the initial set-up but for their general care. This way, our staff can give the animal the best start, as well as boosting associated sales within the department. The customer will usually return to buy their pet products from us after the initial new pet purchase, so we also gain repeat custom.

Portable washing brush Mud Daddy • • • • •

5-litre capacity Portable and compact Environmentally friendly 1.2 metre hose Built-in sprayer brush

RRP £29.99

Ralph & Co “Marlow” Nest Bed Trilanco Ltd • A luxury tartan fabric nest bed to complement modern interiors • Removable cover suitable for machine washing, 100% polyester filling and anti-slip base • One-year warranty against manufacturing defects • Designed in Great Britain, handcrafted in Italy • Available in sizes XS (45 x 60cm) to L (85 x 110cm) RRP £29.99

Garden Centre Retail June/July


Products Hand Tools



Garden Centre Retail speaks with Sarah Cottle, head of brand and PR for Bulldog Tools to take a look at the hand tools market, what a good offering should consist of and how you can perfect your upselling skills in this sector

What are the options a garden centre has to showcase Hand tools? Most garden centres hang tools on standard hanging hooks, but we are increasingly seeing more imaginative displays, with things such as plants, pots and other sundries attractively mixed with tools on display tables. Garden tools tend to be quite pricey, but can be easy to steal, so it is worth considering placing your tool display near the tills or in an area which can be monitored during opening hours. Is it good enough to just keep them in packs on a shelf? We find that the more imaginatively the tools are displayed, the better that they sell. We would recommend removing the tools from their delivery packaging to ensure that customers can see the tools


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

at their best and with any point of sale packaging on display. It is often worth mixing up displays to maximise sales, for example, merchandising bulb planters with bulbs themselves will increase sales.

should include a spade, fork, border spade and fork, hand trowel, hand fork, Dutch hoe, garden rake, lawn rake, leaf rake, lawn edger, secateurs, hedge shears, lopper and pruning saw.

How can a garden centre inspire customers to buy more products in this category? By ensuring that tools are kept clean and tidily displayed and making sure all point of sale information is accurate, up to date and clearly visible near the display. The staff at a garden centre will also benefit from product training so that they can point out the individual features and benefits of each item.

Which products naturally lead on to added sales for garden centres in this market? Hand trowels, hand forks and small cutting tools all tend to work well in the ‘value added’ sales sector. Almost every gardener will need these items, they are small, lightweight and affordable and can easily be added to displays of bedding plants, seeds and general gifts.

What should a basic hand tools offering consist of? All good tool offerings at a garden centre

CONTACT 01780 763041

Hand Tools Products

Rolson Midi Garden Tools Range • Rugged hammertone-finish carbon steel for extra strength • Solid ash wood handles with hang tag for easy storage • Mid-length – not too short, not too long • Extra leverage • Ideal for working in confined areas, e.g. borders and bedding work RRP £6.99

Kent & Stowe Garden Life Range • Lightweight, making it easier to garden for longer • Appeals to gardeners of all ages and abilities • 12 tools in range, covering all aspects of the category • Tools are fit for purpose without being heavy or cumbersome • Design-led, space-efficient, full-colour educational display stand RRP £7.99-£22.99

Niwaki GR Secateurs • Robust and hardwearing • Hand-forged in Sanjo, Japan • KA70 carbon steel • Chunky catch at the bottom and the strong spring gives a reassuringly simple, functional feel • Highly visible yellow grips

Prongcroft Ltd The Garden Prong • Quick, simple and easy to use by people of mixed abilities and experience • Allows the user to extract weeds around plants and shrubs without damaging the plant itself • Allows stones and small rocks to fall through the prongs, making weeding easier and safer, ensuring space between the prongs does not get blocked or obstructed • Aerates the soil • No costly attachments required RRP £14.99 (short version)

RRP £69

Garden Centre Retail June/July


Garden Centre Retail June.indd 1

06/06/2018 15:29:54

Outdoor Living Products

OUTDOOR LIVING Apple & pear fountains Kaemingk

The Bulb 7-string NOMA Garden Art

• • • • •

• Solar 365 technology, will work 12 months of the year with minimal sunlight • Six-hour timer, turns on at dusk and lasts for six hours to conserve power • Available with simple merchandising shelving solution if needed • Available with ‘The Cube’ – NOMA’s exclusive lighting display box to show the bulb at it’s best • Available to deliver immediately

‘Plug and play’ fountains, easy to install New design for spring 2019 Lightweight material Has the look and feel of natural stone Including LED light

RRP £99

RRP £25.99

RedFire Logger OutTrade BV • • • • •

Combination of wood and rusted steel No assembly needed Wide diameter Easy to move Strong base

RRP £150

Round Gazebo Bonningtons • Heavy duty circular gazebo • 270cm height x 350cm diameter • Large enough to shelter a complete furniture set. • Air-vented canopy • Side curtains included RRP £199

Q9 Muztag Outdoor Fires • • • • •

Concealed gas cylinder Stunning ceramic tile surface finish Gas valve safety key and ODS pilot safety Operates using propane or butane Includes rain cover

RRP £789

Garden Centre Retail June/July


Products Garden Furniture

GARDEN FURNITURE Savoy Dining Set 4 Seasons Outdoor • • • •

Manufactured using the best synthetic weave Hularo Guaranteed for 10 years All framework is made with Powder coated Aluminium Cushions supplied are All weather cushions

RRP From £259 Equinox 360cm extending rectangular Dining table Barlow Tyrie Ltd • • • •

Meridian Pergola Seat Zest4Leisure

Can be extended with ease Powder coated stainless steel frame and a practical scratch-resistant ceramic table top Minimal maintenance Can be combined with the Equinox Powder Coated Chairs and Armchairs

• • • • •

RRP £4,650

Pressure treated timber FSC c ertified product Trellis side panel for climbing plants 10 year anti-rot guarantee Freestanding installation

RRP £299.99

Modern picnic set with terrazzo top Kaemingk • • • • •

New Spring 2019 design 100% FSC Acacia Frost resistant One table and two benches Two year guarantee

RRP £899

Panama Lounge Set LG Outdoor • • • • •

LG Outdoor exclusive weather proof eden cushions Inset stone table top Two-year limited warranty FSC certified acacia wood Waterproof and UV resistant

RRP £1,999


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

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Products Tree Pruner



Fiskars’ new telescopic tree pruner allows its users to reach new heights The newest addition to the PowerGear X range, the Fiskars PowerGear X Telescopic Tree Pruner, can reach even the tallest trees; it extends to six metres, dwarfing the standard 3.5m pruner. Designed with a 230º cutting angle so that no branch is left untouched, the Fiskars PowerGear X Telescopic Tree Pruner removes once-unreachable overhanging branches with ease. The tool’s range extends from 2.4m to 6m, so gardeners can tailor the tool to the suitable length for the task at hand. It also features an orange cutting support feature for added visibility, as well as a durable soft-grip handle and a non-slip base for optimal grip. RRP £135.99


Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

A superb range of Crescent Garden planters and planter bowls. Traditional and contemporary styles in a range of colours and sizes 16” – 40” diam. Manufactured in polyethylene resin, lightweight, extremely robust, and guaranteed frost-proof and colour stable. Most are double-walled for extra insulation, and pre-drilled for drainage. Styles and sizes colour-match if selected in a common colour.

See us in 2018 at HTA National Plant Show 19-20 June GLEE 10-12 September Tel: 01323 831888 Email: Tel : 023 8084 5616

Garden Centre Retail

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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 • •

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28-05-18 16:56

Products Artificial Flowers

Garden Centre Retail talks to Liam O’Flaherty about the artificial flower brand, the importance of quality, and the support Floralsilk offers its customers Can you give us an outline of the Floralsilk brand? The brand is synonymous with high end beautifully realistic replica flowers, plants and foliage with a growing reputation for exquisite Christmas decorations. Market leaders for over 30 years, Floralsilk is an innovative, creative brand that is always at the forefront of the industry bringing contemporary products to market. What makes your products different to others? It is down to our quality and design. We are dedicated to sourcing the highest quality materials and with 90% of our floral arrangements being designed and created in our factory in Lincolnshire, we can ensure that Floralsilk remains a leader of our craft and are highly responsive to market trends, which is obviously beneficial to both us and our customers. What are the key selling points of the products? The quality of faux flower materials has become much better over the years and quality is one of our key priorities when we’re making selections or designing, both in floral and Christmas. We also believe that we offer an unparalleled range of products, giving our customers an unrivalled choice. We hold generous stock levels in our UK warehouse which means we can turn orders around very quickly. Garden Centres can choose to place an order through one of our account managers, via our sales office or online and, as long as we receive the order before 2pm, we can usually get it delivered to them the following day.


What support do you offer garden centres? Each of our Garden Centre customers has a dedicated Floralsilk representative who visits on a regular basis, probably every four to six weeks depending on the season and the customer’s requirements. They can offer whatever support may be required from display advice to industry information on upcoming trends. We also offer a merchandising service



and have a range of display solutions for single stem flowers to ensure they make the required impact. Each customer also has access to the Floralsilk website where they can log in to see their account information, check availability of products and place orders. If an item is out of stock, our system suggests other similar items for them. From a marketing perspective we will always support our customers to promote their offerings through our various social media channels. We are highly responsive to any displays, campaigns or promotions that our customers may implement with Floralsilk products and will support them by rolling out to our following. In addition, we also have a centrally based 6,500 sq. ft showroom in Bourne,

Garden Centre Retail June/July 2018

Lincolnshire and we warmly welcome any customers to visit us and experience the Floralsilk collections first hand. Why should a garden centre sell Floralsilk products? We offer our customers high quality, on-trend products that sell very well. All our items will arrive pre-labelled with RRPs and we offer a merchandising service as part of our exceptional customer service. These ‘added extras’ can make a huge difference to garden centres saving time and resources whilst benefitting from a popular product line. What’s the next step for Floralsilk? We will continue to innovate and evolve and bring in vogue products to our customers. Our floral lines are becoming increasingly more lifelike and,

where price will allow, this is a feature that we are continually striving to perfect. Our Christmas range is also growing fast with over a thousand new lines being introduced every year. Finally, we always listen to feedback from our customers and our account managers to make sure we’re offering the right products at the right times. This is vitally important because we pride ourselves on being market leaders who are highly responsive to both our customer needs and industry trends. w


01778 425205 Twitter: @floralsilk Instagram: @floralsilkflowers Meadow Drove Business Centre, Meadow Drove, Bourne, PE10 0BQ



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