Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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Garden Centre Retail Issue 16 • July 2015



MARK FANE on Crocus, Chelsea and the horticulture knowledge gap

Visual merchandising Making an impact



latest tools and products showcased

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It is easy being green How to sell ethical products

Let them eat cakes Highfield Garden World’s revamped catering offer 24/06/2015 16:40

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Welcome to...

Garden Centre Retail All the fun of the fare


elcome to the July edition of Garden Centre Retail, the only magazine you need to keep up to date with all the latest goings-on in the industry. The summer is finally here, which means, along with shorter nights and (relatively) warmer days, we’re about to see the conference and event season go into high gear. In this month alone, we’ve enjoyed the Horticultural Trades Association National Plant Show, as well as a hugely memorable time at the organisation’s annual catering conference. The latter event, as with previous years, delivered cutting-edge business advice, endless networking opportunities and, of course, great food. Of all the themes that came out of the catering event, perhaps the most thought-provoking was the way in which garden centres are now beginning to rival cafes and even restaurants in terms of how and what they serve their customers. From the largest chain to the smallest independent, the food offer has become a core part of businesses across the board,

rivalling even plant sales. Nowhere is this better exemplified than at Highfield Garden World, which this month gives us an exclusive insight into how its recently revamped catering offer has rejuvenated the business. This has been achieved, quite simply, by knowing exactly what customers, both old and new, want, and giving it to them. Having hopefully sated your hunger for catering best practice, elsewhere in the issue you’ll find an exclusive interview with cover star and Crocus chief executive Mark Fane, discussing the changing nature of online plant selling. There’s also all the usual business advice, with a particular emphasis on marketing and visual merchandising. In the words of contributor Lucy Summers, the trick is to make an impact – anonymity, after all, is so yesterday. Enjoy the issue.

Contact ALL ENQUIRIES Tel: 01903 777 570 Eljays44 Ltd 3 Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, West Sussex BN16 3DA EDITORIAL Director – Lisa Wilkinson Tel: 01903 777 579 Commissioning Editor – Philip Mason Tel: 01903 777 575 Editorial Assistant – Mollie Bennett Tel: 01903 777 583 ADVERTISING Business Development Manager Jamie Wilkinson Tel: 01903 777 588 Account Manager – Ellie Downes Tel: 01903 777 587 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 MARKETING AND CIRCULATION Subscription enquiries – Jessica Garrard Tel: 01903 777 570

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Garden Centre Retail July 2015


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Garden Centre Retail CONTENTS

July 2015



A roundup of the latest news in the industry


A review of the HTA catering event and news of the venue for the GCA’s golden jubilee conference

BUSINESS 10 HERE COMES THE SUN Liz Dobbs discusses how to target those wanting to entertain outside


Jane Perrone talks about how to use ethical garden products to attract a more socially aware, and potentially more well-off, consumer


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contents Garden Centre Retail Issue 16 • July 2015

MARK FANE on Crocus, Chelsea and the horticulture knowledge gap


Retail expert Dr Nicola Davies on how to unleash your customers’ inner snob


Keith Bateman looks at how garden centres can get more out of their electronic sale and retail management solutions


Mike Still outlines the importance of effective product display


Crocus’s Mark Fane on life as the chief executive of the UK’s largest online seller of plants, as well as the logistics involved in supplying and building the biggest displays at Chelsea


Highfield Garden World MD Tim Greenway explains

why he believes the centre’s new, redeveloped catering offer has been so successful


Plant expert Lucy Summers discusses why, in the era of online commerce, it’s so important to grab the attention of your realworld customers


Suppliers update us on all the latest happenings

33 HOW TO SELL... TOOLS Geoff Hodge offers tips on how to steer your customers towards what they really need – and how to keep them coming back for more


A roundup of items to help your customers with their weeding and pruning


STORE FIREWORKS Chairman of the British Firework Association

It is easy being green How to sell ethical products

Visual merchandising Making an impact

tools and 25 latest products showcased




Let them eat cakes Highfield Garden World’s revamped catering offer

Stephen Newham outlines how to stay safe, and stay within the licensing laws, when selling garden pyrotechnics


Retail lines to light up the night



A selection of the latest aggregate and gravel accessory products


All the finest greeting cards


Garden Centre Retail speaks to Brundle’s business manager Paul Smith


Mollie Bennett spends the day at the Pets Corner concession at Wyevale Garden Centre in Havant


We shine a light on six industry personalities

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Notcutts appoints new CEO



Business wins TripAdvisor customer accolade


he Garden Room at Hall’s Garden Centre in Sutton Coldfield has received a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence award. Now in its fifth year, the award celebrates excellence in hospitality, and is given to establishments that consistently achieve great reviews on the website. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor ‘bubble’ rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews, and have


been listed on the site for at least 12 months. Hall’s senior partner Robert Hall said: “Winning the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence is a true source of pride for the entire team at The Garden Room and I would like to thank all of our past guests who took the time to complete a review. There is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by our customers as a great place to meet, eat and drink in Sutton Coldfield.”

Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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arden centre chain Notcutts has announced the appointment of Nick Burrows as its new CEO, alongside Bryan Laxton as non-executive director. Prior to arriving at Notcutts, Burrows occupied dual roles as executive chairman with First Sports Group and Thames Club, where he led on transformation and brand positioning. Laxton meanwhile

recently retired from Cushman & Wakefield, a global firm of real estate advisors, where he was UK CEO until 2013. Chairman of Notcutts Nicky Dulieu said: “Nick brings a wealth of skills and insight into brand development and customers in both leisure and retail sectors as well as in-depth knowledge of hospitality.”

Armitage sold to Wyevale


yevale Garden Centres has expanded, buying Armitage’s Home & Garden Centre in Huddersfield. Prior to the sale, Armitage’s was owned by William Armitage, who acted as managing director, and his parents, as part of a 173-yearold family business. Armitage, who is currently chairman of the Garden Centre Association, said: “It has not been an easy decision, and certainly not one we have taken lightly. The sale will enable my parents to fully retire, and enable me to pursue my other interests

while focusing more on my GCA chairmanship. “I have no intention of turning my back on the industry, and will be spending my time looking for and investigating further opportunities. The industry has supported me and enabled our business to flourish over the past 173 years.” He continued: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those suppliers and members of staff who have been part of our amazing journey and I hope our paths will cross again soon.”

Haskins appoints new board members


askins Garden Centres has added two more board members to its existing team of chairman Warren Haskins, chief executive Julian Winfield and buying director Conna Powles. The first of these is Lisa Looker, who has been director of marketing for three years. She will be joined by Glenn Carroll, who has been recently appointed finance director. The appointments come in light of the company’s plan to

increase its number of garden centres from four to six, as well as to redevelop the Snowhill centre near Crawley. Julian Winfield said: “We are now well placed to make the largest investment yet in the company’s 133 year history. Glenn Carroll brings a wealth of experience from various sectors of commerce and industry and Lisa Looker has brought new professionalism to our marketing and promotions.”

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p r o d u c t lni en we s


Mary Portas reaches out to garden centres


edia production company Optomen Television is asking garden centres for help with the making of the new series of Mary Portas: Secret Shopper. The series will see Mary giving expert help and advice on customer service to independent businesses, which this time around will also include a garden centre. Anyone interested in being involved should contact Optomen using the details below. A spokesperson for the

Timber expert opens massive showroom

New manager for Poplar Tree



orest Garden has opened what it believes to be the largest indoor product display in the UK garden and landscape sector at its Worcestershire head office site. The 5,000 sq ft showroom was custombuilt to showcase products to invited trade customers. According to the company, it features more than 50 garden timber products, including fencing, sheds, summerhouses, greenhouses, arbours, decking, grow-your-own accessories, planters and furniture. Speaking of the development, Forest Garden group chief executive Guy Grainger said: “The size and variety of our comprehensive garden timber range means the products can be difficult to demonstrate effectively to trade buyers. “A stunning, centrally located, product display and exhibition area has therefore long been something we wanted to set up, to inspire garden centre, DIY and builders merchant customers.” He continued: “This new showroom now offers customers the chance to see our ranges side by side, as well as previewing some of our prototype ideas – with the chance to comment on them before launch!” GCR Jul15 P06-08 News.indd 7

company said: “Maybe sales are down, you are struggling to attract repeat customers and feel trade is slowly dwindling? Or perhaps, despite your best efforts, the locals just don’t spend like they used to and you can’t work out why. Whatever the issue, we’d love to hear from you.” The last series was screened on Channel 4 earlier this year and reached around two million viewers per episode. Contact; 0203 227 5987

oplar Tree Garden Centre near Durham has appointed Paul Barker as its general manager. Barker will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the centre, as well as its award-winning Brambles coffee shop. Speaking of his experience of working at garden centres across the North East, Barker said: “This was a perfect opportunity for me, as Poplar Tree is the premier garden centre for Durham built up over more than 40 years. It has a great reputation amongst its loyal customers and within the sector as well. “After expanding our coffee shop, we have even more exciting plans in the pipeline which I am delighted to be at the heart of, and which will only enhance our existing excellent customer experience.” Caroline Walker, Poplar Tree’s marketing manager, added: “We are delighted to welcome Paul to the Poplar Tree team. He has the knowledge, experience and the integrity from managing several centres for Wyevale Garden Centres and a great enthusiasm for his work.”

The RHS has announced Four Communications Ltd as its new sponsorship consultants. The appointment was made after a competitive pitch process involving three other agencies. Four will be providing advice on the RHS’s current sponsorship proposition and identifying organisations that are a best fit with the organisation’s brand and aspirations. Fleuroselect has announced petunia cultivars NightSky from Selecta Klemm as the winner of its prestigious FleuroStar award. The result was announced at Green Inspiration which took place last month in Bleiswijk in Holland. Griffins Garden Centre & Restaurant in Dripsey, Co. Cork has been crowned winner of Ireland’s Best Scone 2015. The garden centre received a cash prize, following a public vote and scrutiny by some of Ireland’s top foodies. Highfield Garden World has won planning permission to transform part of its A1 unrestricted retail space at its site in Gloucestershire. The site’s current footprint is 5,200m², and the new project will bring the total covered retail area to almost 6,000m². Wyevale Garden Centres supported a Garden Party at The Alnwick Garden in June, hosted by the Duchess of Northumberland in her role as Lord Lieutenant of Northumberland. This event was held to recognise the valuable contribution that volunteers and carers make to the local community.

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GCR publisher launches FutureLines event


ljays44, publisher of Garden Centre Retail, is hosting its inaugural FutureLines event at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey on 2 March, 2016. Billed as a brand new show, FutureLines will feature a variety of events and exhibits aimed at professionals who drive the garden centre retail industry. The show takes place in spring, which is a crucial time for buyers, and a time when there are fewer industry shows available. For the exhibitors, FutureLines aims to deliver an audience of buyers, influencers and decision makers from the garden centre retail industry. For the visitors, the show will be informative and educational, and will offer great networking opportunities. Jim Wilkinson, managing director of Eljays44, said, “There will be three main elements of the FutureLines show; the exhibition, a fantastic free seminar programme of guest speakers, and a series of special events. “We’ve already spoken to key industry figures who will share their experience in the industry, as well as give professional advice.” For more information on attending or booking a stand, call Phillip Every on 01903 777 586.


Wheatcroft Garden Centre finishes £3m refurbishment


he changes to the facility in Nottinghamshire began last autumn, when it opened a 268-seater ‘street kitchen’ restaurant and seasonal departments. The final phase consists of a newly revamped plant area, a brand new pet department and several refurbished indoor departments. The plant area has been resurfaced, has an ‘easierto-navigate’ flow, while the pet department is larger and consists of new features such as ‘guinea pig world’. Notcutts Wheatcroft centre manager Steve Cole said: “We are very excited


to be introducing the final refurbished Wheatcroft garden centre to our customers. “With a new plant area and pet department, my team and I are proud to offer this new enriching leisure experience so that people of all ages can come and have a fun day out.”

omebase has created a new ‘trailing petunia parade mix’ in order to raise money for children’s hospice charity Greenfingers. The project marks the first collaboration between the two organisations, following the announcement of a three-year partnership earlier in 2015. Head of Fundraising at Greenfingers Linda Petrons said: “We are delighted to have the Greenfingers trailing petunia parade mix on the shelves at Homebase.”

Cultivation Street cultivates national support


ational gardening campaign Cultivation Street has attracted the support of Kew Gardens and The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. Major backers from the horticulture industry have also supported the iniative, including Dobbies, Squire’s, Haskins, Strikes, Notcutts, Frosts and Hillview. According to Cultivation Street, this year is set to be the most successful yet, with a record numbers of entries. Each of the garden centres involved is displaying prominent Cultivation Street signage, as well offering advice and planting information.

Squire’s Badshot Lea celebrates double success

Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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Charity partnership bears fruit


quire’s Badshot Lea was crowned ‘the greatest catering team’ and ‘the greatest garden centre chef team’ at this year’s HTA Catering Conference held in June. Speaking of the accolade, Squire’s deputy chairman Sarah Squire said: “We are thrilled that the Squire’s Café Bar at Badshot Lea has been recognised by The Horticultural Trades Association as having one of the greatest catering and chef teams in the country. “Our cafe bars are an extremely important part of our garden business, and we are proud and pleased to have received these awards.”

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news: association news

Association news Horticultural Trades Association

Catering conference proves a roaring success


Sustainability living expert James Strawbridge

he 2015 HTA Catering Conference, which took place at the beginning of June, was hugely successful, attracting numerous delegates and exhibitors. The event was held over two days at The Belfry hotel in the West Midlands, and covered all aspects of providing hospitality in garden centres, from menu choice and tracking food trends to recruitment and marketing. Keynote speakers at the event included MasterChef judge Charles Campion, chief executive of the Westmorland Family Sarah Dunning, and TV chef and author Valentine Warner, who advised delegates to source locally and cook seasonally.

Meanwhile, the speaker following the conference dinner was food entrepreneur and sustainable living expert James Strawbridge, who instructed guests on provenance, as well the ups and downs of running a family business. Representatives from garden centres included Felicity Down from Cleeve Nursery, Tim Greenway from Highfield Garden World, and Jason Danciger from Wyevale Garden Centres. Speaking of how important catering is now, Blue Diamonds’ Alan Roper said, “Restaurants

turbo-charge your garden centre. Plants and restaurants are two cornerstones.” A spokesperson for the HTA said of the conference: “With the overall increase in dining out in the UK only set to continue, garden centre catering is in a prime position to benefit as long as the offer and the environment is right. “Despite the differences in the scale of operation [of some of the garden centres represented by speakers], there were definite similarities in approach in terms of providing a passionate offer, great ambiance and individual character.” The event was sponsored by Vision Commercial Kitchens.

Garden Centre Association Industry association plans something special


he Garden Centre Association has announced The Grand hotel in Brighton as the venue for its golden jubilee year conference, taking place in January of next year. Speaking of the upcoming event, interim GCA chief executive Iain Wylie said: “Next year is an extra special one for us. It will see the association celebrate its 50th anniversary so the annual dinner in particular will be a very special event.” He continued: “As well as the celebrations, the conference will be the usual mix of top quality speakers, analysis of inspections and garden centre best practice and announcements of competitions and awards.” GCR Jul15 P09 Assoc News.indd 9

Events taking place over the three days include the Greenfingers Challenge Cup, a networking event, as well as keynote speakers presenting on a range of topics. Speaking of the last day, Iain Wylie described it as: “A day of strategy on subjects such as the economy, challenges facing business and the direction of future market trends with an emphasis on enhancing profitablity. In the afternoon there will be the supplier exhibition. In the evening we will host our Annual Gala Dinner and awards presentation, plus a special celebration of our 50th anniversary.” The conference will run from January 24-27.

The Grand, Brighton

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business: summer sales

Here comes the sun

Don’t rely just on keen garden and plants customers to boost your mid-summer sales. Liz Dobbs suggests also targeting those enthusiastic about entertaining outside


ccording to the Garden Centre Association’s April barometer of trade results, furniture and barbecue sales at garden centres across the country were up 27% compared to the same time last year. The Leisure & Outdoor Furniture Association (LOFA) also reports that furniture sales have been growing impressively over this year. However, having the seating is not the same as committing to push the boat out with a summer celebration – and LOFA also recommends focusing promotions on customers who are enthusiastic about the idea of entertaining outside, but may lack confidence. This is a potentially large group of consumers, made up of anyone within driving distance of your centre with a medium to large garden and aspirations to impress. Typically they will be busy people who go online for garden party ideas or to

hire-in help, such as garden maintenance or outside catering.

Reaching out

Make sure you aren’t left out of the loop when it comes to reaching out to these potential customers. Cross promotions with the catering or landscaping side of your business could work here. Also, ask yourself whether your centre has any local school garden connections. Parents in their 30s to 40s will be getting end-of-schoolyear newsletters around mid-July onwards, so look for opportunities for offers,

Garden centre furniture and barbecue sales are up 27% compared to the same time last year

Flames & games

Garden party hosts like to have some talking point features. A few years ago it was ‘boy toy barbecues’, whereas fire pits are the thing of the moment. A connected product is a kadai, which is an Indian circular metal pot, used over a fire to cook for large family get-togethers. I first spotted them at RHS Hampton Court – which is a good place to research

“Provide content on themes such as ‘quick fixes for tired gardens’” sponsorship and competitions. Let it be known locally that your centre has staff with expertise on enjoying and making the most of gardens. Provide content on themes such as ‘quick fixes for tired gardens’ or ‘best family games for grass’. Keep it positive, simple and snappy. Your website offer should show key feature plants ready to go, alongside simple lists

outdoor entertaining options – and recycled versions are now imported. Garden games are another trend at the moment, not just for kids but for the whole family and adults. This could mean giant snakes and ladders, or the traditional croquet. Don’t just sell cans of grass graffiti to mark out games on a lawn – show them how it transforms a lawn into a tennis court.

of what you stock, relevant services and time restraints. For example, how much notice is required to get turf ordered and laid? Do your drivers deliver garden furniture and assemble it? Type ‘hiring plants for garden parties’ into a search engine and few garden centre retailers crop up. One exception is Romantic Garden Nursery in Norfolk. Its website ( sets out the hiring offer very clearly, and is a good example of how to communicate such a service.

Plants to impress

Impulse plant buys at this time of year include lilies in pots, dahlia plants in flower, specimen marguerites and fuchsias. Supermarkets and DIY stores have these as well, so aim to go the extra mile to head off the competition. For example, paint a couple of Versailles tubs, plant each with a specimen plant and add some finishing touches. This could be a twist of ribbon up a standard stem, little bows on topiary or crepe paper flowers. Staff from the houseplant section who normally put together gift baskets could be set the challenge of dressing summer container displays. ◗ Liz Dobbs is a researcher, editor, writer and author on all things garden and plant related.

A recycled kadai available from Wilstone House & Gardens


Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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Twitter: @gardenslady

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BORD NA MÓNA GROWING MEDIUM HAS BEST BUY STATUS Known for its successful combination of peat-reduction with best in class performance quality, Bord na Móna UK has seen its growing media brand, Growise cited as Best Buy by consumer ratings magazine, Which? Gardening in the raising young plants category. This has traditionally been the most challenging area for peat-reduced and peat-free growing media. Best Buy for raising young plants was the company’s Growise Multipurpose peatreduced which was tested with a number of different plant types including pelargoniums where it achieved particularly excellent scores for colour, size and quality. Commenting on the result, Charles Farmer, head of consumer for Bord na Móna UK

said, “This is not only great news for us, but great news for peat reduction in general. It demonstrates that the performance quality of our peat-free and peat-reduced is now outstripping that of conventional product in every area, including for the first time raising young plants. “Bord na Móna UK is all about one stop shop, market leading quality peat-based and peat-free growing media that gives trade customers the reassurance of buying best in class, while ensuring that the consumer gets great results every time.” Growise Multipurpose has an rrp of £5.99 for 56 litres.

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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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business: ethical products

It is easy being green

Jane Perrone talks about how to use ethical garden products to attract a more socially aware, and potentially more well-off, consumer


n my day job as gardening editor at the Guardian – where we try to champion organic gardening and peatfree compost – I am often in danger of complacency about how far horticulture has come in terms of adopting a sustainable approach to growing. Sadly, a visit to a garden centre is almost guaranteed to shake off my smugness. Browsing the stacks of growbags for instance, there’s usually only a 50/50 chance I’ll find a peat-free option on offer. This is worrying, given the government and the horticultural industry’s joint goal that all compost should be peat free by 2020. It’s not just peat-free that’s an issue however. Garden centre staff are often ill-informed about the alternatives to neonicotinoidladen pesticides, as well as the science that’s highlighting the dangers of glyphosate weedkillers on human health. In the same way, furniture is not always made from FSCapproved wood, and gas patio heaters are still available for sale or hire in some garden centres. I often leave feeling depressed that gardeners, often trumpeted as guardians of nature, are being offered so little accurate information about the damage some of their products could be doing to the very creatures they are supposed to love.

Huge opportunity

The modern emphasis on sustainable products offers not only ethical benefits, but also financial ones. Independents in particular have a great opportunity to distinguish

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Here is a selection of products that major on sustainability. Twool Rather than twine made from imported jute, Twool is a sustainable product made from rare breed Whiteface Dartmoor sheep. Elho pots Dutch plastic pot manufacturer Elho lists sustainability as one of the five elements of its success. Forty per cent of its pots are made from recycled plastic and it is set to increase that to 50%. Its packaging is 60% recycled and 100% recyclable. Bulldog tools This company declares itself the only UK manufacturer of garden tools, made in its forge in Wigan since 1780.

themselves from the big chains by offering an alternative. For instance, take Bud Garden Centre in Manchester, which is ploughing a very different furrow by sourcing peat-free, organic plants wherever it can and selling only peat-free growing media and UK-grown plants. Customers are increasingly aware of the peat-free options, especially now their quality is comparable with peat-based products. Since Bud opened four years ago, owner Brenda Smith says she’s seen an increase in customers coming to her specifically looking for peat-free. She comments: “We’re tiny, but people are coming from 20 miles away to buy Melcourt peat-free compost. I’ve seen a big change in that this year: they read about the recent trials in Gardening Which?

magazine where the Melcourt compost did really well.”

Give it a go

There is an argument that it’s not worth bothering to cater for customers who follow organic gardening principles, because the alternatives to weedkillers and pesticides tend to be things you can’t buy in a garden centre. For instance, it costs nothing to let the dandelions grow as food for the bees, or to make your own plant feed from comfrey. However, this ignores that the majority of environmentally aware customers tend to be the better educated, higher earning gardeners. In other words, this means they have money in their pockets to spend on the latest composting equipment, top-of-the-range bags of peat-free and so on. ◗

Delfland A Soil Associationcertified organic nursery family business, based in Cambridgeshire. It supplies both retail and trade with vegetable seedlings. Slug Gone wool pellets An eco-alternative to slug pellets, this product from Vitax is made from waste wool from British sheep. It keeps slugs off vulnerable plants like hostas and contains slow release nutrients to feed the soil without posing a threat to wildlife, children or pets. Jane Perrone is The Guardian’s gardening editor and the author of The Allotment Keeper’s Handbook Twitter: @janeperrone

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business: conspicuous consumption

At the high end Retail expert Dr Nicola Davies talks about how to successfully broaden your range by unleashing customers’ inner snob


ertain items that have a high price are perceived as luxury, exclusive, or high-status, and this increases their demand. (A good, nongarden centre-related example of this would be a rare whisky). The moment the price of these products is reduced – contrary to the traditional law of supply and demand – consumer desire for them reduces too, because their status is diminished. This is called the Veblen effect. Consequently, rare items can also create a ‘snob effect’ – where the price people are willing to pay

“There are records of rare Clivias selling for over £700” increases with scarcity. Both the Veblen and snob effects can be used to your advantage in garden centre retail. Here are some tips on how to reach more ‘discerning’ consumers, and what to look out for when planning your stock.

Rarity value

People love owning something that’s extremely rare. In terms

of plants, you’re mostly looking at enthusiasts and collectors, but novice gardeners also like having something unusual. Clivias are an excellent example of a product that will appeal to these kinds of consumers. They are gorgeous lilies, that range from mid-priced to shockingly expensive, and the more expensive they are, the more they’re perceived as being ‘quality’ varieties. There are records of rare Clivias selling for over £700. One gardener says: “I would rather spend a little more on something that I consider having a greater possibility of a more unique outcome.”

Andrea Durrheim

New products

Clivia miniata – 'good' hybrids are expensive


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Being among the first to get their hands on the newest plants and products can be a huge motivation for consumers. If you’ve got a ‘new introduction,’ a higher price tag won’t put off your clients. On the contrary, they expect new releases to cost more, even when there are no royalties to pay. Derry Watkins of Special Plants Nursery near Bath knows the value of new products. She regularly travels the world in search of plant species that no-one else has tried in the UK. Indeed, she has built a reputation for always having something new and unusual. She’s widely regarded as something of a plant guru, and

Specialities like Sarracenia carnivorous plants draw customers

that means even more eager customers waiting for her latest new release.

Limited availability

Garden artworks, hand-made ceramic pots and other ‘arty’ products are particularly prized when they carry a high price tag. If you sell them too cheaply, customers are inclined to believe that the item isn’t anything special. For example, you can get fairly standard terracotta pots from Petersham Nurseries for

24/06/2015 16:49

business: conspicuous consumption as little as £7.50. An artier pot from the range described as ‘surrealist terracotta pots’ will set you back £65. Shoppers will notice the difference, but they won’t be put off by the higher price. Bring the price down, and the ‘surrealist’ pot suddenly doesn’t look as ‘special’ any more.

there, they’ll shop. With this in mind, it pays to become known as the place to go for unusual plants, stunning garden art or beautiful bonsai. In other words, anything that will draw enthusiasts who are eager to pay for something with a touch of ‘snob value’.

If you stock it…

Keep the prices of your premium products high. Price slashing only devalues special products in the eyes of consumers, as well as eating into your bottom line. Save discounted prices and bargains for common items not perceived as valuable. At the same time, use your display strategies to remind people of the quality aspects of your premium products. A study published in the Journal of Marketing found that consumers had higher value perceptions of the same products when subtly reminded of quality. Display a single pot on a plinth and you’ll fetch a higher price than if you have it packed among other pots. ◗

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

Andrea Durrheim

The advantage of having exclusive items in stock reaches beyond the sale of the item itself. It brings you ‘feet’ – or in other words, if you sell rare orchids or exhibit local artworks, people will visit your nursery just to see what all the fuss is about. While they’re

Price and display

Displayed in a special setting this pot's value perception has been boosted

The Veblen effect

Thorstein Veblen

The ultimate status symbol. Limited edition Rolls Royces have ensured the price has stayed high, encouraging exclusivity

The fine craftsmanship, combined with a deliberate scarcity of a Birkin bag can elevate the price to an eyewatering £100,000

Belgian brewer Stella Artois has attempted to artificially create its own Veblen effect by justifying its high price through many ad campaigns

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The Veblen effect is named after the American economist Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929), who first identified ‘conspicuous consumption’ as a mode of status-seeking in ‘The Theory of the Leisure Class’ (1899).

Garden Centre Retail July 2015


24/06/2015 16:49

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25/06/2015 12:14

business: epos

Information is power Keith Bateman discusses how garden centres can get more out of their electronic point of sale and retail management solutions


cross the UK, many independent garden centres have an electronic point-of-sale and retail management solution in place. When properly implemented and used, these can generate a lot of income, over and above the initial outlay that might be required to acquire them. In our experience, EPoS provides greater control across your business. It increases sales, and saves both time and money, thereby improving profitability. This is true whether you’re a single site, have multiple stores or are a large destination centre.


For some garden centres, the initial need satisfied by having EPoS lays in its ability to securely and efficiently handle customers’ payments at the tills, thereby delivering great customer service and minimising the likelihoods of queues. Whilst the point-ofsale is the customer-facing side of the solution, it can be used in a much more multifaceted way across the entire business. For instance, as the till drawer closes for a particular customer transaction, the information that has been generated is instantly updated in the back office. This reflects changes for the customer, sales, margins and stock. This real-time retail intelligence is the core function of any EPoS system, and can be used to help your entire team – whether cashiers, customer service or marketing, to make timely and confident decisions using retail intelligence. Staff training plays an

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“This real-time retail intelligence is the core function of any EPoS system” important role when the solution is first implemented, as well as on an ongoing basis as features are introduced or when new recruits come on board.

Missing a trick

Most EPoS solutions provide the ability to manage promotions in-store – while

some also offer bounce back couponing. With many promotional tools available to cover products, ranges and seasonal needs, these can all be easily tracked to monitor effectiveness in increasing sales or footfall. Bounce back couponing is a useful tool to encourage crosssales between the garden

centre and cafe. It is triggered at the till by the spend value, the purchase of particular items, or the presence of loyalty scheme members. You decide when the coupon can be redeemed in order to encourage repeat visits during off-peak days, months or seasons. Many EPoS solutions can also help you organise events, such as Santa’s Grotto, tours or demonstrations, to handle tickets and ensure customers aren’t disappointed. Make sure you don’t miss out on this function when using your system. 

Garden Centre Retail July 2015 17

24/06/2015 16:50

business: epos customers with the seamless and connected experience they increasingly expect.

Great working relationships

“The ability to offer cards as well as voucher-based schemes delivers total flexibility” Taking advantage of customer loyalty-related functions is another extremely effective way to help with gaining ROI from your solution. The ability to offer cards as well as voucher-based schemes delivers total flexibility. And, using the retail intelligence captured at the tills for each customer, you can personalise the loyalty rewards and communiqués in line with the customer’s particular interests or buying habits.


Points can be gained and redeemed as you wish. This approach significantly reduces the time, cost and wastage typically associated with mass marketing campaigns.

Stock-taking transformation

For back office operations, mobile devices combined with EPoS can play a key role by saving time and streamlining processes. The booking-in process can be dramatically

Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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reduced, ensuring stock is on the shop floor without delay – something which is particularly important for plants, in order for them to look their very best. Mobile devices are also useful for queue busting at peak times, as well as creating purchase orders, helping with price or stock queries, and in handling mark downs using label belt printers. Stock taking is transformed as well, with rolling stocktaking replacing the often onerous annual audit, involving numerous members of staff across several days. Your EPoS and retail management should be at the very heart of your business operations, and it makes sense to consolidate your data to avoid duplication and the need to maintain parallel solutions. From this central data hub, your other applications, such as your web store, warehousing and financial accounting, can share the information and customer details. It’s far easier as a multichannel solution to provide

One last thing that needs to be borne in mind is to maintain a great working relationship with your EPoS provider from when you first install the solution, and going forward. In our experience, having ex-garden centre retailers as part of that team is invaluable in terms of the approach, advice and support provided. Being able to take business advantage of new technologies is also important, whether that’s contactless chip and pin payments, or use of the cloud technology which has transformed how EPoS solutions can be delivered and maintained. Previous technology required the retailer to bear the considerable cost, time and effort in having a back office server on which your EPoS solution ran. You were responsible for all of the backups, updates and troubleshooting at your site. The cloud has removed this, as the EPoS partner now takes care of it with seamless overnight backups and software updates. With your data held securely in the cloud at a dedicated hosting provider, it’s protected 24/7 and delivers unrivalled freedom to access your data via the web, from wherever you are. w Keith Bateman leads the customer service and commercial activities for Davidson Richards retail solutions. He has a wealth of experience serving over 60 garden centre organisations, including four of the UK’s top five independent garden centres by turnover.

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24/06/2015 16:51

business: visual merchandising

See me, feel me For retail guru Mike Still, product display is arguably the most powerful weapon a retailer possesses. It’s a shame then, he says, that so many garden centres are happy to get it wrong


etting the customer to purchase is what retail is all about, and in reality it’s pretty easy. Set a product on a shelf, table, or indeed whatever you like, put a price against it and someone will buy. So why do many garden centres make it so hard on themselves? Why do so many just cram their stock in, often using a store layout that has developed ‘over the years’ to become not much more than just a muddle? Of course, some garden centres turn over millions of pounds a year, possibly even following this approach. But dig a little deeper into customer numbers and average basket spend, and you’ll see that there’s always an opportunity to drive more business. (Just think, for instance, how much extra money would go in the till if everyone just spent one pound more.)

“Display has a job to do – a job that clearly is about positioning, sorting and of course, selling the product” everything that the customer sees, both inside and outside of the store. It’s more than just display, it’s about how you communicate with your customer, through the environment, layout, landscape, fixtures, buying, and point of sale. Visual merchandising can and will define what and who you are as a retailer.

Laying the foundations In my article last month discussing the customer journey, we talked about creating the foundations

Maximising sales

Retailers have much in their armory to help them build a successful business. Yet, the one weapon that is arguably the most powerful, visual merchandising, is often overlooked, and much misunderstood. According to the dictionary, visual merchandising is: “The activity and profession of developing floor plans and three-dimensional displays in order to maximise sales, in an environment that supports both goods and services to highlight their features and benefits.” Or to put it another way, visual merchandising is


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of visual merchandising via a layout that is easy to navigate and puts in place a framework on which to build your offer. In this feature, I explore display in its various forms and how to overlay the product onto this plan. Display has a job to do – a job that clearly is about positioning, sorting and of course, selling the product. However, it also has to communicate to the customer the various messages that you as a retailer are trying to put forward, ranging from ‘Look at me, I’m over here’ to

‘What a great price’. Understanding what each display is doing will help to decide how to showcase the product, and techniques have to be appropriate for what is trying to be achieved. There is very little point in creating something that looks like a piece of art if the customer feels they cannot pick the item up.

Visual sorting

One fundamental technique is to use different fixture types, in order to help the customer visually sort the displays which you’re presenting them with. The key here is to use a limited number of different types appropriate to the category. In many instances, standard retail shelving should form the basis for core merchandise, while gondola ends are great for promotion and focal points. Tables, dressers and bookcases are great for lifestyle display, meanwhile. Keeping it simple is, as always, the right approach. And thinking about the product you are selling, and the amount you want to sell, will help decide how you display it. As mentioned, core merchandise should be displayed upon ‘standard’ retail shelving. An authoritative display is achieved when we pre-sort the product to allow the customer to find what they want. The segmentation here will very much depend upon

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business: visual merchandising

Fixture heights

L a n dsc a



2000mm 1500mm 850mm

Dump bins and plinths

Tables and furniture

1500mm mid floor granola

2000mm mid floor granola

3000mm perimeter wall system

Bulk merchandise

Themed ranges

Core and standard ranges

Core and standard ranges

Core and standard ranges with feature locations – dressers etc

Display style and purpose

Display style and purpose

Display style and purpose

Display style and purpose

Display style and purpose

Promotional and volume

Themed and lifestyle

Vertical block by brand and product type

Vertical block by brand and product type

Vertical block by brand and product type

Bulk stacking and tumble


Authority and expertise

Authority and expertise

Feature themed and lifestyle

Low level

Low level

Mid level

Mid level


Using fixtures to create a landscape will add interest. Applying a display principle to each fixture type will help the customer understand your range

how the customer buys the product and what they need to know, usually sorting and vertically blocking by product type, brand, size and colour.

Volume and aspiration

When trying to sell volume, the display has to be simple, communicating belief, as well as price and obviously value. This is achieved through simple blocks of the same product, usually deployed on plinths, pallet stacks, promotional end shelving and sometimes on tables. These are often set with a single price message. Another area to consider is aspirational display, which is used when trying to sell an idea, a theme or a collection. These will often be pulled together through seasonality, colour, trend and so on. Regarding this kind of selling, try to find an iconic or large product that creates the focus and communicates the idea. Then, apply the colour, texture or form of the different products to help segment the space.

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Do not over complicate this kind of display, as the customer’s eye has to be able to see the product rather than just the ‘idea’. If you’re not careful, aspirational displays can easily be too contrived, and become creative

masterpieces that in reality no one will want to touch.

Getting the balance right Getting the best from your display effort, as with most things in life, is a matter of balance. This includes picking

High level

Authority and expertise Storytelling and aspiration

the correct display styles that help the customer focus and see everything you are selling. Also important is knowing when and where to use the different display styles in order to help them see your total offer. Let your displays work well together and use the different techniques outlined above to create stand outs. Remember if there are too many aspirational displays (or indeed, too much of anything), confusion will be created. When products have to fight for attention, you will quite simply sell less of them. ◗ Mike Still is a director of Clear Retail, a down-toearth visual merchandising and design agency. They are a small group of retailers focused on how to make the most of retail space. They are passionate about what they do, and always happy to talk retail. 01636 830 270

Garden Centre Retail July 2015


24/06/2015 16:51

feature: let’s hear it from...


Mark Fane Crocus’s Mark Fane discusses life as the chief executive of the UK’s largest online seller of plants, as well as the logistics involved in supplying and building the biggest displays at Chelsea Could you tell me a little about the history of the company? What gave you the idea to set up Crocus in the first place? My brother and I used to run a business called Waterers Landscape, which we built up in the early ‘90s. It was turning over £23m, doing private landscaping for people in Surrey, Berkshire and surrounding areas. Through that, I got to really understand the plant supply chain, which was very much within my DNA anyway – something which in turn coincided with the rise of ecommerce more broadly. I set up Crocus with my friend Peter Clay, who was a deputy managing director of one of the big advertising companies. He was interested in horticulture, but didn’t feel that he was getting the range or quality of advice he wanted from garden centres. I wrote a two page


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business plan, and the idea went from there. Other than convenience, how does the business differentiate itself from other ways of buying plants? We really focus on providing information to the customer, which is reflected in the layout of the site and the way that it operates. We want to help solve problems, which of course is what a lot of gardening boils down to anyway. Historically, if you were interested in gardening and just starting out, you’d go and buy one of those enormous books from the RHS, open it with great enthusiasm, and probably begin to struggle at around page 50. Instead, we thought that the internet was a great method of conveying information and inspiring people in a much simpler, easy-to-use way.

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feature: let’s hear it from...

“We really focus on providing information to the customer, which is reflected in the layout of the site” That then, of course, feeds back into the selling itself. We worked out that any industry that’s based on Latin is probably going to be fighting the tide, so we decluttered and demystified it.

Crocus runs a 30-acre nursery in Surrey

How is that reflected in the layout of the site? How do you get customers to convert? We start from the basis that different people shop in different ways, and work from there. For instance, you’ll have one customer who will know exactly what plant they want, which they’ll simply

find and buy. On the other hand, someone else might not know much at all – they’ll want something white that flowers in the summer and can live in shade. You’ve got to have the means of addressing both those kinds of customers. Our strategy is that we’re helping people on their gardening journey, at whatever level they might be at, rather than just selling something. A lot of horticultural students use us as a reference site – they’re always pinching our ideas about what goes with what. One of the major issues with selling online is shipping. How do you keep costs down? At this point in the life of the site we’re lucky because we can take advantage of economies of scale, but it’s still something that has to be factored in all the time. For instance, City Link went into administration at Christmas, and prices have edged back up ever since. It’s a complicated business, and courier costs have been a real issue right from the beginning. We got one order on our first day, and went through the first few years without being able to break even. What kinds of economies of scale do you enjoy now? We send out something like 1,000 GCR Jul15 P22-25 Let's Hear It From.indd 23

orders a day at the moment – literally two articulated trucks. By having that level of continuity, we’re pretty competitive with couriers. I think we’re the largest customer to the depots that we deal with. I’m fairly confident that this is one area where the market is going to change quite quickly and become more consumer focused. Premium services will become pretty standard in the next couple of years, and you’ll end up being able to choose the day and time of your delivery. That’s happening more and more now, and the cost will ultimately be absorbed by businesses. A lot of garden centres have been quite slow embracing selling online, often because they don’t want to give away their offer. Do you think that’s wise? I can certainly understand it, because the trend is now to branch out into other areas of selling so that garden centres become days out. Obviously, that’s fine if it works, but I still think there are great ways of adding value to your business by using the internet. One of the main advantages for instance, particularly for independent chains, would be by using online as a way of keeping local customers informed of what’s 

Garden Centre Retail July 2015 23

24/06/2015 16:52

feature: let’s hear it from...

“If we’ve done a good job, everything should be known and worked out in advance” going on. Again, that’s using the internet as an information tool rather than just a sales tool. You’re a huge supplier of plants to the Chelsea Flower Show. [This year, Crocus was involved in building Dan Pearson’s LaurentPerrier Chatsworth garden and the Telegraph garden by Marcus Barnett]. How do you incorporate that presence into your marketing? We do it mainly through providing videos of the different stages of whatever build we’re involved in, as well as including web pages devoted to the designers. We’ll also talk about it on our email shots on an ongoing basis in the run-up to the show. For us, it’s about working with top designers, getting to understand their plant palette, and introducing new varieties that aren’t necessarily available anywhere else. It’s a big part of our marketing. You run open days for members of the public several times a year. Where do they fit in with your sales model? The open days allow the people who are buying plants to come and meet the people who grow them. That’s


Garden Centre Retail July 2015

GCR Jul15 P22-25 Let's Hear It From.indd 24

really appreciated by the type of customer we get. They love it. Also, going back to what we were talking about with garden centres, people are always going to love a day out, and being able to touch and feel the plants. You can see couples walking around, having rows about the different types of flowers on offer and really engaging with plants. It’s great to see. What kind of customers do you attract? It’s a pretty wide spectrum, from the complete novice all the way through to the experienced gardener. In terms of buying habits, we get a lot of people that can’t get the plants that they want in their local store so they come to us. That’s the other massive benefit with selling online, in that it’s much easier for us to manage a large range in one location than a chain that has 20 or 30 stores. If I’m being honest, I think the move away from horticulture to other items in garden centres has meant that the plant side has suffered. The range can be quite limited now. We had five million people visit the website last year.

How do you source your plants? We grow a high proportion of what we sell, and have a 30 acre nursery onsite. We’ll buy certain things in like Clematis and trees, but the vast majority of herbaceous, shrubs and so on, we’ll grow ourselves. That allows us to control that whole supply chain side of it. In terms of what we buy in, we’re still very heavily fixed on the UK, about 65 or 70% of our plants come

Days when Crocus is open to the public are hugely popular

24/06/2015 16:53

feature: let’s hear it from...

from UK nurseries. The issue is making sure you’ve got the right stock at the right levels at the right time of year.

Chelsea winners. L-R: Duchess of Devonshire, Duke of Devonshire Mark Fane, David Hesketh, managing director of Laurent-Perrier, Dan Pearson

Changing the subject slightly, I read another interview with you where you said that you were a control freak. Is that still the case do you think? I think I probably am, yes. I have to put my hands up to that one. That’s really just the nature of the business if you sell online though. You have to keep it fresh, which is why as a

business we’re looking at the site 24 hours a day and changing it in real time if necessary. The sales figures get sent to my phone every half an hour. Was the RHS Chelsea Flower Show stressful this year? If we’ve done a good job, everything should be known and worked out in advance so stress shouldn’t really come into it. An hour spent planning saves us a day on site. ‘No decisions at Chelsea’ is our mantra. It is hard work though, but that’s part of the enjoyment. The Chatsworth House design this year was about two and a half times bigger than the normal Chelsea plot and required around 200 tonnes of rocks, brought down from Chatsworth itself – all of which were individually numbered. Saying that, we’ve built up a fantastic team over the years. I spend most of the time just leaning against things with my hands in my pockets. ◗ Mike Fane is the chief executive of Crocus

GCR Jul15 P22-25 Let's Hear It From.indd 25

Crocus’s timeline Since its launch in April 2000, Crocus has grown into the biggest gardening website in the UK. It has also grown plants for the show gardens at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show every year since the company started. In the last 14 years Crocus has won 23 Gold Medals for gardens, as well as seven out of ten best in shows. Crocus provides plants for many of the leading garden designers in the country, including Luciano Giubbilei, Tom Stuart-Smith, Jinny Blom and Christopher Bradley-Hole and Ulf Nordfjell.

Mark Fane

Prior to joining Waterers Landscape in 1990, Mark Fane worked for Foreign & Colonial Ventures for five years. He is a trustee of the Royal Horticulture Society and Chairman of the Garden Museum. He has a degree in Politics and Economics, and an MBA from INSEAD Business. School.

Garden Centre Retail July 2015


24/06/2015 16:53

feature: redeveloped catering

Let them eat cakes

Highfield Garden World MD Tim Greenway explains why he believes the centre’s new, redeveloped catering offer has been so successful


ighfield is Gloucestershire’s largest independent garden centre, and in 2014 we launched a new £2.5m restaurant and retail development. One year on and restaurant takings have soared by 75%, with projected turnover for the garden centre and restaurant sitting at £5.5m. This is up around 25% year-on-year compared with a national average of around 10% (as reported by the Garden Centre Association’s


Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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April barometer of trade). Total site turnover including concessions is estimated at £8.5m.

Business history

Highfield has been owned and run by the Greenway family since we took over in 1987. What started as a small mail order nursery is now a largescale retail enterprise with 120 staff, more than 10,000 visitors a week and over 14,000 loyalty card holders. As with any currently successful

garden centre, change has been rapid and taken place across the whole business. However, it is our constantly evolving catering offer which has been crucial to our overall success so far, with our restaurant accounting for 23% of turnover. The story of our catering offer begins one momentous Sunday back in 2009, when two seeds were sown that would grow into what we have now. The first was a Sunday lunch that we shared in the Lake

Some of the fare on offer at Highfield Garden World in Gloucestershire

24/06/2015 16:54

feature: redeveloped catering

District with the commercial director of EWM Group, after which we’d agreed a concessions deal. The other was a trip to Tebay Services where we stopped for a break. After experiencing Tebay, we began to visualise what ultimately our new restaurant would look like, having been impressed by the vaulted ceiling, glass walls and good lighting. We started seeing more clearly the potential that lay in our own fantastic far-reaching views, lakeside setting and loyal fan base.

Acquisition and retention

When planning our restaurant, we put a lot of thought into how to keep our existing (slightly older) customers happy, while at the same time also attracting the new, younger market we wanted. Quite simply, we set out to make it somewhere people would really enjoy spending time – a light and relaxing environment, serving lovely, well-priced food. With that in mind, we designed the restaurant with filtered daylight streaming through glass walls, as well as a distinct ‘Scandi’ feel when it comes to the furnishings. We also have a cosy sofa area and lakeside decking, glossy magazines and luxury loos at the entrance, jugs of fresh complimentary water around the periphery of the restaurant, as well as smoothies and mini bottles of Prosecco in the fridge. It’s working. In the planning and design stage, we were lucky enough to already have a great working relationship with master planners Malcolm Scott Consultants. They worked hand-in-hand with us to identify workable objectives, find the right contractors and suppliers, as well as to win planning permission for what was an ambitious project.

”We launched a new restaurant and retail development. One year on and restaurant takings have soared by 75%” been reflected in our food choices. Whilst we have broadened the menu considerably, the old favourites such as fish and chips and cottage pie most definitely have a major presence, with our three-times-aweek carvery the most popular of the lot. Many customers are now also on first name terms with restaurant staff, which is perhaps no surprise given that they often come back more than once a week. For the younger, more healthconscious customer, we have introduced a number of lighter, more seasonal items to the menu. These include quiches, cured meats, vegetarian mains as well as a good range of salads, complete with home-made dressings on the side. We are also attracting more parents with young children. In response to this, we’ve dedicated a

small central island to our children’s self-service snack boxes. This gives them prominence, without getting in the way of other customers. One thing we’ve noticed since introducing our new catering offer is that customers will often eat and drink more than once a visit. They’ll have a coffee on arrival, lunch a little later, and then perhaps a cream tea to round off the trip.

Coffee, cake and cream teas

Whatever your customer demographic, one area which is crucial to get right is hot drinks and baked goods. We now sell more hot drinks than main meals, equating to one third of turnover in the restaurant. This has clearly been a broader trend for 

Highfield Garden World MD Tim Greenway

Catering to different tastes

Our dual aim of keeping both old and new customers happy has also

GCR Jul15 P26-29 Catering Highfield.indd 27

Garden Centre Retail July 2015


24/06/2015 16:54

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feature: redeveloped catering The restaurant Highfield launched its new restaurant and retail development in 2014

In retrospect, Highfield may have designed its restaurant even larger

some time, and taking full advantage of it was at the core of our plan. For this effort to be successful, great quality coffee is crucial, and it’s one of our top priorities. We have a separate hot drink pod and barista-trained staff, which has meant that the quality of the tea and coffee has been transformed. The range is broad, and the presentation is excellent – complete with exquisite latte art. For the other part of the coffee and cake offer, we have three bakers on the rota, working in a bakery designed in a way that customers can see them creating our constantly changing array of cakes, scones and desserts. We focus on displaying baked goods to their best advantage, sitting them atop a large, walnut dining table which we sourced from eBay. They are offset by pretty, retro-look doilies, crockery and cake stands. We also have a popular gluten-free cake range.

alongside journalists, friends and family, all of whom helped us to celebrate in style. Not only did that give us and the whole team a pat on the back, it helped us spread the word even further and encouraged people to come and visit. (It has also meant a steady stream of CVs coming in, meaning that we can find potential recruits easily without incurring agency fees). Regarding what we would have done differently, we would probably have made the restaurant even bigger, providing space for more baked goods, as well as another coffee pod to help increase the customer flow rate. Watch this space. ◗

“One thing we’ve noticed... is that customers will often eat and drink more than once a visit”

Moving forward

The restaurant’s impact on the rest of the business has meant more customers, which has also meant more queues. It’s a nice problem to have of course, and one which we’ve now resolved with new till points (there are four across the facility), and by extending our EPOS capabilities to speed up throughput around the store. The next challenge is how to provide even more parking spaces. The restaurant development gave us a way to keep in touch with customers and the media, which engendered a lot of publicity as well as word of mouth. We held a big feelgood launch event on completion, inviting all the businesses involved,

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Holly, Tim and Joan Greenway

Tim Greenway is MD of Highfield Garden World, Bristol Road (A38), Whitminster Gloucestershire GL2 7PB. 01452 741444

Garden Centre Retail July 2015


24/06/2015 16:55

feature: plant focus

Plant focus: show off to sell out Plant expert Lucy Summers discusses why, in the era of online commerce, it’s so important to grab the attention of your physical customers


his month I will be talking about ‘peacocking’. No, I’m not referring to the high street fashion retailer, nor indeed to Indian Peafowl, famed for their iridescent plumage. Yet this is the very essence of this month’s retail strategy. Ever heard of it? Frankly neither had I until recently, when I attended a seminar with some reputable cutting edge retail strategists who were discussing the influence of retail technology. Technology has dramatically changed consumers’ traditional roads to purchase. Online shopping and social media shape our business lives and garden centre retailers ignore this trend at their peril. You aren’t just competing with another garden centre a few miles away anymore – you are competing against IT, savvy communication and online media. Customers can check out your products and prices with one swipe of their handheld devices, against any of your competitors before they even think about visiting your premises. The big plus in all of this is that you have the advantage of a physical location where shoppers can touch and feel your products. Above all, you have real people who can provide service and advice that is absolutely essential to the type of plant products you sell. Yet none of you are making enough use of this invaluable plus-point.

Heritage, tradition and longevity

The retail industry has gregariously adopted the word ‘peacocking’. It simply means personalising your company premises and/or image. To embrace it you’ll need to reconceptualise your ideas about your company and retail identity. So how does ‘peacocking’ work? Well, let’s say you are an oldestablished garden centre founded by your ancestors some 100 years ago. Heritage, tradition and


Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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longevity are obviously amongst your most vital USPs. You need to visually make something of that pedigree to communicate uniquely with your visitors. In other words, you personalise your retail space with artefacts that are meaningful. Display old sepia photos of the company founders, or antique flower carts, vintage seed sacks and bulb planters.

Blatant seduction

You have to provide an environment that puts customers in the mood to shop, and blatant seduction is the name of the game. Physically this is so much easier to do for smaller sized retail businesses since you can cosy-up your floor space more easily. However, some of the big boys have an illustrious heritage too and large warehouse-type retail space should employ the use of sub-divisions, room sets and small outdoor garden rooms to gain an advantage over their competitors. You need to target your audience with your very best stuff and start thinking of your plants less as stock items, and more as an effective form of visual advertising. The entrance to your store should be so enticing that visitors can’t wait to get inside. As far as I can see, at the moment you’re only about hanging baskets, containers and stacked compost bags in the car park. Better to get the welcome right, and then cohesively reflect this throughout your premises.

Old, established garden centres may wish to highlight their proud history and heritage

Grab them and don’t let go

Consumer research shows that the majority of customers automatically turn right when they enter retail premises. Take a quick look and assess what you are displaying in this section right now. This area is your clincher – so how does it rate on customer appeal and interaction? I’ve long-held the belief that the majority of customers visiting garden centres need guidance. Isn’t this the ideal place – alongside visual merchandising, of course – that you should position a help-desk to offer sound advice?

“Anonymity is so yesterday” My point is you need to introduce yourself to your customers, so they know who you are, where you come from and why you are the best amongst your genre. Not just a place to buy plants, but an imaginative, über-cool spot where they can drop in for a coffee and explore trends, not follow them. Anonymity is so yesterday.

24/06/2015 16:56

feature: plant focus

Humulus ‘Prima Donna First Gold’

The stobiles have a slightly more bitter fragrance reminiscent of traditional pub ales. Beer lovers can enjoy this stunning climber through summer without moderation, with its steadily mounting fresh green foliage and the charming yellow-green hops from August to September. Another new climbing plant that has popped up on my radar is Hydrangea ‘Silver Lining’ (H 15m x S 3m.) Many gardeners have traditionally relied on climbing hydrangeas for shade because they are a smart plant that can cope equally well with sun or part-gloom. However this new variegated variety should prove an all-round winner with the typical green foliage splashed with cream, providing an appealing shaft

of brightness for gloomy corners and house walls. The large panicles of simple white starry flowers held in large decorative umbels only add to the plant’s already proven appeal. No hard sell is required here. Above all, make climbers meaningful and show them in situ, climbing. Eliminate the guesswork for your customers so that they can see plants doing exactly what God intended them to do. w Lucy Summers is an award-winning landscape designer, journalist, businesswoman and Horticultural consultant. 0800 772 3766

Your plant emporium should inspire and fascinate, and climbing plants are a sure way of grabbing your customers’ attention. Hops are fabulous for fast-growing cover and offering exceptional foliage. Your clientele will also be delighted to learn that because hops are such energetic growers, they provide an exemplary solution for camouflaging outdoor eyesores. However, in some ways this has also proved a drawback, since their rate of growth can be off-putting for gardeners who preside over patios and smaller outdoor kingdoms. There is a happy solution in the form of two spanking new dwarf varieties that should please all comers. Hops yell English summer at the top of their yeasty lungs and Humulus ‘Golden Tassels’ H 3m x S 75cm) is a fabulous bushy, twining climber that should appeal to those gardeners who have hitherto feared the more rampant varieties. An available dwarf edition has outstanding golden foliage hung with architectural scaly-bronzed flowers that dangle charmingly from the stems from summer through to autumn, wafting warm beery breath. They are guaranteed to ignite the atmosphere of any summer BBQ. Another compact variety that should win favour with short-ofspace gardeners is Humulus ‘Prima Donna First Gold’ (H 4m x S 4m.)

Image credits:

Cracking climbers

Humulus ‘Golden Tassels’

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Hydrangea ‘Silver Lining’

Garden Centre Retail July 2015 31

24/06/2015 16:56

product news

Product news

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

Campaign a success, reports Grange

Viking branches out


igh end American cooking brand Viking is launching a new range of outdoor grills. The collection is made of solid stainless steel, and described as ‘dramatically powerful’ by the manufacturer. It is designed to ‘make the most of every season, and not just the inevitably short British summer’. The Viking Outdoor Grill is available in a choice of 30, 36, 42 or 54 inches. It boasts powerful gas burners, and is supplied with a comprehensive five year guarantee. As well as being stocked in garden centres, the company also plans to sell to members-only golf, tennis and health clubs.


Mr Fothergill’s adds to its management team


r Fothergill’s Seeds has added two new managers to its retail sales team. Mario Grandilli has joined as export sales manager, while Julie Emmett (left) is the company’s new north-east territory manager. According to Mr Fothergill’s, Grandilli has been in export

and international trade management for more than 15 years, and has experience worldwide. Meanwhile, Emmett has been in the gardening industry for seven years. Gardening is her main hobby, and she has an allotment where she enjoys growing her own plants.

range has reported successful results following its first ever consumer-facing media campaign, highlighting the company’s 2015 decorative structures offer. The campaign, which ran from March to June of this year, consisted of advertorials, as well as consumer competitions run in a range of publications, including Gardeners World. Senior product manager Rob Giles said: “The 2015/2016 season is seeing significant investment in the Grange brand. The company has proved its capabilities in the most challenging areas of logistics and supply and now we are investing in product development, branding and our engagement with the consumer.”

Hum launches new patterned planters

It’s all about the brand for Briers


reative consultancy Sedley Place has been appointed as lead branding and communications agency by gardening glove and footwear suppliers Briers. According to Briers, the agency will have a remit to ‘define and deliver positioning and marketing strategy as well as core branding across all communications channels’. Jackie Eades, founder and managing director at Briers, said: “Consistent messaging and branding is a vital element


of our overall marketing plans as we seek to grow the business even further in a competitive marketplace. “Sedley Place clearly understands our specialist market and our needs as a brand, not to mention the fact that the team chimes with the way we think. “Briers offers both fashion and practicality in its designs for gardening gloves, kneepads and footwear: everything gardeners might need, from welly boots to clogs.”

Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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um Partnership has just launched its new range of outdoor plastic planters. The flowerpots are made with a fade-resistant coating and have no drainage holes. The products come in a range of pattern variations. These include subtle vintage tile patterns and acid green, as well as deep pink geometric and floral designs. All the pots are all 22cm tall by 22.5cm wide at the rim.

25/06/2015 10:02

products: category review

How to sell... garden


There are a vast array of tools available on the market. Here Geoff Hodge offers tips on how to steer your customers towards what they need, and keep them coming back for more


ou might think that gardeners know and understand what they want when it comes to tools, and in some cases that’s true. Some gardeners are indeed very au fait with tools. Others however are just ‘consumers’ – they think they have an inkling of what they need, but in reality probably don’t. As it happens, there are numerous differences between, say, a Dutch hoe, and a draw hoe. (And, for that matter, between a swoe and a razor hoe). With that in mind, if you can demonstrate the advantages and differences of each one, then you’re on to a winner. Information is king. On the other hand, remember that the easiest way to confuse a consumer is to give them too much choice and too little information. Their heads will start to spin, and they’ll leave without buying anything. Keep it simple, and don’t overdo it. Outlining 27 different designs of hoes that basically just do one thing – kill weeds – will end in heartache for both you and your customers.

Price and products

Of course, price also plays a vital part in deciding what to buy. Not everyone wants a complete set of top quality, stainless steel tools (sadly), so it’s important to offer a couple of price points. But again, be mindful that if you win the race to the bottom of quality, your prize once more will be a lower turnover. A cheap spade takes up as much retail space as an expensive one. New product innovation is also important when it comes to getting your customers excited about making a purchase. But genuine innovation and USPs are vital. Gimmicky products are usually just that – gimmicks. Going back to hoes again, the razor variety definitely has something to offer beyond a standard Dutch model, and is often a better choice for gardeners. The new Darlac Tri-Blade shears meanwhile may GCR Jul15 P33 Geoff Hodge Tools SD.indd 33

Above: the Darlac Tri-Blade Below: A Dutch hoe (left) and a draw hoe

look a little quirky, but they do cut the mustard, and just about everything else, when compared to standard shears.

Marketing support

In order to be successful, you need to keep up with what’s going on in the world of gardening, to keep ahead of trends. Check out which products are being promoted and advertised and make the most of it by making sure you have them in stock. One curious thing about tool manufacturers is that hardly any of them advertise on TV (with Fiskars being one company that bucks that trend). They do promote and advertise elsewhere, however, for instance Gardman is investing around £1m in print and digital advertising of its Moulton Mill and Gardener’s Mate tool ranges. The estimated total reach of this promotion is 9.1 million consumers. This kind of thing can really help you out when it comes to selling particular kinds of tools. Some manufacturers will also provide good POS, alongside different stand types and designs. These can include island stands and promotional dump bins, all of which help to create attractive and practical displays.

Keep it simple. Displaying 27 different designs of hoes will end in heartache for you and your customers

Vital staff

Finally, as with every other part of your business, staff are key to success. If they don’t have a clue about which tool does what, then your customers don’t stand a chance either. Again, make sure you keep them informed, and train them to the best of your resources. Leave your customers to their own devices and they’ll probably go home with the cheapest, and often wrong or inappropriate, tools. A friendly sales assistant, however, can ramp up sales by selling the correct tools with very little effort. A quick ‘Can I help?’ is the simplest and most effective selling device there is – as long as the answer is the right one. 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.

Garden Centre Retail July 2015 33

24/06/2015 16:58












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No welds, No weak points. Forged from one piece of steel

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Sales enquiries: 01279 401570

25/02/2015 16:58 15:32 24/06/2015

products: garden tools Bosch Professional

The new Bosch Professional range allows for all-day working, thanks to the low noise and low vibration levels produced by its weatherproof high performance batteries. The products are able to deliver petrol performance with less than half the noise of traditional petrol engines. The batteries, which can be used in both the mowers and brushcutters, take 42 minutes to recharge. They provide enough power to mow an area equivalent to an entire football pitch. RRP: GRA 48/53 lawnmower, £999; GFR 25/42 strimmer, £549.

Latest products

garden tools A roundup of items to help your customers with their weeding, cutting and pruning National Trust gardener’s gift set

AnySharp has launched an innovative multi sharp tool, designed to revive blunt garden tools and blades in seconds. The product has two sharpeners, the first of which ‘cleans up, hones and sharpens’ almost any tool. The second meanwhile rejuvenates knives, making any straight or serrated blade as sharp as new in seconds. The sharpener is designed to be portable and versatile. It also has a finger safety guard to protect hands and fingers when the product’s in use. RRP: £12.49

The National Trust has launched a handy gift set for gardeners, including a fork and a trowel (alongside soft cotton gloves). The hand tools are ergonomically designed for ease of use, and are produced from FSCcertified materials. The wood, meanwhile, is sealed to extend the product life. The gloves in the set are produced from soft cotton and have PVC dots on the palm and fingers, providing grip without reducing dexterity. The product is part of the National Trust garden and brushware collection.

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AnySharp’s multi sharp

▲ Multi-Sharp sharpener trio

Bulldog Premier Range

Bulldog’s Tools has launched its new ‘Premier Range’ at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The tools were used by the awardwinning Matt Keightley and his Rosebank Landscaping team to help create the ‘Hope in Vulnerability’ garden for HRH Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale. Bulldog offers a wide range of traditionally made digging, planting and cultivating tools, boasting handle and head sizes to suit every garden task. The company’s spades and forks are made from a single piece of steel, meaning no weak points or welds. It also offers a lifetime guarantee. RRP: Planting trowel £10.81; Hand fork £10.81; Hedging spade £44.75; Border fork ‘T handle £42.95; Border spade ‘T handle £39.80; Dutch hoe £34.67

Multi-Sharp is promoting its current trio of bestselling garden tool sharpeners. The ‘Shear Sharpener’ regrinds to create sharp new edges on regular and longhandled shears, while the Diamond Tool Sharpener puts edge on secateurs, pruners and loppers. It also sharpens multi-tool blades, pen knives and chisels. The Rotary Mower Sharpener meanwhile works on rotary blades and has a reversible grinding wheel, giving ten blade sharpenings. It also re-edges spades, hoes and axes. RRP: Shear Sharpener £6.99; Diamond Tool Sharpener £8.99; Rotary Mower Sharpener £6.99. 

Garden Centre Retail July 2015


25/06/2015 09:22

products: garden tools ▲

Developed, according to the company, to exceed the exacting standards of The Royal Horticultural Society, Burgon & Ball’s new weed slice is aimed at revolutionising weeding in gravel and borders. Designed and manufactured in Sheffield from hardened and tempered steel, its delta wing styled head slices on both the pull and push strokes, cutting weeding time in half. The product also eliminates stooping and back strain. RRP: £24.95

Burgon & Ball’s RHS-endorsed weed slice

Kent and Stowe tools

Kent and Stowe has launched a complete range of digging, cutting and cultivation tools. The products have been designed in the UK with the aim of improving strength, functionality, cosmetic appeal and comfort. The range includes the innovative ‘secateurs station’, which allows gardeners to select the right product for their particular needs. The tools are available in carbon steel and stainless steel. They carry the company’s crest, reinforcing the brand’s positioning ‘Built on tradition, crafted for life’. RRP: Trowel £7.99

Makita’s garden tools

Makita has announced the launch of its UM164D 10.8v grass shear, as well as the company’s UH200D 10.8V hedge-trimmer. The hedgetrimmer has a 20cm long, single side trimming blade and chip receiver. The UM164DW meanwhile has a 16cm shearing width, with height adjustment between 10, 15 and 25mm. Both trimmers are powered by 10.8v Li-ion batteries to give approximately 30 minutes

Fiskars Xact

Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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Greenman Ergonomic range

The new Fiskars Xact range consists of various medium and large digging tools, designed to combine the ‘perfect ratio’ of weight and balance. The products boast a unique shape, and represent what the company calls a major step forward in long handled tool design. The Xact spade in particular features an innovative wide stepping board and sharpened edge, ensuring better penetration and optimised efficiency. RRP: £39.99, large tools; £34.99, medium.


continuous running time at up to 1250 strokes per minute. They also have tool-less blade replacement and comfortable rubberised ergonomic hand grips. RRP: UM164D £160.80; UH200D £140.40 www. makitauk. com

The Greenman Ergonomic tool range takes its design cues and fabrication processes from traditional British farm tools. The collection has been designed for ease of use and functionality. The product has been created with extra-long handles, which have been steamed and bent just below the mid-point. According to the company, this allows for efficient transfer of power from hand to tool, making digging easier and less back-breaking. Greenman tools are crafted from sustainable ash, using attractive stainless steel heads. RRP: £38.99

25/06/2015 09:23

Specialist National Garden Centre and Nursery Agents and Valuers Worcestershire; c. 13.5 acre (5.46 hectare) Farm Shop, Café, Plant Centre & Dwelling For Sale Located on busy ‘A’ road close to Evesham and Tewkesbury. Newly constructed buildings. Includes former production nursery and 3 bedroom chalet bungalow. Licensed Café. Must be viewed to appreciate the potential. Fixed Price: £875,000. + S.A.V. Ref. 9215FPC. Reduced for quick sale Somerset; Highly Profitable Garden Centre to include Licensed Restaurant. Located close to the Exmoor National Park, minutes from a main ’A’ road & the coast. Turnover in excess of £1.2M. Lifestyle business. Price on Application. Ref. 9191GC.

Telephone: 01732 522222

GCR Jul15 P37 Greenman/Harris.indd 37

25/06/2015 12:27




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25/06/2015 09:23

p r o d u c t s : c a tpergo odruyc tr el vi ni ee ws

How to store and sell... fireworks

Chairman of the British Firework Association Stephen Newham outlines how to stay safe – and stay within the law – when selling garden pyrotechnics


elling fireworks is a great way to increase your revenue as a garden centre. However, there is strict legislation around their retail, which you need to be aware of before adding them to your offer. Fireworks come in many different types, including fountains, roman candles, wheels, rockets, shot tubes, mines, sparklers, batteries and combinations. They are supplied either as single items or as part of a selection or primary pack. If designated for retail, these are broken down into a number of different regulatory categories. Category 1 is mostly limited to novelty and party style items such as party poppers and indoor sparklers. We’re also starting to see outdoor sparklers fall into this category as well – something likely to become more common in the next few years. The fireworks that you’ll predominately see in retail premises meanwhile are categories 2 and 3. Category 2 is usually most suitable for normal back garden displays, having a safe viewing distance of 5m or 8m. Category 3 items have a larger safe viewing distance of 25m and are generally the more powerful items that are available for sale to the general public.

GCR Jul15 P39 Steve Newham Fireworks TW.indd 39

Store separately

The weights mentioned below are based on Hazard Type 4 fireworks. Firstly you need to apply to your local authority for a licence to store them on your premises. In most cases this is likely to be for up to 250kg NEC (explosive weight), which will need to be stored in either a dedicated room, a secure cabinet or an ISO style container in a secure yard. The storage area must be separate from the sales area. It is possible to increase the storage amount but separation distances will apply. You will need to ensure that a risk assessment is conducted relating to the storage and the retail of the fireworks. Also, the fire risk assessment for your premises will need to be updated, taking into account the extra activities involved in the retail of fireworks. The number of fireworks that may be kept in the sales area is limited by the size of the area. The minimum is 12.5kg NEC, while the maximum is 75kg NEC. Again, they must be kept in secure cabinets with a maximum of 12.5kg NEC in each. Many retailers use dummy fireworks for display purposes so they are able to maximise the units available for sale.


The sales period for fireworks is limited to specific dates in the year. These are: • On the days of Chinese New Year and Diwali and the three days immediately preceding them • Between 15 October and 10 November • Between 26 and 31 December. If you wish to sell fireworks outside of those periods, you need to apply to your local authority for a licence to supply them all year. The current cost for this is £500, which is in addition to the one required for storage. Fireworks are age-restrictive. Category 1 is limited to those 16 years and over, while Categories 2 and 3 are limited to 18 and over. Many larger retailers will operate a challenge 21 or 25 programme. ◗

Stephen Newham is the managing director of TNT Fireworks UK, and chairman of the British Firework Association

Garden Centre Retail July 2015


25/06/2015 09:24

products: fireworks

Mars Informer and Punisher

Mars pyrotechnics has revealed its Informer and Punisher barrage set. The two piece pack is made up of 49 shot 30mm cakes, which fire repetitive volleys of sky filling effects. The Informer features coloured tails, silver to red palms, time rain and a crackling tail-to-red strobe. The Punisher meanwhile produces coloured tails and a red strobe effect. The product is hazard type CE compliant CAT3 1.3g. It is wrapped in pyro-mesh making it CAT3 1.4g for transport/storage. RRP: £134.99

fireworks Latest products

Retail lines to light up the night

1st Galaxy fireworks 1st Galaxy has been supplying fireworks for 20 years, and garden centres have been an integral part of its business in that time. According to the company, it targets garden centres, believing they offer a higher level of customer care and higher quality product. This suits the company’s ethos. 1st Galaxy offers a quality firework brand and believes the large open spaces make garden centres an ideal firework show area.


Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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red and purple chrysanthemums. The company calls it a must-have for this season. RRP: £39.99

Black Cat Gold collection

Black Cat fireworks has launched its latest innovation, called Avalon. The range is made up of three fireworks, fused together to create an eyecatching display. It is easy to use, having designed to be fuse-lit using a flat surface as a base. In terms of effects, the strobe shell bursts into giant silver palms, whilst the whistles and crackles of the missile cake fire alongside. Giant palms then swing across the sky, followed by a fan of brocade clusters and colourful shell bursts. RRP: £119.99

Benwell’s Waterloo The Benwell fireworks brand was launched in 2014, and is now established as a major supplier of quality products. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, it has introduced a new 100 shot fan cake called Waterloo. The product fires from left to right and fills the sky with

Diamond Fireworks

Diamond Fireworks Ltd has operated and imported fireworks for both the retail and wholesale market since 1996. According to the company, it has built its reputation on a ‘considered pricing structure’ which allows a significant return on investment. Diamond’s client list has been increasing every year, mainly through referrals and repeat business. It has depots in Manchester, Birmingham and Northern Ireland and delivers throughout the UK.

25/06/2015 09:26


• 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 Jul15 P41 FutureLines Page.indd 41

25/06/2015 09:27

GCR Jul15 P42 Deco Pak.indd 4

25/06/2015 09:28

products: aggregates ▲

Bowland Stone Highland Cobbles

▲ Deco-Pak summer mixes

Latest products

paving & aggregates ▲

Deco-Pak has launched its new summerthemed gravel range. The collection consists of champagne gold, and strawberry and cream mixes. Both have been featured at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show, as well as the show gardens at Hampton Court. The mixes are available in maxi packs, with both the champagne gold, and strawberry and cream gravel providing great opportunities for addon sales. They are ideal for inclusion in summer outdoor living merchandising displays. RRP: £4.49 each

Highland Cobbles come in a blend of warm browns and creams. They are available in four different sizes, 8-14mm, 14-20mm, 20-30mm, 50-75mm, making them versatile to use. The product range is designed to give gardens a ‘Scottish loch’ feel. It is available from Bowland Stone in large packets or bulk bags. RRP: £5.00-£6.48

Lines to help customers’ gardens look great


Azpects Ltd’s number one-selling product EASYJoint allows the pointing-up stage of patio work to be carried out in all weather conditions. The product flows into joints, and fills all voids without the need to force the product in. It is available in five different colours. EASYJoint is designed to give added durability and longevity, and can fill a gap as narrow as 3mm. It also meets all SUDS requirements, and is resistant to frost, weed penetration and UV light. RRP: 12.5kg tub, £34.99

Algon is showcasing its organic path, patio and decking cleaner. The product is one of the bestselling of its kind in the UK. The cleaner is designed to be easy to apply and non-toxic. It’s safe for pets and wildlife, and can be used around fish ponds. The treatment can last up to 12 months and can be used all year round. The range consists of the 2.5 litre Algon Concentrate; 750ml Algon Ready to Use Trigger Sprayer; and 20 litre Algon Concentrate. RRP: £5.99-£6.99

GCR Jul15 P43 Products Aggregates.indd 43

Algon’s organic path, patio and decking cleaner

Global Stone

Global Stone describes itself as an industry leading supplier of premium natural stone and porcelain paving tiles. The company’s paving is selected by hand to ensure high quality. It is used by architects, landscapers, gardeners, designers and homeowners, and regularly featured in medal-winning show gardens. Its product range has grown from a simple collection

of natural paving options, to take in the latest in contemporary porcelain paving solutions.

Garden Centre Retail July 2015


25/06/2015 09:29

products: greetings cards

greetings cards Latest products

Beautifully designed ranges to broaden your offer

Catherine Pain’s greeting cards

Catherine Pain greeting cards offer a selection of designs, including depictions of garden birds, farm animals, hedgehogs and hares. They are intended to be perfect for any occasion, and are blank inside. All the company’s products are Forest Stewardship Council-certified. It is planning a range of flowerorientated cards in the future. RRP: £2.40 per card

Holy Mackerel


Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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Breeze Designs

▲ Clear Creations

Clear Creations is highlighting its ‘Pick a tree!’ design from its new ‘Fall in love with Christmas’ range. Each one of the company’s cards has been designed and made in the UK, using textured board and scarlet red envelopes. They are hand finished with Swarvoski crystal, for an extra special sparkle. ‘Delicate and fun, these Christmas cards are a great way to get into the festivities this year and a great way to spread some cheer to all your friends and family,’ says the company. RRP: £2.95

‘The Full Montage’ is a new card range from Holy Mackerel, featuring the signature polymer clay creations of bestselling artist Erica Sturla. Erica’s designs celebrate hobbies and pastimes, from gardening to Morris Dancing, salsa to knitting. The cards are 150mm square, blank inside, and come cellowrapped with a bright, colour coordinated envelope. Holy Mackerel is offering matching tea towels to complement the range. RRP: £2.50

▲ Georgia

Georgia Breeze Designs’ bestselling Magical range has been extended. The collection of cards are all fashioned from stitched paper collage and printed onto a high quality textured board. All the cards are produced in the UK and are hand finished to reflect the company’s passion for hand crafted design. They come with a Kraft envelope and are cello wrapped. RRP: £2.99 www.georgiabreeze

April Rose Illustration

April Rose Illustration has launched a new line of greetings cards with floral imagery, known as the Vintage Home Range. The new collection is meant to be ideal for garden centres because of its floral link. As with all of April Rose’s products, the art the cards are based on is watercolour, boasting vintage style illustrations by

artist Siobhan Harrison. The Vintage Home Range is printed on quality watercolourfeel board, and supplied with a brown craft envelope in cello-wrapped bag. RRP: £2.20-£2.50

25/06/2015 09:29

people: trading with

Trading with... Paul Smith, Brundle Gardener

This month, garden furniture manufacturer Brundle’s business manager Paul Smith tells us more about the company Can you give us a brief outline of your company and its products?

Brundle Gardener has been supplying garden centres for almost ten years. The company has grown steadily and has now carved out a reputation for offering products that are innovative, colourful and of the highest quality. We truly believe the garden is an extension of the home, and our range of vibrant products, from floral pattern deckchairs to fireballs, are testimony to that.

What is your company’s ethos?

Our ethos is to help provide inspiration in the garden. How do we achieve this? By ensuring our products are both eyecatching and high-quality, and by insisting on the attributes any good business should have, friendliness, flexibility and value for money.

Our parent company FH Brundle has been a privately-owned family business since 1889, and it prides itself on great service and credibility. On the gardening side, our strategy has been to bring colour to the garden, and with recent products, this has proved popular. We are delighted to have opened more than 100 new accounts in the last 12 months.

What is your route to market?

With a broad range of leisure and outdoor furniture products and warehouses located around the UK, we are perfectly placed to supply garden centres quickly from our own warehouse stock and promote a quick turnaround. Our flexible friendly approach meanwhile enables us to tailor a delivery service to meet requirements from bulk to drop ship. Trade shows are very important and after a successful last 12 months, we are delighted to be debuting at the Spoga+Gafa shows this year.

What are your best-selling products?

We have sold well across the range. The directors’ set and matching deck chairs, and fabulously hand-crafted dragon and forest fireballs, are examples of Brundle offering something different to garden centres. Helicopter seats continue to sell well. You will always get your browns, blacks, whites and greens, but we wanted to put a bit of colour in the garden with our brightly-coloured sheds offering a touch of the coast. Or our unique furniture for children, inspired by the shape of mushrooms.

What additional support do you offer garden centres?

As we carry stock, if you don’t have the space, then we do – and you can still benefit from these great products. We will be going into the Solex trade show still promoting our growing 2015

GCR Jul15 P45 Trading With.indd 45

ranges while also looking ahead at new products for the next 12 months.

What is your brand’s unique selling point?

We always want to be that little bit different and stock products that will be attractive to garden centres and make them take notice. Naturally, it has to be something centres will be interested in, but we want to think outside the box and offer bold and vibrant products.

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

We are a fast-growing company who firmly believes that the lifeblood of further success comes from introducing fresh new products. The forthcoming trade shows, such as Solex, Glee and Gafa, are an ideal opportunity to launch new products for 2015 and 2016. We look forward to working with more and more garden centres to provide products that are not supplied by every wholesaler. w CONTACT

Paul Smith is the business manager at Brundle Gardener Tel: 0131 335 5955

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25/06/2015 09:30

We Make the Wind Sing™ Viola Vibrante F1 the NEW high-quality Viola from Earley Ornamentals

“All of our high quality young plants are bred to meet the needs of today’s professional growers.”

Simon Earley

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

01845 524511

Whatever the season, Earley Ornamentals is always growing strong


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QMT has been crafting hand tuned wind chimes for over 30 years, and we are proud to offer our original Arias® chimes to the UK market. Our classic chimes in silver, bronze, or forest green are great gift items and a customer favorite. Visit our website or contact us today for more details!

Handcrafted & beautifully finished

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Antiqued ornamental stoneware from Hampshire Gardencraft

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.

Garden & brushware collection FSC approved . British design Registered charity No. 205846

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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

Garden Centre Retail

Phone | 01730 895182

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25/06/2015 11:09

25/06/2015 11:14

people: horticulture careers

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



Garsons is looking to recruit a senior sales and sales assistant for its outdoor leisure team. Responsibilities include merchandising, stock control and paperwork, ensuring exceptional customer service and effective communication. You have a proven track record of retail sales, IT skills including MS Office and retail systems, are able to work on own initiative. ISPE qualifications or swimming pool/hot tub knowledge desirable.

We are a home and garden centre situated in the market town of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. We have a vacancy for a full-time garden centre assistant. The successful applicant must hold a relevant horticultural qualification. Experience in retail, whilst being an advantage, is not essential. This post does include working alternate weekends.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to



You will be responsible for the bedding plant department at our Stanmore garden centre. You have extensive experience of working in a retail bedding department and/or a horticultural qualification. A passion for customer service and ability to thrive in a fast paced environment are essential. You are flexible, enthusiastic, commercially aware and have the ability to create dynamic displays.

The shop manager takes care of the day to day in the centre, managing a team of retail assistants and looking after customer service standards inside. I am seeking a talented, driven retailer to join the senior leadership team. You must be a leader with retail management experience. This could be at supervisor level but team responsibility is a must. Industry experience an advantage but not essential.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to



Fairweather’s seeks a manager to develop its team and take responsibility for sales. You will appraise customer service and productivity, identify missed opportunities and deliver a strategy to increase footfall and average spend. You have excellent communication and motivational skills, at least three years’ senior management experience, an understanding of gardening and lifestyle trends and a clear understanding of EPOS.

Garsons is seeking a full-time planteria sales assistant to ensure displays are innovative, practical and refreshed on a regular basis; ensure maintenance of the planteria; provide exceptional customer service; advise customers; working 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.

You will consistently management the horti areas including plant area, core gardening and indoor plant area. You will manage the departments day to day, maintaining standards and act as a duty manager in the absence of the general manager. The ideal candidate should be educated/ trained in horticulture with proven management experience in a high volume garden centre.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to




MORE PEOPLE Essex GCR Jul15 P47 Jobs.indd 47





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25/06/2015 09:30

people: store visit

A special relationship This month, GCR assistant editor Mollie Bennett visits the Pets Corner concession within Wyevale Garden Centre in Havant


ets Corner is a family-run pet care retail chain, formed in 1968 and made up of both larger single stores and concessions in garden centres. It prides itself on the ethical manner in which it conducts itself at every level of the business. It works with smaller, specialist companies and promotes the sale of British brands, with 78% of purchases coming from British-made products. I spent my day getting a taste of life in the Pets Corner concession at Wyevale in Havant, Hampshire. 10am The day started with a full clean of the live animals which included rabbits,

guinea pigs and hamsters. The operation consisted of a complete disinfect, full grooming session and also a handling session. Speaking of the company’s livestock policy, store manager Amy Beacham said: “We don’t do many animal sales as we’re quite picky and want them to go to the right home. “We’d prefer them not to be in store but if they’re going to be sold we’d rather they are sold here with expert advice.” 11am The next job was to walk the store, making sure the shelves were fully stocked and presentable. We scanned the empty spaces with an EPoS solution

to investigate why there were gaps and to check the stock control. The data was then transferred onto computer, following which we checked stock numbers against the orders sold and warehouse deliveries. With the weekly delivery coming the next day, it was important to make sure the store was selling as it should be and if not, to order more. Amy added: “We are on very strict orders here and have to make sure nothing goes out of date. We always record our data and know all the use-by dates until December.” 12-1pm Throughout the day, calls were made between different Pets Corner stores for advice on products and also to check on product availability. If stock is low in a store, a search is made between local branches on the company’s internal system and the product can then be transferred. This helps to keep what’s sold in date, and also keeps customers happy. Amy continued: “If we have a spare product and a customer at a local store wants it, we transfer it between so it arrives quicker than the weekly warehouse delivery. We plan our day around the customer service and our aim is to show how we are different.” 1-4pm While working in store, I noticed the amount of passing trade from the garden centre. We worked hard to make the service personal and offered advice on the nutritional products. “Once we’ve got passing trade from the garden centre we try and turn them into regulars with our personal service,” says Amy. “It’s a good way for us to grow and help the garden centre stay busy throughout the year. If we suggest a product that works for them, they’ll come back to us.”

Mollie spent time helping to clean the rabbit enclosures – an important task


Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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5pm The day finished with a clean of the store and also a final stock check to ensure all the shelves were full for the next working day. w

25/06/2015 09:31


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

Will Foulkes, garden centre manager, Weybridge

What’s the most interesting thing about you? In 2011, I won the Garden Retail Trainee of The Year Award. It capped off the beginning journey of my garden centre career. I am now studying human resources management, as I continue to build my career. What’s your favourite day-to-day chore at work and why? There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your staff perform at a higher level through one-to-one coaching. Having a team of high-performing staff allows them and you to spend more time engaging and interacting with the customers.

Simon Bourne, garden centre manager, Perrywood How did you start out in the garden centre sector? My parents bought the site from my grandparents in 1984 when I was four years old. I grew up on a nursery that expanded over the years into the garden centre. From a young age I helped out in school holidays and at the weekends, doing everything from weighing bone meal to bagging up gravel and selling Christmas trees. I also helped to deliver goods to people’s homes. I joined the family business seven years ago and haven’t looked back. What is the best thing about your job? I get a buzz out of finding new products and watching them sell. Our customers love coming back to see what we have to offer. Monday morning after a busy weekend is spent analysing the sales data, talking to the staff on the shop floor and re-ordering the fast moving lines. What is your favourite flower or plant? I love cooking and use herbs from the garden as much as possible, so I’d probably say thyme. It looks great on a gravelled path and the scent is amazing when the plant is touched. It’s also amazing when added to chicken with a bit of garlic and olive oil and grilled on the BBQ.

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What would people be surprised to learn about you? For a short period I was a trainee special constable. This is something I would love to return to in the next few years, spending my free time working with the local community, keeping them safe and building relations with the people and police. What is your favourite flower or plant? Tropical style gardens are my favourite. Cannas and olives are up there for me. My absolute favourite is the trachycarpus fortunei (left), a great feature to any garden in the south east of England. It makes the garden look superb.

Katie Wardell, seasonal plants/ indoor plants department head, Newbridge Garden Centre

How did you start out in the garden sector? I have always been interested in horticulture and gardening. I started in the bedding and house department at a local garden centre. I have worked at Newbridge for nine years now. What’s the most interesting thing about you? I have a giant continental rabbit and I grow my own vegetables. Not for myself but for her.

What is your favourite flower or plant? Nemesia (below), because it comes in a range of colours and the scent is divine. What’s your favourite day-today chore and why? My favourite day-to-day chore is sweeping. It brings me great satisfaction after it is completed, seeing a tidy area.

What’s your favourite section of a garden centre? My favourite section of a garden centre is the bedding department, which I manage. It’s always changing depending on the season and is always full of colour.

Garden Centre Retail July 2015


25/06/2015 09:33

people: staff room James Taylor, general manager, Melbicks Wyevale Garden Centre How did you start out in the garden centre sector? I joined Wyevale last August after spending 13 years in the clothing retail sector. I have always had a keen interest in gardening and after researching how Wyevale was shaping its business and the rate of expansion, I wanted to be part of the journey. It has been a huge learning curve for me, understanding the seasonality

of our business and understanding when and what our customers buy. I love the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis and also love the challenge of trying to make the most out of the British weather. What’s the most interesting thing about you? I won the lottery when aged 19, on a

Wednesday night in 1998. I waited for the sixth lottery ball to drop but it didn’t so I had five numbers and £1200. I can’t remember what I spent it on. Car or holiday probably. What would people be surprised to learn about you? I love cooking. My signature dish is chicken risotto, which requires patience and perseverance. What is your favourite flower or plant? My favourite plant is my pink camellia which has lived out of a pot until this year. I finally moved into a permanent home last July. It has lived in three different parts of the UK and is still going strong.

Amy Beacham, store manager at Pets Corner concession, Wyevale Garden Centre, Havant What is the best thing about working in a garden centre concession? I would say the wide customer base that comes through the doors. There are a million and one possible questions that you can be asked, and it is never boring. What is the best thing about your job? Pets Corner is a brilliant company to work for and that is the key to happiness in any job. We get so many chances to further our education and the training never stops. There are always new opportunities and incentives to strive for and I love that. All the staff are trained in nutrition and we have to attend a specific training course to sell animals in store. How is your store different to a stand-alone pet shop? I don’t believe that we are. Pets Corner has always been a supportive community and I don’t consider my shop any different to the stand-alone stores. Our store layouts and product ranges are generally the same at each branch as we all have the same objective; offering brilliant products, advice and customer service.


Garden Centre Retail July 2015

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Julia Humphries, head of gift department, Squire’s Hersham How did you start out in the garden centre sector? I joined Squire’s 11 years ago. I started off on the tills and then moved into the gift department. I’ve always had retail management experience, including working at Liberty in London. It’s great to be in a role that I genuinely enjoy and feel I can help make a difference. I’m also an extremely keen gardener. What is the best thing about your job? I really enjoy the buying aspects of my role – its great working with the head buyers and making decisions about what gifts would be a good fit for this centre. Our department is always changing depending on the time of year. What’s the most interesting thing about you? My garden has been on the National Garden Scheme, so it’s been open to members of the public to come in and look around for a small fee which all goes to charity. I’m also a really keen baker, especially cakes! I really enjoy it and I have been known for my cakes in the local area.

25/06/2015 09:33


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25/06/2015 15:26 09:34 27/05/2015

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