Garden Centre Retail April 2015

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Garden Centre Retail Issue 13 • April 2015


Kevin Bradshaw


Concessions Expanding the appeal of your garden centre

on expansion plans for Wyevale Garden Centres


Staff incentives Motivating your employees

Catering Increasing cafe visitor numbers with innovative design

Plastic fantastic Making the most of fake plants

ways to use the planteria to increase sales

How to persuade ‘generation rent’ to invest outdoors


GCR Apr15 P01 Front Cover3 TW.indd 1

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Welcome to...

Garden Centre Retail Onwards and upwards...


elcome to the April issue of GCR, the leading source of news, opinion and advice for anyone working in the garden centre retail sector. It’s been an important few months for the title, not least because we’ve marked our first anniversary by taking the design of the magazine into its next phase. We’ve already received lots of very welcome complimentary feedback about the new look, something which we hope will be echoed as we grow and develop the content over the coming year as well. One of the real benefits of taking a step back to look at the bigger picture is that it offers the opportunity to see what’s already been achieved. With that in mind, allow us to blow our own trumpet, with the last year

witnessing major innovations including our news app, as well as becoming the site of choice for those seeking daily industry news and jobs. We’re not stopping there however, and will soon be launching two new initiatives. Watch this space – and in the meantime check out this month’s great features, including an exclusive interview with Wyevale

Garden Centres CEO Kevin Bradshaw, and an insider look at using innovative design to maximise cafe footfall. Enjoy the issue.

Jim & Lisa Wilkinson Directors, Garden Centre Retail

PUBLISHER Mark Higgins Tel: 01903 777 576 EDITORIAL Director – Lisa Wilkinson Tel: 01903 777 579 Commissioning Editor – Philip Mason Tel: 01903 777 575 Editorial Assistant – Mollie Bennett Tel: 01903 777 583 ADVERTISING Business Development Manager Jamie Wilkinson Tel: 01903 777 588 Account Manager – Ellie Downes Tel: 01903 777 587 Accounts Assistant – Lisa Woollard Tel: 01903 777 579 Horticulture Careers Tel: 01903 777 587

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Garden Centre Retail is published 12 times per year by Eljays44 Ltd. 2015 subscription price is £95.00. Subscription records are maintained at Eljays44 Ltd, 3 Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, West Sussex BN16 3DA. Articles and information contained in this publication are the copyright of Eljays44 Ltd and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publishers. The publishers cannot accept responsibility for loss of, or damage to, uncommissioned photographs or manuscripts. Whilst every effort has been made to maintain the integrity of our advertisers, we accept no responsibility for any problem, complaints, or subsequent litigation arising from readers’ responses to advertisements in the magazine. We also wish to emphasise that views expressed by editorial contributors are not necessarily those of the publishers. Reproduction of any part of this magazine is strictly forbidden.

Garden Centre Retail April 2015


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Garden Centre Retail CONTENTS

April 2015



Concessions Expanding the appeal of your garden centre

Kevin Bradshaw

on expansion plans for Wyevale Garden Centres


Staff incentives Motivating your employees

Catering Increasing cafe visitor numbers with innovative design

Plastic fantastic Making the most of fake plants

ways to use the planteria to increase sales

How to persuade ‘generation rent’ to invest outdoors 26/03/2015 13:46



A roundup of the latest news in the industry

09 ASSOCIATION NEWS The HTA announces its Catering Conference; two new modules for the GCA’s e-learning initiative Garden Retail Online Workshops

Wyevale Garden Centres Head of Concession Sales Emma Conroy discusses ways to expand the garden centre’s core offer

20 STAFF INCENTIVES Dr Nicola Davies takes a look at the power of incentives to motivate your workforce





GENERATION RENT Liz Dobbs on how to persuade renters to invest in their outdoor space

Wyevale Garden Centres CEO Kevin Bradshaw discusses current and future plans





Jane Perrone discusses how to get the most from fake plants

Gabrielle Guile talks about using innovative design to increase customer interest in garden centre restaurants


GCR Apr15 P05 Contents.indd 5

Issue 13 • April 2015

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Garden Centre Retail



Doug Stewart suggests 10 ways to boost sales and add inspiration to the heart of any garden centre




Lucy Summers explores the best ways to appeal to customers looking for green goods


Suppliers update us on all the latest happenings


Geoff Hodge looks at lawn care


Products to keep lawns looking lush


A roundup of ideas to make the most of your selling space

44 WATERING PRODUCTS Helping customers make a splash in the garden


All the leading products for the garden centre industry


Garden Centre Retail speaks to Andrew Mather at Clover Peat Products


We shine a light on six industry personalities

39 Garden Centre Retail April 2015


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Core gardening categories see 2015 sales increase

NEWS CENTRE William Sinclair Horticulture appoints new chief executive


he Garden Centre Association has registered an increase in core gardening category sales for February of this year, according to its barometer of trade results. Sales of seeds and bulbs saw the biggest rise, with an increase of just over 14%. Interest in outdoor plants meanwhile increased by around 9% compared with the same month last year, while houseplants went up 7.5%. Elsewhere, sales in garden centre catering departments rose by almost 6%. Iain Wylie, the Garden Centre Association’s Chief Executive, said: “It’s great to see sales of core gardening categories on the rise consistently since the beginning of the year, and I only hope this continues.”

Mountain Warehouse to open in Dobbies, Cirencester


ountain Warehouse has announced that it will be opening a new concession in the Cirencester branch of Dobbies. The retailer focuses on outdoor pursuits such as walking, cycling, camping and running. The Dobbies shop will be providing customers with the company’s full outdoor range.


illiam Sinclair Horticulture has appointed a new chief executive. Stuart Burgin will spearhead phase two of William Sinclair’s transformation from a traditional peat harvester to a ‘world-leading producer of locally sourced, ecologically sustainable growing media’. He has also been tasked with streamlining operations following a period of heavy capital investment.


Speaking of his new role, he said: “I am joining a first class team and I look forward to leading this great British company into a new era.” Burgin, 52, has extensive senior management experience, having worked for RHM, Robert McBride and, most recently, Oscar Mayer. He succeeds Peter Rush, who has left the company after two years.

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Area manager Steve Dyer expressed his delight in its new collaboration with Dobbies. He said: “Our high street store has been very successful in the town and we are looking forward to welcoming our existing and new customers into Mountain Warehouse.”

£3million expansion includes restaurant at Carr Farm


arr Farm Garden Centre in The Wirral is undergoing a £3million redevelopment, incorporating a new state-ofthe-art catering facility, the 300-seat Atrium restaurant. According to the company, the project has led to the creation of 75 jobs, 20 of which are in the restaurant. It will take three years to complete and see new shops and concession stands on site.

Speaking of the scheme, which has been funded by NatWest, managing director of the centre David Jones said: “The development is an exciting project that will enhance the business and allow us to develop more retail space. “The new restaurant is a fantastic addition for visitors, who may be here for an afternoon of shopping.”

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p r o d u c t lni en we s

Perennial’s HortAid reaches £30,000 mark



Town & Country has appointed Rebecca Spreckley as its national account manager. She will manage of all the company’s key national business, including its UK garden centre groups.

orticulture trade charity Perennial’s annual fundraising campaign HortAid has raised over £30,000 so far this year. Director of marketing and development Anita Bates said:

“We are thrilled that so many people have already stepped up to raise money for Perennial in 2015. We’re off to a flying start but there’s a long way to go before we secure the funds we need this year.”

HortAid was set up to raise funds to help horticulturists in need of support. The organisation’s year of fundraising kicked off with the its popular Party for Perennial event.

A new clematis called ‘Amazing London’ has been launched at the Country Living Spring Fair in Islington. The flower is the first in a series, each named after a different world city.

Charlie Dimmock goes on spring tour

Avonfield named Wiltshire’s best garden centre



harlie Dimmock will be visiting garden centres this spring as part of the Gro-Sure planting magic event. The TV personality and author will be on manoeuvres in April and May, visiting businesses including Birchen Grove in London and Hollybush in Wolverhampton. GCR Apr15 P06-08 News.indd 7

While on the road, Dimmock will be taking time to answer questions from customers, as well as holding ‘how-to’ sessions. She will be appearing in TV adverts for Gro-Sure to coincide with the appearances, which the company predicts will be seen by 14 million people.

vonfield Gardens has been named Wiltshire’s Best Garden Centre by the readers of local newspaper, The Wiltshire Times. The store was opened by James Vincent and co-owner Matthew Webb in Bradfordon-Avon in 2008. It has since relocated to Hilperton due to an increase in land rent imposed last year. Speaking of the award, co-owner Vincent said: “It is a huge honour for us to get the award for Wiltshire’s best garden centre. To receive it so early after our move is a great compliment. We are touched by the kindness and support we have received from everyone.” The Wiltshire Times launched its ‘Wiltshire’s Best’ competition earlier this year to give readers the chance to decide which local businesses deserve recognition for being the best in the area.

Fiskars’ new UK showroom and offices have been officially opened by the Finnish ambassador, Pekka Huhtaniemi. The high-rise office in Birmingham’s Mclaren building includes a specially designed demonstration area, as well as interactive product displays. Experts have warned that 2015 could be the worst year on record for gardeners, following a ‘perfect storm’ of high winter temperatures and the arrival of the Spanish slug to UK shores. The ‘superslug’ grows up to 15cm, reproduces at twice the rate of native slugs and has an extra layer of protective slime making it immune to most products. The West Norwood branch of B&Q has donated tools to help a group of young gardeners from Hitherfield Primary School in Streatham. The donation was given in conjunction with the Conservation Foundation’s Tools Shed, a project that facilitates the recycling of garden tools. The implements were repaired by prisoners at HMP Wandsworth.

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Webbs to champion popular garden butterfly


ebbs garden centre in Wychbold has become a ‘species champion’ of the small tortoiseshell butterfly. The decision was taken by the company to raise the profile of the species, as well as to support the imminent publication of a book by West Midlands Butterfly Conservation. Speaking of the initiative, Webbs’ Chairman Ed Webb said: “We spent some time debating which species to choose, but the small tortoiseshell is a perfect link with Webbs. They are one

of the most frequently seen butterflies in gardens, and will be familiar to everyone due to their distinctive yellow and orange upper markings.” He continued: “As a garden centre, we actively encourage our customers to seek out butterfly-friendly plants. Our own stunning gardens at Wychbold – which are open at no charge to visitors – are packed with plants that are a perfect butterfly habitat.” The proposed book is due out in spring 2016 and will be available to order via

Love The Plot You’ve Got roadshow gets off to a flyer


he Love The Plot You’ve Got roadshow began in earnest at the end of March, at the edible garden event Good Life Live, taking place at Alexandra Palace in London. Speaking of the campaign’s ‘inspirational garden’ feature at the show, manager David Arnold said: “It has been a fantastic first outing for Love The Plot You’ve Got at Good Life Live. The feature received a lot of interest from visitors. “People can really relate to these spaces, and importantly are signing up for further inspiration through the website and social media. Many beginner gardeners have come

New Shrewsbury garden centre honours Percy Thrower

through the door looking for ideas and inspiration.” The roadshow will be visiting a variety of venues across the UK over the spring and early summer, including the Home and Garden Show at StratfordUpon-Avon and George Square in Glasgow. Love The Plot… is an industry-wide campaign, designed to give budding gardeners inspiration for transforming small outdoor spaces. The roadshow is supported by horticulturist and broadcaster Chris Collins, who will be providing tips and demonstrations.


yevale Garden Centres has opened a new Shropshire garden centre in honour of beloved TV gardener Percy Thrower. The state-of-the-art facility was opened by Toby Buckland in Shrewsbury on 20 March. According to the company, it is designed to be a focal point for the local community, encompassing 100,000sqft of garden and home inspiration. Toby Buckland and Margaret Thrower – one of Percy’s three

New boss for Haskins Snowhill


askins has appointed a new general manager for its Snowhill Garden Centre near East Grinstead. David Lilly has over 33 years’ experience in retail having


Garden Centre Retail April 2015

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daughters – gave special talks on the day, speaking of their love and respect for the UK’s first celebrity gardener. Margaret said: “During his life, dad inspired millions of people. He would be overjoyed to see so many people visiting the centre. My sisters and I have worked closely with Wyevale Garden Centres on the development of the centre from the outset and we’re so pleased with the result.”

started with Sainsburys. He has also been manager at several Homebase stores. Snowhill employs 89 full and part-time staff at the store. Lilly admits that his horticultural knowledge is basic but his love of gardening ensures a natural interest in the role. Haskins chief executive Julian Winfield expressed his delight at the new appointment. He said: “David has both the experience and the integrity to ensure that we maintain high standards of service at Snowhill, a centre we have owned since 2003. “We are delighted to welcome David to the management team.”

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news: association news

Association news Horticultural Trades Association High-profile event reflects the importance of garden centre catering


he Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has announced the date and location of its 2015 Catering Conference and Dinner. The event – which is called Catering Matters – will take place on 9 and 10 June 2015 at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield. Hot topics covered at the conference and in workshops will include growing the garden centre catering offer, local provenance and menu planning. There will also be ample opportunity for networking with catering product

suppliers at the attendant conference exhibition. Speaking about the event, an HTA spokesperson said: “Garden centre catering continues to be an extremely important aspect of many garden retail businesses. In reflection of this continued interest, we are delighted to announce that this year’s HTA Catering Conference, sponsored by Vision Commercial Kitchens, will be a two-day event, complete with a conference dinner and exhibition.”

days of great content and inspiring ideas. The conference dinner will provide a further chance to network and share experiences with those involved in garden centre catering.”

The spokesperson continued: “Situated just 20 minutes away from Birmingham International Airport and Birmingham New Street Station, the Belfry (pictured above) – which is home to the PGA National golf course – will provide a fantastic backdrop for two

Garden Centre Association E-learning initiative continues to GROW


he Garden Centre Association (GCA) has launched two new modules for its e-learning initiative Garden

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Retail Online Workshops. The aim of GROW is to ensure garden centre staff possess a basic level of understanding about horticulture, as well as industry-standard compliance training on topics such as health and safety and food hygiene. The new modules launched for the initiative include basic grow your own vegetables and grow your own potatoes. Mike Burks is one of the GCA executive committee helping to deliver the project. He said: “Last year was extremely successful for Garden Retail Online Workshops. Six new organisations signed up, and we launched several new e-learning modules including basic planting, basic houseplants, GYO tomatoes, Christmas houseplants and Think 21/Think 25. The last of these deals with

the legal aspects surrounding the sale of age-restricted products. “GROW is available to all GCA members to ensure their teams receive quality training that is both convenient to implement and easy to manage.” Chief Executive of the GCA Iain Wylie said: “We currently have in excess of 8,000 staff members from more than 90 garden centres who access GROW. “The programme is ideal for our members. It is a resource that is available 365 days a year, enabling targeted and specific training to help maintain customer service standards at the highest level possible.” Future modules currently being worked on by the association include Danish trolleys, watering at home, outdoor furniture, barbecues and customer services modules.

Members who would like to find out more can contact Iain Wylie via

Garden Centre Retail April 2015 9

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business: opinion

How to sell to ‘generation rent’ Liz Dobbs shares her ideas on how to persuade non-homeowners to spend money on an outdoor space they don’t own Adapt to suit


he term ‘Generation Rent’ – a generation with no realistic prospect of owning their own home in the next five years – was coined in 2011 by the Halifax. Three years on Halifax noted: “69% of 20-45-year-old nonhomeowners are cutting back on their spending to save for a deposit.” HTA focus group research found: “Renters do not want to invest in plants that could not be moved, nor anything permanent for their outdoor living space.” So it is clear garden centres need to find new ways to be relevant to this large market sector.

to promote events, crafts courses, gifts, great coffee shops or personal advice on growing on a patio or indoors. Promote portable items with mix and match displays. Small planters with tolerant plants, hand tools, folding chairs, picnic baskets. The list is endless but displays should be attractive tempters – don’t scare potential buyers with clutter. Promoting plants as quick, easy or instant is not helpful as these terms mean different things to non-gardeners. Spell out basic timings – that bedding plants bought in late spring will

“Garden centres need to find ways to be relevant to this sector” Younger renters are typically creative, energetic, outgoing and fully in tune with social media. Many are fascinated by plants, perhaps not in terms of maintaining a garden but they may see themselves as nature lovers, foodies or ‘plant geeks’.

Give them reasons to visit Try to get across the idea that you don’t need a garden to pop into your garden centre. Use Facebook and Twitter


give colour until October, or that most perennials can be planted out in ground and lifted and repotted if need be. All this helps renters work out which plants are worthwhile for them. Take note of home interior trends. For example, there is a trend for mixing ‘old’ and ‘new’ styles to create something individual and quirky. Take a look at the new GROW London show (19-21 June 2015) at its website

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HTA campaigns

The Garden Industry Marketing Board (GIMB) project manager David Arnold has highlighted a large potential market for garden retailers in the 30-45

age group, many of whom don’t already visit garden centres. The HTA’s ‘Love The Plot You’ve Got’ campaign aims to get customers enjoying their outdoor space by using it for entertainment, relaxation and gardening. See its website, ‘It Starts with a Pot’ is running as a supporting campaign and is particularly relevant for renters. ◗ Liz Dobbs is a researcher, editor, writer and author on all things garden and plant related. Twitter: @gardenslady

Staff masterclasses The HTA/GIMB masterclasses run by director of IBBIS UK Ian Boardman will help you and your staff attract first time garden centre visitors and show them solutions to improve their outdoor space. Speaking at the end of February, Ian said: “We’ve run four masterclasses so far with two to follow. The feedback from delegates has been very positive. They

have all gone away fired up with ideas and things to do. It’s all about selling across departments – not just plants. It’s also made me realise what great people we have in the industry, with huge enthusiasm and passion. We need to capture that through this campaign. So if you aren’t signed up already for LTPYG – then do so. It’s going to be big!”

Image courtesy of Ian Boardman

Image courtesy of

People can rent at any stage of life and in any area. Cities with large student populations often have private rentals that run July to July and the need for students to get their hefty deposits back often sees a frenzy of sweeping, pruning and weeding at this time. Renters with young children will want portable items such as swingball, or badminton so have these in your range as well as the larger climbing frames and swings.

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business: opinion

Plastic fantastic: how to get the most from fake plants

With artificial plants becoming increasingly important to consumers, Jane Perrone discusses the most effective way to incorporate them into store displays


hen is a plant not a plant? When it’s made of plastic. This may sound like a punchline to a not-so-funny joke, but plastic plants and flowers are finally coming of age. I recently found out that nearly a quarter (23%) of all plants and flowers sold by Ikea in the UK are fake. That’s a startling statistic, but one that indicates there’s a solid customer base for nomaintenance greenery. I nearly got caught out by a fake at the Garden Press Event this year – what appeared to be a living wall at first glance turned out to be entirely made of realistic fakes. As someone who loves plants, my gut reaction to synthetic leaves and blooms was one of mild horror. But I had to admit they looked incredibly lifelike and not at all like the cliché of the dusty vase of crudely-

fashioned orchids or poppies we usually imagine when thinking about fakes. And a chat with Dawn Latham, sales director of VistaGreen, soon got me thinking about all the applications for maintenancefree plants. These include lowlight basement flats, offices and hotels, wind-blasted roof gardens, pollutionheavy pavement cafes – in fact anywhere real plants won’t thrive. There’s a further benefit too in that artificial plants are far lighter than their real counterparts. Thus, they don’t require the same kind of heavy-duty anchoring green walls do, or weighted vases or pots in the case of cut flowers and container plants. Although Latham said that the market for fake green walls is a niche one at the moment, she foresees

Fake it ‘til you make it Here’s Paul Holt’s expert advice on how to choose and display fake flowers: Proportion – Make sure the ratio of plants to leaves is correct so the plant looks realistic Colour – The colour should be accurate and UV stable so it does not fade over time Texture – Plant leaves and petals aren’t all shiny and smooth but come in all sorts of grains and textures, so good fakes should copy that. For instance,

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some synthetic orchids have flocking on them to look like the natural hairs on the flower Construction – How well are the plants put together and are they botanically accurate? Some fake orchids have roots as they would in real life. Potted artificial aloe from

VistaGreen’s fake green wall can be installed in places real plants can’t

the day when they will be on sale in every garden centre. Just look at synthetic turf, she points out. A couple of decades ago it was only for sports pitches unless you wanted a product that looked like the stuff under the apple boxes at the greengrocers. Now a high quality fake lawn is accessible to everyone, with material sold on rolls for DIY installation available from a whole host of firms across the UK. Paul Holt, creative director of North One and West Six garden centres in London, is, like me, naturally sceptical about the gaudy fake plants that abound in pound shops. They are worlds away from the high-quality synthetics he sells. “These days there are some amazing fake plants but you have to be selective because even the really good

suppliers have some that don’t look good,” he tells me. So how exactly does he use them in displays in order to maximise their impact in-store? “If you just get a vase and chuck in some fake flowers they are going to look rubbish. It’s the artistry that you put into it that makes them exciting. They are particularly useful in Christmas displays when real flowers won’t last,” he says. So Holt uses high quality containers and vases and makes sure he prevents an off-putting rime of dust on leaves and petals simply by putting them in the shower every fortnight or so. He also recommends ensuring that sales areas for fake blooms are situated well away from real plants: “They need to be separated so that its clear to customers which are the real ones,” he advises. ◗ Jane Perrone is The Guardian’s gardening editor and the author of The Allotment Keeper’s Handbook Twitter: @janeperrone

Garden Centre Retail April 2015


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business: boosting sales

All grown up: 10 ways to boost sales in the planteria Garden centre consultant Doug Stewart shares 10 ways to add life, theatre and inspiration to the heart of your garden centre


illed with scent and colour, planterias are the heart of any garden centre. They are our point of difference and the very reason for our existence. They are the vehicle through which we sell our credibility and our passion for plants and gardening.

Creating inspirational yet shoppable displays is a great way of sharing your passion while teaching customers about plant associations and using colour. Tying these displays into the latest trends from RHS Chelsea or Hampton Court can show your customers how easy it is to get the look.

1 Park life

Where better to start to share our love of plants and gardening than in the car park? If we get this right our customers should feel that they are parking in a garden with the inspiration starting before they have even undone their seat belts.


Make an entrance

Bringing plants right into the entrance of the garden centre creates a strong subliminal image, telling the customer that this place is all about plants. Timmerman’s Garden Centre (above) makes full use of a small outdoor area at their entrance to really set the scene, inspiring and engaging their customers.

3 Provide projects

Our customers, in particular those with children and grandchildren, are looking for weekend projects. Showcasing simple, easy-to-achieve projects, such as creating strawberry


9 Make arrangements

towers or herb wheels, really engages customers. Perrywood Garden Centre (above) is a master at this, from simple projects to its Children’s Gardening Club through to displaying garden furniture amongst the plants to show the customer how to use the products at home.


Find your voice

We often refer to point of sale as the silent salesperson, but is your POS reflecting your passion for plants? Is it unique to you? Is it speaking with your voice? Is it enthusing about the plant in such an engaging way that customers just cannot help but buy? Woodside Walled Garden, a small nursery in the Scottish Borders, uses simple blackboards to demonstrate its passion for plants (below). It even names the plants’ growers – ‘Grown by Graham’ – before giving a compelling one-word reason to buy, for example ‘scented’ or ‘hardy’.

Garden Centre Retail April 2015

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8 On-trend displays

5 Add personality

As independents, we need to march in the opposite direction to the chains and corporates. This involves creating unique spaces filled with inspiration, charm and humour. The National Trust in its plant centre at Mottisfont Gardens uses pieces of old furniture, planted up creatively to give its planteria a unique charm and identity.

6 Colour sells

Retailing plants effectively is all about colour and Cowell’s Garden Centre is great at using colour to create demand. At the end of the day, high quality plants, merchandised with skill and imagination drives sales every time.

We all know that colour sells and the planteria should always be filled with it. We need to make it easy for people to take that colour home with them. Stunning planted arrangements delight customers and increase average spend. Adding a parcel tag with care instructions and the signature of the member of staff who planted it up just adds to the specialness.

10 Easy does it

Finally, making it easy for people to shop is the key to increasing plant sales. Batsford Plant Centre (below) sets out its plants and then places baskets nearby – which is almost like whispering, “Go on, you know you want to,” in the ear of a tempted customer. ◗

7 Send a clear message

We know that customers like local products but are we getting the message over in a way that our customers can really understand and engage with? Rather than saying “we source plants from local suppliers” like all other garden centres, why not try the much more powerful “by shopping here you are supporting nine small, local, artisan nurseries”.

Garden centre consultant Doug Stewart of Waring Stewart Associates is passionate about garden centres. He can be contacted at www.

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advertising feature

Organic Flower & Houseplant Natural Fertiliser Maxicrop has launched a new addition to its successful range of Soil Association-approved natural fertilisers


rganic Flower & Houseplant Natural Fertiliser is packed in 500ml bottles, and joins the range of Organic Tomato, Organic Lawn and All Purpose Organic Garden 1 litre products. The Maxicrop Natural Fertiliser range is made from plant extracts and seaweed – no animal products are used. Seaweed stimulates strong healthy growth and improves plants’ ability to withstand environmental stress. Together with the natural fertiliser from plant extracts (4-2-6 N-P-K) this helps make flowers and houseplants beautiful and healthy. The product is ideal for all types of outdoor ornamental plants – from bedding plants to hanging baskets and container

plants – as well as for houseplants. A 500ml bottle is suff icient to make 100 litres of feed solution. The product and has a RRP of £5.79, including VAT per bottle and is packed in outers of 12. According to Shane Deaville, Maxicrop’s sales and marketing director: “We believe the product will be a popular choice for the growing number of discerning organic lifestyle gardeners. “The main appeal of the product appears to be its Soil Association approval, and because it is made with sustainable ingredients and safe to use. The excellent results achieved with the product should encourage repeat sales.”

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Garden Ce ntre Retail Retail e tr en C en d Gar K Issue 13 • April 2015





... evin Bradshaw

2015 Issue 12 • March



on expans ion plans Wyevale Garden Ce for ntres

Paul Loft on the future of Homebase



Concessio Expanding ns the appeal of you garden cen r tre


ways to drive up café footfall g Award-winnin journey Fron Goch’s llence to catering exce


How EPoS Cat gene g rate canerin Increasing ty loyal cafe customer visitor num bers with innovative design ily business

10 P01 Front

ar y

An ni ve rs

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Cover3 TW.indd


Plastic fan Making the tastic mo of fake pla st nts How to per suade ‘generatio to invest outn rent’ doors

1s t


Ed iti on

Fam ing hoot trouble-swa ys to use the pla to increase nteria sales

Staff ince ntiv Motivating es your employee s


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5 13:50

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Front Cover.indd



the community Digital

For even easier access to all of GCR’s top content – and to take it with you wherever you go – download our new free app to your mobile device. Simply go to the App Store, and search for ‘Garden Centre Retail’.



Our jobs portal has fast become the go-to website for industry professionals wishing to find work in the sector, boasting more than 25,000 views a month from people wishing to further their career. To set up an account and advertise your job, visit

GCR’s website is the leading online platform for the garden centre retail sector, providing up-to-the-minute news, essential features, advice and blogs from industry leaders. Don’t make any business decision until you’ve consulted Garden Centre Retail.

Join the community CONTACT US: 01903 777570 gcr full page.indd 3


Garden Centre Retail will be running annual branded events such as FutureLines, which takes place at Sandown Park Racecourse on 2 March 2016. There will be no better environment in which to network, discuss the hot topics facing the industry or take on best practice to benefit your business. 26/03/2015 14:49

business: concessions

Concessions: a great opportunity to expand your appeal Garden Centre Retail talks to Emma Conroy, Head of Concessions at Wyevale Garden Centres, about how concession retailing can complement a garden centre’s core offering Do you think concessions could have an effect on your brand identity? Absolutely I do! It’s as much about understanding the customer and brand associations as it is about securing profit for the business. A lot of our work over the past 18 months has been about really getting behind what our customers want to see and shop for in our centres, and then reflecting this within our concession placements.

What are the pros of having concessions in a garden centre? Our customers are drawn to us first and foremost for our garden offer – plants, flowers and horticultural expertise is our key differentiator as a retailer however garden centres are also a leisure destination, and concessions offer us a way to expand our appeal and give customers more reasons to visit us. The presence of retailers offering products beyond our core focus such as pets, aquatics and clothing enhances our garden centre’s proposition and puts us on the map as true destinations, with great shopping, restaurants, and of course great garden and horticultural products. Overall, these categories help drive GCR Apr15 P17-18 Concessions Q&A.indd 17

and what the benefits of introducing them are. It’s important to understand how receptive the customer is going to be to a brand, and whether a particular brand complements the core offer of the garden centre.

How do you ensure they work well with the rest of your business? For me this is the difference between good and great use of this business model. If concessions are brought into a centre without an introduction to help them understand how the brand fits our strategy and the benefits to the overall centre, the concessionaire will only ever be seen as a partner who trades a nominated space. If, however, they are introduced to the teams and involved with the whole centre by way of morning briefings and weekly meetings, the partners start to feel like part of the team and without doubt deliver a greater impact via both customer experience and profit.

How do they affect profit? Concessions can deliver against different commercial models, across a mix of ground rent and/or a percentage of sales. The regular income from renting out space helps smooth revenues and make the business more weatherproof.

Do you prefer point of sale or the renting of space as a model? In an ideal world any concession model regardless of the commercial deal would run its partners on the same tills as the garden centres. You only have to look at the department stores to see that 

“You need a clear strategy for choosing the retailers you wish to be associated with” increased footfall, dwell time and frequency of visits. The uniqueness of the garden centre retail environment is also a good fit for concessionaires. The plants foster a positive mood and increased browse time, and our customers tend to look and buy on impulse, all of which makes a strong proposition for retailers interested in concessioning. Is there a downside to incorporating them? I think it’s all about setting parameters – why they are right for a particular centre

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business: concessions this is a successful model, as it provides access to daily commercial data and provides a seamless customer experience. Are there any departments in which using concessions doesn’t work well? I think that all depends on how strong your own bought models are in each category. Some categories are more labour intensive, others are challenging from a supply chain perspective. It’s all about understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your own business and looking at how introducing external operators can support that. Do you worry how using this kind of business strategy will affect things in the long term? Concessions will continue to be an important part of retail overall, and will in fact grow as a channel. More retailers are getting on board with this model, and the demand to host concession partners is growing. Long term, the model is by its nature very adaptable, and can change with our strategy. This is one of the appeals of the model, as for the host and the concessionaire there is limited risk. Is it possible to have too many in a garden centre? I’m sure it could be. In our


centres the key is to be certain we are providing an excellent gardening offer before any space is released for concession use. It’s also about having a clear strategy for choosing the categories of retailers you wish to be associated with your brand. What does the future look like for concessions and garden centres? It looks great. As store formats and customer journeys within garden centres are becoming more aligned with the high street and retail parks, the

Garden Centre Retail April 2015

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sector will attract interest from additional mainstream retailers who may previously not have entertained or thought of garden centres as a channel opportunity. We are already seeing strong interest as retailers recognise the benefits of the browse time and purchasing trends that garden centre shoppers exhibit. As the growth of the gardening sector continues to evolve, I’m sure that in five years’ time garden centres will become much more of a destination and a mainstay in the retail world.

They will be seen as a retail channel similar to the High Street or retail parks, while retaining all of those fantastic horticultural specialisms along the way. Customers’ expectations of a shopping environment have never been higher and garden centres are in a great position to now maximise on this to become true destinations. w Emma Conroy is Head of Concessions for Wyevale Garden Centres

26/03/2015 11:11

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26/03/2015 11:12

business: staff incentives

How to use incentives to keep staff happy

Incentives can be immeasurably powerful as a tool to motivate staff. Dr Nicola Davies takes a look at when and how to use them


hat is an incentive? Many people think that cash is the only way to motivate staff. However, there are several types of incentive and they don’t have to cost a lot of money. Here is a simple categorisation of the different types, how they work to motivate employees and how they can be applied.

1. Compensation

This is the traditional method that everyone recognises. Examples of compensation incentives include raises, bonuses, profit sharing and stock options. Raises and bonuses are an excellent motivator provided that specific performance and developmental outcomes are linked to the raise or bonus. Everyone likes to feel that they can advance in their work and earnings are a way of keeping score. However, employers should be cautious when using this type of incentive since the employee will become demotivated if he or she achieves the criteria for a raise or a bonus and then fails to receive one. Co-workers watch each other closely and if an employee is rewarded for a specific achievement, colleagues will understandably expect the


same reward for matching achievements. This is an example of a benefit turning into an entitlement. Nevertheless, if you are comfortable with the sustainability of this option, and are able to administer it even-handedly, compensation incentives can still be a powerful tool. Profit sharing and stock options are usually only effective when applied to management-level employees who have control over the profitability of their work unit. However, they have been used with some success at well-known retailers such as the John Lewis Partnership.

2. Recognition

This type of stimulus includes offering a simple word of thanks, praising employees, awarding certificates of achievement and giving recognition for accomplishments at staff meetings. Many are inclined to believe that non-financial incentives are less powerful than financial ones but in fact, the opposite is true. A 2009 survey by McKinsey & Company found

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that employees were more motivated by non-financial incentives. In order to use this kind of motivation effectively, recognition should only be given when it is due. Never give recognition if you are not certain that

framework and schedule for recognition incentives. For example, if you would like to select a ‘salesperson of the month,’ a transparent and even-handed framework for deciding who gets the reward needs to be in place. There are several ways to gather information and different rating tools can be

“Recognition should only be given when it is due” the employee has performed well. If recognition is given to an under-performer, employees may feel that substandard work is highly commended. If, however, an underperformer improves noticeably, this can be recognised and rewarded. It is also important to create a

used. For example, a manager can perform unscheduled spot checks and fill in a scorecard. Independent agencies can also be employed. The Coolings Garden Centre Group in Kent uses ‘mystery shopper feedback’ as part of its customer service ratings for sales staff.

26/03/2015 11:12

business: staff incentives

Incentives in the garden centre workplace Lesley Phillips, Russells Garden Centre How do you motivate your staff? There’s nothing official, we just work really closely with them. Maybe Russells is different from places where the managers are remote from the business in that regard. We’re family-run, and we try to make it a lovely place to work. We always make sure we listen to our staff. If they’ve been working particularly hard, we’ll buy cakes and recognise their effort that way. We always remember birthdays and we take them for outings – for instance to the cinema – and Christmas dos. I also take the girls for an annual trip to the beauticians. We don’t really offer financial incentives. Obviously, you’ve got to be competitive wage-wise, but really it’s about making it a good place to work.

Be sure to take heed of the ‘mystery shopper’ feedback

3. Reward

This includes items like gifts and gift certificates, an afternoon off, or a sponsored outing. Reward incentives have the advantage of combining recognition with something tangible. Rewards don’t need to be large or expensive – employees will vie for the reward for the sake of the feeling of achievement it brings. Some general guidelines for effective incentives: • Employees must know why they are offered • You should be clear about the desired outcomes • Measurement criteria needs to be clear and objective

• Timelines should be stipulated • It is important that rewards are even-handed • You can increase their power by presenting the employee with a thank you card or letter • Vary incentives such as gifts to keep interest alive

Make it personal

Internal motivations differ from person to person. Get to know your employees as individuals in order to determine what drives them. For example, some young people hand over their salaries to their families and in such a case, a monetary incentive might be less effective. ◗

Dr Nicola Davies is a psychologist and writer with an interest in the psychology of business. She has had hundreds of articles published in magazines around the world. Twitter: @healthpsychuk Web:

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How do they respond? They’ve all been here quite a long time so they seem to respond fairly well. I think if you asked them whether they like working here, they’d all say that they love it.

Sarah Squire, Squires How do you motivate your staff? Squires offers a bonus, which is paid out at Christmas and based on the profit of the company as a whole during the previous financial year, ending on 31 July. The bonus pot is paid out as a percentage of salary to those who have been with the company for the whole of the financial year with a pro rata adjustment for staff who joined part way through. We also have a tradition of giving every member of staff an Easter egg and all the ladies a red rose on Valentine’s day. A smile and a heartfelt thank you also go a long way! How does the financial incentive impact on performance? Every person has an interest in controlling expenditure and wastage, thinking about GP and making the business plan happen. It’s great for team work and encourages individuals to come up with good ideas and efficiencies. The bonus may also be reduced – for example as a result of absence or disciplinary matters. The bonus scheme, which is non-contractual, has been operating for many years and is very popular.

Garden Centre Retail April 2015


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26/03/2015 13:32

feature: let’s hear it from...


Kevin Bradshaw Kevin Bradshaw, CEO of Wyevale Garden Centres, tells us about the company’s successes in 2014 and the outlook for this year

How and when did Wyevale Garden Centres start? Wyevale Garden Centres began as a mail-order nursery based in Hereford in the 1930s. The founder, Harry Williamson, was one of the pioneers of the UK garden centre industry. The centre at our headquarters in Syon Park in West London was also one of the first large garden centres in the UK, designed by Percy Thrower and opened in 1968 by HM The Queen Mother. Over the years, the business grew through acquisitions to include a number of the oldest and best known garden brands in the country – for example, Blooms, another nursery with a heritage stretching back to the 1930s. Last year we adopted a refreshed national brand identity, Wyevale Garden Centres, to reflect our earliest roots in this country. Today we have nearly 150 centres and in keeping with our history of sharing enthusiasm for high quality plants and gardens, we have just opened our new concept garden centre, ‘Percy Thrower’s,’ in Shrewsbury. What do you do to create customer loyalty? The Garden Club, our customer reward scheme, is very popular with our customers and a key part of our marketing plans. We have more

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“The Garden Club is a key part of our marketing plans” than 2.5 million members so we have an enormous understanding of how people are shopping with us. We use this to help us improve our proposition to better meet our customers’ needs and to send specific customers offers and promotions that are relevant to them. Knowing what our customers want and meeting those needs is a strong driver of loyalty. We have learned a lot about our customers and their habits over the last year so we’ll be leveraging the scheme even more this year. In March we relaunched the scheme as The Garden Club, making it more clearly part of the Wyevale Garden Centres brand and making sure it’s relevant for all of our customers and all parts of our offer, including our restaurants. What buying trends did you notice in 2014? Grow Your Own continues to bring new customers to gardening. One of our surprising successes of 2014 was the world’s hottest chilli and this year we’ll continue to bring our customers some surprising and fun varieties. We also saw a continuing strong demand for garden decorations, outdoor lighting and furniture. Our ‘Plants by Colour’ initiative, helping customers choose themes for their gardens and tap into their 

Garden Centre Retail April 2015


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feature: let’s hear it from...

creative side was a great success. This year will see us deliver more initiatives to help consumers find the right look for their garden. For 2015, we expect those trends to continue. Our offer will balance fantastic plant quality and range with products relevant to all generations to help them really enjoy their garden and spend time in it. Do you have further plans for expansion? Growing through acquisitions is a key pillar of our strategy. We added nine centres last year and continue to expand. We would like to add more good quality sites that will build upon the history of the business over the next two years.


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Given our size, we are able to consider a wide range of opportunities, from small, familyowned centres to chains. We are interested in garden centres across the UK and can look at acquiring them on either a freehold or leasehold basis. We have tremendous respect for the fabulous independent garden centres out there – including some of those we have recently purchased. Our ‘best of local, best of national’ strategy is key here. We seek to preserve the characteristics that make our centres historic and unique as they add to the customer appeal. However, these outlets are also able to benefit from our scale as a national player.

26/03/2015 11:14

feature: let’s hear it from... products, ethical sourcing, and using efficient packaging. We work closely with suppliers, encouraging them to produce more sustainable products; and with customers, helping them create more sustainable gardens.

Kevin’s CV

How significant is catering for your business? Catering is very important. Many people don’t realise our scale in the catering sector – we have more than 100 restaurants, cafes and coffee shops in the UK. In the past year we have introduced a number of new concepts to improve customer experience and link our restaurants more closely to the garden. Catering is a great way of driving up footfall. Customers love to come to the centres for a cup of coffee or have lunch after browsing. This also helps ‘weather proof’ the business as restaurants trade far more evenly throughout the year, with volumes largely independent of the weather or season.

“Our ambition is to be a catalyst for change in horticulture”

Above: The garden and plants will always be central to what a garden centre does, but concessions are also important Left: Wyevale Garden Centre’s apprenticeship scheme is a way to introduce a new generation of young people to the world of work and to gardening

How important do you think it is for garden centres to be eco-friendly? Hugely important. It’s impossible to separate gardening from the environment or the community in which it takes place. Our ambition is to be a catalyst for change in the horticulture industry, making sure the UK’s gardens become part of the solution to the environmental and social challenges we face. We launched an in-depth environmental audit in 2013 to identify sites with the biggest opportunities for improvement, including energy saving systems, reducing waste, wind and solar generation, stocking eco-friendly GCR Apr15 P23-26 Let's Hear It From TW (2).indd 25

Are concessions more valuable than a core gardening aspect? The garden and plants will always be absolutely what attracts our customers, but concessions are also important. Part of our mission is to expand the definition of what it means to enjoy the garden and welcome visitors who are not horticultural experts, but who love garden centres simply for the experience. We are doing this by broadening our product range as well as our leisure offering while preserving the horticultural element that is fundamental to the business. Bringing in concession partners helps us provide quality products in areas outside our expertise such as books, clothing and aquatics. How important is having an online and social media presence? Social media is a great way to engage the gardening community 

Kevin Bradshaw has served as CEO of Wyevale Garden Centres since November 2012. Before joining Wyevale Garden Centres, he was the managing director of the vehicle rental company Avis UK and was also responsible for technology across Avis Europe. As a member of the Avis Europe Executive Board, he oversaw a significant turnaround of the UK operating business and undertook a transformation of the IT organisation prior to its sale in October 2011. He spent 10 years at Reuters Group, culminating as managing director of the Enterprise Information Division, where he grew and integrated a number of businesses supplying financial data to the world’s leading institutional financial services companies. Kevin started his career with six years at the strategy consultants, The Kalchas Group, a spin-off of McKinsey and Bain and Company. He has a degree in manufacturing engineering from the University of Cambridge.

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feature: let’s hear it from... and online is involved in over a third of all purchases, whether to research, find a store or compare prices. We recently recruited a multichannel director and we’ll be able to announce more about our online plans later this year. How do you recruit staff? Our mission is to recruit the best. Our knowledgeable and dedicated colleagues are fundamental to our success as a company. We are always looking for great people with strong retail experience and a passion for the gardening sector. In return we provide outstanding career prospects and the best training in the industry. It is our mission to be an employer of choice. We have recently launched new benefits including improved holiday and sick pay and a new Employee Recognition Scheme based on demonstrating our values, meaning our managers can reward and motivate great performance. We try to maintain a balance of strong retail and management expertise and horticultural knowledge at every level – both through outside hires and training programmes. We also have an apprenticeship scheme that we are proud of, as it is a way to introduce a new generation of young people to the world of work and to gardening.

Customers love to come to the centres for a cup of coffee or have lunch after browsing

“It is our mission to be an employer of choice” What customer loyalty strategies do you have in place? We have done a lot of research and know what makes customers prefer us, so these are the qualities we are nurturing and investing in. Customers like our Garden Club exclusive offers. They are looking for quality plants and our hardy plant guarantee is important to them, as is variety. They want to see friendly and approachable staff and a well laid-out garden centre that’s easy to shop in. We provide a lot of training to make sure our team are experts who can provide great ideas and advice. We are always making improvements to our centres and trying new formats. We call this ‘Project Snowflake’.


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What was the most successful part of 2014 for your business? Our rebrand to Wyevale Garden Centres was an important step. Adopting a consistent national identity is key to help us leverage our national scale as the UK’s largest garden retailer. Having a strong, distinct brand that everyone can relate to is vital to our business. Our aim is to be the place where anyone can come to find help, ideas and inspiration. We acquired nine garden centres, allowing us to reach more customers and spread the joy of gardening. And we have doubled profits since 2012 by strengthening our retail business model, growing concessions and investing in our restaurant offer. What areas will you be focusing on for 2015? The focus for 2015 will be on selling more and serving better. Selling more means we will be striving for better availability, introducing new ranges appealing to our customers and inspirational displays. Better service addresses our aim to really inspire our customers. That means personal demonstrations by expert staff to teach our customers the joys of the garden, and spark ideas. We also are striving to better serve our customers through increasingly helpful staff, who have a

passion for our work and for what we are trying to achieve. We will continue to refurbish our estate, develop innovative formats, refine layouts and improve our customer offer. We will introduce further concession spaces, including farm shops and coffee shops. Do you value the support of the associations, and could they be doing anything differently? The associations play a key role in representing the industry, sharing knowledge and experience and raising the profile of gardening. The work the HTA is doing to promote gardening to a younger audience is a great. I think we and the associations could work together more on issues like Easter trading and encouraging young people to pursue a horticultural career. Another HTA initiative that Wyevale supports is a scholarship programme set up to fund horticultural students. This year we worked closely with the HTA to provide opportunities to two students with an interest in garden centre retailing and gaining on site work experience at one of our garden centres. ◗ Kevin Bradshaw CEO, Wyevale Garden Centres 0844 800 8082

26/03/2015 11:14

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26/03/2015 11:15

fb euasti un rees: s i nt inposv a t i v e d e s i g n i n r e s t a u r a n t s

A focus on catering: innovative design in garden centre restaurants Catering is a critical element in modern, destination garden centres. It pays to get it right. Gabrielle Guile examines some of the factors to be considered


ver the past few years there has been a change in the way in which garden centre restaurants are perceived in that they are fast becoming destination venues. Customers have come to expect a sophisticated offering and a high level of service from garden centre restaurants. Food and beverages make up a large proportion of contemporary garden centres’ profit and so investing in a high quality catering offer is crucial. A catering offer adds value to the customer’s shopping experience and introduces new streams of revenue to the business. Whether you’re establishing the first catering offer within your garden centre or updating your current establishment, innovative design is vital in order to attract


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and retain customers and therefore increase profit. There are many things to consider when planning a new garden centre restaurant design.

Counters and service

It is important to establish the type of service that is the right fit for your establishment – self service or table service? Self service reduces the number of staff needed and so could be seen as a way to increase profit margins. However, if you don’t carefully plan your counter layout you may be left with a single long queue, meaning the customer’s experience isn’t as good as it could be. Some customers may want to wait for a substantial hot meal whereas others may want to have a quick coffee break. If there is one

single queue for everything this may put people off. Innovatively designed counters that are split into different stations for different types of cuisine are a necessity for counter service. Positioning the counters in this way ensures that the service is customer focused and significantly reduces queuing times. This creates a more dynamic and enjoyable environment throughout the customer’s journey, from initially entering the restaurant to sitting down and enjoying a meal. Table service gives a traditional restaurant feel and may be seen as a way to provide good customer service. However, there are several factors to take into account if you are considering table service. Firstly, you will require more staff in order to ensure all tables can be served efficiently in busy periods. Further to this, table service eliminates customers who may want to quickly buy a drink or snack from the counter to take away. It is important to carefully consider your

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feature: innovative design in restaurants service in order to ensure that it is right for your establishment.


Before you can establish your catering design, you must first decide upon the types of food and beverages that you want to offer. If you’re improving your current operation why not consider updating the menu? When doing so, keep your loyal customer base in mind but also think about what other audiences you want to attract. Why not consider updating the menu with smoothies, iced coffees and gluten free alternatives? Or update your menu according to the season, for example, ice cream in the summer. Small changes like these allow you to keep up with current trends and may also gain you a whole new client base.

Coffee and cake

Providing high quality coffee and cake is a simple, yet effective way to begin a catering operation within your garden centre. Some operators also prefer to have a coffee and cake section separated from the rest of the restaurant. This allows customers who want a quick coffee break to be served quickly and efficiently. Offering afternoon tea is also an increasingly popular choice. Patisserie display units are the ideal way to display bakery products to customers. These displays come in various different shapes and sizes, from single units to multiplexed versions. The smell of fresh coffee is the perfect way to entice customers into your restaurant. The delicious aromas that coffee produces are a sure way to increase sales as when

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“It is important to establish the type of service that is the right fit for your establishment” people smell the coffee brewing they are prompted to buy a cup. The main things to consider when choosing a coffee machine are the quality of drinks you want to serve and the amount you want to charge per cup. By investing in a good quality coffee machine, you are investing in good customer experience. The better the beverage you are able to serve, the more memorable the customer’s experience will be.


When planning the design of your cafe or restaurant, consider the image you are trying to portray to your customers. It is important to maintain a consistent brand and build upon it. For example, why not include locally sourced fresh produce and support small local businesses by using their jams, preserves etc. Alternatively, set up a vegetable patch within the grounds of your garden centre and grow your own herbs and vegetables. These can then be used in the food you serve and promoted as such. Your business is all about growing so apply this principle within the

restaurant as well. Using locally sourced and traceable ingredients is becoming significantly more important and customers will engage with this.

Interior design and visual merchandising

When it comes to the design of your cafe or restaurant, you want the presentation to be a talking point and therefore it should be memorable for customers. Interior design is highly significant when it comes to the design of your restaurant or cafe. Choose a colour scheme and reflect this in your signs, menus and staff uniforms. This helps you to establish a unified brand identity. Visual merchandising is an effective way to keep your garden centre fresh, dynamic and more importantly, to leave a lasting impression on customers. Why not run promotions, update displays and dress your restaurant according to the seasons, festivals or other special occasions throughout the year. This is a great way to get customers through the doors throughout the quieter periods. 

Garden Centre Retail April 2015


26/03/2015 11:16

South Downs Nurseries

Forest Lodge Garden Centre

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GCR Apr15 P30 Vision CK Ad.indd 30

18/03/2015 15:16

26/03/2015 13:35

feature: innovative design in restaurants

“Some operators prefer to have a coffee and cake section separated from the rest of the restaurant .”


The design of your restaurant is of the utmost importance. You want its presentation to be a talking point – something that customers will remember and then go away and tell people about. Getting the initial design right is crucial to the ultimate success of the venture. Through careful planning, the design stage allows potential issues to be identified and then solved. This is why engaging specialist advice is vital. Establishing or adapting your

By investing in a good quality coffee machine, you are investing in good customer experience – the better the beverage you are able to serve, the more memorable the customer’s experience will be

catering facilities is an investment and so you want to ensure that you are doing everything possible to make it a success. Established companies like Vision Commercial Kitchens are an invaluable resource for developing the cafe or restaurant concept. Such companies can advise on spatial planning, interior design and the design of food service and kitchen areas. Furthermore, specialist advice allows you to effectively consider future proofing so that the designs for the kitchen and front of house will grow with your business plans.

Be Innovative

Be innovative and take inspiration from the high street. The high street is a tough market and that’s why it’s constantly evolving. The brands are continually developing their offer to compete and to engage their customers. You need to reflect this within your business. Success comes from constantly enhancing and updating your offer and putting hospitality at

GCR APr15 P28-31 Catering v2 TW.indd 31

the core of everything you do. Remember, businesses that engage in continuous innovation have been shown to be more profitable and grow faster than firms that only engage in innovation as a result of legislative or forced change,no matter what business they are in.


Last but certainly not least, it is important not to neglect the quality of the kitchen. Although the design of your cafe or restaurant is what draws customers in to the establishment, it is the quality of the catering offer that keeps them returning time and time again. In order to have high quality food, you need high quality kitchen equipment that you can rely on. ◗ Gabrielle Guile Marketing and events coordinator Vision Commercial Kitchens 0844 811 7210

Garden Centre Retail March 2015


26/03/2015 11:17

feature: plant focus

Plant focus: know your customers and target them

Knowing your customer is key to selling the great many plants on offer in your garden centre. So Lucy Summers suggests you ask yourself this question – who is your customer and why are they shopping with you?


he best retailers know who their target customers are and why they choose to shop with them. If you can’t answer that question then try this one for size:

Who aren’t your target customers?

The trouble with your big, airy rambling acreage of garden paraphernalia is that you’ve adopted the self-service supermarket mentality. There are simply too many of you offering the same customer experience. You need to narrow your focus and understand that visitors don’t need to graze mindlessly about your emporium. Does the coffee connoisseur settle for Starbucks? What is important to this customer is quality coffee; tepid branded coffee with free refills is not remotely interesting to them. Customers interested in purchasing high quality bed linen won’t be found loitering in the homeware aisle of a superstore. Cheap and cheerful can be found any old where. The difference between your business and a department store is that you sell a great many plant products that require the purchasers to have some specialist knowledge of their maintenance. Visitors to your emporium are looking for what’s new or special, teamed up with expert advice. Essentially, you buy their loyalty by offering exemplary products backed up with knowledgeable service.

Lend a hand and show some steerage

Carrying on from where we left off last month, do you remember that my survey showed that younger gardeners seem to arrive at your garden centre without a shopping agenda? It is a staggering admission from a retail therapy-centred generation that they appear to have


Garden Centre Retail April 2015

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no preconceived shopping itinerary. I suspect they do – however they just aren’t able to articulate it clearly.

Engage your customers

Your employees need to know how to engage in a personable manner with your visitors. Bombarding customers with hundreds of annoying questions is not what I’m suggesting. Having a conversation that is handy and helpful is the way to go. Be human.

Meet and greet

One of the easiest ways to take charge of new customers, whatever their age group, is to provide a ‘Meet & Greet’ welcome. Designate a plant-knowledgeable member of staff to welcome customers when they enter your premises. If the heavens are tipping down, offer them a brolly from your newly installed umbrella stand as a means of subtle introduction and ask how you can assist them today.

Now that you know why your shoppers are visiting you...

This is an ideal opportunity to find out more about their needs and steer them towards plants that suit their exact requirements. Lend a hand and show them what you’ve got. Since our Plant Focus this month is all about roses, let’s take roses as an example. A customer intending to purchase a rose needs to be informed of the various forms roses take. It also presents the perfect opportunity for crosssells, such as rose food, bug spray and secateurs. Explain the plants, associated products and why they need them. Make their lives easier.

Service with a smile: engage with your customers

Don’t forget to thank your customers

One more thing: a lukewarm thank you from the till operator as your customer backs out into the big wide world is no thanks at all. Thank them sincerely for their purchases, be warm, memorable and invite them back. Be the best.

26/03/2015 11:20

feature: plant focus

Coming up roses Our Plant Focus this month is the rose. The very thought summons up heady perfume, romance and simmering June afternoons. Well, it would if you could be just a little more inventive in your plant displays. Excepting the likes of the specialist rose retailers, rose displays in garden centres are lamentable. “But he who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.” (Anne Bronte)


by the promise of the thornless rose. There you go pruning your R. Zepherine Drouhin (H 4m x S 2.5m) and the only thorn on the whole ruddy thing lances your thumb. R. ‘Rural England’ proffers generous clusters of soft-pink blooms with a dearth of thorns and is sure to appeal to country-estaters as well as suburbanites, since it seems fairly temperate in its climbing aspirations. “Won’t you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.” (Richard Brinsley Sheridan) R. Clarence House (H 3.6m x S 3m) is a repeating modern climber of delightful creamy white blossoms and citrus perfume (above). It has the crumpled petalled charm of an old rose with none of the drawbacks, being vigorous, disease-resistant and possessing very manageable proportions

for even the most modest of gardens. Crimson roses can be hit-and-miss. Some have too blue a hue or too much purple in their colouring, making them look cold and incongruous in an English garden. (No doubt down to breeders chasing the Holy Grail – a true blue rose.) Shrub rose Rosa ‘Munstead Wood’ (H 90cm x S 80cm) seems to have just the right deep, crimson shade gardeners are looking for when seeking a rose of this colour depth. The spring leaves have an attractive red flush and the pleated rosettes of cupped flowers waft deliciously fruity notes of blackberry and damson. A musky hybrid shrub, R. ‘Desdemona’ (H 1.2m x S 90cm) neither enrages nor disappoints. Deeply fragrant large white blooms open from pink buds in June and persist to the first frosts (above). Those sumptuous blooms seem unlikely to withstand the wet. However, their opulent charms remain undinted by downpours, and that’s a big plus for rose-lovers. w “Just remember, in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows, lies the seed that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the rose.” (The Rose – Bette Midler)

Lucy Summers is a landscape designer and writer. 0800 772 3766 “Rural England’ GCR Apr15 P32-33 Plant Focus.indd 33

“Clarence House’

Image credits: and

Make roses meaningful by employing original ways to display them that will interest visitors to your store. Show roses doing what they do in a garden situation. I can think of no other species that offers gardeners such diversity in terms of colour, shape, habit and fragrance. There is a habit to suit all gardens: shrub, climbing, rambling, pillar or patio, all created for gardeners who have poetry in their soul. Gardeners will forgive capriciousness in a rose that they wouldn’t tolerate from other garden plants and it is the romance that roses evoke that accounts for their enduring enchantment. You’re already onto the nation’s hearts with this one, so up your displays! Some say modern roses aren’t a patch on the old varieties, but I beg to differ. I’m no rose expert, but I like what I like and usually for good reason. Who could resist a rose entitled R. ‘Rural England?’ (H 3m x S 1.8m) Not me. Before I even set eyes on it I imagined what I hoped it would be. Please let it be pink or white, blousy, abundant and careless. And so it is (see below). Blooming all summer long, this multiflora rambler is definitely Darling Buds of May stuff. We’ve all been duped

Garden Centre Retail April 2015 33

26/03/2015 11:20

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26/03/2015 12:23

26/03/2015 12:24

product news

Product news

All the latest news from leading product providers in the horticultural and garden retail sector

Resolva expands weedkiller range


esolva is adding two new lines to its range of weedkillers, in the shape of Liquid Shots and 24H Power Pump. Liquid Shots is a concentrated formula contained in a tube designed to ensure no

measuring, mess or fuss across 44m2 of coverage. The Resolva 24H Power Pump is aimed at controlling large areas of weeds with minimum difficulty. It offers five minutes’ worth of controllable spraying from a one litre bottle.

Ahrens + Sieberz e-commerce innovation


ardening products outlet Ahrens + Sieberz has seen a 36% increase in sales from its online shop following the implementation of a new search function developed by e-commerce company FACT-Finder. The new function offers intelligent filter options and error tolerance so customers can find the right product, no matter how they spell it.

Gardeners are also able to filter searches by criteria such as position, growth height and planting distance. Breaking the figures down further, mobile purchases increased by 125% from January to September last year, compared to the same period in 2013.

Resolva brand manager Amy Lawrence said: “With this year’s newest additions to the range plus over £1.5m spend on TV, there is no need to stock any other weedkiller brand.”

Brand new look for Doff Portland


off Portland has undergone a major rebrand, with the company adopting a new logo to feature across all of its 150 plant feed, lawn care and pest control products. The new branding, which is described by the company as extremely crisp and bright, is designed to bring the product up to date and make it stand out on shelves.

Marketing manager Amanda Lewis said: “The clear messaging on the packaging makes it easier for consumers to make informed choices for the products they need. It gives them a more precise understanding of what the products are for and how to use them to create and maintain the garden they want.”

Barfoots extends UK chilli season


Mr Fothergill’s helps grow new gardening generation


r Fothergill’s Seeds is the latest supplier to support the Love the Plot You’ve Got campaign. The company is providing 15,000 packets of Love the Plot branded seeds and paying for the support of horticulturist and broadcaster Chris Collins at branded roadshows where he will give demonstrations and be

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involved in interactive children’s gardening activities. Speaking of the company’s contribution, Mr Fothergill’s commercial director Tim Jeffries said: “We are delighted to support the Love the Plot You’ve Got initiative, which we hope will inspire and enthuse the next generation.”

arfoots is making use of a number of sustainable technologies to extend the UK chilli growing season from four months to seven. The company will be using greenhouses and high tech heating and growing systems at its site near Chichester to factor out the effects of the British weather. Cultivation manager Thomas Lapraik said: “Location is

key. We’re on the Chichester peninsular within a stone’s throw of the coast, so the greenhouse utilises the best natural light levels in the UK. “We’ve introduced efficient heating controls and modern low impact growing systems. We plan to achieve seven months of supply from this glasshouse, breaking all records for UK chilli production”.

Garden Centre Retail April 2015


26/03/2015 13:52

product news Dragonfli packaging now retail-friendly


Kelkay app offers instant catalogue access

ragonfli has rebranded its Roots Boost Mycorrhizal fungi range. The products now come in retail friendly packaging designed to stand out on the garden centre shelf. Roots Boost is used by professional growers and supplied to garden centre and mail order suppliers under their own brand names. The product comes in three sizes – 60g, 250g and 500g. Dragonfli’s Julian Ives

said: “With the increasing popularity of Mycorrhiza, the timing is right to launch our own retail brand, with more customer focused packaging, resealable pouches and increased shelf life.”

Azpects keeps water at bay

Lafarge cements garden centre reputation

zpects has added to its range of home maintenance products with the company introducing Water Defence. The new product is designed to repel moisture, helping to dry out external walls over time. It can be used on all porous building materials and can also be applied to damp surfaces. According to the manufacturer it allows masonry to breathe so moisture can escape and it leaves no long term textural or colour change. Other products in the Azpects ‘Easy’ range include Sealer Remover, Black Spot Remover and Masonry Revive.

afarge Tarmac is launching a range of six innovative cement products aimed at the garden centre market. The cement is designed for tasks such as laying paving slabs, fixing fence posts and smaller projects such as building a barbecue. The tubs feature user friendly instructions alongside application photographs and guidelines.




arden products retailer Kelkay has launched a customer experience app combining a professional ordering tool with an integrated product catalogue. The innovation enables the company’s team to demonstrate its full product range as well as being able to access relevant account information and process orders. Via the app, Kelkay can also view order history, plan calls and capture customer information and feedback.


Garden Centre Retail April 2015

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Lafarge’s Chris Cooper said: “These tubs offer simple, quick, no mess solutions to garden centre customers and will be a strong addition to any garden centre’s product offering as they look great on the shelf and offer an exciting new profit making opportunity.”

The app works offline, meaning that it can be used when travelling or exhibiting at trade shows. Kelkay director of sales Richard Pyrah said: “Not only are our sales team able to present the right products at the right time to retailers, they have all the relevant customer information at their fingertips. This makes the time we spend with customers more productive for them than ever before.”

In bloom with Ball Colegrave


loriculture specialist Ball Colegrave has announced its portfolio for autumn 2015. The range brings together a number of products taken from the company’s late summer, autumn and spring sales. These include the new generation breedings of Pansy F1 Matrix, Viola F1 Sorbet XP and the more recently introduced Trailing Pansy F1 Cool Wave. The range’s best in class series meanwhile boasts unique plant structures, controlled plant habit and stimulating colours. Ball Colegrave has also announced a number of open days over the summer from 13 to 31 July.

26/03/2015 13:52

products: category review

How to sell...

Display to inspire

Lawn care

With the growing season underway, Geoff Hodge advises on making the most of the lawn care market


pparently, British lawns are the envy of the world. Personally, I’m not totally convinced of that – I’ve seen some right ropey ones recently. That means there are lots of consumers out there that need a green helping hand and you and your staff are the perfect people to provide it. A good looking lawn sets off the rest of the garden, making surrounding beds and borders look brilliant. A rubbish lawn on the other hand makes the rest of the garden look, well, rubbish. And it does need a fair bit of care and attention to get it looking lush and verdant. Although regular and correct mowing at the right height is the single most important factor in getting a luscious lawn, good feeding comes a close second. Lawn care can be a stress purchase and moss and weeds are the most common problems, so try to ease your customers’ worries and make lawn care as easy as possible.

Feed your sales

Last year was fantastic for lawn fertilisers. The total market finished at £38m, which represents an 8% increase year-on-year. This growth was mainly driven by tripleaction feed, weed and mosskillers. On average, around 75% of lawn fertiliser sales in spring are for triple-

action products, with single-action (feed only) products making up much of the other 25%. As there is also a difference in the average selling prices of these two product categories, optimising displays of triple-action products will maximise your lawn fertiliser sales and profit. It is still important to have single-action products available for customers who may only want to feed their lawn or don’t want to trade up to a triple-action product. However, you should keep stock levels and on-shelf displays in proportion. You should also help your customers decide which products they want, by making their shopping experience as easy as possible at the point of purchase. Your lawn care stands and fixtures, when properly segmented and merchandised by product usage, are so much easier to shop by consumers and therefore purchase from. Offer them choice, but focus on the best known and best selling brands and products – especially those that are advertised nationally on TV and in the press. Reduce duplication wherever possible since many consumers are easily confused about which product to choose and so walk away without making any purchase at all. And be aware that many gardeners, especially those with small gardens, prefer

Sales of large bag lawn feeds are on the increase but a pallet of bags stacked to the roof isn’t exactly inspiring or going to help sell the product. More imaginative displays are needed throughout the lawn care department – so think hard about yours and how to maximise your lawn care sales this year. And finally, don’t forget all the other paraphernalia needed for great lawn care that your customers can be tempted to buy. Pay particular attention to moss killers (moss is just a symptom of other underlying problems), lawn weedkillers (display them in the lawn care and weedkiller sections), fertiliser spreaders, edging irons and shears and the wealth of other tools, even lawn sprinklers and hosepipes.

to use liquid lawn treatments. They see granular ones as complicated and difficult to apply without causing scorching.

Seeds of success

Don’t forget that grass seed sales are also important – not only for making new lawns, but also patching and over-seeding. Very few people know that around a quarter of the grass in even a healthy lawn dies each year and over-seeding the whole lawn with new grass seed can re-invigorate it, thicken it up and bring it back to glory. Just ask your local greenkeeper. After a dip in 2013, the grass seed market showed signs of recovery in 2014 with total value sales of around £25m. ◗

Geoff Hodge is a writer and broadcaster. He writes for various gardening magazines and websites and has written eight books. Previously, he was a garden centre manager.

GCR Apr15 P37 Geoff Hodge TW.indd 37

Garden Centre Retail April 2015


26/03/2015 11:20

Marketed by GCR Apr15 P38 Johnsons Ad.indd 38

Britains Favourite LAWN SEED

26/03/2015 11:21

products: lawn care Medallion Turf

Rolawn’s award-winning Medallion Turf is now treated with the company’s unique Profresh system, which is designed to extend shelf life. Retailers can now sell turf in prime condition, leading to a reduction in waste and therefore the need to discount unsold stock. Rolawn also offers direct delivery to householders on behalf of stockists. RRP: £4.45

lawn care Latest products

A range of products aimed at establishing and maintaining attractive, hard-wearing lawns this summer ▲

The Action Hero

Barenbrug has introduced The Action Hero – a new hardwearing mix helping to provide gardeners with an ultratough lawn. The lawn solution uses seed originally developed to withstand activity at football clubs and race courses. It incorporates high levels of perennial ryegrasses, making for a seriously tough but attractive lawn. The Action Hero is part of the company’s new premium Green Velvet Lawn Seed range. It is available in 15m2 or 50m2 pouches. RRP: 15m2 £6.99; 50m2 £13.99


CastClear is a new organic product designed to reduce the number of worm casts on lawns. Applied with a garden sprayer, the solution is made up of a ‘unique combination’ of nutrient materials that has been shown to work on all sizes of garden. It contains no pesticides or biocides and is safe for children and pets. CastClear is currently sold through 250 garden retail stockists. RRP: 250ml treating 125 m2 £9.99; 500ml treating 250 m2 £19.99; 1000ml treating 500 m2 £29.99

EasySet Mole Trap

EasySet Mole Trap is a revolutionary product that takes the hassle out of catching moles. Designed and manufactured in the UK, it uses a single plunger action to arm the trap, making it easy to use. The company is also offering a mole catcher kit containing everything required to rid gardens of unwanted moles, along with a range of other accessories. RRP: £17.50

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Garden Centre Retail April 2015


26/03/2015 12:17

products: lawn care ▲

lawn care Latest products


Gro-Sure Smart Seed

The award-winning Gro-Sure Smart Seed has launched a new 80m2 resealable bag featuring a carrying handle. The product offers gardeners a reliable way to cover large areas of ground. The next generation lawn seed was launched as the first product to guarantee growing results. According to the company, its special Aqua Gel coating prevents over or under-watering and ensures lawn seed growth in all growing conditions. RRP: 25m2 box £9.99; 40m2 box £14.99; 80m2 bag £24.99

The Fixer Lawn Repair seed

▲ The 1 seed

The 1 is a sowing seed mixing two new varieties of perennial ryegrass to produce what Johnsons believes is the quickest lawn mix to germinate. It has a larger seed, containing more energy, thereby allowing quicker development of deeper roots. The mixture also

offers an increased level of drought resistance. Once established The 1 grows at a normal rate and is more resistant to cold weather. RRP: 500g £7.99; 1.5kg £17.99

Kings Seeds has introduced The Fixer Lawn Repair seed. It contains a unique blend of grass seed and feed, ensuring comprehensive coverage of bare lawn patches. The Fixer Lawn Repair boasts quick germination properties as well as a special urine neutraliser. This allows pets to play on the grass without brown patches appearing. The product is also ideal for high traffic areas and poor soil conditions. RRP: £3.45 per pack

Flymo Robotic Lawnmower 1200R

Flymo’s new mower is an independent, battery powered unit capable of operating in all weather conditions. It fertilises as it goes and disperses cuttings back into the lawn. Once the boundaries of a lawn are set, the 1200R can be left to wander off on its own, negotiating its way around trees and fences. The robotic mower can deal with up to 400m2 of lawn and recharges itself. RRP: £1,000


Garden Centre Retail April 2015

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26/03/2015 12:18

CastClear ® CAST ASIDE THE BESOM BROOM For decades, lawns large and small have been plagued by worm casts


Many a garden centre plant advice team member have spent ages explaining to lawn owners how to rid of worm casts. The worms do a splendid job in the soil just beneath the grass crown, but it is a pity that their soil cast deposits pose such a problem for gardeners. CastClear ® is the solution to lawn worm casts and is a new organic non-pesticide product available to domestic lawn owners to deter the worms from casting. This lawn worm suppressant reduces worm-cast levels on both large and small lawns. CastClear ® will really compliment and enhance any lawn care display and increase your sales, so why not stock CastClear ® now?

The only lawn seed range gardens will ever need. Six premium mixtures now available.

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timber displays

Danish trolley kit

A simple but effective way of dressing up your Danish trolley, whilst maintaining flexibility and manoeuvrability. You can dress just one side if it is against a wall or fence, or both sides if necessary. Timber Displays offer a basic kit giving you everything you need for your trolley’s wooden makeover. The wooden header is an extra that slots into the top of the trolley and your sign slides into the frame. The wooden shelf fronts have a plastic clip that fits neatly over the metal upstand of the existing trolley shelf – a quick and easy fit. Trolley Kit: ● 2 Slatted Side Panels ● 6 Clip-on Wooden Shelf Fronts ● All timber to complete wooden wrap £55.00 + VAT & Delivery Timber Displays Ltd, Windmill Place Farm Windmill Hill, Nr Hailsham, East Sussex BN27 4RZ

01323 831 888 | | Prices do not include vat or delivery

Making exceptional outdoor garden furniture – quality since 1920. Eighteen international design excellence awards across our product range. Barlow Tyrie Limited, Braintree CM7 2RN, England Tel: +44 (0)1376 557 600 Email: Visit:

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Model: Monterey

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16/02/2015 16:28:05

26/03/2015 13:34

products: shop displays ▲

Timber Displays


Stagecraft has been designing, manufacturing and installing garden centre merchandising displays and retail shop fittings for over 30 years. The company’s designers are available to support customers throughout the design and manufacture process – from helping to define initial design ideas to advising on retail area layout. According to the company, it is there to ‘inspire you with creative and innovative retail display ideas.’

Latest products

displays, signage & shop fittings

A roundup of ideas to make the most of your products ▲

Timber Displays specialises in display products for the garden centre and nursery industries. All products are made to a high specification from pressure treated timber. The company is able to provide a range of basic products or manufacture special units for awkward spaces or to create a garden centre’s own look.

C Jackson & Sons has a wealth of experience in manufacturing bespoke wooden displays for garden centres, plant nurseries and large retail chain stores. It specialises in manufacturing displays to unique requirements. The company’s standard display tables are its most popular garden centre product. They are pressure treated for longevity and come with a 145mm planed and chamfered surround as well as a 55mm lip. The tables measure 2000 x 1000 x 500mm. Any bespoke size or specification can be catered for, however.

Hertford Shelving Ltd

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Hertford Shelving is a shop fitter and supplier of shop fitting equipment. It offers metal shelving, slat walls, merchandising accessories, counters and displays that can transform an empty wall or floor space into a retail area. Hertford Shelving offers a complete shop fitting service to garden centres and the pet reptile and aquatic trades.

C Jackson & Sons

Graphics UK’s POS Pack

Graphics UK has put together a ready to go ‘Sale’ print pack with the aim of helping to create a bespoke feel on an ‘off the shelf budget’. Each pack contains 58 items compatible with existing displays. The pre-printed durable PVC and Correx can be wiped down and used, both inside and outside, multiple times. Other designs are also available, and there is an option to create themed displays.

Garden Centre Retail April 2015


26/03/2015 11:22

products: watering

watering products

Latest products

Easy2GO Kit

Autopot Watering Systems has introduced a new holiday watering system by the name of easy2GO Kit. The product is fitted with the AQUAvalve system to keep plants watered and fed for weeks. It uses a gardening tray and reservoir making use of the power of gravity. The kit is placed directly in the tray alongside potted plants. It can be installed anywhere in the home or garden. Multiple kits can also be linked together to keep larger numbers of plants watered. RRP: £19.99

Innovations to help keep gardens looking lush Terrazzo Drip Kit

Claber has introduced The Terrazzo Drip Kit, a product designed to water up to 50 plants, with components including 25 metres of half and quarter inch pipe. It uses drip irrigation in order to save water, making the system exempt from hosepipe bans. Each dripper is adjustable and can be cleaned out in case of limescale and dirt buildup. The product can be used to create a new system or add to an existing one. RRP: £74.99

Flopro Colapz 2-in-1 watering can

As seen on Dragon’s Den, the Flopro Colapz watering can is bright, bold and incredibly practical. Taking off the rose and spout means it can twist down flat, allowing the can to be hung up ready for its next use. It has a 7L capacity and is UV-resistant. All the parts can be stored in the lid, making them incredibly difficult to lose. RRP: £19.99

Ultra Twist

Hozelock’s new 2-in-1 Ultra Twist transforms a spray gun into a lawn sprinkler capable of watering up to 69m2 of grass with a simple twist. It offers jet, rose and fast fill spray patterns and provides hands-free watering for beds and borders. It includes an effective flow control that reduces the risk of overwatering. RRP: £19.99


Garden Centre Retail April 2015

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Cascata water barrel

The Cascata water barrel combines the timeless elegance of ceramics with the longevity and durability of modern plastics. The 245L terracotta effect water barrel comes complete with 1.8m garden hose incorporating a shut off nozzle, corrosion proof screen guard and brass tap. The easily removable crown planter can be filled with flowers or left without drainage holes and used as a bird bath. RRP: £150-£160

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Grazers G3 sprayer

Grazers has introduced its new G3, a ready to use sprayer designed to strengthen and stimulate plants. It is effective against damage from cabbage white butterflies, caterpillars and vegetable aphids. The company’s new formula reduces the need for pesticides in the garden. Like other Grazers products, it is harmless to people, pets and the planet, with the company’s ethos being ‘live and let grow’. RRP: £6.99

▲ Brundle Gardener Fireballs

Brundle Gardener has introduced a range of handcrafted fireballs to bring warmth to the summer evenings. The centrepiece of the range, which includes intricate portrayals of dragons and a forest scene, offers a focal point, whether on fire or not. Each fireball is made from 6mm mild steel. They are rust coloured with a rain drain in the bottom. RRP: £1,499

Spear & Jackson Ready Seeded Wildlife Mats Spear & Jackson has introduced its new Ready Seeded Wildlife Mat. It is designed to make growing wildflowers easy by suppressing weeds that would usually stifle delicate plants. The mats are implanted with specially selected seeds to grow wildflowers while providing food and a habitat for wildlife. The mats are available in versions tailored for bees, birds or butterflies. They are cut to size making them suitable to use anywhere and come in boxes for off the peg display. RRP: £9.99

latest products GCR brings you a roundup of product ideas for all departments of your garden centre

Fiddlehead Gypsy Caravan

Floralsilk’s Succulents in ▲ Flo Ceramic tray

According to the company, Floralsilk’s new silk range is designed to bring to mind dry summer climbs and add a balmy feel to a room, whatever the weather outside. The lifelike succulents fit well on a windowsill or bathroom shelf. Because they’re artificial, they also retain their colour and shape. They are a favourite among designers and suit a contemporary interior. RRP: £14.99

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The Gypsy Caravan is the latest ‘fairy home’ to be added to the Fiddlehead miniature gardening range. It is made from weatherproof resin and stands approximately 14cm high. According to the company, Fiddlehead’s fairy garden products have been selling well in garden centres since their launch last year. The range has been expanded to over 60 products, with more planned for launch later this year. RRP: £22.50

Garden Centre Retail April 2015


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people: trading with

Trading with... A ndrew Mather Clover Peat Products

Clover Peat Products’ National Sales Manager Andrew Mather tells us more about the business Can you give us a brief outline of your company and its products? Clover is a family run business that has been producing quality growing media for garden centres and professional growers for more than 40 years. All our peat is harvested from our own carefully managed peat resources in Ireland, none of which are designated sites of special scientific interest. With huge investment in our factory over the past few years, the latest technology allows us to offer a wide range of standard and prescription mixes. We supply flexible quantities either directly from our factory in Northern Ireland or via our network of distributors throughout the UK.

the website, social media and the hard work of our UK distributor sales teams. Over the past few years we have begun to advertise more in the trade press but many enquiries come by word of mouth. If a customer is getting a high quality product at the right price, they will always tell other people. I would say that 70% of our products are sold to retailers with 30% going to professional growers. The garden centre market fluctuates depending on weather conditions. The grower market is much more stable and although it is more difficult to penetrate, it can yield better margins. Dealing in both sectors can be hectic, but it means we are always busy!

What is the company’s ethos? Our ethos is simple. We make high quality products using the best ingredients available. We pride ourselves on knowing our customers and developing relationships with them. We enjoy dealing with independent, family run businesses and don’t currently supply our products to any multiples.

Which are your bestselling products? Our bestselling product would be our Multi-Purpose Compost. The 75L bag is still very popular but our 60L and new 50L pack sizes are gaining in popularity.

What is your route to market? In the early years, we made sales by old fashioned cold calling. Now it’s a mixture of exhibiting at major UK trade shows,

What additional promotions and support do you offer garden centres? We can supply product point of sale boards and banners for our customers and we hope to run a series of ‘Clover Roadshows’ at some of our key accounts over the coming 12 months, with company representatives on site to support our retailer, offer advice and get public feedback. What is your brand’s unique selling point? Clover’s unique selling point is simple – quality. Our products are competitively priced but at the higher end of the spectrum to reflect the quality of our materials. We are continuing to try to improve response times, packaging and to speed

up production, but quality is key. You can spend 20 years building a reputation and it can be destroyed very quickly if you cut corners or use low grade materials. Do you think this year will be better than last in terms of turnover and profit? I see Clover going from strength to strength. Our order book is strong and I can see significant increases in turnover. A lot depends on the peat harvest. The price and availability of product for the following season is always dependent on a good peat lift. Do you have any plans for the next year? We are revamping some of our packaging designs. We have recently launched our ‘Mother Earth Multi-Purpose Compost’ in a handy 50L pack and intend to bring a new growing bag to market under the same ‘Mother Earth’ sub-brand. The high end ranges, Traditional Potting Gold and Tub and Basket Gold will soon be available in eye-catching, 50L packs. w

CONTACT Andrew Mather, Clover Peat Products,16 Derrylaughan Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone, N Ireland BT71 4QR Tel: 02887 740 488 Email: Web:


Garden Centre Retail April 2015

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people: horticulture careers

For full details on all jobs, please go to Call 01903 777 586 or email with your vacancy



Our client, which is an established nursery, is currently seeking a hands-on Trainee Deputy Manager for their retail division. This rare opportunity includes the following duties: supervising staff; overseeing stock control; setting staff key performance indicators; overseeing the general maintenance of the nursery and associated grounds. A horticultural qualification will be seen as an advantage.

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a Pets & Aquatics Team Leader at our renowned garden centre in the Lake District. The emphasis is on leadership and a proven track record of working in a supervisory role. Strong organisational, communication and interpersonal skills are essential. Retail experience and some knowledge of fish and pets would be an advantage. BTEC/NPTC qualifications are desirable.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to



Our client is a small garden centre group based in the south east of England looking to recruit a new Garden Centre Manager for one of its established centres. The centre needs an experienced retail manager with at least three years at deputy manager level. It is looking for a driven individual who is committed to increasing the productivity and turnover of its site with a background in seasonal retailing.

We are currently looking for a vibrant and conscientious individual to join our team within the planteria. This role will include: working outside; helping with stock/pulling trollies of stock; helping and advising customers; general garden centre duties. Applicants must have good interpersonal skills, a friendly outgoing manner and a good plant-based knowledge.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to



Our client is currently seeking a Nursery Assistant for its established nursery based in Berkshire. Duties include: being first point of contact for all customer queries; keeping plant areas neat and tidy; stock replenishment; assisting customers with purchased goods to their vehicles; planting both inside and outside the nursery grounds; weeding, watering, potting and pruning.

We are currently looking for a creative and ambitious visual merchandiser to join the team of a large retail site. The site is one of the largest garden centres in the UK and belongs to a major garden centre group. We require an individual who can work effectively with planograms and use their creativity and retail flair to create bespoke displays. Experience in a similar position would be ideal.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to



We are seeking a talented retailer to join the team of a large garden centre. This site is one of the largest in the UK and belongs to the market leading garden centre group. We need someone with good retail experience that they can apply to the varied sundries department. Gardening knowledge is desirable but is not essential. Previous management experience preferred.

An exciting opportunity has arisen to join our forward thinking, family owned company. Previous experience of working in a similar retail environment is essential, along with supervising a team of staff. A passion for retail, customer service and the ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment is essential. You will be flexible, commercially aware and have the ability to create innovative and dynamic displays.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to




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people: staff room GCR asks quick-fire questions to a selection of people working within the garden centre industry

Rachel Fox, cafe assistant, Fron Goch Garden Centre

What is your favourite book? I don’t have an actual favourite book, but I do enjoy Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and maybe a Nora Roberts crime thriller or Alexander McCall Smith’s The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, which is series of novels based in Botswana. They’re funny and entertaining. What is your proudest achievement? In my personal life, gaining a stepson who has amazed us all in overcoming his difficulties and is flourishing both as a young man and academically. Work-wise, completing 22 years within the policing family and taking

a huge leap moving to North Wales after meeting my husband. I now work for a fantastic team, which has been recognised for its hard work and dedication in its field – not just in the restaurant but in the centre as a whole. I’m very proud to be part of it. In an average week how much time do you spend in your garden? Not enough. We have a polytunnel that desperately needs preparing for the new season. I love being in a position to grow our own

Anne Radley, planteria manager, Garden Wise What’s your favourite drink? Tea. Loose-leaf green tea made in my teapot and drunk from my china mug. I don’t function until I’ve finished it. What’s your favourite film? Pale Rider. I love westerns and Clint Eastwood. I always had to be the Indian when we were kids as I had pigtails and a pony. What are your hobbies? I’ve got a motorcycle license. I met my husband when my bike broke down on an advanced rider course. He fixed the bike and I passed the test. How have garden centres changed since you’ve been involved with them? They have become more informing and pleasurable for the customer. A visit to a garden centre is a day out with good food, entertaining displays and helpful, informative staff showing customers how to make the most of their gardens.

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produce. I also have a passion for roses, in particular a variety called Albertine, my father’s favourite. Why do you think you won Best Garden Centre Restaurant at the GCA awards? Because Fron Goch Restaurant has a dedicated team who work together in the kitchen to create mouthwatering homemade dishes from locally-sourced produce. It’s a familyfriendly environment with staff who go above and beyond to provide a customerfocused service.

Neil Quarmby, retail assistant, Kershaw’s Garden Centre What is your favourite flower or plant? My favourite flowers are carnations, pinks and petunias for summer bedding. I used to cross-breed pinks for their scent. Do you have any hobbies? Gardening, growing plants from seed and DIY repairs are my main hobbies. I also enjoy films and socialising. What would people be surprised to learn about you? People would be surprised to learn that I enjoy grafting fruit trees. I am a keen gardener and I enjoy working on my own or as part of a team. What’s the best thing about your job? The best thing about the job is giving good customer satisfaction. I enjoy helping people with their purchases and offering help and advice on products. I also enjoy meeting new people.

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people: staff room Sue Browne, sales assistant, Russells Garden Centre What’s your favourite book? I’ve just got into a new author called Veronica Henry who writes fluffy escapist books, all set in Cornwall. All good for holiday ideas. My current favourite is Alan Titchmarsh’s book about the royal houses. Are you a fan of plants? I am. My favourite is clematis, which just goes crazy and covers any space it occupies with flowers. Hyacinths smell great - they’re so rewarding. They can transform a room if you put them indoors.

Adrian Jones, plant/ outdoor manager, Rivendell Garden Centre What’s your favourite film and why? The Lord of the Rings because it reminds me of the time I used to live in New Zealand, surrounded by the beautiful, diverse landscape. What’s your favourite plant? All kinds of phormiums. They are great, structural, evergreen plants. What’s your most treasured possession? An old pruning knife my grandad gave me as a child. It’s still sharp after all this time. What do you enjoy most about working at a garden centre? Talking to the customers, helping them choose the right plant for their garden and seeing the satisfaction on their faces. What is your proudest achievement? My children. It’s a cliché, I know, but it’s true.


Garden Centre Retail April 2015

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What’s your favourite film? Mary Poppins. It was the first film I ever saw at the cinema and it made a massive impression. I always cry at the end when she flies away. It came out the year I was born, so how it was still at the cinema when I went, I don’t know. Is there anything you like in particular about working at a garden centre? I like the fact that it’s always different – it evolves and changes with the seasons. I love the customer service aspect of it. I love nattering to people – it’s such fun. It’s not like work.

Melanie Howick, customer service manager, Haskins What would people be surprised to learn about you? I’m very involved with my local choir and drama club. Appearances have included the Brighton Festival and Arundel Cathedral. At the age of 19 I worked at Butlins as part of the backstage theatre crew. I looked after the acts, prepared the scenery for shows, loaded the movies for the cinema and performed with the red coats in their late evening shows. I often dressed as Fairy Liquid on the Christmas evenings. What’s your favourite film? I love movies and enjoy anything from It’s A Wonderful Life to WALL-E. I like anything sci-fi with special effects – not to mention a good old scare from the dark side. Do you have any hobbies? I’m an animal lover. I’ve been feeding the birds, foxes, hedgehogs and squirrels for 23 years. I also get them to the wildlife vets, who then get them treated and sent onto recovery sanctuaries. Do you garden? No. I’ve got a small patio with pots. The main focus is the bird bath and the ground water bowl. What’s the best thing about your job? My team, the customers and their dogs, the challenge of complaints and the variety of enquiries. No two days are the same.

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