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Garden Centre Retail ISSUE 42


March 2019







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Garden Centre Retail W

elcome to the March issue of Garden Centre Retail. March normally signals the start of the season for the garden retail market. As many of you will remember, last year’s season was delayed by the Beast From The East. This year’s looks like it may be delayed in a different way due to the implications, and outcomes, of this month’s Brexit decision. Spend is being reigned in by consumers, not least because nobody knows what’s going to happen after the 29th March. As soon as a decision has been made, regardless of that decision, spending should continue. As with most things, it’s indecision and confusion that cause chaos. Onto the March issue: this month we focus close up on the business practices and services available to garden retailers – taking a look at zero hours contracts, cross-selling and upselling advice, as well as funding information and a review of the business rates relief scheme and how it will affect the UK’s garden centre businesses. Our interview this issue is with GCA committee member and managing director of Poplars Garden Centre, David Little. I enjoyed my recent visit to the centre, located just off the M1 in Bedfordshire, especially the tour of the nature reserve on the property. Read all about David’s history, plans and views on the industry on page 8! That’s it for this month. I’ll see you in April, hopefully with an idea on what the market will look like for the rest of 2019!

ADVERTISING Sales Manager – Tina Savelle Tel: 01903 777 582 Horticulture Careers – Liam Colclough Tel: 01903 777 584 PRODUCTION Design – Kara Thomas, Kirsty Turek

Joe Wilkinson Managing Editor, Garden Centre Retail

Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, Gwent, UK Published by ©Eljays44 Ltd MANAGEMENT Managing Director – Jim Wilkinson Director – Lisa Wilkinson Business Development Manager – Jamie Wilkinson

As with most things, it’s indecision and confusion that cause chaos

MARKETING AND CIRCUL ATION Client relations – Amber Bernabe Tel: 01903 777 581 Subscription enquiries – Chris Anderson Tel: 01903 777 588

Garden Centre Retail is published bimonthly by Eljays44 Ltd. The 2019 subscription price is £95. 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, non-commissioned photographs or manuscripts.

@GardenRetailUK Garden Centre Retail Garden Centre Retail

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EDITORIAL Managing Editor – Joe Wilkinson Tel: 01903 777 577

Subeditor – Sam Seaton Tel: 01903 777 591


Eljays44 Ltd 3 Churchill Court, 112 The Street, Rustington, West Sussex BN16 3DA

Subeditor – Kia Wilson Tel: 01903 777 597

Joe and the GCR team

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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.

Garden Centre Retail March 2019


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Garden Centre Retail ISSUE 42


March 2019






A roundup of the latest news from the sector



The new scheme for 2019


How ReFood UK manages the process







MARCH 2019


The benefits of a green environment





David Little, Poplars Garden Centre


A vital retail tool for shop floor marketing How the company’s quality structures help garden centres grow

42 ALEXANDER MACKIE ASSOCIATES Offering expert advice on valuations, sales and aquisitions

18 ZERO HOURS CONTRACTS Get yours right


Teach your staff this valuable tool



Boost the basket spend


Expert advice for garden centres



Advice from three successful operators


Tips on attracting the right candidates


How to compete with Amazon


36 EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK Advice on essential content

Contents.indd 5

Garden Centre Retail March 2019


07/03/2019 14:52


NEWS CENTRE Forest Lodge targeted by thieves using Transit


hieves smashed into Forest Lodge Garden Centre in Farnham recently to steal a range of mens and womens outdoor clothes. Using a stolen Transit van as a battering ram, the thieves reversed into the main entrance of the garden centre to steal the clothes. Police said the raid occurred between 4.06am and 4.12am at the Farnham site on 23 February. The van was found abandoned nearby with

damage to the lock and ignition barrel. The criminals stole the vehicle for use in the Forest Lodge raid from the Upper Hale area in Farnham. Hampshire Constabulary says: “We are appealing for witnesses and information. “The suspects used a white Transit van to drive into the shutters, causing damage. They then stole a quantity of outdoor clothing, including jackets, from inside.”

Barometer of Trade reports positive start to 2019


arden centres saw a positive start to 2019 according to the GCA Barometer of Trade report. Houseplant and outdoor plant sales dominated. Compared to January 2018, houseplant sales were 16.96% up and outdoor plant sales were up by 13.03%. GCA chief executive, Ian Wylie says: “Towards the end of 2018, we saw much milder weather than we’re used to. Our customers were able to spend more time outdoors preparing for the coming season. This continued into January with good sales in outdoor plants and houseplants. It’s brought a positive start to the year and

the expectation of a buoyant spring season. Seed and bulb sales were up 5.32% and sales in garden sundries were up 9.02%. Sales in pets and aquatics departments were up 9.03% and hard landscaping sales were up 1.82%. Food hall and farm shop sales were up 4.22% and catering sales were up 10.35%. Clothing sales were down -2.91%. Iain added: “Christmas sales were up 12.39%. It’s pleasing to see a double digit increase in houseplants again. The category’s resurgence continues. Customers seem keen to bring some life into their homes. Sales for the month were up 7.6% – a positive start to 2019!”

Wyevale Garden Centres agrees sale of two garden centres


yevale Garden Centres has sold two centres, Barnett Hill and Seven Hills. Barnett Hill has been sold to Cherry Lane, the value garden centre group (part of QD Group) and will continue to be run as a garden centre by the new owners. Colleagues at Barnett Hill will transfer to the new ownership. Seven Hills has been sold to a property development


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and investment company. WGC will continue running Seven Hills under licence for up to six months during which time it will be looking to find alternative employment for all its colleagues. The deals are expected to complete during March. Anthony Jones, chief operating officer of WGC, says: “We are pleased to have agreed the sale of two more

Garden Centre Retail March 2019

garden centres, taking the total sold since the start of the process to 48. “We would like to thank our great colleagues at these centres and wish them well for the future, whether under new ownership or within Wyevale Garden Centres. “We continue to evaluate and discuss a wide range of competitive offers and look forward to further positive

discussions with all potential buyers. “Meanwhile, the spring gardening season has well and truly started and we are focusing our efforts on trading our remaining portfolio during this important period in the year.” www.wyevalegardencentres.

07/03/2019 10:53


Fletchers Garden Centre to get indoor play area


letchers Garden Centre could soon have an indoor play area as part of extension plans. The garden centre in Eccleshall has a tearoom and crazy golf course, but the catering area could grow if plans submitted to Stafford Borough Council get the go ahead. Rupert Fletcher is also seeking retrospective planning permission for car wash buildings.

A statement sent to the council says: “The site is an existing successful garden centre. The site is also linked to

A new garden centre will be built in the South West


new farm shop, boutique garden centre and cafe is being built off the A38 in the South West. The build will create 100 jobs. The scheme, submitted to Teignbridge District Council planners by Rock Nursery would support the local economy and create a valuable local asset. They will also work with farmers to ensure that the shop champions the best produce from the region. The existing Rock Nursery closed many years ago.  News.indd 7

The garden centre proposal aims to provide a new facility for the town of Chudleigh and the local community. It will see a currently vacant site on the edge of the town reutilised for the benefit of the town. The vision for the new nursery is to improve and promote the existing town centre businesses. It’s set to provide a future community asset, which will deliver a public benefit to residents of the village and the wider Teignbridge district.

Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre. “The main proposals are to increase and improve the catering facilities. They will increase the kitchen size and restaurant area. It will also include an indoor children’s play area and family room. The extensions will have a small impact on the

open countryside, being low rise with a design to match. The improved area and rooms will give added value to this established business. “With the closing of the local car wash facilities, the car wash on the site is valuable to the local community. “The expansion of the site will not detract from businesses in Eccleshall town centre. It’s likely to improve the economy of the area.”

Elizabeth McKenna, BBC Apprentice star, at Grimsby Garden Centre


rimsby Garden Centre has enlisted the help of BBC Apprentice 2017 star, Elizabeth McKenna. Elizabeth offers a wealth of business knowledge to help the garden centre continue grow. NAViGO, a not-for-profit social enterprise, purchased the garden centre in October 2015. They’ve since made investments to improve the site and quality of stock. Jo Keen, manager of Grimsby Garden Centre, says: “We’ve come a long way since we first purchased the garden centre. We’ve integrated service users and volunteers to learn from and work with our skilled staff. It’s been one of our main priorities. Now we have that right, we can focus on the garden centre as a business. It’s allowing us to reinvest profits back into services to benefit the community. I’d like to thank the garden centre team for being so on board, helping us to develop and grow. Elizabeth will help improve key areas including customers’ shopping experience. She says: “It’s an exciting project to work on as it’s not your average

garden centre operating as a business. “Sitting under NAViGO allows us to look at how to better engage with service users. It also allows us to expand on how the garden centre can benefit them. “I’m hoping my experience will help to drive the garden centre in the right direction. I want to increase its prominence in the local community.” Elizabeth McKenna has worked across all levels, from trainee to director. She currently runs her own two businesses, and is an educational speaker.

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Business Interview



POPLARS GARDEN CENTRE Garden Centre Retail visits Dunstable-based Poplars Garden Centre, a family business spanning more than 100 years in horticulture


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Garden Centre Retail March 2019

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Interview Business


ith a background of market gardening in their local area harking back to the 1890s, Poplars Garden Centre, and the family that own the business, are absolutely entrenched in the local community. Managing director David Little is currently at the helm of the business and has been since his parents took a step back in 1999. He now works closely with his sister Zoe Goodhand. “I’m the fourth generation of the family,” David says. “My great grandfather started the business in the 1890s. The business was based in Leagrave, about seven miles from our current location. “He had two sons, Sid and Ted. My grandfather Sid built this site in 1923 – long before the M1 motorway appeared. It was a good foresight that one! “Sid grew cucumbers and tomatoes quite happily through the Twenties, Thirties and through World War Two. He didn’t get to fight in the war - he was a pilot, but as part of the Dig for Victory message, his skills and expertise were needed to feed people back home.” Sid’s Son John joined the business in the Sixties. Coming into the Seventies was tough for Poplars. David explains: “The Seventies saw the oil crisis and what was an old inefficient nursery began to struggle. “The glasshouses were heated by steam which was forced through six-inch cast iron pipework. The steam was generated by coal-fired boilers. The glasshouses were timber framed and single glazed. “I can remember having an alarm in the house, particularly in early spring where

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temperatures plummet overnight. If the temperature dropped in the glasshouses, the alarm would sound, and someone would have to investigate. It may have been a boiler malfunction, or a fractured pipe would release a hot jet of steam, which would hit a frozen pane of glass which would shatter. The temperature would then plummet. Those early crops needed protection.” This method had served the business since the Fifties, but with the ongoing pressures of the oil crisis, the business became uneconomic.

Family is very much central to what we do “Mum and dad turned to garden centres,” David picks up. “Our opening stock was something like £200 of plants, which was close to a lorry load in those days, and a few hundred pounds of garden sundries, which was again a lorry load. That’s where they began and we haven’t looked back.” The early garden centre traded from a small 10 x 6 metre glasshouse, before moving into a packing shed and converted growing houses. “I can still remember the excitement in mum’s voice when we took £1,000 in one day,” David says. “This shows you just how the world changes, we’d have taken over £1,000 by 10 o’clock this morning and it’s a quiet Tuesday in February!” Since then, Poplars has evolved, grown and developed. When the city of Milton Keynes was under construction, a friend of David’s father was invited to demolish a twin span Cambridge glasshouse. Instead of destroying it, they went and dismantled it to bring it here to the site to use as their new building. “That was a huge new retail space. We stood at the doors and wondered how on earth we were going to fill it! Within a 

Garden Centre Retail March 20199

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Business Interview

part of our success. Alistair, the general manager really is the face of the business. A lot of people mistake him as family and often ask him how his dad is! He goes along with it. Family is very much central to what we do.”

matter of weeks though, we’re bursting at the seams and in need of another space,” David explains. In order to keep costs down, the building was heated with a straw burner – a big steel cylinder that has a fire lit in it. Bales of straw were burned and a pump circulated warm air into the shop. In 1987, the concrete-lined door failed due to constant heat expansion and contraction. Some plastic got into a day’s burning, melted, was super-heated and escaped out of the door, starting a fire around the burner. “Of course, we had broken all the rules and stored all the next day’s burning right next to the fire,” David says. “That all ignited causing a devastating fire. We lost half of the glasshouse. But we pulled together and got through it. That pushed forward the plans for the current building.”

Part of my job is just driving people through the front door to draw upon. We have a formal monthly board meeting where we analyse the business, where we’re going, deal with any problems and agree any investments. “When mum and dad retired I was in the business as a department manager. I moved up to managing director and we basically built a new team. That was 20 years ago. That team is pretty much the same and still with us and that’s a massive

Destiny It seems as though David was destined to run Poplars, although it happened quicker than he expected. “Many years ago, Pershore College of Horticulture had a garden centre management course which I was on. I got on a little early; normally you had to be 18 but I had my interview when I was 14. I was told the exams I needed, and the experience required. If I got those, then they’d let me onto the course early. That was great, it saved me a year of waiting. “I graduated. I met David Domoney at Chelsea Flower and we became good friends. Just before I finished the course, I rang David who was working for a chain of garden centres and asked for a job. “He set me up with an interview. I got an assistant managers job in South London. They weren’t the greatest of retailers. Sometimes you learn more by seeing how not to do things. I started on the Monday. On the Thursday, the general manager left so I was promoted within my first week to acting garden centre manager. I was absolutely thrown into the deep end. They had 21 members of staff, all of whom hated the organisation and anyone who represented it. I spent the next six months learning how to manage unhappy people.

Family There’s a real family feel at Poplars. “Mum and Dad are still involved,” says David. “My sister Zoe and I run the business together. Someone must be the boss, so I get that pleasure. It also means I must do many of the not-so-nice jobs too! “Zoe and I complement each other perfectly. She’s fantastic front of house as one of the faces of the business. I like to work behind the scenes in the office, crunching numbers, coming up with strategies and dealing with the bank manager and so on. A big part of my job is making sure that everyone has the tools to do their jobs. “I’d be a fool not to have mum and dad involved, with all their years’ experience


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Garden Centre Retail March 2019

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Interview Business

I made the decision to leave. That’s when an opening came up here. The plantaria manager that we had was in his seventies and ready to retire. “Garden centres were going through one of the many revolutions and the retail standards from the high street were appearing more and more within garden centres and the plantarias too. Gone were the days of big beds of nursery stock lined out on the floor. Customers wanted plants on benches with boards and bed cards. They also wanted ideas and inspiration rather than relying on knowledge built up by themselves or passed on by their gardening parents. “I came back to the business far earlier than I’d originally planned. I wanted to head off around the country to work for a few garden retailers to build up some knowledge and experience that I could bring to the business. I figured if mum and dad recruited a replacement for the plantaria manager, the next opportunity that might arise could be ten years away. I came in, had an interview, would you believe – most bizarre, and got offered the job in January 1991.”

Independence David is a real patron of the garden centre industry. He’s a committee member of the GCA and is the chair of the Future Marketing Group. He relies on networking with his peers to help his business. “The industry uses the word independent quite a bit, whereas we’re not independent at all – we’re all independently owned, but that’s the only thing that is independent about us. In just about everything else we do, it is with other people. “I’m heavily involved with the GCA, I’m treasurer, director and company secretary,” says David. “I’ve been on the committee for 13 years. I’m one of

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the longest serving members on the committee. It’s been a fabulous way of meeting people, getting to know the garden centre owners and having the opportunity to talk to them. Sometimes it’s formal, round a table at a meeting, other times it’s for a quiet beer in a bar and you can ask that stupid question where do you get your compost and how much do you pay for it? “I’m also the chairman of the Future Marketing Group which now has 17 centre members. It’s a lovely size that gives us all the advantages of being part of a group or chain, but retaining some control and independence at the same time. Again, it’s the opportunity to network and do things together. “We’re heavily focused on the GCA and FMG. Our business was built on networking with other local garden centres through the HTA’s RBIS scheme which we outgrew. I’ve yet to come up with a new, unique problem that someone else hasn’t already addressed and solved.” And Poplars is not shy in sharing information either. “We have nothing to hide,” explains David. “We put our figures out there. “The other group we’re involved in is the Wilford Group. It operates as the old regional GCA meetings did. It’s owneroperators getting together and talking about the issues of the day. There’s a huge exchange of information there, whether it’s the price of toilet rolls, staff uniform, credit card charges or going through the details of an insurance policy collectively. It sparks conversation and you get to hear other people’s thoughts.

Offering an experience is really important “Martin Stewart once said the GCA Barometer of Trade was one big comfort blanket. Everyone is in the same boat. If you’re 10% down in March, and so is everyone else, you know you’re not doing anything wrong! It’s when everything is up 10% and you’re not that you need to worry, or you can ask for help. I’ve found time and time again that everyone in the industry is so willing to help.” Catering With the build in 1988, Poplars included a small tea room. That was forward thinking 

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Business Interview

at the time. Says David: “Really, we developed into catering led by customer demand. We started by scooping Nescafe coffee into a mug and adding hot water! “Then we realised we could sell a few Kit Kats, then doughnuts. Then someone asked if we did sandwiches, so we started selling those. Before too long, we invested in a deep fat fryer to sell chips, then added soups, jacket potatoes, toasted sandwiches and the like to the menu.

We developed into catering led by customer demand “We look back now and laugh. We said at the time we were going into catering as a service to our customers and a reason to come here rather than one of our competitors. Now it’s getting on for 25% of our business. It also eats up more time and management than any other department. It’s the one critical area we must get right!” The garden centre now has a daily carvery throughout the year, lots of light bite options, and a pizza oven which adds a bit of theatre to the proceedings. “When the restaurant was built, we had three distinct seating areas aimed at three distinct markets,” David explains. “The Little Beans coffee shop is aimed at the stereotypical garden centre customer. It’s where grandparents go for a quiet coffee and catch up. “The main dining hall is simply about eating. At the far end of the restaurant, we have a children’s seating area.


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Garden Centre Retail March 2019

“Of course, what that meant was there was one outdoor area adjacent to the children’s area. Developing an area there that could incorporate a sandpit and picnic space was great. We offer rugs and cushions and picnic blankets for customers to use and there’s some artificial grass down. The kids can let off steam and make a mess without disturbing people who want to sit and enjoy the sun or chat with their friends, or just have a quiet coffee.” Technology Although aware of technological advances and changes to the retail industry, David believes it’s maintaining high standards, rather than online retailing, that will keep his business flourishing.

“We don’t retail online and have no plans to do so. We’ve become an experiential retailer, offering what the internet can’t deliver, and it’s not price sensitive. Sometimes, it’s not price related in the slightest. “Part of my job is just driving people through the front door. Once I’ve done that, everything else just takes care of itself. Whether they come in and smell bacon, or if they just want a walk around, great. Sometimes people come in, walk around and buy nothing and that’s fine because it’s exposing them to us and our products. There are many times we’ve had a customer come in, walk out with nothing, but then return sometimes an hour later or a few days later, to buy a suite of furniture or fill a trolley with plants “Maybe for our area our standards are too high. I disagree, everyone else’s standards should be higher. We’re selling products that you can buy in Marks & Spencer or John Lewis, be they cookware items or Egyptian cotton towels. These brands set the standard, so why should our customers shop in a filthy leaking glasshouse buying items off a stack of pallets? It doesn’t add anything to the experience. The industry may see our standards as high, but for me, it should be a minimum. That’s part of our culture and part of what makes us different. “Offering an experience is really important. We deliver this is a few ways. We put on children’s activities which are nearly all free of charge. They’re free events, but we ask customers to come in prior to the

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Interview Business

event to pick up tickets. We won’t post or email them. You can’t book online or over the phone, you must come in store. “We had a Red Bull race car here recently. They lent us their 2017 car. It didn’t have an engine in it or anything, but it created lots of excitement and attracted many people into the centre. “We also do a monthly craft fair. It’s free to get in and free to exhibit. It’s not a money maker for us, it’s a footfall driver. A good craft fair will put in a good £3,000 on our turnover for the day just because more people are coming through, buying in the restaurant, or buying a product from the garden centre. I’m happy. “The nature reserve we have here is open all the time too. It’s a controlled access. It’s not a dog-walking zone, it’s for nature. There is all sorts of wildlife down there.” Being green One thing that is changing though is the need to become sustainable. Poplars has an impressive nature reserve behind the centre, understands the need to reduce plastic, and generates all its own usable water. “We should, by rights, be the greenest industry out there, but for some reason we’re not. We’re late to the table in terms of dealing with plastics, but we’re getting the ball rolling. There’s still plenty of work to do. “Protecting the planet is something we all have a real responsibility for. There’s an awful lot of things we do as a business to be green. We’re not connected to mains water. Our water is collected from our roofs and stored in a reservoir, and we have a small amount of extraction from

perceived as us standing out and doing something above and beyond.”

underground which is, to the best of our knowledge, a reserve of water that no one else has tapped into. That bore hole is a legacy of the former nursery. We also recycle our pallets, cardboard and glass. “Our food goes off for anaerobic digestion and we recycle the coffee grounds we use. There are a few things we do but we don’t shout out about them to our customers because we believe that they are basic standards that everyone should expect of us rather than being

Evolution Poplars is currently undergoing another period of renovation and evolution. The Works is joining the business as a concession, and an alcohol licence is on its way. “We never stop, it’s constant evolution. We’ve got a new garden buildings company joining us out the front. Johnson’s Garden Buildings is based in Kent and is steadily migrating further north. They will dominate the whole of England at some point. “They approached us when the space became available and we got on like a house on fire. It’s relationship building mainly. People buy from people, and we’ll only work with people that we like and get on with. That goes for our suppliers, concession partners and everything. It doesn’t matter how good your product is, if we don’t have a good relationship, we’ll walk away and find someone with whom we can have a relationship. “What I like about them is that they dress the buildings. This inspires the customer as to what the buildings can do for them. Again, it’s about an experience. Whether it’s the man cave, a bar or an artist’s studio or a micro business, you can see it. They’re selling the dream which is exactly what we try to do. We are selling the ingredients for you to recreate in your home or garden.”

Protecting the planet is something we all have a real responsibility for Future The future is as bright as the orange in the Poplars company logo. A small tweak here and there is what’s on the immediate horizon. “In terms of building, we’ve got planning consent for two further small developments, but I’m not sure whether we’ll implement them or not. We’ll develop the afternoon tea offer in the restaurant. That’s all we need to do in this area. Whether that’s in a separate building or not, I don’t know, but again it’s about creating an experience. We’re also looking very closely at pets. That’s in terms of the restaurant, dining with your dog, and our product offering. It’s an interesting offering. This is a real positive move for us!” w  Interview.indd 13

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07/03/2019 11:13

Mental Health Business

SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH ViewHR explores fostering wellbeing, answering issues and how garden centres reinforce positivity


and mental health issues will have an impact on the workplace. Employers can be faced with absenteeism, a fall in production, mistakes, high attrition rates, low morale in the workplace and stress in the workplace, amongst other problems. The majority of people find it difficult to talk about mental health at home and work. Therefore, mental health issues do not normally manifest themselves until they become a bigger problem for an individual. Whilst there is often the old British approach of “brush yourself down and get on with it”, it’s not that simple for everyone. Stress and mental health conditions can be triggered by work, financial issues, genetic disposition, life events, posttraumatic stress, bereavement, breakdown in relationships, post-natal depression, anything – everyone’s trigger is different! So, how can garden centres use their environments to bolster mental health in the workplace? When we provide training on managing Garden centres have the stress and mental health in the workplace, luxury of the outdoors and we encourage employers to: nature. Research by Mind. • Talk – talk with the employees and simply ask org has shown that “spending “are you OK?” when appropriate time in green space or bringing • Know the signposts of poor mental health: nature into your everyday life can consider the physical, emotional and benefit both your mental and behavioural signs physical wellbeing”. They have • Encourage employees to take breaks, seen that growing vegetables, drink water, get outside on breaks, talk nurturing plants and flowers to each other and feel comfortable speaking and being outside can improve with others if they’re not coping mood and reduce feelings of • Identify the causes of problems: home, stress and anxiety. Therefore, financial, work, family are common issues encouraging employees to use • Review employee’s workloads and their their environment and taking working environment time to be outside during their • Provide training to managers on identifying day is very important. Whilst we mental health concerns and supporting appreciate that not everyone employees (they are not trained professionals!) working for a garden centre • Review processes for supporting employees works outside and/or with with stress and mental health conditions plants, managers can make • Review sickness absence processes to identify small decisions, like encouraging anyone of concern employees to take walks during • Seek guidance when problems persist! their breaks rather than sit in the staff room.

ental health charities are doing an excellent job of raising the profile of mental health issues in the workplace, and it’s encouraging to see so many businesses responding to the need to support employees. Many businesses are setting up training to help support managers identify signs of stress and mental health conditions and how to manage. In six years, the number of days lost to mental health issues has increased by 26%. 70 million working days are now lost each year due to poor mental health! Fit notes for mental health problems are being issued for longer periods of time than any other types of illness. Whether or not an employee’s mental health condition stems from the workplace or another source, in most cases stress

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A garden centre also lends to a more interactive environment where individuals can talk comfortably and ask each other how they’re doing. Encourage employees to support one another and to be aware of the signposts of poor mental health. There is also the opportunity for garden centres to review the role someone is undertaking when they are dealing with stress, poor mental health or returning to work after a period of absence. For example, someone who is returning to work may prefer to have a transitional period of working in the plants section before returning to their usual role in the coffee shop.

Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing Garden centres may also attract people who may have left previous employment due to the stresses and pressures of their work enviroment, and want to pursue a job that is better for their overall mental health. For example, a garden centre we work with has employed a former accountant who wanted to move to a healthier environment for them. Now, they’re an excellent asset to the centre and has found an environment to thrive in. ViewHR is experienced in working with and supporting businesses to manage stress and mental health concerns and situations. If you have a situation you need to run past us or you are interested in running our half-day mental health workshop in your garden centre, then please contact us on 01425 205391 or ◗

Garden Centre Retail March 2019


07/03/2019 14:11

Business Rates Relief


From next month a reduction in the basic rates some garden centres will pay is a welcome benefit, but be wary of scammers


pril 2019 will bring another Business Rates Relief Scheme. With it brings a further chance for scammers to approach garden centre operators. The Chancellor in his 2018 Autumn Budget announced a scheme which will reduce the rates payable by all retailers. This includes garden centre operators with premises having a rateable value under £51,000. The new relief will be 33% off the basic rates payable for the next two years – a fantastic and much needed discount. This will be very beneficial to many operators of garden centres. But large

The new relief will be 33% off the basic rates payable for the next two years – a fantastic and much needed discount numbers, particularly in the south, will be above this threshold. There should be no need to make an application. Your council has been instructed by central government to


Garden Centre Retail March 2019

Business Rates Relief.indd 16

There is no limit on the number of premises you can receive this relief on, providing each has a rateable value of under £51,000 give this relief even if you have more than one outlet. There is no limit on the number of premises you can receive this relief on, providing each has a rateable value of under £51,000. If you operate more than one centre, or a traditional retail unit, or already receive state aid, there is a total limit to this relief set at 200,000 euros over three years. Operators can claim up to this limit. This new relief is calculated after the effects of any small business rates relief. Some centres may enjoy both reliefs. Free advice will be available from the business rates department of your local council. There is no need to pay for this advice. Garden centre operators should not sign any contract with a third party asking them to claim on your behalf. ◗

07/03/2019 11:08

Recycling Business



Louise Murphy of ReFood UK Limited illustrates how their company recycles food to save money, produce energy and help the environment


t’s estimated that 1.9 m tonnes of food are wasted by the food industry every year in the UK. 250,000 tonnes of that food is still edible. With this in mind, Garden Centre Retail caught up with Louise Murphy, sales and logistics executive at ReFood UK Limited, a food waste management service which has recently worked with Cheshire-based Gordale Garden and Home Centre to recycle the food waste from their cafe. ReFood aims to divert food waste from landfill sites by offering businesses a costeffective and environmentally-friendly

It’s estimated that 1.9 million tonnes of food are wasted by the food industry every year in the UK

specialised food waste recycling services. Louise elaborates: “We have a total of three plants in operation across the UK, together with our own fleet of specialist collection trucks and service depots. We are able to offer nationwide coverage.” “Set up is straightforward and hasslefree. We take the time to understand your needs as a business in order to become your trusted food waste recycling partner. “Once a solution has been agreed, we then provide you with the recycling bins you need for your food waste. We collect them to a schedule tailored to your requirements, and on collection, all bins are replaced by clean, sanitised ones to ensure that bio-security is maintained throughout the recycling process.” The benefits of this are instantly noticable, as Louise points out: “There are no odours, no costly bin liners and no need to clean and maintain your bins.” ReFood uses a process called anaerobic digestion (AD) to recycle food waste

This process diverts food waste material from landfill and uses it to create renewable energy instead materials. AD is a natural process that biologically breaks down organic material to generate biogas. This process diverts food waste material from landfill and uses it to create renewable energy instead. “The biogas we generate is treated prior to being pumped directly into the National Grid. At a single plant, we currently produce enough gas to power 12,600 homes a year. “Once all the food waste material is fully digested, we are also left with a liquid, which we turn into high quality fertiliser that is currently used in farming and agriculture.” In addition to offering a greener and safer alternative to landfill, there are commercial benefits associated with recycling food waste. The process can save you up to 50%* on food waste disposal costs against landfill. “Recycling food waste allows you to do more than just choose a sustainable alternative to landfill. It delivers the environmental benefits of creating renewable energy, as well as producing bio-fertiliser” explains Louise. If you’re interested in finding out more about ReFood and how the company can help you, call 0800 0113 214 or visit ◗ *based on April 2018 landfill rate vs volume

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Garden Centre Retail March 2019


07/03/2019 11:23

Business Employment Contracts


GET YOURS RIGHT IN 2019 Garden Centre Retail goes through the key challenges, pitfalls and advantages of zero hour contracts in 2019’s workplaces


zero hour contract is a type of contract between an employer and a worker, where the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours, while the worker is not obliged to accept any work offered. Everyone employed on a zero hours contract is entitled to some statutory employment rights. Any individual on a zero hours contract is entitled to at least the national minimum wage, paid annual leave, rest breaks and protection from discrimination. The above is the main difference between a zero hours worker and a freelancer, but for a zero hours worker it is the employer’s responsibility to sort national insurance and tax through PAYE. Zero hours contracts can offer businesses welcome flexibility to workers who wish to work irregular hours around their lifestyle. Here are some of the main issues an employer faces when it comes to zero hour contracts:

Everyone employed on a zero hours contract is entitled to some statutory employment rights 18

Garden Centre Retail March 2019

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Annual leave For employees or workers whose hours differ from week to week, holiday pay will be calculated on the average pay the employee earned in the past 12 weeks in which they were paid. For a worker or employee on a zero hours contract, there may be a week when they have not worked at all. If this is the case, you need to count back a week to ensure that the rate is based on 12 weeks in which they were paid.

Notice period Again, a standard notice period is one week for an employee who has been with you for a month, and a minimum of two weeks for those that have been with you for longer than that. However, it is likely that if an employee hands in their notice when on a zero hour contract, the hours will stop, and come the end of the notice period, a P45 will be passed on. Sick pay This is a very complex situation when it comes to zero hours contracts. Zero hours workers will be entitled to the same Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as employees if they reach the lower earnings limit and earn at least £116 (before tax) per week. Zero hours workers earnings are likely to fluctuate and your sick pay policy may differ from this. Good uses for zero hours contracts A zero hours contract should be used where the employer simply wishes to engage a worker on a casual basis and would benefit from the flexibility of not promising a set number of hours and days of work in the future. A zero hours contract is also suitable for businesses that need a flexible supply of workers because they may experience changing demands or cannot predict the exact levels of staffing that they will need at all times. Examples include: • New businesses or when entering a new market. If a business is unsure of how well it will do, it will not know how many staff members it needs

07/03/2019 14:01

Employment Contracts Business

• Seasonal work. In some industries there may be an increase in demand for temporary staff to cover busy periods, such as the Christmas shopping period in retail, or the summer months for horticultural businesses •U  nexpected absence. It can be helpful to have experienced staff available in certain cases – covering sudden sickness or other emergencies, for example. Exclusivity clauses Exclusivity clauses in zero hours contracts have now been banned by the government under the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act. This means that you cannot use clauses that prevent a worker under a zero hours contract from working for another business or even attempt to avoid this by making the worker ask permission before doing so. Alternatives for zero hours contracts Employers should consider whether a zero hours contract is the best type of contract for their business needs and the nature of the work to be offered as well as specific circumstances. Depending on the business needs, alternatives might include:  ffering overtime to permanent staff •O to ensure experienced staff deal with temporary fluctuations in demand  ecruiting a part-time employee or •R someone on a fixed term contract if regular hours need to be worked to adapt to a change in the business needs  ffering annualised hours contracts •O if peaks in demand are known across a year  Zero Hours contracts.indd 19

•U  sing agency staff can be a quicker and easier way to hire someone if staff are needed temporarily or at short notice. Best practice Contracts should be clear and transparent so the individual can understand their rights and what the implications of such a contract means to them. For more information, see the employment contracts guidance. Employers should plan and give as much notice as possible when offering work. Those who work on a zero hours contract may have caring responsibilities or have studies and may need to plan for childcare or upcoming exams. Employers should be

Employers should plan and give as much notice as possible when offering work transparent about how they offer work. Cancelling work at late notice, or when the individual turns up at the place of work, is unacceptable unless truly unavoidable. Employers should consider putting into place a policy explaining the circumstances when and how work might be cancelled, and how they try to avoid this, and whether the individual can expect any compensation for caring costs they may have incurred. When recruiting for a zero hours contract, the job should be clearly advertised as such and the individual should be clear that hours are not guaranteed, and that work may cease if there is a fall in demand. Employers should ensure they familiarise themselves with their responsibilities when employing someone on a zero hours contract. Employers must comply with every aspect of the law, including employment law. Those who take up work on a zero hours contract are often students, partially retired, or have caring commitments. As an employer you should respect the needs of those individuals to arrange care and be flexible in whether they can accept work at short notice or if they cannot arrange suitable care. w

Garden Centre Retail March 201919

07/03/2019 14:02

Business Upselling


UPSELLING FROM YOUR STAFF Garden Centre Retail explains how upselling is more than just offering something extra at the checkout


pselling is a key task in retail to generate extra revenue and raise the average basket spend. But how much upselling does your staff do and how successful are they at it? Upselling is a sales technique that aims to get a customer to spend more by buying an upgraded or premium version of what’s being purchased. It is a means of getting the customer to buy a better version of the item or service they want, and is often confused with cross-selling, which involves offering the customer a related product or service. It’s part of a shopper’s natural journey. Often, customers do your upselling for you. Other times, you will need your employees to encourage it. Sometimes, a customer may approach one of your sales team subconsciously wanting to

be sold the benefits of a higherspecification item. There are a few things you can do to improve your staff’s upselling skills and, in turn, improve your bottom line. Hire correctly When you interview a potential new member of staff, ask the candidate if they knows what upselling is and if they can demonstrate an example where they have upsold. If the candidate can successfully navigate this question, things are looking good already! Train staff to upsell Instead of telling your staff to offer the premium 9cm pot instead of the budget one, explain the benefits to them to make understand why they should. Once

Sometimes, a customer may approach one of your sales team subconsciously wanting to be sold the benefits of a higher-specification item they learn the differences between the products they are working with they will feel more committed to your business, and proud of turning a £15 sale into a £30 one. Start your training with something you know they can relate to, for instance: ask your team why they choose a certain brand of drink over the cheaper alternative. When they answer: “because it tastes better,” or something similar, you can explain how they have upsold themselves by describing the benefits of the more expensive brand. Incentivise upselling This may be more difficult to monitor, but by running upselling competitions between your staff on the floor and having a prize (a voucher/half a day off) you may see a rise in the average basket spend. It may also be a way to get sell premium stock that hasn’t performed as well as expected. Maybe you bought in a higher priced, higher specification seed compost, but your budget option is outperforming it. By having a competition on selling more high-margin products, your staff will be encouraged to upsell from the budget version. Just remember to make your team aware of the benefits of the higher-priced ticket item first. ◗


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Garden Centre Retail March 2019

07/03/2019 11:31

products, people,



March 2014 14 MARCH 20

GCR launches its first printed issue View From The Top with

an interviewJulian Winfield Haskins CEO


INDUSTrY NEWS a roundup of latest news

Business tips from industry professionals

PLANTarea Q&A with five different garden centres

April 2015 Sunday Trading laws are discussed. Around this time, the government considers adjusting these retailing laws

September 2014

product lines This month’s essentials 03/03/2014

year anniversary


The magazine makes its debut at Glee

test.indd 1


March 2015

June 2014

GCR celebrates its first anniversary with its first redesign

The GCR team attends the HTA National Plant Show for the first time

July 2015 Crocus’s Mark Fane talks exclusively to GCR regarding the horticulture skills gap

December 2016 December sees a cover redesign. The bold change gives it a more modern, colourful look

February 2016

January 2017 GCR talks climate change – an issue that dominates the horticulture industry

August 2016 The August 2016 issue of GCR includes an in-depth look into the growing sector of pet retail within garden centres

September 2017

May 2017

The Glee preview within September’s issue takes the page count of the magazine up to 100 – our top record for pages in a single issue!

GCR interviews GCA chairelect Mike Lind, who shares his plans for the future as head of the association

Retail Garden Centre PEOPLE • PRODUCTS

Indoor plants

GCR’s first supplement – the GCR Independent Business Supplement is printed. This is followed by two more supplements in 2018





Caroline Owen



What’s cooking



Festive fir trees

LIVE p40




January 2019

The GCR website has almost 17,000 page views for the month – our record!

We celebrate the 5th anniversary of the magazine! 5 year timeline.indd 21

A real focus on digital content is implemented. The website goes from strength to strength

March 2018



June 2018



ctober 2017

Issue 33 • September/O

March 2019

Blue Diamond’s Alan Roper shares his plans for restructuring the business exclusively with Garden Centre Retail



December 2018

August 2018 GCR runs a feature regarding the sale of Wyevale centres. This now holds the record for the most viewed story on the website!

GCR announces plans to facilitate two GCR Live seminar events in 2019 07/03/2019 13:29



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year anniversary

2,444 5 year Stats.indd 24

07/03/2019 11:02

Cross-selling Business


CROSS-SELL? Opportunities to cross-sell in garden centre retail are endless and are a quick and effective means to boost your revenue


n effective tool to increase sales is to cross-sell to your customer and increase their average basket spend. With a few carefully crafted questions, your team may turn a £40 sale into a £60 one. Cross-selling is the practice of selling an additional product or service to an existing customer. It’s similar to, but not the same as upselling, which involves offering an upgraded version of the product the customer is already buying. We’ve all been cross-sold to. When you purchased your latest mobile phone, it’s likely that the sales person offered you an insurance or extended warranty plan at the same time. They may have suggested you purchase a smart new case too. Cross-selling is a simple technique, by asking a customer if they want a stamp with their greetings card, you’ve added 50p to the sale.

With a few carefully crafted questions, your team may turn a £40 sale into a £60 one There are many opportunities to cross-sell in garden centre retailing; here are some useful examples: Lawn mower and strimmer Your customer has come in to purchase a standard lawn mower. So already you know they have a lawn and want it to look neat and tidy. Here is an opportunity to turn a medium sale into a large one by asking the customer if they’ve considered a strimmer for perfect lawn edges.

£2.50 sale into one for £4.50 and increase the spend by just short of 100%. Pot and houseplant If your customer has found a lovely Sanseveria to buy, then make sure you ask whether they need a pot to go with it. The customer may already have one at home, however if this is an impulse purchase, they might not have anything suitable to put the plant in. This single question could turn a £15 sale into a £25 sale. The only obstacle you need to overcome is ensuring your sales team spot opportunities to cross-sell and have the confidence to engage with customers! ◗

Cake and coffee On a smaller scale, your cafe customer has ordered a latte, ask them if they want a sweet treat too. If you display an array of tempting treats near the till, they will find it hard to resist what’s on offer! This quick and simple cross-sale could convert a

Cross selling.indd 25

Garden Centre Retail March 2019


07/03/2019 11:10

Business Funding


Business finance expert Emily Relph talks through the business funding available to you


arden centres are a growing industry that has potential for significant profits. Greater awareness surrounding sustainability has led to a steady rise in the market. A survey1 conducted by Gardening Express 2 in 2014 discovered that British gardeners will spend £30,000 on their gardens in their lifetimes. This resurgence makes horticulture a lucrative market that is worth investing in. As a business owner in this industry, you may be looking to expand your garden centre to take advantage of this recent popularity spike.


Funding.indd 26

Garden Centre Retail March 2019

More and more garden centres are transforming into leisure centres. They can include cafes, play areas and even cinema complexes as part of the experience. To capitalise upon these opportunities business owners will need to get investment. There are many funding routes to consider.

This resurgence makes horticulture a lucrative market that is worth investing in

Equity based funding Equity based funding requires shares of your business in return for investment. You can get these funds through angel investors3 and venture capital4 financing. Angel investors are individuals or a group who make use of their personal

07/03/2019 11:13

Funding Business

disposable finance to invest. Often they also bring along their business expertise and knowledge. They work with you to make your company a success. With angel

Greater awareness about sustainability means we’re seeing a steady rise in the market

Venture capital financing involves larger investments than angel investors, starting from £500k. They not only take shares in your business but they also have a say in how your business runs. Venture capital firms can provide active support with human resources and financial management. They are also well connected in the business community, which can provide you with the opportunity to expand your business network.

investors there is no need for collateral, repayments or interest. Venture capital usually involves many professionals whose money comes from corporations.

Debt funding Debt funding is a form of borrowing often referred to as small business loans. Unlike investment from angel investors and venture capital firms, the borrowed money needs to be repaid with interest.

But, a benefit of debt funding is that you are able to retain full ownership of your business. This type of funding is accessed through traditional lending facilities, like banks. Garden centres can access funding of up to £500,000 by secured loans. Collateral is offered as security, or unsecured loans 5 are available, where you repay the loan with a higher APR but do not have to offer any collateral or assets. ◗ References 1. gardening/britons-spend-an-average-of-30000on-their-gardens-over-a-lifetime-9386795.html 2. 3. 4. 5.

As a business owner in this industry, you may be looking to expand your garden centre to take advantage of this recent popularity spike

Funding.indd 27

Garden Centre Retail March 2019


07/03/2019 11:14




Quinton Edwards are market leaders in the disposal, acquisition and letting of freehold and leasehold Garden Centres throughout the United Kingdom for nearly 30 years. We are Chartered Surveyors offering a wide variety of Commercial Property Services to include:

• • • • •

Sales/Lettings Acquisitions Valuations Consultancy Lease Renewals

• • • • •

Rent Reviews Rating Concessions Energy Performance Certificates Expert Witness

In 4 ½ months of our current financial year, we have undertaken over 100 reports with a total value of over £275 million. If you would like further information about the business or the services we offer please contact Simon Quinton Smith or Rachel McMordie. Quinton Edwards Chartered Surveyors, Bartholomew House, 38 London Road, Newbury, Berkshire, RG14 1JX

Advert template.indd 5

07/03/2019 11:15

Family Business Advice Business


FAMILY BUSINESS Family businesses make up a huge proportion of operators in the UK’s garden retail industry. Garden Centre Retail speaks to three of the most successful examples in the sector

Andy Bunker

Alton Garden Centre In my opinion there are very many plus points in running a family business. Being second generation in our business, my main piece of advice would be to have family members heading up one of the main parts of the business, for example catering, plants or garden furniture. These departments generate the larger turnover which justifies part of their higher salary. You need to be able to react quickly to changes and make sure you do no not have too many layers of management. You also need to ensure that the family members of management understand the

Running a family business.indd 29

My main piece of advice is to have family members heading up one of the main parts of the business workings of as many departments as possible. My most important piece of advice is to spend as much time as you can on the shop floor, getting to know your customer – something you can’t achieve sitting behind a computer.

Garden Centre Retail March 2019


07/03/2019 14:13

Business Family Business Advice

Martin Stewart

Stewarts Garden Centres The running of a family business has to be the greatest privilege; it provides a commercial organisation with some wonderful opportunities. It allows you to take the long-term view when making decisions that many businesses are unable to do. You can create an atmosphere that includes everyone in the organisation, helping create a family feel throughout and, above all, you can create a culture that the customer loves, even if it is a totally subconscious reaction.

One can take the long-term view when making decisions that many businesses are unable to do A culture where you set out to do a great job for the business, without taking life too seriously, allows a sense of warmth and fun to pervade every aspect of each day. On the other hand, as well as needing a bit of luck with the opportunities for succession, a family business can be a pretty tricky, even a truly awful, place to be. Family disputes where some members want short-term pay outs, while others wish to invest in the long-term future all threaten that precious, warm, loving culture that the wider team and customers need. What do you do when the parents can’t let go? When the next generation is clearly not up to it, or worse still, has no love for the business? We have been so lucky to have survived into the eighth generation and soon hopefully into the ninth, but as our amazingly well documented history shows it has not all been plain sailing – two world wars made survival difficult. We will never, ever, forget that we have no divine right to be here. The greatest pressure of all comes from not really wanting to be the one to screw it all up, wishing above all to leave it in better condition and with a greater chance of survival than before one started. Perhaps the best single piece of relevant advice came from my mum. ‘If you teach your kids just one thing, teach them enthusiasm’. That above all is what a family business needs everywhere in abundance.


Garden Centre Retail March 2019

Running a family business.indd 30

Tim Greenway

Highfield Garden World As with any family business, difficult as it may be, try to have a clear plan. Having a five or 10-year development plan that is regularly reviewed allows all the family members to know where the business is going.

Just because a business is family owned now, do not rely or expect the next generation to want to carry it on That may involve expanding with huge financial investment and extra staff, or even preparing the business for sale. Just because a business is family owned now, do not rely or expect the next generation to want to carry it on – planning for the future can help tie in family members but they must have the appetite for it. ◗

07/03/2019 14:04

SMALL SPACE, WIDE RANGE Thought out structured and eye-catching presented, the newly developed shop-in-shop concept from Wagner offers to the consumer a unique product diversity on just a few square meters of selling space. There is the fitting plant trolley model for every user requirement, from proven classics up to modern design rollers. A selection of bestselling doorstops of the German manufacturer completes the assortment of the compact brand shop. A lucid presentation offers quick orientation to the customer: it is clearly structured into colour worlds, sizes and materials. The ingenious shop-in-shop island offers maximum diversity on small space, plant trolleys from low-priced all-rounders made out of natural wood, weather-resistant WPC rollers, modern design models from glass and metal, nostalgic retro and vintage varieties up to extremely heavy-duty premium rollers in highest material and workmanship quality. Top innovations, such as innovative combination rollers and trendy plant trolleys from concrete, are eye-catching integrated in the ready for sale equipped “Basket� placement. Fast-moving doorstops complete the compact brand shop: a mobile presenter as well as a grid sell a wide range of the nice and practical take-away products. Contact: Wagner System GmbH,

A complete range of quality wild bird food all at a competitive price, distributed across the U.K.

For our Wild Bird catalogue & price list, please contact us at : Cressingham Road, Saham Toney Thetford, Norfolk, IP25 7AA.

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07/03/2019 11:18

Newbuild, refurbishment

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07/03/2019 11:36

Recruitment Business



Liam Colclough, brand manager at Horticulture Careers, shares his advice on getting your job specifications spot on

riting an effective and accurate job specification is no easy task and special care should be taken to attract a good number of exactly the right candidates for the vacancy. At Horticulture Careers we are often asked to review a job specification before we post it and there are a few things we’ve learnt along the way: Be clear about the role and its duties, indicating how the successful candidate would fit into your business A good level of detail about the role you are seeking and the duties that need to be performed will outline exactly what would be expected of the applicant, helping them decide whether they are a good fit.

Most people viewing your spec for the first time are browsing, so it’s up to you to keep their attention Be informative and include only the relevant information You want to make sure that all the information the candidate needs is included in the job specification. However, if the listing is too long and wordy then candidates are unlikely to read it to the end. Most people viewing your post for the first time are simply browsing, so it’s up to you to keep their attention.

Writing job specifications.indd 33

Wherever possible, try to include a salary bracket A huge amount of job postings are listed as DOE (dependent on experience). This of course allows the recruiter to gauge the level of the applicant before deciding on an appropriate salary. However, candidates who are looking to transfer from an existing role to another are more likely to pursue a job application if they can see the remuneration offered will be an improvement on their current earnings, so it’s worth including the salary where possible.

Avoid using internal lingo and jargon You may have your own abbreviations and ways of communicating within the office, but candidates won’t necessarily understand this. Wait until you recruit somebody, and then you can teach them. Include an exact location The more specific you are about where the work will be, the more likely you will be to find somebody in the area. This will also help improve online traffic to your job post from people using search engines. ◗

Garden Centre Retail March 2019


07/03/2019 11:28

Business Footfall


GARDEN CENTRE IN THE AMAZON ERA Small business marketing specialist Liz Rosling explains what you can do to compete with Amazon


ith the rise of Amazon and their convenient next day delivery services, it can be difficult to generate footfall in our stores. Consumers now have the luxury of ordering online with ease. But where does this leave the UK’s garden centres? You’ve still got your regulars. They’re loyal to your centre and unlikely to abandon you for the allure of online shopping. But reaching and retaining new customers? That’s the hard part. When considering strategies to drive footfall, there are some key things to consider:

Optimise your online presence

If you haven’t already, enhance your ‘Google My Business’ page. This Google-owned service manages all the information that the search engine provides about your company. Your business will often be found on Google Search, Maps and Google+. Having up-to-date contact details, website, directions and reviews all contribute to finding you. This will attract more visitors to your centre whilst building its credibility. Optimising your web presence will also benefit any hyperlocal advertising you use.


Garden Centre Retail March 2019

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Era of social media

Garden centres have the advantage of being pleasing to the eye. Make use of this by taking some high-quality photos of visually exciting images and share these across your social media platforms. When posting, take advantage of relevant, specific hashtags to attract your target audience and highlight your centre. Your Instagram and Facebook stories can also promote limited flash sales. These temporary offers can convince uncertain followers to make the trip to your centre and make a purchase.

When posting, take advantage of relevant hashtags to attract your target audience

as adding a handwritten thank you note to your customers after they buy something will increase appreciation for your centre. It will also strengthen the chances of them returning in the future.

Coffee mornings

If your garden centre doesn’t already have a cafe or similar, why not find a mobile coffee truck to pitch outside? This will add to the shopping experience. It’s also a simple way to attract attention, gain new customers and increase footfall. Amazon has the advantage of offering a wide range of products at the click of a button, but they can’t compete with the in-store customer experience. If you can master and innovate strategies to actively grow footfall, your garden centre will continue to bloom. ◗

Make it personal

Offer advantages that customers can’t find when browsing Amazon. An appealing centre front is a great starting point for this as its bound to catch the attention of passers-by. How personal and memorable is your packaging? Something as simple

07/03/2019 11:11

We love simple, we love unique! From simple header boards to complicated POS


EST 1974


15% off Use code GCR19 at checkout


ask us about our special bundle offers for garden centres

Easy peasy online ordering / friendly phone service pay by credit / debit card, PayPal or even Bitcoin!

01579 340985

Calipso are an importer of Garden and Floral products. Suppling Garden Centres and Florist Wholesalers throughout the UK. We have a wide range of products that we are consistently updating, we also cover all events such as Mothers Day and Christmas all at competitive prices. To see our full range of products please visit our webshop listed below. If you have any questions please email us.

01449 740977

MAXXBRUSH New and second hand aluminium benching: Fixed, Semi rolling, mobile and sales benches.

VALEKA BV • Heliniumweg 14 • 3133 AX Vlaardingen, The Netherlands Tel: +31-10 599 74 02 • •

• Specially developed for artificial grass • Powerful 1,020w motor • Variable Speed

Available to Garden Centres, Shops & Merchants from BIZ Power Tools.

Go to the App Store


Search ‘Garden Centre Retail’


Download the free app


Choose and download your issue

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Download the FREE Garden Centre Retail app today



07/03/2019 11:34

Business Staff




n employee handbook is a crucial part of running a business. It sets clear expectations for new employees, outlines policies and lets employees know what will happen if any problems occur. Garden Centre Retail has put together a list of essential components for your company handbook. Introduction to company and values You should describe the company history, including who founded the business, when and why. Additionally, you should include your mission statement and also add some insight into your company culture. Give your new employee information about why your company matters, and why it’s genuinely exciting to be a part of it. Code of conduct It’s essential to give your employees a comprehensive overview of information about ethics and compliance. A code of conduct allows you to emphasise your company’s values and the behaviour you wish to adopt in your leaders and employees. These


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Garden Centre Retail explains why having a comprehensive and clear employee handbook is essential for any respectable business

Give your new employee information about why your company matters, and why it’s genuinely exciting to be a part of it rules can allow you to fairly regulate and assess an individual’s behaviour. You should include as many specific details as possible. For example, let employees know what counts as lateness, and the disciplinary processes that follow. Equal employment and non-discrimination policy You want each employee to know that discrimination or harassment of any kind will not be tolerated in your workplace. Empasise that even one instance of discrimination can create toxicity for your company’s culture.

Technology policy Make clear what your employees can and can’t do with the technology you provide them and inform them whether actions on company technology could lead to disciplinary measures. Leave policy It is critical that you outline exactly how much paid and unpaid leave each employee gets, as well as sick time. Non-disclosure agreement and confidentiality policy To ensure your employees do not misuse confidential information either about your internal operations or your clients, it is vital that you outline and make very clear what counts as confidential information. Your business is bound by law to protect certain information. It’s advisable to make a list and ensure all your employees are aware of what they can and cannot share. ◗

07/03/2019 12:31

MARCH 2019








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07/03/2019 12:19

Company Profile Createpose

AN INTERVIEW WITH CREATEPOSE A vital tool for a retail business is the ability to produce its own branded POS inhouse as and when it’s needed; Createpose has the solution: allowing retailers the freedom to take direct control of their shop floor marketing Can you give us a brief outline of the brand? Createpose is a cloud-based online graphics system that keeps your business on brand while allowing you to instantly update in-store prices and product information. We work with you to build bespoke templates that reflect your business, brand and information graphics requirements. Access your templates via an internet browser, simply add the information you would like to display and Createpose will create it instantly. Use it for all your POS requirements including; shelf barkers, posters, product ticketing, gift vouchers and general signage.


It is so easy to use. There is no software to download and no formal training needed. Send it to print and display in store. Great looking graphics displayed in seconds! What are the key selling points of your service? Invaluable marketing resource: it maximises your marketing operations, making your brand message clearer and stronger. We build your templates to fit your existing formats and can introduce new ones if you want. Reduce costs: using cloud templates and saved product data, your information graphics can be created, amended and displayed instantly, reducing labour and production time. The system can upload product and pricing information directly from a CSV file so no need for time-consuming and repetitive data input. Increase efficiency: ability to amend and display product information instantly. You can create a PDF of the template and print in-house or externally. Unlimited storage and usage: you decide how you file and navigate your templates as well as how many created designs you store, reuse or delete. There is no limit to how often you use it. Total control: access to your Createpose templates

Garden Centre Retail March 2019

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anywhere there is an internet connection. Keep your POS on brand and consistent across stores and departments. What are the lead times for a garden centre ordering your service? Every garden centre is different, and all come with their own objectives and challenges. We will meet with the client to establish the brief and provide advice and support throughout the process. We can deliver projects very quickly but the ultimate timescales will depend on the simplicity or complexity of the project? We will work closely with the client within an agreed budget and timeframe. What support do you offer garden centres? From initial enquiry, each client is assigned a dedicated member of our experienced project team to look after

their every need. We are able to support in real-time with our online customer service support via phone, email and the internet. What’s the next step for the brand? We will continue to innovate, evolve, grow and offer the appropriate solutions for our customers. We constantly listen to our customers and provide solutions, products and packages that reflect their needs. We think of our customers Point of Sale and signage as their silent sales person. Because sales assistants are not always around to help customers, you need to make sure your POS and in-store marketing can do the talking, and do it well! w CONTACT

020 7993 2532

07/03/2019 12:21

createpose FOR MORE INFORMATION TEL 020 7993 2532 EMAIL HELLO@CREATEPOSE.COM SEE HOW IT WORKS VISIT We also supply perforated paper, perforated waterproof paper, waterproof paper and waterproof bed cards.

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07/03/2019 11:04

Company Profile Fordingbridge

AN INTERVIEW WITH FORDINGBRIDGE Technical sales manager Garry Summerfield explains how the company’s in-house expertise and quality customer service are key to its success Can you give us a brief outline of the brand? More than 50 years ago Fordingbridge launched a groundbreaking range of polyhouses for commercial horticulture and we have been helping businesses grow ever since! With headquarters and 20,000 sq ft manufacturing facilities nestled at the foot of the South Downs, I’m proud to say that we are industry leaders in the design, manufacture and installation of canopies, walkways and statement buildings using steel and timber. Our work is utilised in many sectors, including education, leisure and healthcare. Fordingbridge products range from small entrance canopies in retail parks to large buildings for commercial use. My area of expertise is in garden centres. What are the key selling points of your service? There are so many! A great deal of our business


is through referrals and recommendations; I would have to say that our service itself is the key point. Everyone here at Fordingbridge is passionate about what they do and we strive towards client satisfaction. I’m sure all the GCR readers appreciate how important happy customers are; if my clients are happy, so am I. We also take a real buzz from seeing our structures go up. It is incredibly satisfying to discuss with a client exactly what they want to achieve and then work alongside them to bring it to fruition. Fordingbridge facilities are all in-house; our teams of skilled designers and fabricators work to transform your brief into a valuable addition to your business, allowing you uninterrupted trade throughout the year without fear of the great British weather having too much impact. Because we have no third party overheads, it means our offering is extremely

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competitive on price. It also allows us to provide industryleading guarantees with all our work as testament to our confidence in the field. Having our own logistics allows us to operate cost effectively nationwide. We’ve just completed garden centre installations from Camden to Crieff ready for this season. Rosebank Garden Centre, also in Scotland, is one of our beautiful statement buildings which has also just launched; it is definitely worth taking a look at. What does your product offer for garden centres? Fordingbridge products offer such flexibility when it comes to expanding retail space within a garden centre setting. I have seen our garden centre clients create valuable covered retail areas, incredible cafes, soft play areas and, of course, Christmas grottos under our canopies. You should see a Fordingbridge

canopy covered in fairy lights; it really is something! Our covered walkways also provide guidance to tucked away external retail spaces, truly promoting the outside areas, as well as providing the more obvious weather-related benefits. Fordingbridge buildings are something else – fresh design, sustainable and inspiring for your business and your clients alike. Our statement buildings can make your garden centre a perfect shopping destination. Who should GCR readers contact? Any of the team will be able to assist, but garden centres are my area of expertise. We ensure that our customers are fully updated with each stage of the project from consultation through to completion stage. w CONTACT

01243 554455

07/03/2019 12:23

Beyond design & install...

For over 50 years Fordingbridge have been helping clients maximise their retail space Some of our work within garden centre retail includes: • • • •

Plantarea Canopies Covered Walkways Trolley Parks Logistics Stores ...and you should see our buildings... To find out more & see how we can work with your business call 01243 554455

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07/03/2019 11:43

Company Profile Alexander Mackie Associates Ltd

AN INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDER MACKIE ASSOCIATES LTD Marketing director Darren Earnshaw explains the specialist service the company offers in the valuation, sale and aquisition of garden centres and plant nurseries Can you give us a brief outline of the brand? For almost 30 years Alexander Mackie Associates has been exclusively specialising in the valuation, sale and acquisition of garden centres and plant nurseries throughout the United Kingdom, during which time we have assisted thousands of owners and prospective owners. We have been highly successful in the sale of garden centres and plant nurseries for both private owners and also for the larger companies within our industry. We also provide valuation advice and abridged reports for both companies and individuals who are looking to purchase garden centres and plant nurseries that are not being marketed by our company. What are the key selling points of your service? We are renowned for our professionalism when handling transactions and we are able to conduct these in a private and confidential manner. When we are handling the sale of a business, we undertake to maximise our clients’ assets through skilled negotiation and endeavour to achieve the best possible price on their behalf. Due to our long-standing expertise we have an unrivalled


we offer a complete service from the initial valuation through to, once a suitable purchaser has been found, drawing up the ‘Heads of Terms’ and placing the transaction in the hands of the respective solicitors. During this process we will have produced a comprehensive sales information brochure and any further marketing information that is required, to include website listings and magazine advertisements.

experience and knowledge of the industry. We offer a comprehensive professional friendly service. We are long-standing associate members of both the Garden Centre Association (GCA) and the Horticulture Trades Association (HTA). What are the lead times for a garden centre or plant centre ordering your service? We aim to react to an enquiry as soon as possible, whether that enquiry has been made via phone or via electronic means such as email or website. In the case of a valuation, we endeavour to carry out a site visit and

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meeting within 10 working days of the initial enquiry, then report back our findings in writing within 10 working days of our site visit and meeting. What support do you offer garden centres? We provide cost-effective abridged valuations for individuals and companies who are wishing to know the value of their garden centres or nurseries either for the purposes of a sale, for accountancy reasons, for transference of assets (into pensions, for example) or for insurance purposes. In the case of a garden centre or plant nursery owner looking to sell their business,

What’s the next step for the brand? We hope to continue to be the leading garden centre and nursery agents and valuers within the industry for many years to come. Who are the key contacts at the company? The two key contacts are myself as the marketing director and our founder and managing director, Donald Earnshaw. w


01732 522 222

07/03/2019 14:22

If you’re looking to sell your garden centre…

…we’d be delighted to hear from you. We have over 25 years industry leading experience helping hundreds of individuals and companies to maximise their assets from the sale of garden centres, plant centres and nurseries. Our reputation for expertise, professionalism and confidentiality speaks for itself, but to find out more about us, visit: 01732 522222

For sale


Plant/Garden Centre with two on-site Flats


Garden Centre with Coffee Shop


- Freehold circa 9.3 acres (3.77 hect.) - Family owned for 40 years - Retirement sale - Located close to main roads - Comprehensive buildings, glasshouses and large plantaria - NP 11.25% and EBITDA 13.90% - EPC Ratings = ‘B’, ‘C’ & ‘G’

- Freehold circa 3.5 acres (1.41 hect.) - ‘A’ road location - Excellent portal framed sales buildings - Glasshouses - Parking for circa 200 cars - Coffee shop circa 200 covers - EPC Rating = ‘E’

- Freehold circa 7 acres (2.83 hect.) - Family owned for 23 years - Located close to busy ‘A’ road - 4 bay glasshouse, 4 bay multispan, 3 bay polytunnel, canopy and brick built office - NP 16% and EBITDA 21.8% - EPC Rating = ‘E’

Guide Price £1,495,000 + SAV

OIRO £2,350,000 + SAV

Guide price £695,000 + SAV

Ref. 9216GC

Ref. 9239GC

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Plant Centre with Coffee Shop

Ref. 9237RPC

07/03/2019 11:07

Growing since 1973

y r u x u l d d A s s e l r fo Discover Our Range of High Quality Greenhouses and Gardenrooms Advert template.indd 7

020 3011 2040 07/03/2019 11:09

Profile for Eljays44

Garden Centre Retail March 2019  

Garden Centre Retail March 2019  

Profile for eljays44