Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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Garden Centre Retail Issue 15 • June 2015


ways of converting browsers into buyers

Stars in your aisles The power of celebrity endorsements


Online business Making the most of your e-commerce offer

LET’S HEAR IT FROM... Alex Newey on the takeover of Roundstone Nurseries HTA National Plant Show preview

Talking plant retail with...


“We’re all gardeners now” GCR Jun15 P01 Front Cover.indd 1



ail t e s e R g a -p re a 28 C EE FR et P p up



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Garden Centre Retail Coming into bloom


elcome to the June edition of Garden Centre Retail magazine. The focus in this issue is firmly on what many believe should be the central plank of any garden centre’s offer – plants. We’re not necessarily in full agreement with that point of view (recent figures from the GCA suggest an ongoing huge increase in ‘non-traditional’ category sales). However, it is obvious that without a vibrant, innovative, high-quality plant offer, a garden centre is a garden centre in name only. With that in mind, this month we feature interviews with two of the UK’s biggest names in plant growing and selling. In the first, TV gardener, author and experienced nurseryman Toby Buckland gives his view on current plant-buying trends, while also offering tips on the best ways to sell across the

summer months and beyond. A few pages later meanwhile, Alex Newey discusses his company’s recent takeover of one of the largest growers in the country, Roundstone Nurseries (which also just happens to be a core supplier of plants to B&Q). It’s not all greenery and flowers, however. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find all the usual business tips, including exclusive features on the power of celebrity endorsements and the best ways to take advantage of e-commerce in an increasingly online world. Also, make sure you check out our special 28-page supplement on how pet care products can add value to your business. 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, Kara Thomas, Amy Downes 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

Phil Mason Commissioning Editor, Garden Centre Retail

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Garden Centre Retail is published 12 times per year by Eljays44 Ltd. 2015 subscription price is £95.00. Subscription records are maintained at Eljays44 Ltd, 3 Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, West Sussex BN16 3DA. Articles and information contained in this publication are the copyright of Eljays44 Ltd and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publishers. The publishers cannot accept responsibility for loss of, or damage to, uncommissioned photographs or manuscripts.

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

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Garden Centre Retail CONTENTS

June 2015

contents Garden Centre Retail Issue 15 • June 2015

of converting 10 ways browsers into buyers Stars in your aisles The power of celebrity endorsements


Online business Making the most of your e-commerce offer

LET’S HEAR IT FROM... Alex Newey on the takeover of Roundstone Nurseries HTA National Plant Show preview

Talking plant retail with...


“We’re all gardeners now”



m le ail pp et su e ag eR ar tC e P



-p 28

GCR Jun15 P01 Front Cover.indd 1

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A roundup of the latest news in the industry


The HTA discusses its presence at RHS Chelsea Flower Show; GCA figures show increasing popularity in barbecue sales

BUSINESS 10 STARS IN YOUR AISLES Liz Dobbs discusses how to properly match the branding to your needs


Jane Perrone discusses the most effective ways to market clothes to garden centre customers


Doug Stewart suggests 10 ways to boost sales this summer

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Martin Newman argues that ‘cannibalisation’ of instore garden centre sales is an inevitable but necessary by-product of an effective e-commerce effort

FEATURES COVER STORY 19 LET’S HEAR IT FROM... The MD of the Newey Group talks about how its recent acquisition of Roundstone Nurseries fits into the company’s long-term business strategy


TV horticulturist Toby Buckland discusses changing consumer habits and the best way to maximise plant sales


With the winter months becoming a distant memory, Lucy Summers says it’s time to unleash the power of colour


We take a look at some of the highlights of the upcoming event, which this year promises to be the most popular yet


Garden Centre Retail gives an overview of the upcoming major leisure and outdoor furniture event, as well as profiling some of the main exhibitors


Suppliers update us on all the latest happenings


All the leading products for the garden centre industry


Garden Centre Retail speaks to Fairyglass director Ben Biscoe



Mollie Bennett finds out how Russells Garden Centre in Birdham, uses a unique home furnishing offer to attract customers year round

39 HOW TO SELL... Geoff Hodge looks at bird care


A selection of the latest bird care products


A roundup of the best electronic point of sale products


We shine a light on six industry personalities

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Dobbies walks on the wild side


NEWS CENTRE New owners for Bradford’s Tong Garden Centre

obbies has named The Wildlife Trusts as its national charity partner during the company’s 150th anniversary year. The organisation beat two other finalists in a public vote organised by the garden centre chain. Dobbies aim in the initiative is to bring wildlife awareness into UK schools, via advice and activities, and by creating habitats where children can get close to nature. It has set itself a fundraising target of £50,000. Dobbies managing director Andy King said: “We were overwhelmed by the applications to become our 150th charity partner. “We knew we wanted to team up with a charity which celebrates our values – for instance, getting people outside enjoying their gardens – so we were delighted with the outcome of our online public vote.

“The Wildlife Trusts is a great cause and if we can support them to educate children about nature in fun and exciting ways and encourage families to be wildlife friendly, we’d be very proud.” The Wildlife Trusts’ senior communications manager Adam Cormack said: “We are delighted our partnership with Dobbies will help to encourage schools and people to embrace wildlife-friendly gardening and provide a little space for nature on their doorstep.”

Peat-free garden centre a UK first


rnest Wilson Business Agents has announced its completion of the sale of Tong Garden Centre in Bradford. The centre was bought freehold by Tom Megginson and Mark Farnsworth, two businessmen from East Yorkshire. According to a statement, the pair have substantial development plans for the business. Speaking of the sale, Megginson said: “We have been looking for a new site. Having been introduced to Tong Garden Centre by Ernest Wilson, it allows us to


harness our previous business experience and take it from a successful business to something with a multi-million pound turnover. “It will not only provide a fantastic destination for our customers, but will also dramatically increase the number of employees – thus helping the local community.” The pair also operate several other businesses, including William’s Farm Kitchen situated in Hornsea and a Biogas plant in Driffield, Yorkshire.

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he National Trust has opened the UK’s first peatfree garden centre at Morden Hall Park in South London. The 5,000 square metre facility sells a range of plants and shrubs in line with the charity’s conservation principles. It has over 7,500 plants available for sale, including over 100 varieties of roses and perennials, 80 varieties of shrubs and fruit trees and 24 types of ornamental trees. Ed Ikin, general manager for Morden Hall Park, said: “We have found some fantastic peat-free plant growers and suppliers to work with and we

are leading the way in this new venture for the Trust. “Being able to sell peat free plants and shrubs is really important to us because of the work we do as a conservation charity to protect our natural resources. By using other environmentally friendly alternatives such as Sylvafibre and high-quality green waste there really is no difference in plant performance. We look forward to demonstrating to our customers what success they can enjoy in their gardening by just switching to a different growing material.”

Picture credit: National Trust


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p r o d u c t lni en we s

Monkton Elm launches new catering facilities



Saul Leese has been appointed head of retail brand marketing at i2i Events Group. He will work across the company’s portfolio of retail exhibitions, including Pure London, Spring and Autumn Fairs and Glee.

onkton Elm Garden & Pet Centre in Taunton has opened its new Elm Tree restaurant. The new building boasts a footprint of nearly 1000sqm and can seat 350 people. The centre has also built a new kitchen containing state-ofthe-art equipment to go with the facility. Monkton’s Andrew Pitman said: “We were thrilled to recently open our brand new restaurant. It has been a long time in the making but has so far been very successful and filled with visitors of all ages. “It comprises a modern coffee lounge, a large serving island – which includes a deli counter and juice bar – and a self-service drinks area. There is

even a crepé station and kids’ corner where little ones can pick up special snack boxes.” The new restaurant means the business has been able

Cranbourne announces innovation plans


ranborne Garden Centre in Dorset has held its official launch after re-opening last November under new ownership. The event was used as an opportunity to announce the centre’s plans going forward, which include the construction of a new multi-functional building, used to host ‘pop-up cultural and retail events’. The business is also planning a programme of lectures, workshops and courses on a range of horticultural, culinary and cultural subjects. Cranborne Garden Centre owner Claire Whitehead said: “I am extremely proud of what we have achieved over the last four months and the garden centre is now well on its way to being restored to its former glory. “We are very excited by all our future plans and now look forward to bringing them to fruition.” Local garden designer Jenny Noscoe has drawn up plans to create a new courtyard garden in front of the new building. GCR Jun15 P06-08 News.indd 7

to take on ten new employees. The build was managed by in-house project manager Steve Butterworth. www.

GIMA increases its numbers


he Garden Industry Manufacturers’ Association has announced that it has added 11 new members since the beginning of the year. The new members – all UK companies – include outdoor living brand Bramblecrest, hose and tube supplier Copely, rodent trap specialist Pest Stop, and manufacturers of plastic storage and planters Whitefurze. Other companies include HotBin Compost, Crown Pavilions, Hedge UK, TCV, Eden Halls, Fargro and Rentokil. GIMA director Vicky Nuttall said: “I’d like to welcome all our new members to GIMA. Their collective knowledge, expertise and varied product ranges are a good addition. “This recent influx of members is undoubtedly good news for us all, especially the members themselves and the industry as a whole.” She continued: “As more companies are recognising the benefits of joining the association, our increased numbers mean we are able to continue to build even further on our range of services and strengthen our position as a leading voice in the UK gardening industry.”

Wyevale Garden Centres has become the first national retailer to stock Dalefoot’s eco-friendly wool compost, which is made from sheep’s wool and bracken. The National Trust’s Morden Hall Park garden centre – which is the UK’s first all peat-free garden retailer – is also now selling wool compost. www.wyevalegarden Catering Design Group has joined Glee as exclusive partner of this year’s exhibition’s Food and Catering Zone. The zone is a central hub of the event, providing advice, information and inspiration for garden retailers, offering a range of food and drink for delegates. The Royal Horticultural Society has partnered with the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to create and fund a series of travelling fellowships aimed at supporting the development of the UK horticulture industry. EASYTarMaK retraction statement: An advert for EASYTarMaK appeared in last month’s edition of Garden Centre Retail. Azpects Ltd would like to explain that there is no connection between Azpects and LaFarge Tarmac and apologise for any confusion that the advert may have caused.

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Wyevale Nurseries’ ‘Forest of Imagination’


yevale Nurseries recently provided a number of plants and trees to the ‘Forest of Imagination’, a contemporary arts event that took place in Bath’s Queen Square in May. Speaking of the initiative, Wyevale sales manager Andrew Congera said: “This is the second year we have been involved in this project. “We supplied and loaned items including birch trees, clematis, dwarf grasses, Galium odoratum, Ajuga reptens, Carpinus betulus fastigiata, wild garlic and wild strawberries. “The Forest of Imagination is a fantastical landscape and outdoor gallery showcasing a series of artworks and architectural structures.

Barton Grange in the 1960s

Book tells historic tale


“A team of local creative organisations and renowned artists came together to stage this free, four day, contemporary arts event in the city.” The Forest of Imagination was designed by international landscape architectural

practice, Grant Associates. Artists and designers involved in the project included Edwina Bridgeman, Jono Burgess, Jessica Palmer, John East, as well as students from Bath Spa University.

Ornamental sector plans to ensure growth


eaders from across the ornamental horticulture sector have launched a 12 point action plan designed to help secure the future of the industry. The plan was developed over six months of meetings between industry experts


facilitated by Defra. It identifies a dozen priority areas where government and industry should work together to encourage and aid longterm growth. The changes include: gardening being considered as a treatment on the NHS; public

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bodies and publicly funded projects to use UK plants; an international garden expo to be created to showcase UK horticulture; modernisation of the supply chain. Other suggestions include the introduction of a higher level of horticultural apprenticeship and a review of the Sunday Trading Act. Speaking about the plan, RHS director general Sue Biggs said: “This is a truly historic day for the ornamental horticulture sector because it marks the beginning of the next phase of growth for the industry we all love. “Annually horticulture contributes £10.4 billion to the UK economy and employs around 300,000 people. It is a major economic force that has the potential to contribute even more, and we hope this plan will be a major step in our journey to overcoming the barriers that are holding the sector back.”

book telling the story of Barton Grange was launched earlier this month at a special event held at the Barton Grange Hotel. ‘Barton Grange: A Topping Tale’ delves into the history behindthe multi award-winning Barton Grange group of companies, which includes one of the UK’s most successful garden centres. A spokesperson said: “The book – which is written by Ian Topping and local author Carole Knight – tells how the Topping family of Preston grew their business. “From the rural Preston of the late 19th century, through some fascinating accounts of living in 1920s Preston – and telling how the original manor house was requisitioned during the war – the book provides a snapshot of social history in Lancashire. “Bringing the reader right up to the present day, with Eddie’s sons now in charge, it’s an absorbing and often touching account of a family determined to succeed – but to do so with a smile on their faces, and on the faces of those who worked with them.”

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news: association news

Association news Horticultural Trades Association

Success at Chelsea 2015 shows vibrancy of the sector


orticultural Trade Association members had a bumper year at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, with the organisation itself also having a major presence. Gold medal winners in the Floral Marquee and Discovery Zone included Burncoose Nurseries, Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants, David Austin Roses, Hilliers, Kelways Plants,

The Homebase Garden

Peter Beales Roses and Walkers at Taylors Bulbs. Silver gilt winners were Cooks Garden Centre, Harkness Roses, Kelways Plants and the Scotts MiracleGro Company. Domoney Ltd won bronze for its Positive Power of Plants garden. Burncoose Nurseries meanwhile, won the RHS Plant of the Year with its entry Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum ‘Kilimanjaro Sunrise’ (‘Jww5’). Also successful was HTA member Agralan, which won Garden Product of the Year for its innovative potato planter, allowing gardeners to check the development of their crop. Speaking about the invention, Dragon’s Den

investor and this year’s judge, Deborah Meaden said: “Any product that encourages people to have a go at growing and having success in their garden must be a winner. Everyone in any size of garden, balcony and school playgrounds would love this.” The HTA sponsored the APHA Beyond Our Borders garden which won gold, while Homebase’s Urban Retreat – which also won in its category – was designed by Association board member Adam Frost. There were also 14 Association of Professional Landscaper members at Chelsea this year, all of whom went home with a medal.

The Old Forge, built by Twigs Gardens

fantastic weather on the Monday seemed to make up for any shortfall in earlier footfall and spending.” Mark Winchester, Managing Director of Blackbrooks Garden Centre in East Sussex, said: “I am happy to report that my April sales were positive and our footfall was up 5%. Most categories reported positive sales growth. “The biggest category increase by far was garden

furniture which was up by 56%.” The GCA barometer of trade reports are compiled using actual sales figures and are designed to provide an up-to-date trading position statement. They are made available mid-month following the end of the prior month and allow members to compare their trading positions with other centres.

Plants by Hilliers

Garden Centre Association Start of spring sees a rise in non-traditional category sales


he Garden Centre Association has reported an increase in furniture and barbecue sales during April of this year. According to the GCA’s latest barometer of trade results, both categories were

Ian Wylie, GCA Chief Executive

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up 26% compared to the same time last year. Sales of outdoor plants meanwhile were up 12%, while pet and aquatics departments rose by 7%. Speaking of the statistics, GCA Chief Executive Iain Wylie said: “The Easter holidays at the beginning of the month had the potential to boost sales as families had the time and opportunity to spend their time browsing at garden centres. “The weather was not as kind as we would have wished on the first two days of the Easter weekend. And, of course, centres were closed on Easter Sunday – but the

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business: celebrities

Stars in your aisles

The involvement of TV gardeners and famous faces, either via endorsements or personal appearances, can help your sales take off. Liz Dobbs discusses how to properly match the branding to your needs


he RHS’s appointment of Mary Berry CBE as an ambassador for grow to eat is proof that even established organisations with their own experts turn to celebrities as part of their marketing. Use of famous names is one way to keep your garden centre in the forefront of people’s minds or to refresh a familiar offering. It really has to be more than just naming a rose after a famous person though. You have to create opportunities for customers to have excitement, satisfaction – and to share the experience on social media, ideally with plenty of selfies!

Personal appearances

Seed brands set the trend

Johnsons’ Sarah Raven range of cut flowers and flowers for pollinators was launched three years ago, reflecting the author and broadcaster’s interests in ‘perfect for pollinator’ campaigning. Today 1,000 garden retailers in the UK stock the range, with veg seed also added in 2015. Helen Clayton, brand manager for Johnsons, explained the benefits of this branding for retailers. She said: “Each collection provides incremental sales to standard seed ranges. The themes of cut flowers and wildlife-attracting continue to be popular and relevant, plus the large packets are eye-catching.” At the same time, Suttons has continued its collaboration with TV presenter and author James Wong, offering the public the chance to get hold of the lesser-known edibles recommended in his books. ‘Grow for Flavour’ is his latest work, and there’s


Using celebrity names like Sarah Raven and James Wong can remind customers of the brand or product

a range of seeds and plants to go with it, stocked in selected garden centres.

Creating a point of difference

Dobbies Garden Centres has recently refreshed its ‘how to’ online video content using the extrovert TV gardener David Domoney.

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The original calm, detailed videos are still on the website but the new ones from David bring a more personal ‘can-do’ approach, with more focus on people enjoying the space rather than just completing a project. It’s worth comparing the old and new versions yourself to see whether your own online offerings could include something shorter and sharper too. In a similar vein, the HTA has added celebrity champions for each of its Plant of the Month campaigns for 2015. For May, Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE enthuses about both scented and ornamental pelargoniums on her patio. The celebrity angle is here to stay, so it should be considered as part of your marketing plan. Whether you go for the endorsed seed ranges, beef up your online offering or go all out for a celebrity-hosted event is a decision you need to make to best keep your customers satisfied. ◗

So, how do you get a celebrity to take part in an event? Well, if you are striking out on your own then you need to start with their agent – for example, Arlington Enterprises, which handles many TV gardeners including Charlie Dimmock. Involving an agent certainly takes things up a gear. However, they can advise on which celebrity would be a good fit for your budget. Agents are scary, but that means the celebrity is probably scared too, so will turn up and behave. Think in advance about photography to capture the event on the day – not just obvious poses but something that sums up what your garden centre is all about. For long-term endorsements there is an element of ‘match-making’ to find a synergy between the celebrity’s interests and yours.

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

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business: opinion

Suitably attired: improve your clothing offer With non-core sales categories becoming ever-more popular, Jane Perrone discusses the most effective ways to market clothes to garden centre customers


hese days you can pick up pyjamas from Tesco, order new shoes from eBay and pop into Primark for a new pair of socks. In other words, it’s a crowded market for clothing and shoes. And yet it can be a lucrative area for garden centres – either via concessions or direct sales.

Who to sell to

Take Wellington boots. Time was when the only welly you’d find in a garden centre would be cheap, green and not very comfy. Now premium brands such as The Original Muck Boot Company, Hunter and Joules are on the shelves alongside the budget options. These kinds of products appeal to the core over-fifties garden market who have money to spend on such items and want a quality product that will look good and – more importantly – last. It is a principle that holds true across garden centre selling of all garments, something which, according to the GCA, has risen markedly in recent times.

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Peter Mellish, official UK distributor of The Original Muck Boot Company, says the kind of customer who’s buying barbecues worth £600 is also prepared to spend £50 or £100 on quality footwear. “We have a range which is designed specifically for gardening

“The aim is to provide timeless pieces” but three times the price of the budget brands. This shows that the garden centre consumer is prepared to buy quality, style and durability.” Do many customers visit a garden centre with the express purpose of splashing the cash on a new blouse or pair of trousers? Probably not, but as Peter points out,

“Garden centres are now ‘destination’ shopping centres, where the consumer will visit for a couple of hours’ entertainment rather than the specific act of purchasing goods.”

What to sell

Meike Cassens, buyer for Burford Garden Centre in Oxfordshire, agrees. She says: “There is the customer who comes in to buy something completely different and then stops in their tracks and finds an item that catches her eye that they may not have seen anywhere else.” It’s creating this ‘special’ feel that is central to Burford’s strategy. And they must be doing something right, having seen double-digit increases in clothing sales in the last five years, without incorporating concessions. When it comes to fashion,

“There’s nowhere to put your secateurs” On the whole, not much of the clothing on offer in garden centres is actually any good for wearing while pruning, weeding and mowing. Sue O’Neill, who founded Genus Gardenwear in 2012, is hoping to change all that. “Everybody wears old clothes. But they just aren’t designed for gardening – there’s nowhere to put your secateurs.” So far, only one garden centre chain has been interested in her products, although she believes the opportunity is there.

One problem she has encountered is that many garden centres’ fashion offerings are via concessions. What’s more, there is often no changing room available for trying the clothes on. O’Neill has come up with a workaround where customers can see, touch and feel the clothes, pay for them in-store, after which Genus fulfils the order directly. For now however, sales are coming from the website. Genus Gardenwear –

the aim isn’t to follow the latest trends but provide timeless pieces that wear well, which is how Burford distinguishes itself from the high street. “Our customers are from the yummy mummy onwards and they come to us when they are in their late twenties to early thirties. I’ve seen the same dresses on young mothers and on a 65-year-old.” Cassens also believes it is vital for garden centres to offer a comfy, non-intimidating place for customers to try clothes on. “In the quirky Burford way we have a shepherd’s hut for people to change in. It’s a lovely private place, roomy and airy. It’s an informal yet personable service.” ◗ Jane Perrone is The Guardian’s gardening editor and the author of The Allotment Keeper’s Handbook Twitter: @janeperrone

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business: boosting sales

Turning browsers into buyers: 10 ways to boost sales this summer Garden centre consultant Doug Stewart suggests 10 ways to get potential customers to convert this summer


n the good old days shoppers were on a mission. They had a list, they knew what they wanted, and were highly focused. It was easy to meet the needs of those customers. A clean store and product on shelves was all that was required. Today when customers head to the high street – or the larger shopping malls – they are also on a mission. However, they are looking not so much for products but inspiration. They are browsers. And it is our job as retailers to turn them into buyers.


Orientate yourself

The first step is to orientate yourself. Set a benchmark, quantify how you’re doing at the moment, and measure the effectiveness of your conversion to buyer tactics. The metric is simple – what percentage of people coming into the centre make a transaction at a till point.

they miss? Once we have this data we can ‘zone’ products and plan customer flow. The main journey is to the coffee shop and back, so it is vital to make this walk as interesting and inspiring as possible.

“At key sales times, release your staff to sell”

2 Get them excited

The way that products are merchandised can make a huge difference to sales. It is no longer enough just to have the product on the shelf, we need to tempt people to fall in love and want it. At the deli counter we can do this with a ‘cheese of the month’ which is available for tasting. In the planteria, signs saying ‘sniff me’, ‘touch me’, ‘take me home and love me’ can all be effective.

out the 3 Map customer journey

When was the last time you watched the way people shop your centre – mapping the route they take, looking at the areas they visit and the areas


4 The long game

One of the strange rules of retailing is that as the store becomes busier sales fall, with customers being turned off by the inevitable queues at till points and so on. So, if you have a major footfall event (say, Santa arriving by helicopter), turn those browsers into buyers with a money off voucher inviting them back when the store is quieter.


A well-trained, attentive team who can spot when people

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Gentle encouragement

are on the verge of buying can offer encouragement and gently make the sale. These sales-makers can make a huge difference when converting browsers into buyers.

6 Release the staff

The above only works if staff are freed up to sell. If they are merchandising or putting out stock, by definition they are not available to make the sale. So at key sales times, release your staff to sell, to help customers make informed choices.

7 The power of two

One of the best ways to measure how effective you are at converting browsers to buyers is to split a team into two. Let them both set up displays and try differing techniques to increase sales. Have fun with prizes for the team which has the most success.

down the 8 Break barriers

Understand and then remove the obstacles to buying. For instance, dead plants remind

customers of their failures and put them off making a purchase. In the same way plant guarantees reassure customers and help make the sale (in particular of higher value plants).

question 9 Gardeners’ time

Engage with your customers. Every day hundreds of retail consultants come to your store (and visit the competition). Are you asking them the right questions? The till system can tell you a lot, but a detailed chat with customers can be even more valuable.

them 10 Show you care

Finally, be relentlessly enthusiastic. If you don’t care about your stock, how can you expect your customers to? ◗ Garden centre consultant Doug Stewart of Waring Stewart Associates is passionate about garden centres. He can be contacted at www.

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27/05/2015 14:45

business: e-commerce

Make your presence felt: understanding the options for selling online

Martin Newman argues that ‘cannibalisation’ of in-store garden centre sales is an inevitable but necessary by-product of an effective e-commerce effort


f you knew one of your product categories was seeing sales rise by a third year-on-year, you’d likely buy more stock and give it a more prominent position and extra space in your centre. In other words you’d invest in a growing category that your customers have demonstrated they want. But can you say the same about your website? Online retail industry body IMRG reports that the average year-on-year growth for online sales in the garden category is running at 34%. Customers are choosing to buy online – and that’s only part of the story as the web increasingly influences offline sales too.

“If basket sizes have fallen at the same time as overall sales have risen, more consumers must be buying gardening products online” In this article, I lay out some of the underlying data and trends that should inform your decisions on whether to invest in your website. I also look at how your web presence can support every purchase that your customers make.

Conversion is key

Looking beyond the top-line

statistic from IMRG, some of the other metrics from its February 2015 e-Retail Sales Index figures suggest that garden centres that already sell online could do even better. The average online transaction size for the garden category – average basket value (ABV) – was £57 in February. That’s a 19%

decrease on the ABV for February 2014. If basket sizes have fallen at the same time as overall sales have risen, more consumers must be buying gardening products online (or the same customers are buying more regularly). Either way, this shows the appetite for purchasing online and the potential to increase the value of online sales further. At the same time, the average conversion rate, ie the percentage of visitors to a website that buy, is 1.5% for the home and garden category. In comparison, the average for the online retail sector as a whole, excluding travel, is 4.5%. The ABV and conversion rate combined suggest that investment in improvements to gardening retail sites could increase the amount of visitors who purchase online and the amount they spend.

The journey and the destination

Generally, before we make recommendations to a retailer about how it might improve its online or mobile strategy, we look for evidence of how consumers like to shop the category. There are seven identifiable elements to purchase journeys and your web presence can be a factor in all of these. (See box panel over the page). Not every customer will complete every element before they buy. Others meanwhile may include certain elements more than once. It’s useful to map out the different journeys they take. 

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Garden Centre Retail June 2015


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business: e-commerce has reported that store details are among the most visited parts of its site – pages which it uses as evidence of how its site drives traffic to stores. Look at the information that Google comes up with if you enter the words ‘garden centre’ (this is what’s known as an organic search). Results are localised, with a map showing local centres and contact information. This, in other words, is free advertising, and having your website optimised to pull in this information is a must. John Lewis’ ‘Store Locator’ page has a high number of hits, indicating traffic is driven into its stores from online

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Fears exist that online sales cannibalise store sales, and even worse, that consumers will come to your centre to research products and then buy online elsewhere. However, a degree of cannibalisation is inevitable. And if you don’t cannibalise your own store sales by selling online, then someone else will. A cursory look at Amazon UK from April of this year shows the huge range of products that it is already selling in your category. There may even be a business case for you selling on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay yourself, at least for clearance stock. Selling online is not just a defensive move however. Major retailers such as John Lewis and Tesco have clearly shown that customers who buy both from their stores and their website purchase more than those who only shop via their stores.

also support offline sales. In other words, even if you aren’t ready to sell online, you still need a web strategy in order to facilitate what Google calls ‘ROPO’ (research online, purchase offline). There are several indicators of how strong a trend this is. If you already have a website, and some basic reporting functionality, you will be able to see the proportion of your visitors who arrive via the Location, Find Us or Store Location pages. John Lewis

The optimisation game

As well as being a purchase channel, your website should


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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Click and collect

Wyevale Garden Centres allows customers to reserve products online and then complete the purchase instore. There are challenges to implementing a click-andcollect service. However, the upside is that you are supporting a purchase journey, with the customer researching online and then purchasing the products they want while taking the time to visit your centre. If you are a ‘destination’, ie if you offer product advice, parking, a play area or a cafe, then your website can

be crucial as a marketing tool to drive footfall and maximise your investment. Understanding how your customers use the web in their purchase journeys is the first step to optimising your online presence – whether you choose to transact online or not. ◗

The customer purchase journey • Customer awareness Realising that you sell a product they are interested in, or realising a product exists in the first place • Research Seeking further information in order to come to a decision about the exact product – and likely supplier of a product – they would like to buy • Trial Touching and feeling a product before committing to purchase it • Conversion Agreeing to purchase a particular product • Purchase When the money actually changes hands • Recommendation Providing an online review or other kind of word of mouth • Service Follow-up after-sales support, delivery or installation Deciding which of these aspects of making a purchase your customers turn to the web for, is crucial to understanding where you should invest in your online presence. Martin Newman is CEO of online retail experts Practicology

28/05/2015 11:17

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27/05/2015 17:31

28/05/2015 10:19

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27/05/2015 14:53

feature: let’s hear it from...


Alex Newey The MD of horticulture giant the Newey Group talks about how its recent acquisition of Roundstone Nurseries fits into the company’s long-term business strategy Why was the decision made to take over Roundstone Nurseries? In the first instance, I wanted to ensure the strength of the supply chain. Roundstone is a core supplier to one of our existing businesses, so it made sense. The other element was that it gave us the ability to vertically link with other areas of the business. We are a fully vertically integrated group now – other than the fact that we don’t own a garden centre. Could you describe the Roundstone plant supply operation as it’s set up at the moment? There are three businesses, beginning with Roundstone

Nurseries, which is one of the main propagation and bedding plants suppliers to B&Q. There’s also New Place Nurseries, which is a tree and liner business, and then we’ve got New Forest Plants which is a perennial supplier to garden centres. That was the business as we bought it, with the structure in itself part of a diversification and de-risking process that took place on the part of the previous management. Prior to that, Roundstone was simply a bedding plant supplier to B&Q, which clearly, would have had its limitations. B&Q are the largest garden Centre operator in the country, and we wanted the opportunity to explore and develop this relationship in a more proactive way. How did you decide on management structure? We have a clear and defined structure we need to achieve and we want be the best place to work in order to attract the best people to work with. We bought a business that’s got some brilliant people in it already. We also bought it at a time when things were starting to get very busy, so we just had to crack on with it. From a personal point of view, I’m not a figurehead in this business, I’m just here to add value and to do a job. Being on the ground and being visible is really important to me. That takes a bit of time though, because you have to get used GCR Jun15 P19-22 Let's Hear It From.indd 19

“Light on the south coast is significantly better than it is in the northern parts of the country” to working with new people, and vice versa. Is there an advantage in growing in this part of the country? [the Roundstone group is based in Sussex]. Absolutely. Light on the south coast is significantly better than it is in the northern parts of the country, which is why you’ve got lots of growers down here. This little bubble of Sussex is the best place for natural light. How has the bedding plant market changed in recent years, would you say? How do you reflect that? I think the market’s getting younger and it’s getting more 

Garden Centre Retail June 2015 19

28/05/2015 11:39

feature: let’s hear it from...

impatient, which is reflected in what we do. To my mind, the consumer does not have the knowledge now to go into a garden centre, pick their flowers and create a recipe on their own. You have to make it easier for them, which means offering readymade solutions. What we’re trying to do is get in on the trendy side of bedding. We want to appeal to the more mature market of course, but at the same time, we’ve also using


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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very green and ethical solutions to bedding plants. With that in mind, what advice would you give to garden centre owners in terms of plant selling? I would say, sell in full colour, demonstrating full impact as quickly as possible. People really do not buy green products any more, thinking of what it will create at some point down the line. It’s got to be big and blousy and it’s got to be instant.

That’s the same with me. If I take a plant home, I don’t want it flowering next month, I want it flowering now. That’s when I’m buying it, that’s when I want it. If it starts to wilt in three weeks, I still know that I’ve got my money’s worth. A plant’s the same price as a pint of beer, which is gone in about half an hour.

Roundstone’s Sussex-based set-up grows thousands of bedding plants for, among others, B&Q

What shouldn’t garden centres do? Don’t sell tat. Nobody wants a deal on something that’s half dead, so if

28/05/2015 11:40

feature: let’s hear it from...

“You don’t go into Tesco and find they’re still trying to flog last week’s milk at half price. So why should it be any different with plants?”

it’s past its best, take it off display and refill with fresh product. It’s not worth half as much as it was at the start of its life, it’s worth nothing. With plants, quality is everything. It’s easier for some centres to do that than others. I understand that. I understand if you’re a garden centre operator on your third wet Sunday in a row and someone’s saying spend £1,000 on new bedding, that’s a difficult call to make. But, at some point, we have to recognise GCR Jun15 P19-22 Let's Hear It From.indd 21

that poor quality plants don’t have a place in the market. All you’re doing is hoodwinking the consumer, which ultimately will leave them dissatisfied. You don’t go into Tesco and find that because they over-bought on milk, they’re still trying to flog last week’s at half price. So why should it be any different with plants? To my mind, independents should be the ones that are upholding this ethos. What’s your relationship with B&Q in terms of supply? Do they tell you what they want, or is it more two-way? It’s a collaborative approach to the market. We’ll present them with new options, which they’ll either take or they won’t. At the same time, they’ll suggest things to us that they’ve seen and would like to replicate in their stores. It’s a dialogue, with a certain amount of competitor analysis involved. 

The history of Roundstone Roundstone Nurseries is based in Chichester, West Sussex. It began growing plants commercially in 1985, and has since evolved into one of the UK’s largest bedding growers, supplying mainly B&Q. The company started producing most of its own plug requirements in the late 1990s. This ultimately led it into a relationship with Young Plants Limited who required a UKbased plug producer in order to sell seed and cutting-raised plugs to other growers. Roundstone expanded out of bedding and plug production in 2011 with its acquisition of New Forest Plants. New Forest grows herbaceous perennials, herbs and alpines for mainly independent garden centres. The company subsequently acquired New Place Nurseries in 2013, which produces liners, as well as container grown ornamental, and fruit trees and shrubs. The Newey Group, owners of Young Plants Limited, took over operational control of Roundstone in 2014. It completed the acquisition in early 2015.

Garden Centre Retail June 2015 21

28/05/2015 11:41

feature: let’s hear it from...

“We want to make sure we set our foundations down properly with good quality businesses” They have some very talented buyers working for them.

Quality control is high on the agenda at Roundstone

Has the way you do business and your philosophy had an influence on them? I really couldn’t say. We have been at the forefront of an initiative by them to increase quality and quality perception though. That’s

been happening since we started trading this spring. When you go into a B&Q store, you can see that the quality is significantly enhanced. As a consequence, their sales are improving, as is their stock turn. We’re very proud to be supplying them. Do you have any plans to expand into garden centres, given your earlier comments? There are no plans to do that just yet, no. We want to make sure we set our foundations down properly with good quality businesses. We do have plans to expand further at a wholesale level, with more strategic purchases to further vertically integrate. I can’t tell you what they are though. As a model, it works well. What plant trends do you see developing over the course of the coming year? If you asked what’s strong at the moment, I’d say herbaceous perennials, as well as any immediate high impact, high colour solution. Trees are also selling very well for some reason. These things are cyclical though. How important is innovation to the plant business? Innovation’s the lifeblood of any business that relies on repeat


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

GCR Jun15 P19-22 Let's Hear It From.indd 22

trade – although I would say that there is a definite difference between a variation on a theme and true innovation. About 15 years ago, we went through a period with new species and new formats coming onto the market all the time. It’ll be hard to get back to that level. I think the most useful innovation now, and it’s all to play for, will come from marketing. To my mind, it’s all about when you sell the product and what you put it in. We don’t do it as well as we could as an industry. You say that you want to establish the Newey group as the go-to horticultural experts in the UK. Are you close to achieving that? That’s a very big ask, isn’t it? We’re currently making sure we’re involved in a broad range of business activities across an equally broad range of horticultural subjects. Then in each one, we specialise and make really strong strategic alliances. That’s a unique, really workable, business model. Of course, the other side of that is that you end up doing a great job for this person over here, and then their competitor doesn’t want to deal with you. Trying to get the balance right is important. ◗ The Newey Group comprises Young Plants, Omni Solutions, Transflora, Evergreen Events, Roundstone Nurseries, New Forest Plants and New Place Nurseries.

28/05/2015 11:41

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26/05/2015 09:41 28/05/2015 10:05

feature: toby buckland

“We’re all gardeners now”: an interview with Toby Buckland Speaking ahead of his two summer festivals, TV horticulturist Toby Buckland discusses changing consumer habits and the best way to maximise plant sales

How has the industry changed since you started? Thinking of horticulture in particular, everything has become a lot more joinedup. It’s embedded across all aspects of our life. When I first started in a nursery, we did bare-root roses, which were sold in quite a prescribed way. People would pick out what they wanted in the summer, they’d come back in winter, and that would be that. Everything was at the farm’s convenience. Now you can pick up a pot of herbs from the greengrocers or supermarket, you’ve got sheds selling flowers and so on. That’s such a positive development.

Has the definition of being a gardener changed with how plants are bought and sold? I would say so, yes. It used to be that gardening was tacked onto your life, so you were either a gardener or not. Now, if you own or live in a property you’re a gardener, whether you like it or not. Even if you only own one square metre, you’re the custodian of that piece of land. We’re all gardeners now. Each of us has a vested interest as well, from an environmental point of view. Even if it’s just the train station plantings we see on the way to work, or the food we eat.

“If you are passionate your customers will be able to tell”

Have the skill sets and priorities of gardeners changed? Are ‘generation rent’ thinking more shortterm about their gardens? I think that’s the case with a lot of people, whether they’re renting or not. I was working on a new-build estate recently and the garden in question was pretty much the size of a postage stamp. The couple had bought where they were living, but how long were they going to be there? I’d say things are changing regarding those with more space as well. We’re moving towards an American and German model, where people with bigger gardens are enjoying and interacting with them, but are perhaps doing less and less of the work themselves. None of that means that the skill set is going to be lost – it’ll will just go back into the profession, to gardeners, landscapers, nurseries and, of course, garden centres. We all know a little about a lot now, whereas previous generations knew a lot about a little. How should garden centres take advantage of that? People want to see instant results, and instant colour. That’s where the big numbers are – new houses and new estates – and that’s what gardening centres should be tapping into. We need to ask ourselves how we help people get the most from their gardens if they’re not going to be there


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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that long. These can be quite sterile environments so we need to give people a palette of plants to work with so they can make places their own quickly. As a specialist in the field, do you have any general advice on how to sell plants? I would say that in the first instance, the quality of the stock is all important,

28/05/2015 11:21

feature: toby buckland work, which gives the industry the chance to step in and become the knowledge bank. If you provide your staff with the space to develop their understanding of what’s being sold, that puts you at a distinct advantage. People talk about customer care and customer service, but I think you can ignore the customer bit. Just care – that’s all you’ve got to do. What’s the concept behind your garden festivals? With the festivals, I wanted to create an ‘event’ – something that, if you were interested in the subject, you just have to be at. They’re meant to be really celebratory about gardening, and really fun. We lay on everything – music, entertainers and so on, which creates a good day out whether you’re interested in gardening or not. That’s why people spend so much money on plants at my festivals. It’s not unlike the way garden centres operate now.

alongside a proper knowledge of what you’re selling. People just want to feel the love, and if you and your staff are passionate, your customers will be able to tell. That kind of attitude is infectious. Again, if I’m right about the American and German model, people will begin to know less and less detail about how to make their garden

GCR Jun15 P24-25 Toby Buckland Q&A TW.indd 25

Where do you stand on the subject of online selling? I think if you know exactly what you want and you don’t need to pick it out yourself, it’s problem-solving. If you want a hedge, buy it online. That way you don’t have to worry about picking it up, or making your car all muddy. Back when I first started, people didn’t give a monkey’s about piling their cars up with bags of compost. Nowadays, and again this shows how our attitudes have changed, you can’t imagine someone wanting to cart that sort of thing around in the back of their Jag. Doesn’t that give away the central garden centre offer though? My view is that online sales is like instant coffee. If you want the real thing, you have to turn up and buy. It’s the same principle as the festivals in that if people have the leisure time, they

“We all know a little about a lot now”

Toby Buckland timeline

want to go and get a nice coffee and browse. We sell bare roots herbaceous online, partly because we’re too busy to be packing up loads of boxes, but also because I’d rather just see people come to our garden centre. You can understand a lack of enthusiasm from the big sellers, because by and large they’re trading in established brands rather than stuff that’s perhaps more artisan. That means they compete mainly on price and the only one way you can go with your pricing online is down. Changing the subject slightly, as someone that’s been in the business their entire life, what’s your favourite plant? It’s going to sound hackneyed, but it changes all the time. I do love roses though, which probably comes from working on an old rose nursery. I like the smell of the leaves and stems and the flowers, of course. It’s just everything about them. In terms of time of year, I’d say late spring into summer. Everyone’s getting back into gardening again at that time. It’s just fantastic. ◗

Toby Buckland began his career as a nurseryman in Devon. He owns a nursery and boutique plant centre at Powderham Castle near Exeter, specialising in bare-root perennials. He is an award-winning broadcaster, author, qualified horticulturist and lifelong gardener. TV programmes he has been involved in include Gardeners’ World, and the BBC’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show coverage, among others. His books include Flowers: Planning and Planting for Continuous Colour, BBC Practical Gardening Handbook and How to Make Your Garden Grow. As a professional gardener he has worked at Cambridge University Botanic Garden and designed and created public spaces in hospitals, and for the Royal Marines. He held his first annual garden festival in May 2014, at Powderham Castle. This year will see two similar events, taking place at Powderham Castle on 1 and 2 May and Bowood House and Gardens in Wiltshire on 5 and 6 June.

Garden Centre Retail June 2015


28/05/2015 11:21

feature: plant focus

Plant focus: summertime blues (and reds, greens and violets) With the winter months becoming a distant memory, Lucy Summers says it’s time to unleash the power of colour


elieve me when I say your customers want to get the best from you – particularly with the summer months just on the horizon. Have confidence and continue to build on your unique offering. Distinguish yourself from the common herd and don’t let your progress slide. Radiate ingenuity, resourcefulness and charm as your customers increasingly sense that your establishment is a little bit different from the rest. Maximise this growing relationship by delivering plant displays that excite and tantalise. Spring has invigorated us after a long, cold winter and gardeners are absolutely gagging to cram their pots, hanging baskets and borders with colourful flowers. Set out to seduce your clients with winning plant combinations and creative colour accents. Warm weather beguiles like nothing else and your flower displays should be inspiring and extravagant.


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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Trend-spotting homework

Like fashion, there are definitely ‘in’ colours. The trick to persuading your customers to buy lively plant combos lies in artistic and creative displays. You have to hold the conviction that you are selling this year’s hot ticket. If you don’t believe the latest spectacular hydrangea is worth a fanfare, why should your visitors? Unless you are one of those canny individuals, like yours truly, who can spot the next big thing, this means doing a bit of trend spotting homework. If you’re not blessed with a predictive nature, I suggest you copy trends. We’re told imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and when you think about the zillions of pounds spent in the fashion industry convincing the high street shopper that lilac is the ‘in’ thing, you may as well avail yourself of their research and ride on their coat-tails.

Do interior paint adverts show one colour of their infinitesimal range in isolation? They do not. Dare I suggest you move away from the species and perennials in their accepted order? How about showing your plants off in vibrant single colour blocks of ascending shades? Set up a ‘Plants by Colour’ section. Why? Because when we survey a swathe of colour massed together it serves to bewilder, delight and amaze, immediately handing your customer a dilemma. Should they choose the reds, oranges, pinks or purple-hued plants? While drinking in your colourful offerings, their subconscious automatically tunes into the possibility of making multiple purchases.

Plant power Multiple colours lead to multiple sales

A glance in any high street shop window will tell you what colours are trending in the fashion world; pistachio (no, they don’t call it green on planet fashion), chocolate, fuchsia, tangerine, sage and lavender… you get the idea. Once you’re done arranging your solid hot colour block displays, try another gentler toned plant display populated with plants of graduating pastel hues. This is a complete nobrainer. In my experience, client imagination is a commodity that is too often in short supply. Powerful plant displays allow your visitors to take a day off from inventiveness. They can immediately see that the riot of plants you have so imaginatively grouped look right together. It will excite them and they will immediately want to replicate the effect at home. That brings us neatly back to the ‘multiple plant purchase‘ mindset. As retailers – embrace multi-buys. It’s the most desirable game in town.

28/05/2015 11:24

feature: plant focus

Summer lovin’

Coleus Colour Clouds ‘Valentine’

Coleus are colour chameleons, providing fabulous punchy colour for shady summer places – rather like a rape field in full flower, where that sulphuryellow swathe looks spectacular whether bathed in full sunshine or sheltering beneath bruised charcoal skies. New for 2015 is the eye-achingly bright lime, compact Coleus Terra Nova ‘Peridot’ (H 32cm x S 36cm). This variety has dazzling acid-yellow crimp-edged leaves making pleasing scalloped mounds and creating an unrivalled foil for many of the summer bedding brights.

Since we’re talking multi-buys this month, encourage your customers to plant them generously. Coleus Colour Clouds ‘Valentine’ (H 26cm x S 76cm) is a new trailing introduction for 2015 that caught my eye. Tactile, branching, soft red brick foliage with creamy enamelled edging. Once again here is a plant that will elevate tricky shady places to the sublime. It’s slow to flower so gardeners can enjoy the luxuriant foliage unadulterated by blooms through spring to early summer. They may decide to shear off the flowers (as I do) should they think the blooms spoil the smart symmetry of the richly textured foliage. Tickseed is a favourite of mine too and some of the annual hybrids are so vibrant, customers will be reaching for their vintage Ray-Bans. Coreopsis ‘Tropical Lemonade’ (H 21cm x S 36cm) has joyous sprays of burnt orange sun-rayed flowers with marmalade centres held over typical green ferny foliage. Coreopsis is perfect for hot planting or wildlife planting schemes. They offer vibrant accents happily attracting a steady traffic of bees and butterflies from July through to September. Coreopsis ‘Autumn Blush’ (H 60cm x S 80cm) is an eye-catcher with buttery-hued blooms and rusty-rose stained centres. It’s hardy too, which is unusual and reassuring for a tickseed of this hue, so your customers will enjoy both the novelty and reliance. Customers overlook the F1 hybrid violas at their peril. Folklore has it that viola petals were placed on the closed eyes of a sleeper and on awakening they would fall in love with the first person they encountered. Truly they are a love at first sight kind of flower and are not the sorts of plants to be embraced meagrely. Gardeners should be persuaded to plant them thick in hanging baskets, front of borders or crammed into containers or window boxes. Flowering is profuse in full sun so what’s not to love?

Coreopsis ‘Autumn Blush’

Violas are colourful, problem-free and highly dependable, flowering pretty much continuously (depending on variety) from February to November. That’s a hefty chunk of flower-power. My pick of the bunch is Viola Grandissimo ‘Clear Purple’ (H 15cm x S 20cm) providing courtly evidence that summer has arrived. The typically tri-lobed blooms are as opulent as a cardinal’s robes – deep velvet mulberry-black, set off by rich saffron eyes. Team these with Viola Perfetto ‘Deep Orange’ and the colour scheme becomes richly majestic and elegant. Should this prove a little bold for the more restrained garden visitor, they could opt for the very smart Viola Penny ‘Jump Up Mix’ radiating warm gold and plush violet, cooled by pure white petals charmingly blotched and violet streaked.

Coleus is a group of plants that are incredibly versatile and prove addictive. They are superb for the town garden where space is always at a premium and just as desirable for gardeners with larger outdoor spaces. They add instant pizzazz to patios, window boxes, borders or hanging baskets and their popularity shows no sign of flagging. Evergreen in their native Asia (though sadly not winter hardy in the UK) we can employ them to stunning effect. Coleus adapt to block planting in larger areas in a way that is second to none. There is nothing that comes close for brightening up gloomy outdoor areas and they positively embrace full and part shade, preferring the gloaming to show off their spectacular foliage at its best.

Viola Grandissimo ‘Clear Purple’


Lucy Summers is an award-winning landscape designer, journalist, businesswoman and horticultural consultant Coleus Terra Nova ‘Peridot’ GCR Jun15 P26-27 Plant Focus TW.indd 27

Coreopsis ‘Tropical Lemonade’

Garden Centre Retail June 2015 27

28/05/2015 11:24

feature: hta show preview

HTA National Plant Show preview We take a look at some of the highlights of the upcoming event, which this year promises to be the most popular yet

SHOW DETAILS • Stoneleigh Park, Coventry, Warwickshire, CV8 2LZ • Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 June, 2015 • Opening times: Tuesday 9.30 until 17.00 and Wednesday 09.30 until 16.00 •


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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he fifth annual HTA National Plant Show takes place later this month, with a line-up put together by the industry for the industry. The seed for the show was sown in 2010 as a response to a long-standing demand from grower and retail members for an affordable, stand-alone plant show. The HTA took advantage of the opportunity and the show has gone from strength to strength, with plants showcased in a ‘back to basics’ approach at the best time of the year for retailers. The focus of the show is plants, with retailers able to talk, look, discuss and buy. Types of businesses represented range from plant suppliers to plug and liner companies. According to the HTA, the amount of visitors has increased year-onyear, along with the number of ‘exclusive features’ available at the show. These include the best plant display award, which has been introduced alongside the new plant and visitor vote awards. There is also the new HTA Members’ Hub. Also new for this year is delegates’ opportunity to vote for their favourite ‘plantie’ in the planties photography competition stand. The seminar programme is another well-appreciated feature of the show. Over the years, there has been a range of high profile plant experts sharing their knowledge, including the likes of James Wong. This year, Kevin Waters, Chris Collins and Tom Hart-Dyke will be talking plants in the seminar area. Waters will be providing tips on, as well as giving examples of how to sell more plants. Meanwhile, modern-day plant hunter and broadcaster Hart-Dyke will provide an insight into his travels. Last year’s plant show saw over 100 UK suppliers in attendance, and visitor numbers were up by 9% on the previous year. Over 100 exhibitors have confirmed their attendance for 2015.

28/05/2015 11:27

feature: hta show preview

Best Plant Display Awards

The Best Plant Display awards highlight those displays that ‘capture the imagination, provide clear information and attract attention’. Last year’s winner was Lovania Nurseries for their display of alpines. The winners of the 2015 award will be announced on the morning of the second day.

New Plant Awards


The National Plant Show will once again host a dedicated area for the British Plant Fair Marketplace. The marketplace will give visitors the opportunity to view shelf samples from many of the growers exhibiting at the show. They will then be able to place an order for any combination of shelves, with a total minimum order of two trolleys.

HTA hub

The HTA Members’ Hub is a place to talk and learn about membership with HTA representatives, or to plan who to see and meet at the show. New for this year is a stand on CRoP, the HTA’s cost reduction programme. Visitors to the stand will be able to discuss a range of core business products and services available through HTA partners at discounted rates.

The New Plant Awards are aimed at showcasing the very best in new plant introductions from UK plant suppliers. Categories for 2015 consist of annuals, herbaceous perennials, houseplants, trees and conifers, shrubs and climbers. The winner of last year’s best in show was Trollius’ ‘Dancing Flame’ from Darby Nursery Stock and Fairweather’s Nursery. Commenting on the winner at the time, judging panel member and HTA President Stan Green said: “Trollius ‘Dancing Flame’ has great appeal with its vibrant colour, dramatic flowers and upright form making it a fantastic plant for any herbaceous border.”

Visitor vote

The ever-popular Visitor Vote Awards has around 100 plants in contention. The 2014 winner was Mini Cherry ‘Cinderella’ from Blackmoor Nurseries, which also took the best in category title in the judged awards. Voting closes at 3pm on the second day. Visit the plant area in order to register your vote.

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feature: hta show preview

Talking plants This year’s seminar speakers include Chris Collins, Kevin Waters and Tom Hart-Dyke. Schedule: Tuesday 23 June 10am. Hot-footing it from planting demonstrations at the Love the Plot You’ve Got roadshow, horticulturist and broadcaster Chris Collins will talk about the campaign and interactions with the public about using outdoor spaces. 3pm. Plants are the real USP for garden centres. However, how do we go about increasing sales? Kevin Waters will provide tips and examples to help sell more plants. Wednesday 24 June 10am. Tom Hart-Dyke will provide an insight into his adventures – including tales of kidnap – in his quest to discover new plants. He will also discuss his work creating a ‘world garden’ at his ancestral home Lullingstone Castle in Kent.

Love the Plot You’ve Got

The Garden Industry Marketing Board (GIMB) is an organisation made up of key players from the industry, including the HTA, GIMA, LOFA and the RHS. It is responsible for developing and implementing Love the Plot You’ve Got, a consumer-facing campaign to promote the use of gardens and outdoor spaces to customers in their 30s and 40s. Love the Plot You’ve Got is currently touring the country but will be making a pit stop at Stoneleigh. GIMB will be represented at the National Plant Show on Stand 169.


This year ProVaR will be showcasing more new varieties including Antirrhinum ‘Pretty in Pink’, Caryopteris ‘Pink Perfection’, Caryopteris ‘Stephi’, Euonymus ‘Dan’s Delight’ and Escallonia ‘Golden Carpet’. The organisation represents 17 breeders and 191 plants from the UK and Europe. It offers one of the widest ranges of protected plants available to UK growers via a single organisation.


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advertisement feature

MyBalconia makes its Solex debut for Fallen Fruits


sing the strap line, Welcome to my Balcony, garden gift and furniture company, Fallen Fruits is launching a contemporary designer collection of furniture, pots, planters and gift ware all aimed at balcony gardening. Called MyBalconia, the range is a clever blend of foldaway space saving, modern colours, stylish design and quirky fun and is a significant development for the Fallen Fruits brand, which is known for its combination of nature-led inspiration and the impetus to recycle and make anew. The MyBalconia collection includes tables and chairs in grey, leaf green, white, red, blue, black and natural colourways, many of which fold away when not in use, but which extend to provide generous space for alfresco dining. Using the same colour themes the range also includes half pots, planters and watering cans for positioning against a wall and other versions which hook onto or clip over a balcony rail. There are also balcony friendly parasols, mats, lights, drinks holders and a barbecue option. Last but not least, MyBalconia boasts a range of balconyloving gnomes which climb over or swing from the balcony edge to add an amusing and delightful finishing touch. RRPs start from £2.99 for a small pot to £699 for a set of furniture. Fallen Fruits managing director Michael Hall explained, “This is a really important collection which opens up the potential for balcony living to combine ‘statement’ style with charm, fun and complete practicality. It’s a real opportunity for garden centres expand their appeal

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to a new set of consumers.” As with all Fallen Fruits garden and gift ware ranges, MyBalconia is well supported at point of sale. Shropshire-based Fallen Fruits combines excellence in global purchasing with product

design and service dedicated to developing aesthetically pleasing, handy, helpful, quirky, original and fun items to make gardening easier and gardens more enjoyable. Garden retailers can contact

Fallen Fruits for more information about this and other collections by contacting the company on 01584 873377 or by emailing

28/05/2015 09:14

feature: solex 2015 preview

SOLEX 2015 preview Garden Centre Retail gives an overview of the upcoming major leisure and outdoor furniture event, as well as profiling some of the major exhibitors


OLEX is being organised by the Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association for its members as an opportunity to exhibit their garden furniture and barbecue products for the 2016 season. It is a three day event attracting national and international retail/contract purchasing directors and managers. It brings together all the leading manufacturers of garden products, which includes furniture, barbecues, gazebos, parasols, outdoor lighting and play equipment.

The event also showcases developments in design, environmental manufacturing, sustainability and production for both the retail and contract markets.

Ongoing success

The first SOLEX took place at the Telford International Centre in July 2008. It was branded a success by industry members, suppliers, buyers and opinion formers. The event continued annually in Telford until 2013 when it switched to Hall 5 at the NEC in Birmingham due to high demand.


La Hacienda

Furniture manufacturer Kettler will be unveiling a new collection at SOLEX, including additions to its Casual Dining range. According to the company, the new products – which are being kept under wraps until the show – demonstrate garden furniture innovation and design at their best. Alongside these products, visitors to the Kettler stand will also be able to see items recently added to the Urbano range, which is a contemporary collection featuring ‘bright colours, innovative materials and intelligent design’. Kettler will also be showcasing a range of ‘uniquely different products’ which it hopes will capture the interest of visitors and customers. Stand: 510

La Hacienda will be offering a first look at its new ranges of chimeneas and firepits for 2016 at SOLEX. The new collection has been specially designed to offer garden furniture retailers interesting additions to their existing outdoor leisure ranges. According to La Hacienda, the new chimeneas bring a ‘fresh, modern spin’ to its offering. They are made from durable steel and feature clean, geometric lines – with some models also benefiting from chrome plated cooking grills. The new range of firepits will include items inspired by traditional Indian design. These are made from reclaimed steel. Stand: 120

Last year was the biggest so far, featuring over 65 exhibitors, with floor space up 10% on 2013. During the show, the SOLEX Enterprise Zone gave new companies the opportunity to showcase their products to buyers. The redesigned new product showcase meanwhile, allowed LOFA members to exhibit their latest wares. This year’s SOLEX is the eighth successive show, with more space and more exhibitors. It takes place at the NEC in Birmingham, running from 7-9 July.


Barlow Tyrie

Brundle Gardener will be exhibiting at SOLEX for the first time, after a year that has seen the company pick up more than 100 new accounts. The garden centre retail supplier will display its distinctive furniture at the trade show. Paul Smith, business manager for Brundle Gardener, said: “We can’t wait to exhibit at SOLEX where we will be showcasing our new range of fresh and appealing products. This is the main furniture buying show for the industry and provides a great platform for Brundle Gardener to showcase its products.” Stand: 360

Barlow Tyrie will be exhibiting its Cayman range at this year’s SOLEX. Cayman is a new collection of outdoor furniture aimed at providing garden owners with both comfort and ease of maintenance. All frames in Barlow Tyrie’s new offer are built to be highly durable and feature a powder-coat paint finish. The dining tables in the range come in circular, square and rectangular models, while the armchairs feature Textilene slings. There are three colour options. Stand: 320


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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6 1 20 r fo s n o i The company that brought you at v o Inn


We will be serving a selection of food on the stand so come and enjoy our new Casual Dining experience first hand.

Visit us at SOLEX, NEC 7-9th July 2015 Stand 510

Kettler GB Limited Merse Road, North Moons Moat Redditch, Worcestershire, B98 9HL Tel: 01527 588995 |


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feature: solex 2015 preview


Alexander Rose Alexander Rose will be bringing a wide range of garden furniture to SOLEX. The Sussex-based company offers products designed to mix and match in order to suit individual needs and enhance ‘outdoor lifestyles’. Alexander Rose’s garden furniture and accessories are available from retail outlets listed on their website. Stand: 225

Fallen Fruits

Norfolk Leisure

Fallen Fruits will be exhibiting its collection of printed garden cushions at SOLEX 2015. The products are available in small and large sizes. There are also bean bag options with ‘photo style’ prints featuring cows, sheep, deer, butterflies, straw bale and daisy designs. Fallen Fruits managing director Michael Hall said: “This is proving a really popular concept with consumers both for garden use and as an attractive gift option.” Fallen Fruits products are inspired by nature, recycling and green issues. Stand: 460

Norfolk Leisure MD Nick Anderson said: “SOLEX is the highlight of our year and looking to be an exceptional show. The organisers have worked extremely hard once again to promote the show to those who count with new dates and a new look. “After winning the SOLEX Best Stand Award 2014, we are aiming high again. We will be using SOLEX to launch two new brands – ‘SENSA’ by LIFE and ECO BOX – plus many fresh developments in the existing brands. The new stand at SOLEX will reflect the excitement in our business.” Stand: 220

Bosmere The company will be showcasing its full range of stylish garden covers at SOLEX, including new colours, packaging and technically advanced materials. There will also be an addition to the highly successful ‘Storm Black by Bosmere’ range, consisting of urban chic covers. Details of these are being kept under wraps until the show. Bosmere supplies covers to


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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meet all market expectations, from the SimplyCover range through to the luxury Modular Covers, which are shaped to go with contemporary modular garden furniture. Merchandising units are available to suit all outlet types. These include wall fixtures and free standing floor displays. Stand: 630

4Seasons Outdoor UK A Mir & Co Ltd A&E Leisure Limited Alexander Rose Ltd Anchor Fast Products Ltd Ascalon Design Ltd Aspire Outdoors Ltd Bambrella Ltd Barlow Tyrie Ltd BDP (Bramblecrest) Beefeater Europe Bosmere Products Ltd Cadac Leisure Ltd. t/a Cadac UK Campingaz UK Char-Broil Cobb (GB) Ltd Cozy Bay Ltd Culcita Ltd Daro Outdoor Living Limited Desser and Co Ltd Europa Leisure (UK) Ltd F H Brundle Fallen Fruits Ltd Firmans Direct Ltd Gardeco Ltd Garden Furniture Global Ltd Glencrest Seatex Ltd Grakka Limited Hartman Outdoor Products UK Ltd Innovators International Jonart Design JTS Cushions Kettler (GB) Ltd La Hacienda Ltd Lafuma LLC Ltd Landmann Ltd Leisurebench Ltd Leisuregrow Products Ltd Li-Lo Leisure Products Ltd Lifestyle Appliances Ltd Lifestyle Garden @ Scancom Maze Rattan Ltd Mercer Agencies Ltd Norfolk Leisure Lifestyle Ltd Outback International UK Ltd Pacific Lifestyle Limited Premier Decorations Ltd Quest Leisure Products Ltd Rondeau Leisure Summit International Suntime Supremo Ltd The Solar Centre Timothy Addison Ross Ltd trading as Firepits UK Weber-Stephens Products (UK) Ltd Westminster Furniture Wilstone House and Gardens Ltd Wolf Steel (UK) Ltd Zest4Leisure

28/05/2015 13:49


Quality since 1920

Some Great Sales Opportunities for 2015! 4 Piece Corner Set

Rocker Chair

From Stock - Friendly Service - Order Now All this and a whole lot more! FireBalls

Children’s Furniture

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Bosmere will be showcasing their full range of stylish garden covers at Solex including new colours, new packaging and new technically advanced materials. There will also be an addition to the highly successful ‘Storm Black by Bosmere’ range of urban chic covers, details of which are being kept under wraps until the Show. Bosmere



+44 (0) 1293 586 200


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supply covers to meet all market expectations from the SimplyCover range in three attractive colours through to the luxury Modular Covers specially shaped for contemporary modular garden furniture. High-quality merchandising units are available to suit all outlet types including wall fixtures and free standing floor displays.

Visit us at SOLEX Stand 630

28/05/2015 10:28

product news

Product news

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

Camminare puts the boots in

Grange launches new range


ellington boot manufacturer Camminare has refreshed its range of EVA footwear. According to the company, EVA wellies are ‘engineered to keep feet dry and comfortable, no matter how wet the weather’. They are ultradurable and lightweight. EVA is short for ‘ethylene vinyl acetate, which is a rubber foaming material which is now integral to the wellington industry. A company spokesperson said: “The material offers wearers cushioned comfort, as well as shock proofing, heat insulating, moisture-proofing, anti-rusting, non-polluting and non-absorbing features. “The EVA range also boasts a feather-light weight, with products such as the EVA Voyager Boot weighing in at just 500g.”


arden furniture manufacturer Grange has added 100 pre-painted products to its range in preparation for the summer. The Grange range includes arbours, pergolas, arches and other structures, as well as painted options for decorative fence panels, trellis and planters. Colours available as standard are sage green, Venetian red, Cornish cream, iris blue and rush green.

Rob Giles, senior product manager at Grange, said: “The Grange pre-painted offer gives real stand-out to add to our traditional virtues of strength, quality, durability and appearance retention. “It’s very representative of the future of Grange – well thought through product development with aesthetic and utilitarian appeal at a price that’s achievable.”

Peter Beales takes gold Peter Beales Roses has been awarded a gold medal for its stand at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin officially accepted the first blooms of the company’s ‘Stamford’s Sanctuary,’ on behalf of the National Trust property Dunham Massey. Ian Limmer, Peter Beales’ nursery manager, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that our exhibit has been awarded a gold medal. The whole team has worked extremely hard over the past few weeks and to be honoured so highly at such a prestigious show is a fantastic result.” Peter Beales has won a total of 22 gold medals at Chelsea in the years in which it has competed.

Companies donate to cancer charity


omebase and Harkness Roses have launched a new variety of rose in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. The ‘I Am Macmillan’ rose was unveiled by representatives from both companies, alongside a Macmillan ambassador and classical singer Camilla Kerslake. It will


be available to buy online from September 2015, and in Homebase stores from April of next year. £1 from every sale of the rose will go towards funding Macmillan nurses’ care hours. Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “It’s

Garden Centre Retail June 2015

GCR Jun15 P36-37 Product News.indd 36

a great honour to have a completely new variety of rose dedicated to funding the wonderful support provided by Macmillan nurses. “We are absolutely thrilled our partners are helping us in our mission to make sure no one faces cancer alone.”

28/05/2015 11:36

product news Wagner improves promotion effort


uropean trolley manufacturer Wagner has rejuvenated its displays, incorporating a mobile presentation rack. The racks can be placed anywhere in store, having been designed to require no more sales space than the surface area of a pallet. The ‘Toscana’ part of the range is available in two sizes. The first is a round model with a diameter of 50cm, while the second is a 38cm by 38 cm square trolley. Both sizes have a high load capacity of up to 150kg. A company spokesperson said: “The placement of the mobile plant trolley rack is fast and easy. It can be positioned with a pallet truck anywhere to the matching places in the store.”

VegTrug begins globalisation push


egTrug has extended its range with a new herb planter. The product is constructed as a raised bed, incorporating separate compartments. It is made from FSC plantation-grown cedar, and offers an 18cm planting depth. Also available is a matching workbench, perfect for potting or garden storage. The range is designed for use in both

small-scale gardening, or in a larger space. Commenting on the new range, VegTrug CEO Joe Denham said: “2015/2016 will see a considerable amount of new product development from the VegTrug brand. This is just the start of the extensive design programme which will make VegTrug a global brand.”

Knit range comes together


eter Group has launched the first part of its Knit collection in the form of a range of indoor and outdoor planters. According to the company, the designs apply an ‘injection-molded, deep surface finish that creates a 3D knitted-look, combining creativity and design with the everyday, functional qualities of plastic’.

Sender Tal, president of Keter, said: “The Keter Group is extremely proud to be launching this collection, which creates emotional value in everyday, useful products”. The planters will be available in two sizes and come in a range of summery colours. They are set to be joined by more garden accessories and furniture

All change at Azpects


zpects has made a number of new appointments to its management team. The Ipswich-based company has brought Kerri Skelton (right) on board as its sales and customer service administrator. A spokesperson said: “She will further develop sales of The EASY range of products, of which EASYJoint is still the best seller.” The company has also appointed James Girling as operations and marketing manager. He will assist the managing director with developing the growth of the business. GCR Jun15 P36-37 Product News.indd 37

Think Outside introduces patriotic decor


hink Outside has expanded its ee-i-eei-oo garden decor range with ‘patriotic’ drinks cooler Alfie the Bull. The product is designed to be filled with ice and features a fitted bottle opener. Inspiration for it comes from awardwinning Australian Aaron Jackson, who also established the company. He said: “We thought we would bring a taste of Britain to our ee-i-ee-i-o collection. We hope, as always, that the new piece will take pride of place in someone’s home or garden. “That’s our vision – to create something that will start a conversation, be enjoyed and be remarkable.”

In addition to Alfie, ee-iee-i-oo also sees several new pieces added to enhance outdoor spaces, including a mini range of planters.

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





... evin Bradshaw

2015 Issue 12 • March



on expans ion plans Wyevale Garden Ce for ntres

Paul Loft on the future of Homebase



Concessio Expanding ns the appeal of you garden cen r tre


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


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

10 P01 Front

ar y

An ni ve rs

GCR Apr15

Cover3 TW.indd


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

1s t


Ed iti on

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

Staff ince ntiv Motivating es your employee s


12:09 26/03/201

5 13:50

GCR Mar15 P01

Front Cover.indd



the community Digital

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



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

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

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


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

products: category review

How to sell... bird


There’s never been a better time to take advantage of the Great British public’s love affair with our wild feathered friends, says Geoff Hodge


t’s the era of food banks, when some of us are struggling to afford to feed ourselves. Yet, interestingly, many of us can still afford to take care of and feed our feathered friends. There doesn’t seem to be any decline in wild bird care sales. In fact it is either holding its own or is on the increase. (I’ve seen annual sales figures ranging from £250-£365 million, but it is probably worth £300 million plus). One of the great things about this sector is that it brings in sales 12 months of the year. Some stores only concentrate on it in autumn, usually before it is put away to make way for Christmas. But wild birds are now more reliant on us feeding them than ever before – throughout the year – due to the decline in their natural habitats and food supplies. Wild bird care is not just for before Christmas – it’s for life.

Stocking best sellers

Usually one of the biggest decisions in this area is what to stock – or to put it more aptly, what not to stock. I’ve seen some right higgledy-piggledy mishmashes of displays, with dozens of the same products stocked from different suppliers with absolutely no thought

given to how on earth the customer is going to choose which to buy. These displays are confusing and completely off-putting. It’s not easy to understand the different feeds, which birds they are for and what the correct types of feeders are. Moving away from such densely packed stands with their mind-blowing array of products is surely needed to improve the shopping experience and so increase purchase conversion rates. To maximise profits, stock the bestsellers that give the best returns. It seems that suet balls, followed by mealworms and peanuts displayed alongside a small number of suitable feeders should be given plenty of premium space. And, according to Gardman, customers aren’t scared of buying big. The sales of larger bags have grown massively in recent years. They sell up to five times faster when stacked on a pallet or plinth, rather than from the fixture. Clear point of sale, highlighting the price per kilo, and that they are VAT free, also helps make the sale.

POS-itive selling

Back wall stands are critical for offering a comprehensive range of core products. But stand alone, off-the-wall displays are essential for promotions, gifts

and new, innovative products. As with any product, these displays provide greater flexibility in store, to maximise sales. Gardman and ChapelWood among others supply a wide range of display units including informative and inspirational POS. Your garden centre has its own specifications and needs and a good supplier will offer display solutions tailored to your available space in order to maximise sales. All the major suppliers are launching new products for this autumn, so you’d better get in touch with yours now to see what’s coming up and start planning your displays.


Don’t forget to plan ahead and take full advantage of the national birding events. These include RSPB’s Big Bird Birdwatch ( birdwatch) in January, and National Nest Box Week ( in February. I’m sure your supplier will support you with some great deals. But don’t rely on national events, get things going locally and involve your resident twitchers. The interest in wild birds is there, so take full advantage. Contact your RSPB Local Group ( or see if there is a bird-watching group in the area that would come along for a special event weekend. ◗

Estimated value of the bird care sector


GCR Jun15 P39 Geoff Hodge Bird Care TW.indd 39


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 June 2015


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“Montrose” Seed Feeder

“Sutherland” House Feeder

“Rutland” Seed Feeder

“Kent” Peanut Feeder

“Devonshire” Seed Feeder

“Hamilton” House Feeder “Lancaster” Triple Feeder For Peanuts, Seeds & Fat Balls

Refreshingly New and Different “Gloucester” Seed Feeder

“Abercorn” Wild Bird Feeder

“Argyll” Dual Feeder

“York” Dual Feeder

For Fat Balls & Seeds

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Feeder For Further Details of This For Fat Balls & Peanuts For Peanuts & Seeds Exciting Range Contact: or ring 0114 251 0134

Wildlife World design and manufacture a range of unique, multi-award winning wildlife products, many of which are selected by top European conservation organisations. Environment: We use FSC certified timber, recycled plastic from farm waste and only water-based paints and finishes. Additionally, we operate an ethical trading policy, actively support conservation organisations, as well as offsetting our co2 emissions from distribution and transport. Product Range: With a wide range, our products cater for; Wild Birds, Hedgehogs, Dormice, Frogs and Toads, Owls and Birds of Prey, Honey Bees, Bumble Bees, Solitary Bees, Butterflies, Moths, Bats, Ladybirds, Lacewings, together with Wildflower Attractor Packs/ Guides and Insect Attractants.

Contacts: Tel: 01666 505333 fax: 01666 505320 email: Web:

Advert Nov 2014.indd 1 ADS TEMPLATE.indd 2

11/14/2014 1:39:56 PM 28/05/2015 10:33

products: outdoor accessories ▲

Supa wild bird feeders

Supa has brought out a range of what the company describes as ‘functional, contemporary’ wild bird feeders. According to the company, the range has seen a month-onmonth sales increase since it was launched last year. It believes that consumers are buying the feeders as gifts and garden decoration. Part of the range – the Gloucester seed feeder – is available in both butterfly and ladybird designs. The feeder won the new bird product award at the Pet and Aquatic Trade Show in Harrogate last year. RRP: £8.99

▲ Café Au Lait Cottage

Deco-Pak has added the ‘Café Au Lait Cottage’ birdhouse to its Garden-Bazaar Mood Collection. The item is available as part of an offer at £110 for eight different birdhouse designs, aimed at younger consumers and those looking to brighten up their garden. Rod Slater, Deco-Pak’s general manager, said: “The difference in design and high quality build makes them the perfect gift.” RRP: £29.99 per birdhouse

Latest products

bird care

Offerings to help our feathered friends ▲

Jacobi Jayne’s Squirrel Buster

Kingfisher Bird Care offer

Kingfisher is holding an ‘early bird prebuy’ event across all bird care products to mark its rebrand. From 1 July, all Kingfisher bird feed will be in the new full colour packaging, with improved feed mixes. To celebrate, the company is offering an extra 5% discount on orders placed before 30 June for delivery during September of this year. The offer includes all bird feed products, feeders, bird tables, bird baths and nesting boxes.

The new Jacobi Jayne’s Squirrel Buster is a performance feeder that the company claims to be 100% effective against squirrels. The feeder’s patented design protects its contents from squirrels without harming the animals and uses a unique tube ventilation system to help keep seeds fresh. It comes with a lifetime guarantee. RRP: £24.95

GCR June15 Bird Care.indd 41

Garden Centre Retail June 2015


28/05/2015 11:01


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products:EPOS ▲

Davidson Richards

EPoS and retail management specialists for garden centres, Davidson Richards works for more than 60 organisations including single stores, multiple sites and large destination centres. Its complete solution is subscription based and provides software, hardware, training and support. The company describes its tills as ‘easy-to-use and resilient’, using contactless chip and pin to ensure customers are served quickly. The real-time retail intelligence keeps operators in control of stock, products, customers and suppliers. Davidson Richards takes care of backups and updates.


Swan EPoS uses an intuitive, customisable touchscreen with realtime lookups of product information, customer accounts and gift cards, as well as integrated EFTPoS. The company handles a large variety – and ongoing rotation – of the differing stock types that garden centres require to meet customer expectations. The system produces accurate sales reports in order to help counter lower margins, maximise stock efficiency, analyse customer purchases, add promotions and deliver loyalty schemes. Additional functions include interfacing to plant databases for labelling and producing plating/care instructions, content management for web sites, and point of display posters and images.

Datalogic ‘queue busting’ app

Datalogic’s queue busting app is designed to help improve customer satisfaction during peak hours. Alongside the company’s Jova device and a portable printer, the app enables items to be scanned and packed, before printing a ticket. The cashier then scans the barcodes on the ticket and takes payment.

Latest products


A digest of cutting-edge retail intelligence systems

NedFox systems

NedFox has created what it refers to as the ultimate cost-effective cloudbased EPoS and loyalty solution, called RetailVista. The system is currently operating at over 2,000 garden centre tills in the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. It is a market leader in the garden centre sector. RetailVista has full integration with e-marketing services including websites, webshops, newsletters, social media and phone apps. EPOS.indd 43

Garden Centre Retail June 2015 43

28/05/2015 12:18

latest products

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

latest products

Roots Out weed killer

Roots Out is described as a ‘ready to use, high performance’ glyphosate weed killer. The solution comes in one litre packages and kills the whole weed, including leaves, roots and shoots. The spray nozzle is designed to be easy to use and incorporates a trigger. It has three positions to cover all angles and can also be used on paths and driveways. RRP: £3.99

Secure Haven Spiritree

▲ Morplan’s Heritage collection Retail supplier Morplan’s new collection offers a range of farmhouse-style units that arrive in a number of rustic finishes. The units are designed to work alongside other display items, including chalkboard price cards, wooden display crates and galvanised buckets. The company also provides packaging in the shape of luxurious laminated bags or traditional brown paper bags. Morplan has been serving the retail industry for more than 170 years. Delivery is free on orders over £85 – exceptions apply – and the majority of what the company sells is covered by its no quibble 14 day guarantee. RRP: from £19.95


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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Returning to life through nature: Secure Haven has launched the Spiritree, a ceremonial urn for laying pets to rest. The Spiritree offers a ‘compassionate and ecological alternative’ by nurturing the growth of a new tree out of the ashes. The Spiritree can be placed in a large planter and can be moved around. The company has also launched another product – the Limbo Geos urn, which is made from organic compost and mineral soil bound with natural plant extracts. The lid can be replaced with a plant and transformed into a memorial tree. RRP is £265

Greenacres PuppiLoo

Greenacres Artificial Grass has launched ‘PuppiLoo’, the modular toilet tray for puppies through to adult dogs. PuppiLoo is designed for house training or for older, infirm animals. It introduces pets to a grass surface indoors. The design enables users to clip on additional PuppiLoo units to extend the area for larger dogs. PuppiLoo has a self-draining, weather resistant artificial grass surface for outdoor areas. The company stocks a comprehensive range of artificial landscaping grasses, including 4x1m retail packs.

28/05/2015 12:00

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

Specialist National Garden Centre and Nursery Agents and Valuers

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.

FSC approved . British design Registered charity No. 205846

Designed & manufactured by

FREEHOLD GARDEN CENTRE FOR SALE North Yorkshire; c. 1.75 acre (0.71 hect.) Garden Centre with Café & P.P. for 23 Houses. - Ref. 9217GC. Highly Profitable. ‘A’ road location. Excellent portal framed buildings. Covered retail areas c. 2,100 sq. m. (22,609 sq. ft.). Guide O.I.E.O. £1.275M + SAV.

For more information visit

Produced under Licence from The National Trust (Enterprises) Ltd. or call +44 (0)1509 232 757

Tel: 01732 522222

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i Tr

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28/05/2015 09:55

people: trading with

Trading with... Ben Biscoe Fairyglass Ltd

This month, Fairyglass director Ben Biscoe tells us more about the business What is the company’s ethos?

We’re a family run business, and our employees are all friends too. We’re not a large operation, but this means that we’re no different from most of our customers, which is important because we can understand them better. Customer service is hugely important – we make mistakes, but we put them right, and we want to build good relationships with all our customers, no matter how big or small.

What is your route to market?

Can you give us a brief outline of your company and its products?

Fairyglass Ltd is a family run business specialising in fairy-related giftware. The common theme running through all our products is imaginative play, whether for children or adults. We’ve been trading since 2004 and sell mainly to the independent retail sector. Within this we supply a wide range of companies, from garden centres and florists to general gift shops, fairy and new age businesses. We supply our own designed products under the Fairygoodies and Fairy Dust brands, plus we represent a number of independent brands based outside the UK. The largest of these is the Fiddlehead Miniature Fairy Garden range from Georgetown Home & Garden. We are the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor.

Trade shows have always been hugely important and we exhibit at four or five a year. Our sales manager is responsible for building and maintaining relationships with our customers. Our websites have always been important – we’re in a niche market and pretty well optimised so that we receive a steady flow of trade enquiries. Increasingly the trade press has been positive, and our spend on advertising has tripled in the last 12 months. Lastly, word of mouth. Garden centres especially seem to talk to each other, and we’ve had several referrals after current customers have recommended our products.

What are your best selling products?

Within the Fiddlehead range, the gourd houses, log house and the recently introduced gypsy caravan have all been extremely popular. There are lots of new products in the pipeline however, so this is likely to change soon.

What additional support do you offer garden centres?

We supply free consumer brochures with room for a retailer stamp. We offer point of sale signage free also, and we’re about to launch a point of sale stand in the autumn. We operate a trade only website with a retailer listing, plus Facebook and Pinterest pages to drive consumers to the retailers. We’ve been working with garden centre expert John Stanley to produce a comprehensive marketing package which we’ll launch in September.


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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What is your brand’s unique selling point?

There are other brands of miniature garden available, but none are quite so quirky, so the Fiddlehead range captures the imagination. In addition, as a company we offer very low minimum orders and carriage paid levels. The biggest bonus however is that we don’t supply in case sizes, so customers can trial one or two of an item to see whether there’s a demand before committing.

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

Yes, hundreds! The Fiddlehead range in the US is much larger than our current offering and we’re planning to stock almost all of it. It’s nearly 500 items. w CONTACT

Ben Biscoe is director at Fairyglass Ltd Web: Tel: 01225 812101

28/05/2015 11:11

people: horticulture careers

For full details on all jobs, please go to Call 01903 777 570 or email with your vacancy.



Thriving independent retail nursery/garden centre seeks applications for a talented manager with good horticultural qualifications. The successful applicant will be able to demonstrate experience in all facets of horticultural retail management, including sales achievement, customer relations, buying, stock control, staff management etc. The knowledge and care of nursery stock and its presentation lies at the core of this appointment. Salary package will be competitive with incentives. Location: South Oxfordshire.

To be a successful horti manager you will demonstrate the effective management of the horti areas including plant area, core gardening and indoor plant area.You will be key in managing the day-to-day running of the departments, from maintaining the standards in the department to presenting the skills required to manage the team.You will also act as duty manager for the garden world in the absence of the general manager.You should have a passion for horticulture and proven management experience in a high volume established garden centre. The ideal candidate should be educated/trained in horticulture.

For more details please go to

For more details please go to





An exciting opportunity has arisen to join our forward-thinking family owned company, which is committed to our staff, growing our business and setting high standards.You will be responsible for the bedding plant department at our Woking garden centre which has an extensive and well-stocked plant area.You will have knowledge and experience of working in a retail bedding department and/or a horticultural qualification. A passion for customer service and the ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment are essential.


MORE PEOPLE Location: Oxfordshire

We are currently seeking a talented plan retailer to join the team at a city centre garden centre based in Oxfordshire. The centre is well established and part of a well-respected group. We are looking for someone with excellent horticultural knowledge, preferably supported by an academic qualification. This role could suit someone with good supervisory experience who is ready to step up. For more details please go to

For more details please go to



My client is looking for a talented retail manager to take over the running of a busy department in a garden centre. This centre belongs to a large chain and is established with a loyal customer base. We are looking for candidates with department management experience amongst any retail but preferably with gardening product knowledge and experience working to high standards.

To succeed in this position you will consistently demonstrate the effective supervision of a busy plant area associated with an established garden centre.You will be key in assisting the manager in the day-to-day running of the plant area, from maintaining the standards in the department to presenting the skills required to manage the plant team. Previous supervisory experience and holding a relevant horticultural qualification would be an advantage. If you consistently demonstrate a passion for delivering the best, putting the customer first and delivering success through your people we would like to hear from you.

MORE PEOPLE Location: West Midlands

For more details please go to


For more details please go to




Twickenham is Squire’s oldest site, with a new centre built in 1993 and refurbished in 2013. It’s a garden centre that takes a very high turnover for its size, with a strong horticultural focus on plants and sundries, often winning GCA category awards. We are looking for a motivated individual who is quick and willing to learn and who sees customer service as their main priority. Applicants must have excellent customer service and interpersonal skills, as well as a friendly outgoing manner. Previous retail experience would be advantageous.

Main duties include maximising sales on the outdoor plant area and hard goods area, through appropriate product selection, supplier negotiation and delivered goods management. Ensuring customer service provided by you and all members of your team is always beyond the customers’ expectations, and to manage, communicate to and motivate all members of the team. Ensuring the general manager and directors are updated on all relevant issues. Providing management control for the garden centre in the absence of the general manager and giving support to other areas within the centre as and when required.

For more details please go to

For more details please go to

JOBS.indd 47

Garden Centre Retail June 2015


28/05/2015 10:45

people: store visit

Selling all year ’round This month, GCR assistant editor Mollie Bennett finds out how Russells Garden Centre in Birdham, West Sussex, uses a unique home furnishing offer to attract customers both summer and winter


ussells is an independent, familyrun garden centre that prides itself on being different. It has all the essentials you’d expect, including a plant centre, restaurant/cafe, garden furniture and pet sections (along with a few added extras, such the deli ‘Cook’ concession and gift shop). However, the most interesting addition is the home furniture and lifestyle showroom. This showcases a range of different themed product, including the ‘beachcomber showroom’, which is incredibly appropriate given the coastal location. I spent my day shadowing the interior designer to get a taste for life in a very different garden centre. 10am The day started with a walk around the centre with the interior designer and centre owner to discuss the layout of each room and what stock goes where. Commenting on the layout, owner Lesley Phillips, said: “I know a lot of garden centres have a picture of how something should be set out when new stock comes in, whereas we change things all the time here. My interior designers set things out in order to look their best.” 11am The next job was to change a display around in order to make a new sofa that had just arrived the focal point of the room. This meant moving the previous stock into another area and rearranging the layout. The smaller products such as pictures and ornaments moved with the stock to keep the same theme in the showroom. Lesley said: “It’s laid out as it would be in a home. It’s all colour coordinated and we’ve got different themes. People come a long way to see the coastal themed room as it’s very fashionable.” 12noon After rearranging one showroom, we moved onto another in order to make sure the regular customers have a different experience every time they visit the garden centre. We moved a place-setting


Garden Centre Retail June 2015

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from the furniture room at the back of the store to a featured table in the walkway between showrooms. We also rearranged the furniture outside the restaurant and added some quirky new arrivals to the display. “Everybody that visits says it’s an Aladdin’s Cave and that it’s very unusual. I set out to be different. If a rep tells me to sell a product because it’s selling well in garden centres, I’ll ask to see something else because we want to be unique,” says Lesley. 1-4pm Throughout the day, as stock was sold, we needed to replace it to keep the showrooms tidy and full.

Lesley said: “We treat our centre like a theatre so we can inspire our customers to design their home to be the same. “We go all over the world to source quirky products. I go far and wide to find new stock, so it’s different every time customers visit. Although our garden centre section does well, furniture brings in the biggest income for us and we do really well with interiors.” 5pm Just before the end of the day we needed to ensure all the showrooms were stocked and tidy for tomorrow’s business. We also had to ensure the showrooms were clear of any rubbish and looked as clean as you’d expect a home to look. ◗

28/05/2015 10:57


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

James Mountford, garden centre manager, Wyevale Garden Centres, Leyland What is the best thing about your job? I love inspiring new gardeners, especially children. There is such fun and learning in the magic of growing from seed to plant, flower, fruit or vegetable. Whether it is DIY from an avocado seed or innovations like ‘TomTato’ – tomatoes and potatoes on the same plant – it is a delight to help nurture the next crop of budding gardeners!

How do you think garden centres have changed over the last ten years? That’s a good question. I feel garden centres have moved on from being plant specialists to being garden lifestyle specialists. Our use of the garden has evolved dramatically to a place where we don’t just grow, but we cook, eat, play, learn and sleep. What would people be surprised to learn about you? Although I’ve spent the last 20 years in the retail business, my younger days were spent as a professional musician.

What’s your favourite day-to-day chore at work and why? I really enjoy setting out the displays. I try to make them look as nice and inviting as possible to inspire those who come to visit Squire’s. People come to Squire’s looking for ideas on what to plant so it’s great to be able to give them a vision of what they could achieve. What would people be surprised to learn about you? I think people would be surprised to learn that I’ve only really been in the profession since September 2014. I hope to continue to gain lots more knowledge from working here. Because I’m very enthusiastic about the job, I’ve managed to learn a lot.

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What is your favourite flower or plant? I’m definitely a sucker for Wisteria. You can achieve amazing architectural feats with this plant. They look absolutely astounding, and then that heady scent as evening creeps in is gorgeous. I have ‘Black Dragon’ which smells spicy and divine.

Danielle Rumble, visual merchandiser, Perrywood

Nathan Skerritt, plants and bedding apprentice, Squire’s, Twickenham How have garden centres changed over the last ten years? Massively! You wouldn’t have been able to get everything that you can get at a garden centre now. For instance so many have cafes, gift departments and several of the Squire’s centres have a pets and aquatics department, so consumers don’t just come here to buy their plants. Lots of customers really make a day of coming to Squire’s.

I was lucky enough to fulfil a childhood dream by writing, recording, performing and touring for a good few years. There was nothing floral about my music though – just rock!

How did you start out in the garden centre sector? I used to work as an interior designer for an indoor furniture store. When this job came up, a friend who already worked at Perrywood suggested it. I have worked in floristry before and use my design skills to display many of the products. What is the best thing about your job? Variety – no two days are the same. And the freedom for creativity.

What’s your favourite day-today chore at work and why? Tidying and maintaining displays so that every customer sees the same quality no matter when they visit. What would people be surprised to learn about you? I love old vehicles, and especially my VW camper van. What is your favourite flower or plant? Ranunculus and Peonies.

What’s your favourite section of a garden centre? Outdoor living. I like creating outdoor room settings.

Garden Centre Retail June 2015


28/05/2015 11:06

people: staff room Mike Easom, horticulture manager, Beckworth Emporium How did you start out in the garden centre sector? By chance really, my plan was to become a plumber but after qualifying it was a struggle to get work without any experience. While at college I worked for a local garden centre where I found I was a dab hand at doing the watering, carry-to-car and production. I proved myself and landed a full time job at Reuben Shaw and Sons in Nottingham. What is your favourite flower or plant? Clematis Bijou. It looks super in my hanging baskets, and flowers throughout the summer.

What’s the most interesting thing about you? I’m a multi-tasker, which is rare for the male of the species! What’s your favourite day-to-day chore at work and why? Walking round, keeping a close eye on the department’s performance.

Jo Small, head of gift department, Squire’s Shepperton

Darran Major, plant area manager, Burston Garden Centre

How did you start out in the garden centre sector? I started out as a sales assistant at Squire’s West Horsley whilst I was at university in Kingston. Then in 2011 I became craft supervisor at Squire’s Shepperton and last July I was appointed as head of gift department at Shepperton. I’ve been with Squire’s now for seven years.

What is the best thing about your job? Being a plant area manager for an independent garden centre, as I have the autonomy to deal with who I think provides the best quality product and range. Having that choice makes a massive difference and gives enormous job satisfaction when customers comment on the great quality and selection of plants they have to choose from.

What’s the most interesting thing about you? When I was at university, I entered the ‘Young Tate’ competition with a piece of my art and it was selected to be shown at Tate Liverpool for a couple of months which was a really big achievement for me! What’s your favourite day-to-day chore at work and why? I actually really enjoy giving the gift displays a good old tidy after busy periods such as Christmas. The displays definitely need lots of TLC because of the high levels of interactive browsing shown by our excited customers! What is your favourite flower or plant? I’m a big fan of houseplants. I buy so many houseplants, Squire’s may as well pay me in them! If I had to pick a favourite it would be The Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa).


What is the best thing about your job? Every day has its separate challenges – and I like a challenge.

Garden Centre Retail June 2015

GCR Jun15 P49-50 Staff Room.indd 50

What is the most interesting thing about you? I play the drums in an eight piece funk/soul covers band and have done for the last 15 years. I have been playing the drums for 30 years. What would people be surprised to learn about you? Prior to returning to retail I spent a number of years as a Department of Transport certified motorcycle instructor, teaching all levels. What is your favourite day-to-day chore? I enjoy all elements equally, from ordering to creating promotional displays, sweeping to serving. I always look forward to coming to work as every day brings new and different challenges.

28/05/2015 11:07

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27/05/2015 14:33

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28/05/2015 10:14

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