Garden Centre Retail - August 2015

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Garden Centre Retail Issue 17 • August 2015


THINK LOCAL Are community growing projects the ultimate garden centre win/win? Watering strategies to protect your plant sales LET’S HEAR IT FROM...


Chief executive at Longacres on the power of a value offer

How to outfox online fraudsters FOCUS ON KNIPHOFIA

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Welcome to...

Garden Centre Retail Community service


elcome to the August issue of Garden Centre Retail magazine, the only resource you need to keep up to date with all the latest goings-on in the industry. Over recent years, the garden centre sector has seen a raft of profound changes to the way it does business, something prompted mainly by greater consumer expectation in terms of choice. The internet – alongside the growing phenomena of garden centres as destinations – has meant that nowadays it’s not enough to expect your customers to just turn up, buy and go. One manifestation of this is the greater involvement of garden centres in the lives of local people, not just as a retail outlet, but almost as a stakeholder in the health of the community itself. This is something we celebrate at GCR – and that we look at in-depth in this issue, with the help of Kevin Waters, Sarah Squire and David Domoney (the latter of whom’s Cultivation Street project is making a real difference in brightening up communities, while getting the UK back to gardening). One site that takes full advantage of a connection with its surroundings is Longacres in Surrey, which prides itself on knowing its local customer base inside out. Longacres is the most successful garden centre in the UK in terms of turnover, and in this issue we interview chief executive Nigel Long on the benefits of piling it high, selling

it cheap – while all the time giving them exactly what they want. On the subject of selling, GCR was also pleased to hear of the government’s plans, announced in the summer budget, to relax Sunday trading laws for bigger retail premises. Whatever the (perfectly valid) moral and even religious issues around shopping and staffing on the traditional day of rest, there is no doubt that the change will provide a boon for business. Skip to page 14 for the reaction of retail and horticultural expert Jonathan Ward – and once you’ve finished reading, please do give us your reaction to this momentous piece of news. Enjoy the issue. Phil Mason Commissioning Editor, Garden Centre Retail

ADVERTISING Business Development Manager Jamie Wilkinson Tel: 01903 777 588 Account Manager – Ellie Downes Tel: 01903 777 587 Sales Executive – Amber Bernabe Tel: 01903 777 581 Accounts – Lisa Woollard Tel: 01903 777 572 Horticulture Careers. Tel: 01903 777 580 PRODUCTION Design Alan Wares Production Editor – Susie Duff Subeditor – Toby Wilsdon Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, Gwent, UK Published by ©Eljays44 Ltd MANAGEMENT Managing Director – Jim Wilkinson Director – Lisa Wilkinson Business Development Manager – Jamie Wilkinson

@GardenRetailUK Garden Centre Retail

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EDITORIAL Director – Lisa Wilkinson Tel: 01903 777 579 Commissioning Editor – Philip Mason Tel: 01903 777 575 Editorial Assistant – Mollie Bennett Tel: 01903 777 583

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.

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Garden Centre Retail CONTENTS

Garden Centre Retail Issue 17 • August 2015


THINK LOCAL Are community growing projects the ultimate garden centre win/win? Watering strategies to protect your plant sales

August 2015


NIGEL LONG Chief executive at Longacres’ on the power of a value offer

How to outfox online fraudsters Family business Plan to succeed with succession planning



A roundup of the latest news in the industry


The HTA reacts to proposed Sunday trading changes; GCA inspector announces retirement


Liz Dobbs discusses ways to keep plant stock healthy in the summer sun


Kevin Waters on the benefits of becoming involved in community growing projects


14 SELL IT ON A SUNDAY Jonathan Ward talks about why extending weekend shopping hours is so important for many garden centres


Guy Moreton on the need for succession planning


SAFE ONLINE How to outfox ecommerce fraudsters

FEATURES 23 LET’S HEAR IT FROM... Longacres’ Nigel Long discusses the company’s enduring, value-based strategy

Fashionable, hard-wearing items to keep your customers happy

28 CREAM OF THE CROP An overview of how to recruit staff for your catering offer


Garden Centre Retail looks forward to Spoga +Gafa and Four Oaks as well as providing the first of a two-part peek at Glee


Create a feast for the eyes, says retail expert Lucy Summers

PRODUCTS 38 PRODUCT NEWS Suppliers update us on all the latest happenings




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Geoff Hodge discusses strategies to get the most out of outdoor attire sales

44 GENERAL PRODUCTS All the leading products for the garden centre industry


Garden Centre Retail talks to the chairman of DecoPak Mike Hall




Mollie Bennett finds out about Hillier in Chichester’s summer plant-selling regime

49 STAFF ROOM We shine a light on three industry personalities


We look forward to September’s Garden Centre Retail

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Bents parties on



Wyevale Nurseries issues call for graduates


yevale Nurseries in Hereford has re-opened its management trainee programme. The two year in-house initiative is designed to cover all areas of the business, including containers, trees and transplants, supply chain operations and more. Andy Johnson (above), managing director at Wyevale Nurseries, said: “The programme is open to graduates of all degree disciplines, preferably relating


to horticulture and crop based agriculture. “We want our management trainees to be innovative, using not only their ideas but also assessing and supporting others’ ideas. We want candidates to be careerminded, ambitious and flexible in their approach to learning.” Previous trainees and apprentices who have successfully completed the programme have all been offered permanent employment.

Garden Centre Retail August 2015

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ents has officially marked the opening of its new-look store by throwing a party for customers and employees. Visitors to the celebration were able to explore the new-look centre, as well as sampling tasters, treats and demonstrations around the site. Central to the event was a celebratory balloon launch in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which is Bents’ Charity of the Year, and for which the company has already raised £16k this year.

Speaking of the event, Matthew Bent, managing director at Bents, said: “We are now one of the largest and longest established garden centres in the UK and we thought it was important to mark the completion of the latest stage in our journey with a special celebratory party. “Despite our growth, we are proud that Bents is still a family owned and run business, now in its third generation, and with a fantastic team of colleagues.”

Big plans for Whitehall


hitehall Garden Centre in Lacock has announced new development plans which, if implemented, will see the business triple in size as well as doubling its workforce. The redevelopment is planned to see the installation of multiple restaurants, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, as well as an extension of the site’s ‘animal corner’. The owners are currently asking for resident and customer comments on the plans.

A company spokesperson said: “The proposals allow for a level platform throughout the centre that will provide ease of access for customers using wheelchairs, pushchairs and heavy-wheeled trolleys. “The plans also show extensive parking will be provided, including 360 spaces in the new main car park, 35 assisted/special needs, 180 overflow, five coach and ten customer collection spaces.”

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p r o d u c t lni en we s


HTA explores plant futures


round 90 growers and retailers attended the HTA and Ball Colegrave ‘Plant Retailing – Fit for the Future’ event in July in Oxfordshire. The event explored, through a series of presentations, the opportunities available for selling more plants in garden centres. Speakers included Boyd Douglas-Davies of Hillview Group, who discussed the HTA’s ‘eye-tracker project’, and Andy Bunker from Alton Garden Centre who spoke

on the changing nature of customers’ requirements. Kevin Waters, meanwhile, encouraged garden retailers to re-engage with their customers

All change at Klondyke

Plant sales shoot up


Bob Hewitt (L) and David Yardley


he Klondyke Group has announced shifts to its board structure, with the changes coming into effect on January 1, 2017. Bob Hewitt will retire as chief executive, in order to become executive chairman, replacing Dorothy Gault, who will become group president. At the same time, David Yardley, who is currently group operations director, will be promoted to chief executive. Commenting on the plan, Bob Hewitt said: “We have been planning succession for some time. David has significant knowledge of both the Klondyke business and the garden centre industry, and I am confident that under his leadership and my chairmanship we can continue to drive the business forward.” Dorothy Gault said: “Bob has made a significant contribution as chief executive, and the Klondyke business has made great progress under his leadership. I have every confidence that the core strategy will continue to be successful under the future leadership of David and the chairmanship of Bob.” GCR Aug15 P06-08 News.indd 7

and “become an authority on plants rather than just selling a commodity”. Speaking about opportunities within the plant market, Neil Grant of Ferndale Garden Centre said: “We have the best product and still get really excited about new plants, and we need to pass this onto our customers. We do need to look at who our customers are and provide for their differing needs.”

ales of outdoor plants at UK garden centres were on the up during June, according to the Garden Centre Association. The organisation’s ‘barometer of trade’ results, which were published this month, showed that sales rose 15.4%, compared to the same period last year. Speaking of the upturn, GCA chief executive Iain Wylie said: “It’s great to see core categories, such as outdoor plants, soaring. We have the British weather to thank for it, after it stayed unusually dry and warm. “Other good performers during the month were clothing, which was up 12.3%, houseplants, which were up 11.2% and catering, which rose by 11.7%.” He continued: “The good weather continued into July so we hope to see sales in these categories continue to rise.” The GCA barometer of trade reports are compiled using actual garden centre sales figures, and are designed to provide an up-to-date trading position statement.

Outdoor furniture retailers Besp-Oak’s Coventry showroom has re-opened its doors, following a fire in January. The showroom has now been completely refurbished into a six-floor showroom. The company has also launched a new website, alongside a backoffice software system. The Perennial ‘legacy garden’ was awarded a gold medal and named best show garden at the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park. The charity, which helps horticulturists in need, created the garden to mark the launch of its new legacy fundraising campaign. The garden was designed by Paul Hervey-Brookes, and reflects elements of an English country estate. Garden Style in Sheffield, formerly known as Rhinegold Garden Centre, has been sold to Langlands Garden Centre. The sale was handled privately by property agent Alexander Mackie Associates. Webbs Garden Centre in Wychbold has announced plans to welcome back John Lawson’s all-human circus during this year’s school holidays. Chairman of Webbs, Ed Webb said: “The circus has proved incredibly popular, and this show will wow the audience.” Horticultural children’s charity Greenfingers has announced the appointment of Miracle-Gro alumni John Ashley as its new chairman. Commenting on his new role, Ashley said: “I am very much looking forward to continuing the good work that Richard Jackson initiated when he founded the charity and the excellent work Matthew Wilson has done in the last three years.”

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GCR publisher launches two additional industry magazines


ljays44, publisher of Garden Centre Retail, will be launching two new business-to-business magazines this September. Following the success of the Pet Care Retail supplement, which was distributed with June’s edition of GCR, managing director Jim Wilkinson has taken the decision to launch the magazine as a standalone title. Aimed at owners, buyers and decision-makers within independent and national pet shops, as well as pet shop concessions within garden centres, the magazine promises to deliver best practice, offer business advice, and add

value to the sector. Meanwhile, Eljays44 will also be launching Farm & Deli Retail from midSeptember. The magazine will initially be published bi-monthly before going monthly in 2016. Striking a similar note to GCR and PCR, Farm & Deli Retail will offer business advice to the rapidly expanding farm shop, farmers’ market and delicatessen industry sectors across the UK.

Wilkinson commented: “The crossover of garden centre businesses with pet stores and farm shops is strong, so it makes sense to offer business advice and be thought-leaders to those related aspects of the industry.” Pet Care Retail is published on 9 September, and Farm & Deli Retail is out on 24 September. To receive your copy, contact Jessica Garrard on 01903 777 570.

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GIMA members win big


he winners of the GIMA awards have been announced, at a ceremony which took place in mid-July. There were 16 categories, with successful companies including Smart Garden Products (supplier of the year), Eden Hall Greenhouses (Gardenex export achievement award) and William Sinclair (garden care). The ‘Sword of Excellence’ award meanwhile went to Burgon & Ball for its innovative weed slice. Speaking at the awards, GIMA director Vicky Nuttall said: “My sincerest congratulations to all our winners, who are truly deserving of the accolade given to them. They have all

Plant Heritage welcomes new trustees


ultivated plant conservation charity Plant Heritage has added two new trustees, in the shape of Raoul Curtis-Machin and Brian Young. Raoul Curtis-Machin has

demonstrated exceptional qualities, from cutting edge design to inspirational retail support. “My thanks also goes to the panel of dedicated judges who gave up their time to take part in this year’s judging process. Their expertise and knowledge has been invaluable, and we are grateful for their assistance.”


Raoul CurtisMachin

been head of horticulture at the Horticultural Trades Association since 2013, following four years working for The National Trust. Brian Young of Holmes Farm Plants meanwhile, is chairman of the Plant Heritage Ayr and Arran Group. Plant Heritage chief executive, Sarah Quarterman, said: “We are delighted to welcome Raoul and Brian to the board. With their wealth of horticulture knowledge and experience, as well as understanding of the Horticultural Trade, we welcome the contribution they will be able to make to Plant Heritage.”

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Garden Centre Retail August 2015

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news: association news

Association news Horticultural Trades Association

Organisation predicts huge boost with Sunday trading change


he Horticultural Trades Association has registered its approval following the announcement in the recent budget of the government’s plan to relax future Sunday trading laws. The potential change in legislation will allow all retail businesses, including garden centres, to trade on what the organisation refers to as a ‘level playing field’ by being able to operate for longer at the weekend. Speaking of the development, HTA CEO Carol Paris said: “This could really benefit the horticultural sector as a whole and is one of the ‘asks’ of government in the recently published industry wide Ornamentals Action Plan. “The HTA has been lobbying on Sunday trading for over

two decades now and we are delighted that at last moves are being taken to remove this outdated piece of legislation.” She continued: “This is all about choice – choice for the public to shop when they would like, and choice for garden retailers to open when they like. “With online trading allowing people to shop 24/7 it is ridiculous that someone can sit and eat in a garden centre restaurant on a Sunday and order garden products online but not actually purchase them in-store. “Gardening continues to be one of the nation’s favourite pastimes and weekends are typically when more time is spent on doing outdoor projects.”

Garden Centre Association Inspector leaves after three years


CA inspector Liz Hutson is standing down from her role. Her final official engagement will be at the organisation’s annual conference next year. According to the organisation Liz, who started inspecting GCA member garden centres in 2012, has taken the decision to concentrate more on the training and consultancy part of her business. Iain Wylie, GCA chief executive, said: “We’re really sorry to see Liz go but completely understand her decision and wish her all the very best with her exciting new venture. She has been a GCR Aug15 P09 Assoc News.indd 9

pleasure to work with. “We’ve begun the task to look for a replacement for her and we’re very happy to speak to people interested in the post from all areas of the industry. “Anyone keen to find out more about the role should contact me via email or phone at the GCA before we start the recruitment process in earnest so we can ensure they get full details sent out to them.” Liz, who has worked for B&Q and Fisons Horticulture, has more than 35 years working in the gardening sector. She became a training and marketing consultant in 1990 and has since worked with

numerous independent and multiple outlets. In 1992, Liz wrote the Garden Care training pack, which is recognised and used throughout the industry and has run a series of industry roadshows, and plans to do more of these in the future. She explained: “I have enjoyed working with the GCA team, the privilege of visiting the member centres and meeting the staff. I will miss it, but unfortunately it is just not possible to do everything one would like and there are a number of new projects I want to develop.”

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business: summer sales

Liquid investment

To sell outdoor plants in the summer they need to look good, which means not letting them hang around gasping for water. Liz Dobbs discusses how to keep your core offer healthy rather than wilting in the sun


know a great gardener with really ‘green’ fingers, who, when she’s at work at a garden centre, finds the waste of summer stock immensely souldestroying. She tells me how good stock is delivered, but once it’s on the benches, unless bought within days, suffers because the plants are short of water. Seeing staff struggling to water plants doesn’t inspire customers. Rather, it just makes them think: ‘Oh that looks nice perhaps I’m tempted. But then again... perhaps not.’ On the other hand, properly cared for plants can be hugely impactful. On a recent visit to Polhill garden centre in Kent for instance, I saw an amazing quantity of different outdoor plants all looking fresh. It was late morning, and the outdoor plant area had that lovely ‘just watered’ feel, and there were plenty of people buying, with staff on hand to help.

Attention to detail

One reason for a lack of watering, according to my


friend, is that the equipment provided isn’t up to the job. Then, if stock deliveries arrive already short of water, you are playing catch-up from the start. It’s a perfect storm. With that in mind, it’s very worthwhile implementing a system of inspecting and watering on arrival, as well as tackling any issues with suppliers promptly. Also, if you use automatic night-time irrigation, be sure and check it in person, paying special attention to looking at and adjusting pH levels. One further detail to bear in mind is compost. How it is filled in the pot will also affect how easy it will be for your staff to water.

Inspiring displays

Gardens are inspiring at this time of year, so make sure your displays reflect that. As well as keeping up to date with watering, make sure your pots are well spaced out, weed-free and deadheaded if practical. Larger potted perennials meanwhile can be grouped into plant combinations. Mixing in potted-up ‘instant’ fruit plants with big pots of herbs creates an outdoor living vibe too – which is easier to keep looking good at this time of year than potted veg.

Cranborne Garden Centre in Dorset promotes summer visits with evening talks and inspiring bench displays of roses and other perennials. Co-owner Claire Whitehead explains her approach to keeping plants healthy and looking good. “Our plants are watered from the bottom up not top down,” she says. “This means using capillary matting on the benches, and training staff not to splash water all over the leaves. “We train staff to water effectively rather than merely frequently. I actively look for staff that love

plants so they care for them here as they would in their gardens at home – properly watered, deadheaded and fed. Outdoor staff all have a collective responsibility to keep an eye on the stock.” She continues: “I aim for the displays to be as tempting as a sweet shop, putting together collections of plants that go well together. Stock that is fresh and put together in an inspiring way. “Plants are living stock – keeping them healthy is key, looking beautiful and displayed in an inspirational manner.” ◗

Liz Dobbs is a researcher, editor, writer and author on all things garden and plant related. Twitter: @gardenslady

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Summer display inspiration

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business: community involvement

Reach out, sell out Kevin Waters discusses the marketing (and societal) benefits of becoming involved with community-based projects such as Love the Plot You’ve Got and Cultivation Street


ommunity gardening, school gardening and outdoor spaces are all buzz words that are currently filling column inches and prime time slots in the media. This presents the sector with not only a business opportunity, but also the chance to play an important role in the local area. My eyes were opened to this a few years ago, when I was honoured to be invited to judge the finals of a national schools garden competition across Ireland. This involved both inspecting the results, and also talking with the participating children. One question I made sure to ask every group was, ‘What was the very best thing about making your garden?’ In every case the answers were amusing, enlightening and constructive. At one school in particular though, which catered for special needs children, I asked the question and the group fell silent in contemplation for a few moments. Eventually a small, very quiet and shy 16-year old girl looked up at me and said: “We don’t fight anymore.” Wow… If ever there could be a more emotional, concise and yet comprehensive reason for engaging everyone in gardening I can’t think of one.

Get cultivating

Initiatives such as Love the Plot You’ve Got and Cultivation Street are currently raising the overall profile of gardening and the benefits to be gained from it. Cultivation Street is set to enjoy its most successful year yet, and has already secured backing from many garden retail heavyweights such as


Dobbies, Squire’s, Haskins, Strikes, Notcutts, Frosts and Hillview. Each of the centres is displaying prominent Cultivation Street signage, entry forms, and offering advice and planting information alongside their usual service. This clearly presents a multitude of opportunities to raise the profile of both our trade and also of individual businesses, through social media, local advertising and word of mouth. It is important for all garden centres to get on board with this, and encourage local communities through the doors.

Plight of the bumblebees Something else that’s received a fair amount of coverage recently is conservation, ranging from the plight of

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bees and the rapid decline of hedgehogs, through to the loss of natural habitats for wild flowers. This is illustrated by the new Pollination Street. Backed

by Philip Turvil, Grow Wild programme manager at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The initiative should raise the profile of community gardening, as well as the value

Sarah Squire, Squire’s Garden Centres We’ve been doing ‘community engagement’ for a long time, and it’s a big part of who we are. After all we depend on our local community, so I think we have an obligation to be a responsible member of it and build a genuine relationship. It makes good business sense too. In our case I think it has become evermore important, as we have

grown, to ensure that the communities where we are situated know that we are not a faceless corporation but a family business which cares about the localities we serve. We participate in many local activities and events, such as the Farnham carnival, as well as the restoration of the Hampton Court kitchen garden, and providing plants for the locks along the banks of the Thames.

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business: community involvement

“All of these initiatives have the capacity to bring a whole new customer base to our doors”

Love the Plot You’ve Got is helping to get the UK gardening again

of promoting wildlife at a local level. In the same way, the HTA’s Love the Plot You’ve Got is all about helping people make the most of their outdoor spaces, whether it be a balcony, backyard, patio or family garden. It is currently touring the country with a series of roadshows, each featuring ‘before’ and ‘after’ gardens the size of a shipping container. The objective of Love the Plot is to promote gardening to consumers in their 30s and 40s who are not currently heavily involved in gardening and garden One thing we’re very enthusiastic about is ‘In Bloom,’ which we support at most of our centres. It’s a wonderful project which brings communities together, and promotes pride in the area – as well as making the locality a nicer place in which to live or do business. The benefit to the business may be difficult to quantify. But I would rather be a good neighbour than the one you want evicted.

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purchasing. As with Cultivation Street, engaging with the targeted demographics will undoubtedly attract them into our centres, and get them buying plants and products. All of these initiatives have the capacity to bring a whole new customer base to our doors. It will be important to greet them with an offer they can understand, action and, importantly, succeed with. Kevin Waters is an independent garden centre consultant.

David Domoney, Cultivation Street Community gardening projects like Cultivation Street have a significant impact on the places where they operate. Cultivation Street’s in its third year, and the idea is that it connects people together. From our experience, in many cases the gardening aspect is almost a by-product – you end up with a lovely garden, but more than that, it connects the generations, and people around the community more broadly as well. Horticulture is a great equaliser. These projects are helping retailers connect with communities too, and most garden centres in this country are behind it. There’s

a benefit regarding turnover of course, but there’s more than that. It’s about building deep relationships with the customers, as well as having an ethical stance in terms of corporate responsibility. So many garden centres now connect with their local schools, and hold talks to help novice gardeners. To me, a garden centre is not like a high street corporate store – people go there to seek advice, in a way which can only be compared to the doctor’s surgery. It’s for achieving great things. Supporting the community is a great way to stamp out a reputation as the active part of the town where you operate.

Alan Wares, Stanford & Cleveland Community Garden, Brighton Stanford & Cleveland Community Garden in Brighton was formed on a newly created wide pavement on a suburban junction in 2013. The local residents asked the council for a garden space, and an 18in retaining wall was built, and two tonnes of compost delivered, with the message ‘…all yours’. It has become a big hit in the local community. Neighbours help out during the regular gardening sessions, and passers-by from further afield take a detour on their way to and from work in order to appreciate its colour, variety and charm. (Volunteers have a policy of ‘help yourself, but leave some for others’.)

In short, people stop, stare and admire, and it has become a centrepiece of the community, winning ‘Best Community Garden’ award in the Brighton & Hove City in Bloom 2014 competition in its first year of growing. Additionally, the garden is located adjacent to a school, and the children regularly receive a horticultural education as well as being allowed to pick any fresh produce. ◗

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business: opinion

Sell it on a Sunday The Chancellor has announced in his summer Budget that local councils may soon decide weekend trading hours. Jonathan Ward discusses why extending Sunday shopping is so important for garden centres


wenty years ago, the Sunday afternoon high street looked unrecognisable compared with today. Shops, including garden centres, were prohibited from opening, and the day remained one of ‘faith and family’ for many. With the arrival in 1994 of The Sunday Trading Act however, all that changed. After a long campaign, retailers were permitted to trade, albeit with limitations, and the way the UK shopped was unequivocally altered.

Twenty-four-hour society Twenty years on from the legislation many (and in particular garden) retailers, have been questioning whether some of the conditions placed on Sunday opening are still relevant. This is specifically in relation to the ban on larger shops, ie those over 280 square metres, opening for more than six consecutive hours every Sunday. (There are, of course, also occasions such as Easter Sunday and Christmas Day,


“This law is costing the industry an estimated £75m a year” when shops are required to close their doors to customers altogether.) Opinion continues to remain divided, but there is strong argument for change, summed up by the Chancellor in this summer’s budget (see page 9 – HTA Association News). After all we now live in a ’24-hour society’ where, via transactional and home shopping websites, consumers can continue to spend money for as long as they want to, with purchases often available to deliver the very next day.

Strong views

There are strong views on the implications of these restrictions in terms of lost revenue. Indeed, the Horticultural Trades Association has gone on record saying that this law is costing the industry an

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estimated £75 million a year in missing sales. A knock-on effect, as the HTA also points out, is that the restrictions put a dampener on the role garden centres now play as facilitators of gardening itself, an activity which ‘improves mental and physical health, gets us outside and helps us connect with other people in our community’. The organisation also adds: ‘‘Garden centres play a key role in [giving us] the opportunity to explore the vast variety of plants and flowers Mother Nature has to offer.” With this in mind, surely it’s


time to see garden centres as something other than just another shop, and reflect that in how long they’re allowed to open for? Is it not time, in other words, to view them as the weekend leisure destination that they’ve become at the beginning of the 21st century? They should be allowed to stay open for longer on a Sunday. What’s more, they should also be allowed special dispensation to open on Easter Sunday, heralding as it does the beginning of spring, and therefore a key time in the gardening calendar. By updating the practice to reflect developments in online shopping as well as the new status of garden centres, the UK’s retail industry will continue to modernise itself in every aspect. After all, it would be difficult to argue that extending opening hours on a Sunday somehow stops the day from being ‘special’, given that they are now such a central feature of our leisure time. ◗

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28/07/2015 11:30

Nature print collection from Fallen Fruits delights consumers A fun collection of printed garden cushions from garden giftware company, Fallen Fruits looks set to take the summer garden market by storm. The photo style prints feature cows, sheep, deer, butterflies, straw bale and daisy designs and come in small and large formats as well as bean bag options. In addition, matching doormats, tote bags and umbrellas are available. Perfect for style conscious garden centre shoppers, the collection also contains gift options, including wedding or setting up home potential. Garden centres can also supply their own photographic designs for reproduction. Turn round time is 16 weeks with a minimum order of 5000 units which can include any combination across the range. Fallen Fruits managing director Michael Hall explained, “This is proving a really popular concept with consumers both for garden use and as an attractive gift option.” Well supported at point of sale, the Nature Print collection has RRPs ranging from £2.49 to £11.99 for standard design items. Garden retailers can contact Fallen Fruits for more information about this and other collections by calling 01584 873377 or by emailing Fallen Fruits Ltd, Lower Barns Business Park, Ludford, Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 4DS Tel: 01584 87 33 77 • • e-mail:

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28/07/2015 12:35

business: succession planning

The generation game According to statistics, 70% of UK family businesses fail to make it to the second generation. Here, garden centre recruitment specialist Guy Moreton offers tips to help them survive and thrive into the future


e all know the importance of planning ahead. However, it seems that those managing family businesses, especially those within the garden centre sector, are unlikely to plan for when the time comes for them to leave the business, or to hand on to other family or non-family members. Figures show that 70 per cent of UK family businesses fail to make it through to the second generation, not due

to commercial pressures or a changing economic landscape, but because of the lack of succession planning. With at least 80 per cent of businesses in our sector being family-run, it is easy to see how succession planning for these owners/directors may simply involve passing the business down the generations. It is presumed that sons and daughters will relish the chance of taking the reins. However, with the myriad of opportunities now open to the younger generation, it is more important than ever for people to put a succession plan in place to ensure the continuation of the business.

Keep talking

Cashflow does of course have a large part to play in the success of a business. However, frequently continuing viability depends on the availability of future leaders. Many owners of family run businesses have a succession

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“It is really important that a succession plan is put in place...” plan in their mind, but have failed to get it written down. This may be due to a presumption that younger generations will simply pick up where they left off. Alternatively, there may be a fear of rocking the boat between siblings, or indeed non family board members, which could disrupt both the business and family life. In my experience, while people are certainly familiar with talking about recruitment plans over the short term (which includes the recruitment of seasonal workers), longer term plans often don’t exist. This is understandable, because it is a very difficult subject to broach for

all involved, but the sooner it is tackled, the better. Thinking about succession planning is often considered too little, or unfortunately too late. By sharing your plans well in advance of the time when the current manager or director steps down, nothing will come as a surprise to others within the business. The most important thing is to take an open and honest approach as you move things forward. 

Garden Centre Retail August 2015


27/07/2015 14:57

business: succession planning Things you need to consider for succession planning Look at the existing management structure, and consider when each member may leave the business Be realistic about when people within the family business will stop working. If key members of staff are heading towards retirement age, it is really important that a succession plan is put in place as soon as possible. This exercise will highlight who is likely to leave in the near future, and who on your list is most urgent to replace. How will the business look in the future? You also need to consider how you hope the business will develop and grow over the next ten, 20 or 30 years. Your succession plan will need to fit the model of how the business will look then, not as it stands now. Do you have the team and skills in place vital

“Thinking about succession planning is often considered too little, or unfortunately too late” to keep the business going? Do you actually have a vision? Consider the roles, skills and qualities of those who you may need to replace Perhaps you feel that a job role can be shared between existing employees and a person does not need to be replaced. Or, perhaps the role is large enough to require the recruitment of more than one person in order to cover all of their responsibilities. This may be essential if the business is to diversify and grow. Ambitions for the future should stay front of mind.

Identify the skills gaps Consider where the skills gaps are and how these can be filled. Those with a high level of experience and expertise are hard to come by. For this reason, it is important to nurture existing staff to encourage them to be the business leaders of the future. If there are family members who want to continue in the business, their abilities and skills need to be assessed and enhanced to ensure they are prepared to take a senior role when the time comes. Create a development plan for those who will eventually manage This should include all of the experience and skills that need developing, as well as a route to how these will be gained. Placing emphasis on training and development of those already within the business will ensure they have all of the skills necessary to take on the

demands of a new role, and will also encourage staff to commit to the business for the long term. Recruit new people if necessary Your succession plan may highlight that there are no existing employees to take on leadership positions. And, with the diversification of the business in mind, it may be time to recruit someone new that possesses an entirely different skill set to your current team. This will help to ensure the firm achieves its potential in the future, with an external candidate bringing an objective point of view, a wealth of experience and a fresh approach to ensure continued success. Write your plans down Now that you have thought strategically about your succession plan, write it down, and share it with all stakeholders to ensure that everyone is aware of what will happen in the future. But remember that this is a fluid document and should continue to develop as your business grows successfully into the future. ◗

MorePeople is a specialist recruitment agency. It has spent almost 20 years working alongside fresh produce, horticulture and agriculture businesses. Guy Moreton is director and founder of the company


Garden Centre Retail August 2015

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27/07/2015 14:58

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HARROGATE: Stand Q103 HARROGATE: Stand Q103 GLEE: Hall 20, Stand 20G36 GLEE: Hall 20, Stand 20G36 28/07/2015 11:09

28/07/2015 11:12

business: online fraud

Staying safe online: how to outfox ecommerce fraudsters With a few simple steps you can vastly minimise the risk of being duped by virtual criminals, writes Martin Newman


n almost every instance nowadays, chip and PIN terminals will be used when your customers make a purchase with a credit or debit card at your tills. Since it was made mandatory by UK banks in 2006, the technology has had a dramatic impact on reducing the amount of fraud that takes place using stolen or cloned cards. However, its introduction did not see payment fraudsters change career. Instead, unfortunately, they have put considerable time and effort into developing new ways to steal and use payment cards and other financial details in order to line their own pockets. The question is, what are the emerging ways your business might be impacted by fraud – and what can you do to mitigate the risks?

The scale of the problem

Firstly, let’s consider the scale of the problem. Losses on purchases made using UK bank cards remotely (ie online, over the phone or by mail order) rose to £331.5 million in 2014. That equates to a 10% rise year-on-year. The actual number of fraud incidents involving a card being used remotely meanwhile rose 7% from the previous year, with the value of each incident rising year-on-year as well. Ecommerce fraud in particular is rising faster than overall remote card crime. Ecommerce card fraud losses increased from £190.1 million in 2013 to £217.4 million in 2014 – a rise of 14%. This means just under 66% of


“Breaches can lead... to fines from banks and the Information Commissioner’s Office for mishandling of customer data” remote card crime using UK issued credit and debit cards is through ecommerce transactions. In 2014, ecommerce spending in the UK was £148 billion, meaning that for every £100 spent, 9.2p was fraudulent. If you run a small business, these figures should alarm you, not just because you have smaller profit margins

Garden Centre Retail August 2015

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to play with, but also because fraudsters focus on the easier targets. Unfortunately, smaller retailers tend to have less antifraud measures in place. By contrast, contactless payments – which attracted huge publicity about their apparent lack of security – have seen relatively low fraud rates. There was just £153,000 of losses in 2014 compared

with total spending of £2.32 billion. This represents just 0.7p in every £100 spent on contactless.

How to fight fraud

Fraud should not be a reason for choosing not to sell online. There are some simple steps that you can take in order to minimise the risk of being duped, and being left out

27/07/2015 14:58

business: online fraud

Beware: E-fraudsters invoicing scam


of pocket by a chargeback (when a bank takes a payment you’ve received back as the transaction was fraudulent). The first step is to ensure you have 3D Secure in place as part of the payment gateway on your transactional website – MasterCard SecureCode, Verified by Visa and American Express SafeKey. They all have different branding but work in the same way, requiring the cardholder to submit a password that only they know – in addition to their card details – in order for their bank to authorise the payment. If you have low order volumes you may want to use an additional manual fraud screening process, and refuse to send orders to an address other than the cardholder’s for purchases from customers who haven’t shopped with you online before. As your order volumes increase, such a manual system can become unworkable, and at this stage you can investigate a fraud screening solution, which will do the same checks that you would do manually. In addition, fraud screening services often offer the advantage of pooling data from the retailers who use them. So if a particular payment card or address has a history of fraudulent transactions with other retailers using the service,

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then you benefit from this intelligence too and can choose to decline the order. Finally, even if you don’t sell online you have a part to play if you collect or store your customers’ payment details for any reason. Smaller businesses aren’t just an outlet for fraudsters to use stolen card details, but also a target for where to find new card details to steal in the first place.

Data mishandling

Think carefully and seek specialist advice before storing customer card details in a format where they could be accessed and used. Even large retailers and websites have suffered from such attacks. For instance, which was fined £175,000 in February 2015 after 100,000 stolen customer records led to 5,000 customers becoming the victim of card fraud. Such breaches can lead you to incur fines from banks and the Information Commissioner’s Office for mishandling of customer data. Just as importantly, it’s also not great for business to have to inform your customers that you have not kept their personal details secure.

Fraudsters don’t just steal and use consumers’ payment card details, they also directly target businesses with email invoicing scams. Earlier this year, industry body the Financial Fraud Bureau highlighted a scam that involves an invoice being emailed to a business from a regular supplier or other trusted source. To view the Word or Excel invoice document, you will be asked to enable a macro (ie a set of pre-programmed instructions for your computer that are legitimately used on Excel documents in particular). However, enabling this macro will install malicious software onto your computer that allows the fraudsters to collect information such as online banking credentials and send it to the fraudster.

They can then use this information to try and steal money directly from your business bank accounts. The organisation has warned all businesses to be on the look-out for this scam, and to question invoices that require a macro to be enabled, even if they appear to come from a legitimate supplier. Also ensure all anti-virus software and other security features are up to date, and that all members of staff who have access to company emails are aware of the scam. ◗

Martin Newman is the CEO of retail and ecommerce consultancy Practicology.

Garden Centre Retail August 2015


27/07/2015 14:59

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GLEE Stand 18M04

28/07/2015 09:19 28/07/2015 09:55

feature: let’s hear it from...


Nigel Long

The chief executive of the UK’s most profitable garden centre, Longacres in Surrey, talks to Philip Mason about the company’s enduring value offer-based strategy, its £17million annual turnover, and why it’s still all about the plants Can you give me a brief history of the company, and how it’s changed over the years? Like a lot of garden centres, we come from a grower background. My father was what you might call a market gardener, growing plants and flowers, fruit and veg. We came here 35-plus years ago when it was a greenfield site. At the beginning, we were a bedding nursery, supplying the small number of contacts in the grocery chain that he had. We sold to the other garden centres on the road we’re on as well, but after one bad year we felt we needed to open the gates to the public.

Longacres is famous for selling on price. Where did that philosophy come from? My father’s background was always in giving a value offering, his early career was almost farmgate sales. He always looked up to Tesco in its heyday of stack it high, sell it cheap.

In terms of the development of the garden centre now, one day a compost rep turned up, we stopped growing plants completely and it grew from there. So it all began with compost? We began in the glory days of the ‘80s, when, believe it or not, compost was £8.99 a bag. We came in and started doing business, selling it for £4.99. Once the recession hit, people were just looking for value for money, and that was our proposition. The competition around us never really tried to compete – I think you could say they took their eye off the ball – probably because they started to turn into chains. They could have closed us in the early days if they’d wanted to, but they just looked at us like ‘Longacres – who?’ They don’t look at you like that anymore… No, they don’t.

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Garden Centre Retail August 2015


27/07/2015 15:00

feature: let’s hear it from... I was at a conference recently where someone said that Longacres sends out ‘phenomenal buy signals’. What do you think they meant by that? Personally, I think what Longacres does is send a buzz. If you go to a trade show and you walk onto the stand and there’s one guy sat in the corner, you glance at him and walk on. On the other hand, if it’s busy, you think there’s something happening and you become interested yourself. It’s the same

Longacres timeline Longacres was started in 1979 by Peter Long and his wife Mary. Peter initially grew and sold runner beans on the site, which began with one cash register. The business is now run by their son Nigel, along with his sisters Carol and Julie. Nigel went to Pershore Horticultural College in 1987. The company sells using a value for money offer, coupled with a deliberately extensive range. One of it’s main selling points is fresh flowers, which are delivered daily from Holland. It opened a garden shop in Chobham 2006 and in October 2013 opened a second full garden centre in Shepperton. Longacres started to build the online part of its business in 2003. It is now an important part of the operation, with its own team and dedicated packing area, sending out products across the UK.

Could you talk to me more about your layout and customer journey? I read an interview where you said you took some of your inspiration from Haskins. To a degree. What I liked about Haskins was that they tended to use a certain style of unit, deploying it in different places in the store. It’s plain and simple – I like that. In terms of layout here, they come in through the main entrance and hit the plants, so immediately there’s a horticultural feel. After

“We’re always looking for the next trend and react very quickly. We’ve been referred to more as a trader than a retailer in that regard”

“He [my father] always looked up to Tesco in its heyday of stack it high, sell it cheap”

with retail. You come in here and people are buying; we’re never really quiet. Once people see a value-offer, once you’ve got them, they grab a trolley and then they put something in it. Then there’s this feeling somehow that they’ve got to fill it the rest of the way.

that, it’s a matter of guiding them around, with the demand products like pet food placed towards the back of the store. During our recent development, we placed cut flowers towards the back as well, which may or may not have been a mistake. Because it was a USP, we thought it would be enough of a draw, but we’re missing out a little on impulse sales. You recently expanded and renovated your site. Was that so you could broaden your offer? There were certain things we added, certainly, including a farm shop and a butchery. The cafe increased in size as well. It was actually more a case of re-organisation and simplifying the offer though, making it easier for the customer. We actually pared the product ranges back, reducing suppliers to get the right lines to the right market. Another reason for the redevelopment was simply that some of the buildings were old and falling apart.


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27/07/2015 15:01

feature: let’s hear it from...

What’s the breakdown between plants and non-traditional categories in terms of sales? Plants are number one without a doubt, then cut flowers and food, which are equal. At this time of year, we enjoy a more or less constant rotation of plant stock, with some categories moving so fast we don’t even have to tend them. I’m happy to work on a smaller margin if we’re able to move it through like that. One, you get no wastage, and also, the customer gets a good selection. In terms of what we choose to add other than plants, that’s all to do with the customer, who we pride ourselves on knowing very well. For instance, we stock food from across the Atlantic because there’s a large American population in the area and an American school in Virginia Water. We’re always looking for the next trend and react very quickly. We’ve been referred to more as a trader than a retailer in that regard.

these restaurants that can sit four or five hundred people, I’ve never seen one that’s actually full anyway. Ours is different. When you arrive, you’re given a table first. Then you go to the counter, and bring the food back. It’s the only way we can manage, particularly at peak times, when we’d end up

“We began in the glory days of the ‘80s, when, believe it or not, compost was £8.99 a bag. We came in and started doing business, selling it for £4.99.”

with a lot of queues, and people possibly having nowhere to sit. Regarding the second part of the question, we do get coachloads and people on days out, but it’s honestly not something we encourage. We haven’t got a coach park, and we can’t book 50 tables in the restaurant in advance. 

How does the cafe fit into your strategy? You don’t seem to be pitching yourself as a destination in a way that a lot of other garden centres are at the moment. We put the cafe at the back as well, which works fine for what we want it to be. It’s quite small in terms of covers, but when I go to some of GCR Aug15 P23-26 Let's Hear It From.indd 25

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27/07/2015 15:01

feature: let’s hear it from... In reality, what we want is for the customer to come in, buy the plants and then go to make room for someone else. We don’t want them spending four hours here.

“In reality, what we want is for the customer to come in, buy the plants and then go to make room for someone else.”

How important is training and customer service to how you do business? I think it’s become much more important now than it used to be for everyone across the board, purely from a PR point of view. I used to say the customer is king. Now they’re the master of the universe, purely because they know everything. If you deliver bad service, there’s a potentially damaging effect customers can have which can make your job really difficult if they use social media. People actually use social media as a threat now, believe it or not, although a lot of them are scammers looking for a deal, I think. How do you make sure your staff are up to the job? We pay quite well, so we have knowledgeable staff who tend to stay with us. We encourage people to learn on the job as well, and take on apprentices, we’ve got four or five at the moment. The idea is to actively bring people through, both with the plants and flowers, and teach buying and display in-house. We’ve got a guy that’s working here now, Jack Shilley, who’s part of Young Hort. He’s a really keen horticulturist, and started with us when he was 14. He’s here full time now, heading up our online plants.

As part of the customer journey, the aim is to go for the plants first, so there’s immediately a horticultural feel

Longacres’ main proposition was to offer people value for money

Speaking of online, does your ecommerce offer echo your broader strategy? Do you sell even cheaper? We don’t promote on price. We don’t undercut ourselves. We’ve come unstuck on that in the past, because people always compare offers now. To me, online is about convenience, although we don’t replicate our whole offering. Certain categories work better than others. In terms of what we offer, we have direct delivery from the website, have a click and collect option, as well as a drive-through. What’s your attitude towards concessions? Concessions are fine up to a point, but we try and be very strategic about it. The way we work is to bring in specialists offering something that we can’t necessarily deliver properly or make much of a profit. To give an example, we found we had a lot of space for plants, which the customer wasn’t seeing because they were only prepared to walk so far. We approached a seller of


Garden Centre Retail August 2015

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log cabin office buildings for the garden, and gave him that space. For our part, we know it’s a good chunk of income through the rent, and it creates a useful feature. What’s your view on how other garden centres use them? I think there’s the danger that things can end up looking very muddled. I went into a garden centre recently, where they’ve almost rented half the shop out. That sort of thing just looks a mess. It’s the same with suppliers. A few years ago we had about six suppliers of spring and autumn bulbs, which we’ve now reduced right down. We focus on core sellers, who we’ve worked with to get the best deal probably anyone else has ever seen. We build up a relationship, and they know they’ve got a list in here, probably for life. ◗ Nigel Long is chief executive at Longacres Garden Centre, Bagshot, Surrey

27/07/2015 15:02



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27/07/2015 16:25

feature: catering recruitment

Cream of the crop: how to recruit catering staff A successful food offer relies on top notch service. Penny Cook offers insight on how to attract and retain the best people

Strategies for recruiting restaurant managers and chefs • Every vacancy presents an opportunity. Maybe someone with a different skill set could help you develop even further. • Always write a job and person profile. This will help you identify exactly what you need, and exactly what is expected of the candidate. • Consider where and how you are going to advertise and who will handle the responses. Take into account the time and cost involved. • Candidate attraction – what are your unique selling points.


ecruiting hospitality staff is notoriously challenging, and finding the best restaurant managers, chefs and waiting staff is even harder. With the economy gathering pace, competition for the best talent is fierce, particularly with new restaurants and catering businesses opening at a record rate. Hospitality recruitment differs from other sectors because there is so much competition. It is a very transient industry, and retaining ambitious staff is difficult if there is no clear career progression for them. So look at who you are competing against locally and how you can attract the best restaurant managers and chefs to your restaurant. It is not always about money. A massive bonus working in restaurants in garden centres in particular is the work life balance you offer.

Pro-active, assertive and organised

To succeed, you need to adopt sound hospitality recruitment and selection practices – starting with having a defined recruitment policy to refer to. This includes relevant


Garden Centre Retail August 2015

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catering (legal) guidelines. Recruitment is generally reactive (for instance, a restaurant manager or chef has left and you want to replace them as soon as possible). So, be pro-active, assertive and organised in your approach to the recruitment process.

Candidate’s perspective

Even if your experience of recruitment and selection is limited, you will probably have already applied for a position for which you had an interview. With that in mind, you will be familiar with the process from a candidate’s perspective and will have an opinion on good and bad practice. Recruitment is a two-way process and to attract the best candidates, you need to sell your business to them as much as they need to sell themselves to you. Finally, keep this in mind – people buy people. Candidates will always want to work for someone with whom they feel they will have a good relationship, that they can learn something from, and who shares their work ethic and values. ◗

• Salary and benefits. Research the market rate and remember that ‘you get what you pay for’. The right person will add huge value to your business. • The interview process. Prepare your questions in advance, and always invite the candidate back for a second interview combined with a trial shift. • Don’t sit on a great candidate hoping to see more great people or wait until an application deadline is up. You will probably lose them. • Appointing. Send an offer letter and contract immediately, and confirm a start date as soon as possible. • Always follow up references. • Keep in regular contact with the candidate until they start. Starting a new job is an anxious time and this will also re-assure you that they are committed. • Plan an effective induction process that meets the operations and individuals needs. • Diarise reviews.

Penny Cook is the director of Penny Cook Recruitment Ltd

27/07/2015 15:02

feature: show previews

Show previews It’s trade show season, so Garden Centre Retail offers a round up of some of the biggest events in the coming weeks

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Glee..................... 30 Spoga+Gafa.... 32 Four Oaks......... 34

27/07/2015 15:02

feature: glee show preview

Show preview: Glee 2015 A month ahead of the show, Garden Centre Retail gives an overview of the different retail-themed product sectors at this year’s Glee


lee is made up of eight dedicated product sectors, encompassing the whole of the garden industry. It takes place from 14-16 September at the NEC in Birmingham, and will attract garden retailers, landscapers and builders’ merchants amongst others. The largest sector will be Glee Garden Care, which, according to the organisers, also represents the biggest area of growth within the show. It will feature a range of products, including growing media, compost, fertilisers, GYO, garden machinery, garden tools and accessories. Garden Design & Landscaping meanwhile provides a showcase of influential brands and leaders in garden and landscaping design. It represents an area of ‘significant growth’ at the 2015 show. In the words of the Glee organisers, this area of the event will feature ‘many best practice examples of how to cross-sell


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products in situ’. Topics covered will include hard landscaping and aggregates, fencing, garden buildings and decorative accents such as pots, structures and soft landscaping. The area is aimed at garden retailers, builders’ merchants and landscapers.

Barbeques and parasols

The third product sector – Glee Garden Leisure – is designed for those wishing to source products related to outdoor lifestyles, as well as retailers wanting to keep a watchful eye on upcoming trends. It will showcase products including garden furniture, barbeques, parasols, chimeneas, conservatory and indoor furniture, play equipment and camping essentials. Exhibiting brands will include Premier Decorations, CPL Distribution, Aspire Outdoors, and John Adams Leisure. Sector four is Glee Plants, where buyers can shop for plants including

nursery stock, bedding plants and house plants, from both UK and international growers. Again, this is an area to also keep track of the latest plant trends and merchandising techniques.

Heart of the matter

Returning in 2015 is the Glee Green Heart, which will be located at the entrance, within the atrium area of the NEC. The Green Heart will see 60 growers come together to create a showcase for plants from around the world. The area will include a programme of activities led by The Garden Works’ independent garden centre consultant (and Garden Centre Retail contributor) Kevin Waters. Throughout the show he will also lead a number of guided tours around the area and Glee more broadly. This will be to demonstrate

27/07/2015 15:05

feature: glee show preview how cross merchandising and clever displays can highlight a continual year-round association with the plant offer. Glee Home, Gift & Clothing is a place to explore ‘additional profitmaking opportunities’ in the shape of gifts. A spokesperson for the show said: “As the garden retail gift market continues to grow with many garden centres becoming ‘destination centres’, Glee Home, Gift & Clothing brings together a huge selection of product ideas to help your gift offering stand out. “Added to this, the section also features additional, added value product lines such as clothing ranges, picnicware, seasonal decorations, plus games, toys and books.”

Latest innovations

The Garden Retail Services sector is aimed at anyone wanting to maximise the profitability and efficiency of their own store. It consists of the latest innovations, technologies and equipment, including EPoS, shop fitting and display stands, structures, software solutions and garden centre design. Lastly, manufacturers of pet products and accessories will have a strong presence at the event, due to the introduction of the PetQuip Business Village. This new area will see the organisation bring together pet suppliers while creating a showcase of brands wanting to build a presence within garden retailers. PetQuip is one of the UK’s leading trade associations for suppliers of pet products, accessories and services. The village is expected to be home to over 20 companies, with other

A selection of Glee exhibitors

PetQuip members such as Gardman and Westland also featuring throughout the wider show. Speaking of previous events, and expectations for 2015, Glee event director Matthew Mein said: “In many ways 2014 could be considered the perfect storm. The sun shone, consumers spent money and we made the decision to look at ways to create a brighter, more vitalised annual Glee exhibition. All these elements came together to create one of the strongest showcases for the UK garden retail market in several years. “The changes that were made to revitalise Glee were incredibly well received and have stood us in good stead for the 2015 show. The move to the new location within NEC halls 17 to 20 has not only created a vibrant layout, which is forcing buyers to walk the show and source new suppliers, but it is also helping to inspire exhibitors to think differently about their stands.”

Passionate companies

“As a result, we’re seeing more and more exhibitors book bigger stand spaces, as well as talking to us about how they can maximise their presence at the show. It’s fantastic to work with so many focussed and passionate companies, and we have no doubt that this enthusiasm will pay dividends when the show opens.” w Glee takes place from 14-16 September at the Birmingham NEC

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Agralan Aigle Albany Shed Company Apta Artevasi Artform (UK) Barenburg Barkeburn Belstane Black Country Metal Works Blakeway Stone Boodywear Bord Na Mona Bosmere Briers Burgon & Ball CSY Retail Systems Cadix Clearview Greenhouses The Christmas Cabin Co. Copely Developments Creative Products Creekwood DC Payments DLF Trifolium Darby Nursery Stock Davidson-Richards Deco-Pak Deroma UK Doff Portland Draper Tools & Parasene Eden Halls Greenhouses Elho Elite Greenhouses Fairgoodies Fallen Fruits Fargo Fiskars Fitrite Fencing & Decking Fordville Forest Garden Fountasia G7 Swan Garden Centre Retail Garden Connect Garden On A Roll Gardman Garland Products Gilbert Evans Global Stone Grange Fencing Great British Card Co. Hamac Trading Haws Watering Cans Heavenly Feet Hedge UK Home & Garden UK Italian Bag Company Ivyline Javado Kaemingk Kelkay Klass Lafarge Tarmac

Laurica Plants Luxa Mr Fothergills Seeds Luxform MP Buildings Maingate Malcolm Scott Consultants Malton Plastics Meadow View Stone Melcourt Industries Morleys Nurseries Moonshine Drinks National Structures NedFox BV Neudorff Noel Tatt Group Northumberland Nurseries Oakthrift Opal London Original Metal Sign Co Plantworks Pleydell Smithyman Poterie Lorraine PotMagic Powys & Marches Stone Premier Decorations QMY Windchimes Quinton Edwards Ravensburger Regatta RockinColour Rollins Bulldog Tools SP Trading (Scotland) Ltd Salepoint Scheurich Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. Seedball SeedCell Sincere UK Sinclair Horticulture Smart Garden Smiemens Projectan Spear & Jackson Stagecraft Stax Stewart’s Gift Tins Stewart Plastics Taylors Bulbs Thermoflor Town & Country UK Garden Buildings Vitax Vegtrug Westland Westwood Globa Wharton Nurseries Whitefurze Wildlife World Woodlodge Woodstock Chimes Vivid Arts Zest 4 Leisure

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27/07/2015 15:05

feature: spoga+gafa show preview

Show preview: Spoga+Gafa We give an overview of one of the largest shows in the garden centre sector, taking place in Germany later in the summer


uch of the garden industry will be Cologne’s guest from 30 August to 1 September at Spoga+Gafa. The show will attract around 2,000 suppliers from over 60 countries, who will exhibit their new products across 225,000m² of exhibition space. Of these, according to the organisers, 80% will be foreign exhibitors, which will be a new record for the event. Speaking of the show, Katharina C Hamma, chief operating officer of Koelnmesse GmbH, said: “Spoga+Gafa unites a worldwide unique top offer of garden products. The mixture between the latest garden trends, innovations, communication and further education turns it into a perfect industry meeting place at top international level.” “Trade visitors from all over the world can once again look forward to a comprehensive and diversified product show. The four new segments – garden living, garden creation and care, garden barbecue and fun and garden unique, represent the entire spectrum of the garden market.” Garden living encompasses garden furniture, garden equipment, decoration and new products from the sports and games sector, and is the largest section of the show. Garden unique meanwhile includes

Visitors at Spoga+Gafa 2014

what the organisers call ‘top brands, fresh designs and more,’ while garden care and creation contains flowers and plants. The event also contains the ‘grill park’, which boasts the world’s largest inter-related range of grill and barbeque products. It will also include live barbecues, interactive elements, stage shows, beer gardens as well as a ‘lounge atmosphere’. As well as the numerous exhibitors areas, there’s also a supporting programme of lecture slots and discussion rounds. This includes the ‘Taspo talk’ which will

be staged in the garden café area. Spoga+Gafa is open to trade visitors on all three days, beginning at 9am each day. ◗ Spoga+Gafa takes place from 30 August – 1 September at Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany.

Exhibitor focus: STV STV, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of pest control products for home and garden, will once again be welcoming retail customers to its stand at Spoga+Gafa this August. The stand will display the company’s new-season – and best-selling – products. It will include product demonstrations by STV staff, who will also be on hand to offer personal product training sessions throughout the show. These are available to book in advance.


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The stand will also showcase the company’s new training videos which are also available on STV’s YouTube channel, Live Pest-Free TV. STV can be found on stand B20 in Hall 6. Tel: 01953 881580.

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Co me a n d se e u s at GLEE – stand 20L32


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27/07/2015 15:58

feature: four oaks show preview

Show preview: Four Oaks We look forward to one of the oldest events in the sector


our Oaks, which the organisers describe as the UK’s leading ornamental horticulture show, is now in its 45th year. The event is aimed at a range of organisations from across the industry, including commercial growers and grower retailers, garden centres, farm shops, local authorities, landscape architects and florists. Visitors are expected to come from both the UK and overseas, with the proportion of European exhibitors now at nearly 40%. Taking place over 17,000m2, the show runs from 9am-5pm on 8 September and from 9am4.30pm the next day. It is taking place at a 23 acre nursery site in Lower Withington, Cheshire, close to Jodrell Bank.

Speaking of the development of Four Oaks over the years, event director Pat Coutts said: “The most noticeable area of growth this year has been in hardy stock, hedging, trees and specimens – particularly from Europe, as the exchange rate is favourable for the UK buyers. “There will be an excellent choice of material, both fieldgrown and container stock. Christmas tree growers will also be more prominent this year. The number has now risen to 23, plus the European plant traders.”

Four Oaks takes place in Cheshire from 8-9 September.

Exhibitor highlights

De Ree

Deco-Pak we have come to realise that clear marketing is as fundamental as the products themselves. “Over the past year, our Chelsea Garden range has sold in pallet-loads, merely on the strength of our reputation for quality products. This year we have updated the packaging and POS ready for visitors at Four Oaks.”

Bulb specialist De Ree will show off its offer at this year’s Four Oaks. The company’s Simple Pleasures flower bulbs are designed specifically for the garden centre market, with new and unique varieties being continually introduced. Its De Vroomen size 1 bare root perennials meanwhile, are mostly field grown for one year. A spokesperson for the company said: “All our bulbs are of the highest quality, packed in state-of-the-art facilities in Holland. They come with the strongest industry guarantee written on each packet”.

Deco-Pac can be found on stand B86

De Ree can be found on stands E 29, 30, 59 and 60

Deco-Pak will return to Four Oaks this year, focussing on its Chelsea Garden horticultural range of growing media. The company is looking to provide garden centres and nurseries with products, such as its horticultural sharp sand, potting grit, pea gravel and silver sand alongside sterilised top soil and Lytag. Marketing director at Deco-Pak Craig Hall said: “As our business expands

C Jackson & Sons C Jackson & Sons will be showcasing its new ‘Eco’ range of garden centre displays at Four Oaks this year. The range encompasses the company’s most popular


lines of bedding tables and hexagonal display tables, in a wide variety of sizes. In the words of the company, these offer ‘customers the opportunity to revitalise their

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plant areas on a relatively small budget’. Details of the new Eco ranges, as well as all C Jackson & Sons products will be covered in its new 2016

catalogue, which will also be launched at the show. C Jackson & Sons can be found at Four Oaks in hall E, on stands 257+258.

27/07/2015 15:06

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28/07/2015 09:56

28/07/2015 09:59

feature: plant focus

Plant focus: big time sensuality

The principles behind landscaping and effective retail are not that different, says Lucy Summers. The trick is in getting customers to fall in love using their eyes...


Design principles

want you to think beyond shelving displays and let your imagination rip, because this month we embrace the visual appeal of plants. Who went to Chelsea this year? We were treated to a little bit of everything, stunningly displayed. There was so much to delight and capture the eye and imagination. Plants were displayed in innovative abundance, guaranteed to seduce both our senses and intellect. If that didn’t inspire you to up the ante in your visual merchandising, then you’re in the wrong profession.

Visual merchandising is the one key area that comes up in my professional consultancy time and time again. So here’s a thought… According to Leonardo Da Vinci, there are four ‘great powers’: memory, intellect, desire and covetousness. He proposed that the first of these are ‘intellectual’ and the latter two ‘sensual.’ As retailers you need to focus on the sensual, as this is fundamental to a customer’s buying experience. When I shop, my mind isn’t in neutral, and neither is anyone else’s. Subconsciously, we all automatically appraise merchandise to see whether it meets our agenda. In just a matter of seconds, we have analysed products for quality, novelty, practicality, value and desirability, in deciding whether we are persuaded to buy or not. With that in mind, I wonder if you’re missing a trick by not employing some of the design industry’s trade secrets.

Charm offensive

You should start with what pleases the eye – and the first tool doesn’t even require a budget. It’s the first single step I use in engaging positively with my clients, and it should be yours too. A smile. A genuine smile is absolutely the


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Andrew Petcher

Great powers

most essential thing in your visual merchandising strategy, and every single one of your staff should be equipped with a happy face. A smile is an open invitation for your customers to talk to you and for you to talk to them. It’s the start of a relationship. By contrast, staff on mobile phones, busy chatting amongst themselves or performing tasks with so much concentration that they haven’t even noticed the customer has entered the premises isn’t giving out the friendly vibe. The charm offensive should continue once a purchase is being, or has been, made. Your customer’s experience at the checkout can be so much more than a numbing handover of cash or credit cards. Rather, it’s the perfect opportunity to let them know something more about you, and offer any special deals.

Farmers’ market stall in La Rochelle produces a feast for the eyes

Landscape design encompasses critical elements: shape, line, form, space, colour and texture. It also embraces variety, harmony, unity, balance, rhythm and contrast. Use these tags as a jumping off point for your interaction with your patrons. Steal ideas from the Chelsea floral pavilion, florists, galleries and high-end retail. Have you ever visited a French market? You won’t find their produce heaped on a stall. No fear. Everything from strawberries, cakes, confectionary and even seafood are all elegantly lined up, glistening with invitation and temptation. Likewise, if you’ve got fragrant plants, let their perfume waft. Place them at the front entrance where customers will be engulfed in their fabulous fragrance the moment they enter. And play music, not muzak, to create peaceful, purposeful browsing. Also, be mindful of creating space rather than just filling it. Empty or white space is excellent for emphasising objects or displays. After all, 2015 was the first year that a potato display won a gold medal at Chelsea – which proves anything can look appealing when presented in an illuminating, imaginative way. Brand leaders don’t leave visual merchandising to shop assistants to make up as they go along. They fully understand the value of visual impact and the specialist role it has to play in achieving lucrative sales. Nothing is left to chance and a lot of thought and artistic planning is involved. Up the ante, and these unique nuances will mark you out as providing an exceptional customer experience. If you want them to fall in love with the atmosphere you create and the products you sell, take time to emphasise personal, attentive service, impact, style and statement.

27/07/2015 15:08

feature: plant focus

Form, texture and shape

Kniphofia ‘Orange Vanilla Popsicle’

Kniphofia ‘Poco Yellow’

perfect solution for those creating a naturalised planting scheme. I’d be churlish not to mention the two-toned beauty of K. ‘Orange Vanilla’ (H.45cm x S.40cm). It offers an unusual, elegant colour palette of ivory flowers steepled with brick red and blood orange tubular flowers. w

Lucy Summers is an award-winning landscape designer, journalist, businesswoman and horticultural consultant

Image credits: © Lucy Summers

Talking of playing to our senses and landscaping elements, what better plants than the Torch Lilies to demonstrate, form, texture and shape? Red Hot Pokers are as sculptural as they are beautiful and demand you grab your vintage Ray-Bans! They are also largely trouble-free, long, blooming architectural plants, flowering reliably from June to October, and drought tolerant to boot.

My radar tells me that some of the new dwarf varieties are going to prove a smash, and leading the colour carnival is Kniphofia ‘Mango Popsicle’ (H.48cm x S.40cm.) It’s a dwarf variety attired in vibrant, zesty burnt orange that would be the perfect accent in hot or tropical borders. The more restrained of Kniphofia ‘Poco Yellow’ (H.38cm x S.40cm) meanwhile would grace any traditional herbaceous border, offering dwarf pillars of sulphur yellow flowers. However, if I had to choose a yellowhued poker for my own garden, my preference lies with the reblooming Kniphofia ‘Pineapple Popsicle’ (H.45cm x S.40cm) The golden torches are gently tipped with faded saffron, emerging from natural grassy foliage and will prove the

Kniphofia ‘Mango Popsicle’

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Kniphofia ‘Pineapple Popsicle’

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27/07/2015 15:07

product news

Product news

Earley in the pink

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

Gardman goes wild


ird care specialist Gardman has unveiled more than 30 new garden wildlife products, simultaneously announcing its entry into the category. The new wildlife products include a bee and bug house, a hedgehog house, squirrel feeder, a bee hive and ladybird tower. According to the company, all the products are made from 100% FSC redwood. Also in the collection are two new nest boxes – located in Gardman’s premium Ernest

Charles range – which are likewise handcrafted in FSC timber, and carry a 15year guarantee. Also in the range are three new heavy duty feeders, as well as seven new bird tables. The feeders are made from polished aluminium, with FeedSafe biocidal coating to protect against microbes and germs.

Suttons Seeds appoints new manager


uttons Seeds has announced the appointment of Charlotte Newitt as its new flower product manager. Newitt is from a garden retail background and has previously worked for many industry big players. She has also run her own garden design and landscaping company for ten years. Charlotte said: “Suttons Seeds has

a very exciting future ahead of it. It has seen bad times, but since the management buyout, the business is really turning corners. “I hope to not only bring a different perspective with fresh ideas to the business, but also to learn and progress within it too. Suttons is moving forward and I hope to be a part of their bright future for many years!”

Rolawn still going strong


urf supplier Rolawn is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, in which time, according to the company, it has supplied enough turf to cover the pitch at Wembley 18,500 times. The company was started by


Leslie Dawson and son Kenneth in 1975. It is still a family affair, and currently operates with Leslie’s grandson, Paul Dawson, at the helm. Speaking of the anniversary, Rolawn sales and marketing director Jonathan Hill said: “Many

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of our customers have been with us for years. In fact, one of them still remembers cutting some turf from the eight-acre field where it all started in Elvington and going into the house to pay for it. We’ve progressed a bit since then.”


roducer and supplier Earley Ornamentals has become the distributor for dianthus breeder and grower Whetman Pinks. The range includes the multi-award winning variety Scent First Memories, as well as dwarf pinks and garden pinks. Earley managing director Simon Earley said: “Bred for versatility, this range of young plants establishes quickly with the minimum of input, to produce a finished plant of the highest quality. “From icicle whites and delicate pinks to bold salmons and deep crimsons, single and double flower options to fringed, frilly, fragrant and freckled choices, pinks are perfect plants for the perfect garden.” Awards won by Memories include plant of the year runnerup at Chelsea, HTA Plant Show ‘best in show’ and Grower of the Year’s ‘herbaceous perennial of the year’.

New offering from Global Stone


lobal Stone is an industryleading supplier of premium natural stone and porcelain paving tiles. It has announced its new collection for 2015, incorporating 19 natural paving options. A spokesperson for the company said: “In 2014 we launched Garden Style, our collection specifically curated in response to the demand from garden centres for immediate purchase products. The range consists of affordable natural stone paving, setts, pavers and features, ideal for smaller DIY projects.” Speaking of the new range, they continued: “There has never been a wider choice and easier way to meet the needs of your customers. “Our collection and home delivery options offer your customers an all-inclusive price for smaller project packs.”

27/07/2015 15:09

Stone Effect Wall Planter A Great Sales Opportunity for 2015!

D IT N IS A V ST 55 R U 8L 1


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For more information: Call: 0131 335 5955 Email:

Want to learn about the online marketing solutions of Garden Connect? Visit our stand at GLEE (17R58), go to or call us on 0203 475 5541

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SLKids specialise in the supply of robust, versatile , commercial play products. We work with you to create a play area that fully engages the kids, maximises income opportunities for your garden centre, and fits even the tightest budget

Visit stand 17U40 at GLEE2015, call 0113 232 1700 or visit

Picture : Derby Garden Centre by kind permission of Blue Diamond Group

27/07/2015 15:10

products: category review

How to sell... garden Geoff Hodge discusses strategies to get the most out of your gardening and outdoor attire offer



ack in the day, when I managed garden centres, our clothing ‘department’ comprised cheap Barbour-lookalike wax jackets, some lowend wellies (plus some Hunters for our more sophisticated customers), alongside a small collection of gardening gloves. How things have changed. Now, clothing often takes up more room than the core garden care section. From clothing and accessories aimed at gardening, dog walking and other outdoor activities, all the way up to complete boutiques of high-end attire. But how far should you go? The obvious answer is to first look at your customer profiles and match them up accordingly.

Customer profiling

Garden centres are a far cry from fashion houses (although some I’ve visited seem to blur the edges, selling matching accessories, handbags and jewellery). However, a good selection of gardening and outdoor clothing is a must as it can provide essential, reliable income. Outdoor clothing has had a resurgence in recent years and is no longer ugly, boring and unfashionable. Now it is seen as consisting of modern, designer-led fashion items, with big names such as Regatta, Tayberry, Jack Murphy and Joules showing the way. All are seemingly keen to be associated with the garden centre market. Even if you don’t go the whole hog and turn your centre into a fashion boutique, there is a huge range of warm and weatherproof clothing on offer that is designed with gardening in mind. Tailored gardening trousers, tops, jackets and gilets (that’s the posh word for bodywarmer) are now available. Some consumers want to look good in the garden, walking the dog or out on a ramble, whether they’re part of the Chelsea set or not.

Market forces

Regarding this area of your offer, you’ll have to do most of your own promotion, getting people into the mindset of buying clothing from you. Several outdoor clothing suppliers do market and advertise their wares, but most people I’ve spoken to seem to think that their first destination for such


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Companies like Regatta are leading the way in designer-led garden clothing items, as displayed at Daisy Nook Garden Centre near Manchester

items is their local outdoor activity store. Two companies that supply support are Briers and Town & Country, who do regard garden centres as their major customers. And, of course, one major success story this year was Briers’ ‘Greenfingers Glovies’ for Garden Re-Leaf Day. As with any other product area, great display and stocking key items is essential. As outdoor clothing is more modern and designer-led, it must be displayed in a way to reflect this. With that in mind, have you invested in mannequins to show off your best and most profitable ranges? Town & Country’s new see-through macs and matching polka dot wellies are supplied with a free mannequin to help you display them to their best, and generate some theatre and atmosphere in store. Clothes stores rely on their dummies to sell a dream of what clothes can do for their consumers, and you should follow suit. However, don’t keep them in the clothing department – move them around the shop, put them outside in the planteria, display them in your shop windows. Create theatre, do something different. Get your customers talking about you.

And, if you’re going to offer full ranges of clothing, the first thing you need to consider is where to put the changing rooms. Who buys clothing without trying it on first? (Apart from online and then sending it back when it doesn’t fit.)

WI rummage sale

So, if you’re going into the fashion industry, maybe you need some fashion-oriented salespeople? And they need to be a bit techie-minded, too. Do they know the difference between waterproof, showerproof, windproof, wicking and breathable? Some centres I go to where they try to sell the whole kit and caboodle have few or no staff at all to help. It’s more like a WI rummage sale with discarded items all over the place. Stores like TK Maxx can get away with piles of clothes on the floor, as their offering is bargain basement. But yours can’t be – and certainly shouldn’t be. w 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.

27/07/2015 15:10


• A one-day event for the garden centre retail industry

Exhibitors include...

• Includes a trade exhibition and top quality seminar programme • Takes place in early spring at a crucial time for buyers when there are few other shows available • Easily accessible award winning venue • A comprehensive visitor promotion campaign

Why go to FutureLines? For exhibitors

For visitors

FutureLines aims to deliver an audience of buyers, influencers and decision makers from the garden centre retail industry.

FutureLines will be informative and educational, and will offer great networking opportunities.

For exhibiting information

For visitor information



Call Phillip Every on 01903 777 586

Call Dean Lawrence on 01903 777 585

GCR Aug15 P41 FutureLines Page.indd 41

28/07/2015 09:41

NATIONWIDE NATIONWIDE CONCESSION CONCESSION OPPORTUNITIES OPPORTUNITIES NATIONWIDE CONCESSION -- Add your Add the the UK’s UK’s biggest biggest outdoor outdoor clothing clothing brands brands to toOPPORTUNITIES your product product range range - Add the UK’s biggest outdoor clothing brands to your product range ---NATIONWIDE Generate a commission based income with no upfront cost Generate a commission based income with no upfront cost CONCESSION OPPORTUNITIES the UK’s biggest outdoor brands your product range - Add Generate a commission based clothing income with no to upfront cost --- We the including fit, We manage manage the concession concession including store fit, staff, staff, sales sales and marketing marketing a commission based incomestore with no costand -- Generate We the concession including store fit, upfront staff, and range marketing Addmanage the UK’s biggest outdoor clothing brands to yoursales product -- We manage the concession including staff, sales Generate a commission based incomestore with fit, no upfront costand marketing Visit Visit us us at at GLEE, GLEE, NEC NEC Birmingham Birmingham (Stand (Stand 17p10-q11) 17p10-q11) on on 14-16th 14-16th September September for for Visit at GLEE, Birmingham (Standstore 17p10-q11) onsales 14-16th - We us manage theNEC concession including fit, staff, andSeptember marketing for more and for more information information and to to see see our our concession concession for yourself. yourself. Visit at GLEE, NEC (Stand 17p10-q11) on 14-16th September for more us information andBirmingham to see our concession for yourself. Please contact Robert Mannix Please contact Robert Mannix more information and Birmingham to see our concession for yourself. Please contact Mannix - Visit us at GLEE,Robert NEC (Stand 17p10-q11) on 14-16th September for Please contact Robert Mannix more information and to see our concession for yourself. Please contact Robert Mannix -

NATIONWIDE CONCESSION OPPORTUNITIES NATIONWIDE CONCESSION OPPORTUNITIES - Add the UK’s biggest outdoor clothing brands to your product range Add the UK’s biggest outdoor brands your product range - Generate a commission based clothing income with no to upfront cost Generate a commission based incomestore with no costand marketing - We manage the concession including fit, upfront staff, sales - We manage the concession including store fit, staff, sales and marketing Visit us at GLEE, NEC Birmingham (Stand 17p10-q11) on 14-16th September for Visit us at GLEE, NEC (Stand 17p10-q11) on 14-16th September for more information andBirmingham to see our concession for yourself. more information and to see our concession for yourself. Please contact Robert Mannix - Please contact Robert Mannix -

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products: gardening clothes ▲

Land Girl dungarees

Muck Boot Edgewater II

Belstane has updated its multi-purpose Muck Boot in order to get ready for the winter months. The classic boot design has been updated with a 5mm ‘MuckPrene’ neoprene base layer, alongside an innovation called airmesh, designed to remove moisture and improve warmth and comfort. The product also has an angled topline, a waffle high traction outsole, as well as achilles reinforcement. It is completely waterproof, and available in black or green. RRP: £85

Latest atest products


Genus pitches itself as a brand of highperformance clothing, designed specifically for serious gardeners. The company’s 3 Season trousers for women and All Weather trousers for men have a number a features. These include kneepads, stab-proof pockets (for secateurs and knives), a waterproof seat panel and a high waistband for back protection. The clothing is made from durable, lightweight, shower-proof stretch fabric. RRP: £120

Fashionable hard-wearing attire to broaden your offer ▲

▲ Genus garden

gardening clothes

Land Girl, which produces gardening clothes specifically aimed at women, has revealed a new range of dungarees. The collection is described by the company as practical, hard-wearing and stylish. The range boasts a number of useful features, including easy opening pockets and lightly padded knees. The products are sidefastening, have a flattering fit and can be worn on their own or over clothes. They are made from a fabric that is easy to wash. RRP: £72

Bamboo Eco Wear

Boody Bamboo Eco Wear – an Australian brand of fashion underwear and outwear – has arrived in the UK. According to the company, the product fabric has been exclusively sourced and developed with up to 95% organic and chemical-free bamboo yarn. It is mixed with nylon and elastin to create something soft, stretchy and wrinkle free. The bamboo fibres contain ‘micro-gaps’ which provide ventilation and moisture-absorption, and also make the product highly ‘breathable’. The fabric is sweat and bacteria-resistant and provides UV protection. RRP: £5.95 (socks) to £29.95 (leggings)

Town & Country Cloggies

Town & Country has introduced its new Fleecy Cloggies range as part of a raft of new promotions for the autumn 2015 season. The product is designed to be comfortable and lightweight, with a warm fleece lining, perfect for the colder months. Each promotional deal comprises 60 pairs of cloggies, which are available in aubergine, navy and green. They come with a free high-visability point of sale display. RRP: £15.99

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Garden Centre Retail August 2015


27/07/2015 15:11

latest products

latest products A roundup of product ideas for all departments of your garden centre

Napoleon Grills

Napoleon Grills is launching two new user-friendly gas barbeque models for 2016. The P500 and PRO500 include new features, including fold-down shelves, interior lights, soft-closing doors, internal shelving, as well as a front-accessible drip tray. The products have also been restyled, boast ‘stress free’ assembly in less than 30 minutes, and will be available with an optional, additional selection of new grilling accessories.

▲ Wagner Sun City

HydroGarden irrigation kit

Hydroponics specialist HydroGarden has created an irrigation kit for hobby gardeners, on behalf of Swedish retailer Willab Garden. The system is designed to be connected to a water butt, so that pots and containers are watered at the right times and for the

Kelkay’s ‘clean white’ de-icing salt is perfect for the rapid clearance of snow and ice from paths and driveways. According to Kelkay, the salt also helps to prevent slipping, and is cleaner to use than rock salt. The product is available in a ‘grab and go tub,’ which includes a scoop and a re-sealable lid, and which can easily be kept in a car boot throughout the winter months. The salt is supplied on a pallet of 64 tubs, and can be displayed alongside an optional point of sale board. The tubs are 7.5kg each. RRP: £8.99


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Kelkay deicing salt

optimum duration. The system also features an automated timer for when owners are away. An initial order of 1,000 kits has now been shipped to Sweden, where Willab Garden has three 2,000m² stores, plus another store in Denmark.

Wagner has announced the release of Sun City, a new range of trolleys designed to allow the easy transport of heavy planters and flower pots. The trolleys are adjustable, allowing them to fit their load exactly, while high-tech rollers eliminate the danger of sliding items during transport. Two of the models are equipped with castors, as well as strong brakes allowing them to stand on uneven or sloping surfaces. The products are made of stainless steel and can be used within the home, at work, or in the garden. RRP: £13.49-£17.49 (dependent on size) plant-trolleys

Hotties thermal packs

According to the company, Hotties are safer than a traditional hot water bottle, designed as they are to engineer out boiling kettles and tricky stoppers. They are also intended to be more comfortable to lie on, and can furthermore be worn with a Hottie back wrap, which is portable for use on the move. A company spokesperson said: “Hotties have been manufactured in the UK for nearly 20 years and are proven to soothe, relax and give pain relief to aching limbs.” RRP: £12.99, including free postage and packing with promo code GARDENCENTRE

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Viola Vibrante F1 the NEW high-quality Viola from Earley Ornamentals

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There are many more additions to the Earley Viola range, making it an excellent commercial choice for 2015/16


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Whatever the season, Earley Ornamentals is always growing strong

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Garden Centre Retail

The UK’s leading manufacturer and importer of Brushware, Bentley have teamed up with the National Trust to create a range of unique quality garden tools suitable for every need.

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Produced under Licence from The National Trust (Enterprises) Ltd.

The National Trust range consists of over 30 gardening products including brushes with a unique double locking universal handle, dustpans, rakes, stainless steel trowels and stainless steel spades. For more information visit or call +44 (0)1509 232 757

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people: trading with

Trading with... Mike Hall Deco-Pak This month, Deco-Pak chairman Mike Hall discusses the company Can you give us a brief outline of your company and its products?

Deco-Pak is a family run business that has been supplying garden centres for over ten years. The company has grown at an impressive rate, specialising in creative hard landscaping products such as decorative aggregates, paving and water features. We pride ourselves on offering products that are inspired, imaginative, of the highest quality with innovative merchandise solutions to support retail sales.

What is your company’s ethos?

As a family company we continually strive to innovate and inspire customers and consumers alike. Every endeavour is also made to ensure that after the creativity, we back this up by providing professional and friendly customer service at every stage. Our general manager Rod Slater spent 30 years working for an A-grade garden centre, with the majority of that time spent in a management capacity. This allows us to really understand the needs of garden retailers.

What is your route to market?

We attend several tradeshows throughout the year and this is supported by our knowledgeable field and internal sales team, who aim to provide our garden retailers with the relevant and specific information they require to maximise sales. We also believe there is no better route than word of mouth and we understand that garden centres talk

to each other, so we make every effort at every stage to impress when it comes to supplying retailers.

What are your best-selling products?

Our celebration ranges of decorative gravels, a unique blend launched to coincide with our ten-year celebration, have been immensely popular this year. Another ever-expanding category is our Chelsea garden range, which is a collection of professional horticultural sands and gravels made for everyday gardeners, aimed at engaging with all generations. This range was recently featured in an award-winning garden at the RHS Hampton Court flower show.

What additional support do you offer garden centres?

We try to take the effort out of merchandising for retailers by offering informative and inspiring point of sale solutions for all our products. Furthermore, technical products like the new horticultural Chelsea range are complemented with YouTube videos containing tips for consumer needs. Our highly experienced field sales team also offers tailored merchandising support, assisting retailers with their POS.

What is your brand’s unique selling point?

We pride ourselves on continually developing innovative hard landscaping products, whilst also providing them in a

timely manner. We acknowledge garden retailers’ peak period – weekends and spring – and have developed a business model that caters for these needs to maximise retail sales.

Are you planning any new products over the next 12 months?

Yes definitely. Decorative aggregates are our core and at the heart of what we do. From here ideas grow and provide inspiration from our creative marketing and sales team. We tend to use trade shows like Glee as a launch pad for new products. This September we have several exciting new products to unveil whilst enhancing existing ranges with inspiring point of sale and merchandise solutions. We are thrilled to welcome all new and existing customers to our exciting Glee stands (20K30-L31, 20J30-K31) this year. w


Mike Hall is chairman of Deco-Pak Tel: 01422 204 394


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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


An experienced horticulturist, with very good plant knowledge, you will work as part of a team responsible for the presentation, maintenance and sales of plant stock. Scope of role: Assisting in care and maintenance of all plant products and displays; ensuring all areas are kept clean and tidy; accepting deliveries and managing movement of stock and stock levels; inputting data and producing labels and pricing for goods; utilising the EPOS system to interpret sales information; answering telephone enquiries and orders; managing the acceptance of deliveries. You will carry out all Health and Safety procedures as instructed and adhere to risk assessments and safe systems of work. Reward Package: Part time, 24 hours per week between 8.30am and 5pm including weekend cover on a rota basis. Occasional additional hours may be required. £7.85 per hour. 20 days holiday plus bank holidays. Person Specification Horticultural qualifications Level 3, previous experience in a garden retail business, fork lift licence, driving licence. Excellent communicator able to converse effectively with customers and members of the team. Exceptional standards of customer care, attention to detail and ability to deliver high standards of presentation; precise and accurate with good self-checking.


Key account manager for the south east including south London, Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hants to deliver creative solutions that meet identified customer needs and create inspirational seasonal promotions. This role will suit someone with proven success working directly within garden centres, DIY or similar. £28-32,000 car and benefits. For more details, please go to


CHESSINGTON GARDEN CENTRE Surrey To help manage the garden design and build estimating process to include preparation of accurate and competitive costs for submission to potential clients; to interpret design drawings; to accurately produce quotes of material quantities and prices; to identify materials and collate accurate information for potential clients.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to



To manage the horti areas including plant area, core gardening and indoor plant area. You will be key in managing the day-to-day running of the departments, from maintaining the standards to presenting the skills required to manage the team. You will also act as a duty manager for the garden world in the absence of the general manager. The ideal candidate should be educated/trained in horticulture with relevant experience.

Garsons is seeking a full-time planteria sales assistant to ensure displays are innovative, practical and refreshed on a regular basis; to ensure maintenance of the planteria; provide exceptional customer service; advise customers; to work outside in all weathers with some physical work including lifting and watering. The ideal candidate will have horticultural qualifications or experience and extensive plant knowledge.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to



The client is seeking a horticulture manager to join its senior leadership team. The role involves leading your team in customer service, plant care and merchandising. The candidate should be a superb plantsman with a real knack for retail. Horticulture experience could be practical or academic but candidates will be expected to lead a horticulture focussed team. Must have recent, demonstrable management ability.

Neal’s Nurseries is part of the Capital Gardens group and is situated next to Wandsworth Common. Capital Gardens is currently looking to recruit a new shop manager. The successful candidate will be a dynamic and confident individual who can assist in driving this busy London garden centre. You should have comprehensive retail experience, good leadership skills and excellent customer focus.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to


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people: store visit

Get up and grow This month, GCR assistant editor Mollie Bennett visits Hillier in Chichester to find out about its summer plant-selling regime


illier, which owns 12 centres around the country, was founded in 1864, and selling quality plants has been at the heart of its offer from the beginning. It holds the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive gold medals ever won at RHS Chelsea – 70 as of 2015. I spent my day in the plant area at its Chichester centre, which has recently undergone a makeover with the company implementing a one-way system to improve the customer journey. The plant area sells around 70% of home-grown plants from Hiller Nurseries, and also stocks from local suppliers. The only products not produced locally for the centre are vegetables, roses and climbers. 9am-11am The day started with the rather large task of watering all the plants by hand, as there is no capillary matting watering system in place. The team each took charge of a section to ensure the whole area was covered.

Hillier in Chichester works on a tenday maintenance scheme to ensure all the plants are cared for throughout the summer. Speaking of the regime, garden centre manager Shane Richards said: “We divide the entire plant area into ten sections and every day we maintain that area. By the end of the ten days, the whole plant area is covered.” 12-1pm Once the watering was complete, the maintenance of the area was attended to, to ensure the plants were looking presentable and in a good condition. This included walking the site and pruning and dead-heading ensuring every plant was handled. If the plants don’t look as they did when they arrived, they are reduced and moved to the sale area, in order to limit the amount of waste. “The guys in the plant area are extremely knowledgeable, and along with the information from our head office, we

aim to sell plants in their prime,” said Richards. “We communicate with the nurseries and get the plants in just as they are coming into bud. This is so the customers can enjoy them at their flowering best in their own gardens. We sell them just as they are coming into bloom, to increase impulse buys.” 1pm Throughout the day, we had to prepare stands for deliveries that were due to arrive. Hillier’s head office informs the centres of the best-sellers and ‘trending’ plants, and these are placed in the premium benches at the front of the store. A decision is then made on how to fill the other premium benches and space depending on the most eye-catching and colourful plants. Anything that is on offer to the ‘Garden Club’, which is the company’s loyalty card, will go in prime positions throughout the customer journey. Tina Hassell, plant area assistant, said: “The entrance is filled with seasonal impulse colour. At this time of year customers want stock that is ready to go, so bigger plants are more popular.” 2pm Stocktaking and ordering was done in the afternoon. The staff checked availability, and monitored the stock to check that plants are sellable. Communications were also made between head office and other stores to identify best-sellers. Stock can be transferred between centres. 3pm-4pm Throughout the day customer service always took priority. All the staff offer horticulture expertise and offer their knowledge to customers on what plants would look good together and also which live well in different areas of the garden. Customers also brought weeds to find out what they are and how to treat them.

Mollie dead-heading roses


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5pm The day ended with ensuring that all the stock was faced up, and everything was priced with point of sale in place. ◗

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

Michael Ainley, IT manager, Longacres

How did you start out in the garden centre sector? After university I moved into business software and hardware support, and then started doing the same for a garden centre Epos firm in 2000. We had customers as far north as Aberdeen and as far south as Jersey – I covered quite a few miles in my three years there! I’ve now been with Longacres for 12 years. What is the best thing about your job? The sheer variety of IT functions a large modern centre like Longacres demands. Every month, and sometimes week, can bring something new.

How do you think garden centres have changed over the past ten years? For me one of the biggest changes has been online, which has presented both opportunities and challenges. Your potential customer base is enormous and we’ve hit some excellent products and ranges. At the same time, you can also find yourself in a race to the bottom with low-priced suppliers running out of self-storage units with almost no overheads.

What’s your favourite section of a garden centre? A proper, well-presented plant area reminds me of why we, and a lot of the customers, are really here. At Longacres, plants are still a

What is your favourite flower or plant? I love Acers. There’s a beautiful example where I walk the dog which I’d love to transplant into my garden.

Tina Hassell, plant area assistant, Hillier’s Chichester

How did you start out in the garden centre sector? My family have always been in horticulture and I started out working in a nursery at 16 as a YTS student. Then, after leaving to start a family, I came back into the garden centre sector and have been here ever since. What is the best thing about your job? Helping people design their gardens and then seeing the results when customers come back and show me the pictures of what they’ve done with the plants I suggested to them. That’s the best bit – I love that. What is your favourite flower or plant? That is a hard question because it changes with the seasons. I love hydrangeas and I also like Prunus Incisa, ‘Kojo-no-mai’ which means ‘flight of butterflies’. It’s a tiny cherry tree that flowers early in spring.

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very important part of our offering.

Claire Bradford, marketing assistant, Highfield Garden World

What is the best thing about your job? The sheer variety that comes with working for a large family business. I do everything comms and design related – from managing our social media presence and our website, to POS, putting together our email and print newsletters, and printing off new menus for the restaurant every morning. How do you think garden centres have changed over the last ten years? I’ve only been in the industry two years, but one thing I see is that, as the big multiples become ever better at expanding their reach, the independents such as Highfield can really

benefit from promoting their independence and quirkiness. In a family business with the decision makers on-site, things can move fast, which gives us the freedom to always offer our customers something new and fresh. What’s the most interesting thing about you? I am a trained florist, which comes in very handy with customers when I’m away from my desk, out on the shop floor.

Garden Centre Retail August 2015


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Garden Centre Retail NEXT ISSUE... Local provenance at Mains of Drum’s award-winning restaurant Let’s Hear It From… Cranborne’s Claire Whitehead

How to become a Christmas destination Overcoming the horticulture knowledge gap Maximise your trade show presence Glee preview, part two And more…

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TIME FOR A CHANGE! Simple Pleasures ® brand

Exclusively for the garden centres. Introducing more new and unique varieties to the market than anyone else in the industry. Committed to a high-quality and innovative marketing program and developing modern, stylish and unique packaging. Our creativity and innovations enable you to be different! One of our top programs is Perfect Parners®. Two or more varieties of flower bulbs, all flowering at the same time, complimenting each other beautifully. Perfect Partners®; exactly what the name says they are!

Stand out from your competitors Offer your customers something different

ATTENTION GROwERS! De Vroomen Garden Products brand

De Vroomen Garden Products is celebrating it’s 90th aniversary this year and still growing!. We are offering over 600 Bare Root Perennial varieties for Professional Growers, please order your Paeonies by October 1st and your other Perennials by December 1st 2015. For a free copy of our Spring 2016 wholesale growers catalogue contact

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