Garden Centre Retail - May 2015

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Garden Centre Retail Issue 14 • May 2015


CATERING Inspiration to transform your offer Made in Chelsea Take advantage of the big show buzz How to become a ‘love brand’



ways to get in on the Twitter conversation

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LET’S HEAR IT FROM... Nick Joad on managing Haskins’ largest garden centre Online learning GCA’s Iain Wylie talks GROW 29/04/2015 10:11

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Garden Centre Retail Here comes the sun...


elcome to the May edition of Garden Centre Retail magazine. In these pages, you’ll find news of all the latest developments in the sector, as well as cutting edge advice and best practice to help maximise your business. This edition coincides with the start of a crucially important time of year for garden centres, with the changing of the seasons encouraging not only the new buds but also the re-emergence of gardeners eager to take advantage of the burgeoning springtime sun. While outdoor plant sales may be slightly down on this time in 2014 (see GCA Association News, page 9), owners will still expect a fruitful summer – not least because of the great British public’s ongoing love affair with their gardens.

This optimism is reflected in our current edition, which greets the warmer weather with features on how to utilise the buzz around Chelsea as well as advice regarding how to turn your centre into a ‘love brand’ via its plant offer. On the interviews front, we’ve added a new twist to Let’s Hear it From, which this month features an interview direct from the coalface with Haskins Roundstone general manager Nick Joad. Elsewhere GCA Chief Executive Iain Wylie discusses GROW, the online system through which the organisation is hoping to reinvigorate learning within the industry. Enjoy the issue.

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Garden Centre Retail May 2015


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Garden Centre Retail CONTENTS

May 2015

contents Garden Centre Retail Issue 14 • May 2015


CATERING Inspiration to transform your offer Made in Chelsea Take advantage of the big show buzz How to become a ‘love brand’ LET’S HEAR IT FROM... Nick Joad on managing Haskins’ largest garden centre


ways to get in 10 on the Twitter conversation

Online learning GCA’s Iain Wylie talks GROW

GCR May15 P01 Front Cover3.indd 1

29/04/2015 10:11




A roundup of the latest news in the industry


The HTA announces Valentine Warner and Charles Campion as keynote speakers at its catering conference; GCA figures show increasing popularity in non-traditional selling categories


Liz Dobbs on how to take advantage of the Chelsea Flower Show buzz


Jane Perrone discusses how to turn your garden centre into a destination for those with children


Doug Stewart suggests 10 ways to boost sales using Twitter

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Brantano managing director David Short on the benefits of selling other brands in-store


Iain Wylie, GCA chief executive, discusses its online learning tool


Mike Still on using intuitive garden centre design to maximise potential footfall

FEATURES 23 LET’S HEAR IT FROM... Haskins Roundstone General manager Nick Joad talks about life at the company’s largest garden centre


Carr Farm Garden Centre in the Wirral has transformed its business via a new state-of-theart catering offer


Lucy Summers discusses how to differentiate your plant offering in order to turn your garden centre into a ‘love brand’





Suppliers update us on all the latest happenings


Geoff Hodge looks at candles and diffusers


A selection of the latest candle products

41 OUTDOOR BUILDINGS Helping your customers find a home-from-home in their garden




GCR speaks to Eden Greenhouses


In the first of a new series sampling life at garden centres around the UK, GCR assistant editor Mollie Bennett visits Squire’s in West Sussex


We shine a light on six industry personalities

A round-up of the latest outdoor garden accessories

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

41 Garden Centre Retail May 2015


29/04/2015 11:58


David Cameron visits Wyevale

NEWS CENTRE New assistant manager for Haskins Roundstone


avid Cameron paid a visit to Wyevale’s Melbicks garden centre in Birmingham in the run up to the election, talking policies and plant pots with customers and staff. It was Wyevale’s second ministerial engagement in a fortnight, with George Osbourne having visited Syon Park in Middlesex. Melbicks centre manager James Taylor

said: “It is always great to share tips with customers and today was no exception, with the Prime Minister stopping by. “With the sun shining, he commented how the weather was perfect for barbecues and told us that he’s a keen herb gardener but admitted he’s a bit behind this year because he has been so busy.”

Grimsby Garden Centre gets green light for expansion plans


he Grimsby Garden Centre has been granted planning permission to extend its business premises. The centre, situated on the town’s Grimsby Road received unanimous support for the proposals, with all 11 members of North East Lincolnshire Council’s planning committee voting to approve them.

The refurbishment will see an extension to the cafe as well as the inclusion of an external patio, a children’s play area and an outdoor sales facility. The centre also plans to increase its car parking capacity from 54 spaces to 67. A total of 1,865m2 of new floor space will be created.

RHS invests £7.3m in careers



ark Lephard has been appointed assistant general manager at Haskins Garden Centres’ Roundstone site near Littlehampton in West Sussex. Mark is 38 and comes from nearby Worthing. He has joined Haskins Roundstone’s 150-strong team following


a managerial career at Sainsbury’s, beginning in 2008. Nick Joad, general manager at Haskins Roundstone, said: “He will be a great asset to the centre and as a long term member of the community, he is also keen to support the charities we help every year.”

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he Royal Horticultural Society is to contribute £7.3m to industry-wide initiatives designed to raise the profile of career opportunities in the sector. The organisation will put £3.2m into Horticulture Matters in order to increase its horticultural apprentice and training positions from 46 to 76 by 2025. A further £4.1 million will be invested in permanent pay rises in the sector.

RHS director general Sue Biggs, said: “We have just completed a horticultural salary review to ensure we recognise specialist skills and knowledge that professional horticulturists and horticultural scientists need to do their jobs. “The key issue is that people still aren’t aware of the breadth of exciting career opportunities the wonderful world of horticulture has to offer.”

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p r o d u c t lni en we s

HTA National Plant Show returns for 2015


isitor registration has opened for the HTA National Plant Show, which takes place from 23 to 24 June at Stoneleigh Park in Coventry, Warwickshire. According to the organisers, this year there will be over 100

exhibitors at the event, with businesses on display ranging from plant suppliers to plug and liner companies. An HTA spokesperson said: “The National Plant Show really is the place to do plant business – whether you want to catch up with existing suppliers or find new ones, see the latest new plants and plan ranges, or simply be inspired by the range and quality of plants from across the UK marketplace.” Other features at the show will include

Monty Don to present BBC historical gardening series


he BBC has announced plans for a new series surveying 400 years of Britain’s gardening heritage. The four-part Secret History of the British Garden, which will be broadcast on BBC Two, is to be presented by Gardeners’ World favourite Monty Don. It will examine how traditional British gardening has changed over time, looking at influencing factors including politics, war, religion, as well as our evolving culinary taste. Speaking of the project, Monty Don said: “My journey through 500 years of British garden history has been fascinating. “Not only has it unravelled the horticultural narrative of our unique gardening history, but it has also been filled with insights into our social, political and cultural life, stretching into every corner of human behaviour right to the present day.” The series will be aired on BBC Two. GCR May15 P06-08 News TW.indd 7

the New Plant Awards, a series of plant-focused seminars delivered by Chris Collins, Kevin Waters and Tom HartDyke, and a marketplace where delegates can buy from suppliers. The show is sponsored by Hortipak. For a full programme visit:

Gardman announces new look sales team


arden centre supplier Gardman has appointed a new sales director in the shape of Steve Harper. Harper has 16 years’ experience, having been sales director at William Sinclair Horticulture and managing director of the startup growing media company Vital Earth. He joined Gardman from Bord na Mona, where he was head of UK sales. He is currently chairman of the Growing Media Association. Gardman has also promoted Lolly Lee to regional sales director with Terry Murphy taking on the role of national sales manager.

NEWS IN BRIEF The Royal Horticultural Society has announced the appointment of Chris Beardshaw as one of its ‘ambassadors’, with a special remit to promote gardening in the community. He joins Alan Titchmarsh, Mary Berry, Adam Frost, James Wong and Nick Knowles, who are tasked with ‘championing the joy and benefits of gardening’. The demand for seaweed extract among gardeners is rising, according to British company Chase Organics. The extract – which comes in varieties SM6 and SM3 – is known to improve crop yields and help plants withstand stress conditions. The product has been used by gardeners and farmers since the 1960s. In October Aqua, 2015 will stage its biggest ever show at the Telford International Centre. Organisers have reported that 82 companies have signed up so far. The show runs from 14-15 October. The International Association of Horticultural Producers has appointed a new vice president in the shape of Professor Zhang Qixiang. Professor Zhang was elected at the AIPH spring meeting, held in Paris. Trans-Continental Group has announced the appointment of Sara Murray as its buying director. Murray’s previous position was senior buying manager, during which time she was responsible for developing many of the company’s best selling products.

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Wyevale Nurseries rewards competition winners

Adam Dunnett (left) of Wyevale Nurseries, presents the iTunes prize to Josh Egan-Wyer, regional Young Horticulturalist winner


yevale Nurseries has donated iTunes vouchers to the first, second and third place West Midlands and South Wales Young Horticulturalist of the Year finalists. The regional winner was Josh Egan-Wyer, who now proceeds to the grand final. The competition, which runs annually, is organised by the Chartered Institute of Horticulture and nearly 2,000 people under the age of 30 participate each year. The winner of the grand final receives the £2,000 Percy Thrower Travel Bursary, which is provided by the Shropshire Horticultural Society in order to fund a horticultural tour anywhere in the world. Adam Dunnett, sales and marketing director at Wyevale Nurseries, said: “We’re delighted we could support the competition and donate and present prizes to the top three finalists in the West Midlands and South Wales region.” Previous winners have visited Borneo, China, New Zealand, South Africa, the Himalayas, the Galapagos Islands and South America.


Chartered director appointed at Blue Diamond


roup finance director of Blue Diamond garden centres Richard Hemans has been appointed chartered director in the company. ‘Chartered director’ is a qualification issued by the Institute of Directors following a rigorous two-year process. It is awarded to company directors and board members Speaking about the qualification, Hemans said: “I am thrilled to have been admitted as a chartered director. I have enjoyed the experience immensely and look forward to applying what I have learnt in my executive role at Blue Diamond.” The chartered director qualification demonstrates ‘understanding and knowledge’ of the role of a director and the role of the


board in the realms of strategy, finance, leadership and stakeholder management.

All change following GIMA AGM The AGM of the Garden Industry Manufacturers’ Association (GIMA) has elected a new president and appointed five new council members, bringing the number to 16, the maximum allowed. The meeting took place on 15 April and was attended by more than 80 members. Colin Wetherley Mein, national sales manager for Vitax, was voted GIMA president while Nigel Thompson took on the role of honorary treasurer. Chris Ramsden of Suttons Consumer Products and Richard Pyrah from Kelkay

remain in their current posts of vice president and honorary secretary, respectively. In his opening address, Colin Wetherley-Mein vowed to build on the work done by Steve Millington to establish closer relations with fellow trade associations.

he fourth annual Greenfingers Garden Re-Leaf Day, which took place on 27 March, has already raised over £50,000, according to figures released by the charity. A portion of the money raised came from suppliers, with those involved donating a minimum of £1 from each of their products sold. Companies included Plants2Gardens, Hayloft, Montrose of Guernsey, De Jager, Unwins and more. Richard Jackson’s four Greenfingers Garden Re-Leaf Day shows on QVC raised £40,000, running for six hours over three days. Jackson, who is also the founder president of Greenfingers, said: “Our success with fundraising through the QVC shows could not have happened without the generosity of our suppliers, or indeed the viewers that purchased the products. “The money we have raised is quite simply a life changing amount for the children and families that use our hospice gardens.”

Full of Spice festival at Kew


he Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew will be running an event looking at the spice trade from 23 May until 6 September. Visitors to the festival, called Full of Spice, will discover how plants, once worth their weight in gold were so valuable that

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Garden Re-Leaf Day raises £50,000

they changed the world. They will also be able to barter at the Spice Exchange and take part in Strictly Spice Dancing. A spokesperson explained: “Visitors can travel across the gardens and enjoy an explosion of colour and taste

in a world of spices. At the same time, they can learn what makes a spice a spice and understand the methods used and challenges faced by the people who grow and prepare them.”

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news: association news

Association news Horticultural Trades Association


alentine Warner and Charles Campion have been announced as keynote speakers at the HTA Catering Conference in June. TV chef and author Warner will talk about the importance of providing quality food to garden centre customers, in light of the increasing centrality of the catering offer. Food critic and MasterChef judge Campion will give an insight into what makes a great catering outlet, and how to make garden centre restaurants stand out from the competition.

Valentine Warner’s first BBC series was called What to Eat Now, for which he wrote an accompanying book. Other TV projects have included Coast to Coast, Ration Book Britain and Valentine Warner Eats the Sixties. Campion has appeared on BBC2’s Food and Drink, Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, Celebrity MasterChef, Professional MasterChef, and the BBC’s One Show. He was also co-host of The Greatest Dishes of the World on Sky. The conference, sponsored by Vision Commercial Kitchens, takes place from 9-10 June at The Belfry in Sutton Coldfield. Topics covered during the event will include growing the garden centre catering offer, as well as local provenance

Jake Gavin

Respected television personalities will offer catering advice

Food critic Charles Campion

TV chef Valentine Warner

and menu planning. Charles Campion will present on day one while Warner will be appearing on day two. Sarah Dunning, Chief Executive of The Westmorland Family, will be the second

keynote speaker on day two. To view the full programme, book your space and take advantage of the early bird rate (bookings received on or before 15 May save £50) visit

weather, which led to some impressive sales figures at garden centres. “It was always going to be tough to beat this year, as the great British weather is so unpredictable so we have seen sales of plants rise and fall

throughout the month.” He continued: “When our traditional categories are being affected like this it’s great to see sales of our non-traditional categories pick up the pace. “Despite the rain it looks like garden centre customers made sure they were kitted out in the latest gear and stopped off at cafes and restaurants during their visits for a spot of lunch, dinner or a cuppa and cake.”

Garden Centre Association Weather blamed for fall in outside plant sales but non-traditionals pick up pace


arden centre sales in non-traditional categories soared in March, according to the Garden Centre Association barometer of trade results for the month. Clothing sales were up 9.16% compared with the same month in 2014, while catering improved 5.87%. Food hall and farm shop sales meanwhile were up 2.88%. At the same time, sales of plants fell, with a 5.5% improvement in houseplant sales offset by a 13.76% drop off in outdoor plant interest – a phenomena which the organisation blamed on the ‘unpredictable’ British weather. GCR May15 P09 Assoc News.indd 9

Discussing the figures, GCA chief executive Iain Wylie said: “This time last year we experienced some fantastic

The British weather – as unpredictable as it’s ever been

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28/04/2015 16:24

business: chelsea

Made in Chelsea

Your garden centre may not be able to sponsor a large display like the big boys, says Liz Dobbs, but there are still ways to take advantage of the buzz surrounding Chelsea


he RHS Chelsea Flower Show draws in media from around the world. Royalty, celebrities, top class design and high horticulture all combine to create a feelgood buzz. Your challenge is to capture these aspirations and translate them into sales at the local level.

Trends and themes

In recent years, large show gardens have grown up. There is less wackiness and bling and more emphasis on investing in outdoor spaces, using traditional or classic materials and plants, albeit in contemporary ways. For 2015, key Chelsea themes are gardens as places to relax and recharge; planting schemes that are in tune with nature, and last but not least, creating community gardens in urban areas. Below are some examples of how you can make best use of the show and research ideas for plant displays, workshops or events. The RHS website (www. lists details of the show gardens. Several have plant lists and planting plans, for 2x1m sections for ‘me-too’ borders already posted.

Jo Thompson’s design for the M&G garden is in-tune with key themes, creating a restorative retreat where visitors can unwind

Plant lovers

Once TV coverage switches to the Great Pavilion there will be more focus on individual plants. Not every plant type will be relevant for summer garden centre sales, but coverage of new roses, clematis and lavenders is all helpful. Plant of the Year is the RHS’s attempt

Get social

If you have a design and build department, encourage its staff to blog, tweet and share their thoughts on the TV coverage of the gardens. Then follow up with a consultation offer or competition. Do likewise with your plant buyers. Potted topiary clipped into shapes is an annual Chelsea staple although chunky rectangles and doughnut shapes are more on trend than balls, pyramids and spirals.


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to focus attention on one really good new plant introduction that the trade and public can get behind. To be eligible, plants can’t have been shown at any other public show, which means they are so new that stock is not usually widely available. Instead it is more useful for

Inspiration from Hillier This exhibit of 4,000 plants in the centre of the pavilion has two categories – Floral Continents and Best of British. The former will show how the hardy plants of our English gardens originally came from many continents, for instance acers from Asia and cornus (flowering dogwoods) from North America and Asia. Best of British are Hillier introductions such as Cotinus ‘Grace’, Sophora ‘Sun King’ and Choisya ‘Aztec Pearl’ that have stood the test of time. The exhibit’s design will be in the hands of Chelsea veteran and Hillier MD Andy McIndoe. He said: “Every

year I have essentially the same core palette of fantastic plants from our production nursery to work with. My job is to re-imagine them in fresh, inspirational planting schemes that gardeners could realistically recreate at home.” Which, in turn, just about sums up what you can do for your customers!

you to promote any previous award winners that are now easier to acquire, for example the mahonia with the soft foliage (Mahonia eurybracteata subsp. ganpinensis ‘Soft Caress’) and the doubleflowered hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla MISS SAORI (‘H20-2’)).

Local roots

Chelsea Flower Show is definitely upmarket, so if that isn’t your customer demographic then stay grounded with local angles. Your local radio station might have done the legwork for you – if not, see the RHS website for a county split. This year, Surrey has the Runnymede Surrey Magna Carta Garden, while A Trugmaker’s Garden celebrates Sussex trugmakers. Birmingham City Council and Yorkshire tourist board usually put on a good show too. Or how about running a tonguein-cheek ‘Our People’s Choice’ vote or ‘My Chelsea garden at home’ photo competition? ◗ Liz Dobbs is a researcher, editor, writer and author on all things garden and plant related. Twitter: @gardenslady

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bag with an RRP of £5.99 features pictures of the winning Chelsea garden. David Rich, who at 23 is the youngest ever garden designer to present a show garden at Chelsea carried off a silver gilt and an avalanche of plaudits working with his elder brother Harry and the backing of Bord na Móna’s Vital Earth peat-free compost brand. The winning entry, an inspirational landscape entitled Vital Earth The Night Sky Garden not only delighted the Chelsea judges but attracted rave reviews from the Chelsea audience including celebrities, national and international media and even a show garden chat with Prince Harry.

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business: opinion

The kids are alright

Garden centres are increasingly becoming destinations for people – often grandparents – looking after children. Jane Perrone discusses ways not only to keep young ones occupied, but to turn them into valued customers


s a working mum with school-age kids and a habit of hanging out in garden centres at every opportunity, I’ve noticed a new type of customer has come along in the last few years. I’ll call her grandchildminder. She’s probably in her fifties or sixties and she looks after her grandchildren in an arrangement that allows one or both parents to work. There may be a grandad too, of course. They’re always looking for ways to keep their charges entertained, especially if it’s not too hard on the purse.

“It’s vital to get children and their parents into the garden centre habit”

My experience may be anecdotal but there is evidence to back it up. One in four working families relies on grandparents for childcare according to government figures, and Age Concern has estimated its value at £3.9bn. That’s a lot of most garden centres’ core customer base.

Focus on entertainment

It hasn’t always been this way, Chris Roberts chairman and managing director of Van Hage Garden Centres, tells me: “Years ago garden centres almost wanted to keep kids away because they didn’t want them mucking around.” Things are different now. “You’re a retailer but you also become an entertainer. We have a mini farm, a zoo, a railway, an ice rink and a circus in half term week. It’s about giving people a reason to visit.” And with an

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ageing population, it’s vital to get children and their parents into the garden centre habit to secure a healthy new market. “They are our future. The more we can get them to be around plants the better.”

Bring in a franchise

This may sound like a lot of extra work, but not everything has to be done in-house. Neil Grant, managing director of Ferndale Garden Centre in Sheffield, has had great success attracting children since he brought in a franchise called Jumping Clay to hold art sessions. “Sessions have been sold out. It’s brought the parents in as well, so we’re introducing a younger generation to the garden centre at the same time.” Madame Zucchini provides sessions for children at garden centres

He now has plans to introduce more sessions for children with Madame Zucchini, a ‘vegetable entertainer’ whose shows are fun and

Creating displays to entertain the kids Part of the challenge, says children’s entertainment author Dawn Isaac, is helping grandparents cope with the difficulties of trying to shop with children alongside. How do you keep them entertained but stop them from congregating in one spot? Here are some of her top tips for creating appealing retail displays to solve the problem: • Kids love the water features in garden centres. However – for good reason – these are all invariably grouped in one spot. If they were scattered, children would keep finding something amazing to look at throughout the store.

• Hide 20 garden gnomes throughout your garden centre and ask kids to find them. Change the hiding spots every week and they will be begging to visit. • Make appealing displays to capture children’s attention. These could include a planted-up wheelbarrow that the kids could recreate at home or window boxes designed for playhouses, all ready to be planted up. • Most important of all, put out things that kids themselves can afford – pocket money plants, seeds and garden ornaments. There’s nothing as exciting as growing something that you’ve bought yourself.

educational. It’s a perfect mix for grandparents who always have half an eye on what their grandchildren are learning. Many garden centres have cottoned onto the idea of having a ‘beach’ complete with sand, buckets and spades and a seaside backdrop. But Ferndale is one step ahead as it’s under a glass roof – perfect for rainy days.

Timing is everything

And how to avoid the clash between small children and those who want to get away from them? It’s partly an issue of timing, says Roberts. “We have garden clubs offering complementary coffees and teas at off-peak times, such as weekday mornings.” Dawn Isaac, author of 101 Things for Kids to do Outside and Garden Crafts for Kids, says most garden centres have a lot of space, so if you need to zone a cafe, that’s usually possible. “School terms mean that there is a natural division anyway – quieter weeks and noisier weekends and holidays – and that allows customers who want to avoid screaming kids to keep away until they’re back at school and peace returns.” ◗

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business: boosting sales

Terrific tweets: 10 ways to boost sales using Twitter Garden centre consultant Doug Stewart shares 10 ways to attract customers to your garden centre by creating an engaging, genuine presence on Twitter


witter and Facebook changed everything. Just as the first telephone changed the way that companies communicate with customers, social media offers us an amazing opportunity to connect with customers in a whole new way.

1Be interesting

Imagine you are having a drink in the pub after work. You chat with friends about the day – the highs, the lows, the weather and of course the gossip. To be listened to, and even better to have your stories repeated, means you need to be amusing and engaging. Twitter is just the same.

2Get #hashtagging

Many people are put off by the whole hashtag thing. It is really simple, however. In the same way that garden centres divide plants into groups so people can find what they are looking for, Twitter uses hashtags. If you are interested in bedding plants then a search for #beddingplants will bring up relevant posts. Adding #beddingplants to your posts means people who are not following you but are following the topic will read your message. They might then choose to find out more about you. It is as easy as that.

3The plan’s the thing

To be successful, tweets should be engaging, current and genuine. To bring a return on the time put into Twitter they also need to be strategic. Having a 10 week rolling plan of things to talk about helps take the stress away


and ensures you are tweeting the right messages to bring people in. For example, in May and June tweet advice on how to choose great bedding plants; have staff choose their favourite bedding plant; celebrate new plant arrivals; explain how to plant, how to feed and then give frost warnings. Having this planned means you have a focus regarding what you want your key messages to be.

4Listen up

Garden centres that get involved in conversations and are interested in what others are saying will quickly grow their list of followers. Those who just ping out special offers are missing the whole essence of Twitter.

5What’s the link?

If you have discovered the power of blogging or even just updated your website, tweeting a link can really drive traffic to those pages. For those who like numbers and measuring returns, using a service like Bitly (www.bitly. com) can be fascinating. All you have to do is create an account, paste the link you want to use into Bitly and it will give you a unique, short link to post. Log back into Bitly after a few days and you will see how many clicks that link has had. The more interesting you are, the more interesting the tweet is and the higher the number will be.

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6Quid pro quo

When someone says something nice about you or makes friendly contact with you on Twitter, always thank them and retweet the message so more people get the opportunity to see it.


Follow you, follow me


What’s in it for them?

To take your Twitter to the next level, follow local people and companies as well as the people who follow you. Retweet their interesting tweets to give them a wider audience. They will appreciate what you are doing and return the favour, which helps grow your list of followers.

Reward your followers. On a wet day have a ‘free scone with every coffee’ offer exclusively for your twitter followers. Their mobile phones can be used as vouchers. This is a great way of meeting your followers and can provide accurate feedback about how you are doing. If you have a cafe full of happy customers after 40 minutes,

your twitter strategy is working. If no one comes then it’s a case of rolling up your sleeves to be more engaging, interesting and amusing.

staff 9Encourage to tweet

Rather than ban mobiles from the sales floor, suggest key staff tweet overheard comments, share pictures of displays and stock being delivered, along with other interesting happenings. With good protocol – and reasonably close monitoring – this can be an effective way of engaging with your audience.

10Give it time

Finally, invest some time into your Twitter effort. Spending a little of the marketing budget to give a friendly, outgoing member of staff some time to develop your following could be the best investment you have ever made. ◗ Garden centre consultant Doug Stewart of Waring Stewart Associates is passionate about garden centres. He can be contacted at www.

28/04/2015 16:27

business: concessions

The case for concessions

Brantano managing director David Short discusses the role of concessions within independent garden centres, as well as how to build the foundations for successful business relationships

David Short, Brantano managing director

customer and thereby strengthen your overall identity.

What are the advantages of having concessions on independent sites? Concessions represent additional income for the garden centre from specialists in other product areas. They also offer a way to expand the appeal to customers, giving them more reasons to visit. For many of Brantano’s concessions, the nearby area has nothing similar to a shoe shop. It’s a perfect opportunity to increase revenue, footfall and dwell time. Most importantly it fulfils a genuine customer requirement. GCR May15 P15 Brantano Concessions.indd 15

In your experience, what are the main concerns garden centre managers have with opening a new concession? One of the key reservations about opening a new concession is limited space. Of course there needs to be enough room to make the proposition worthwhile for the customer. Speaking personally, we’ve never come across an issue that can’t be resolved through open communication. We have 50 concessions open now, so we know how important bespoke solutions are. Do you think there is a danger that too many concessions can damage the garden centre’s brand identity? Yes. Another cause for concern we find from garden centre managers is exactly that – the detrimental effect it could have on their overall brand. If badly thought through and not relevant to your customers, concessions can indeed fragment the overall garden centre brand. However, the opportunity to enhance the customer experience with suitable concession partners is too big to miss, in my opinion. Your concession partner should be flexible to your needs, adapt to your

How can having concessions affect profit? Again, speaking personally, our concessions operate as a true partnership – the rental is linked to sales so both parties share the success of any profit achieved. It is in our interest to make sure our concession works for our partners. Amongst other things, we supply full point of sale and contact with our CRM database. We work with marketing calendars to tailor partners’ sales drives, ensuring that our concession is a hit with customers. Do you think those who don’t use concessions are missing out? I think garden centre managers know their customers best and have to make the right decision for their business. Having said that, my advice would be that if you’re looking for new ways to surprise and delight your customers, it’s always worth having the conversation. w

CONTACT Karen Staton – Retail Operations Director 01530 516151 Twitter: Brantano_Shoes Facebook: BrantanoFootwear

Garden Centre Retail May 2015 15

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28/04/2015 16:28

business: GROW

Getting the knowledge GCR editor Phil Mason talks to Garden Centre Association chief executive Iain Wylie about the organisation’s innovative online learning tool GROW

When was the need for GROW (Garden Retail Online Workshops) identified? The GTA executive committee met up for a strategy meeting in September of 2011 to look at what we were offering our members. One of the things that came out of that was how difficult it was to get training for garden centre people, particularly those on the shop floor that keep the business running day-to-day. We came up with the idea of running training online. This got around the problem of sending people away, which is a major commitment. Was it not something that had been considered before? Some garden centres had looked at the idea themselves as individual businesses, but the money involved was found to be prohibitive – we’re talking telephone numbers. Even if you’re running 10 or 15 sites, it’s a huge commitment and a disproportionate cost to undertake on your own. How did the project develop? We – or more specifically Tammy Woodhouse and Mike Burks – did a lot of background research looking into cost, viability, etc. This was around 2012 and with that knowledge we were able to go to conference and put the idea to our members. About 40 or 50 showed an initial interest, which was enough to make the project viable. We launched in January 2013 with ten modules, which has risen to in excess of 60. There are about 8,000 members of staff using GROW at the moment, across something like 90 garden centres. GCR May15 P17-18 Ian Wylie Training Q&A TW.indd 17

doing the training, but also higher up the chain as well. Is GROW accredited by any educational establishments? No. People studying via GROW get a GCA certificate, but that’s not a formal qualification. You never say never, but we’re not going down the NVQ route, at least not at the moment. That said, if you were to go on to do that kind of qualification, GROW would provide some very good supporting material. At the moment, the members’ desire seems to be just to raise standards in stores.

How is GROW delivered? Did you work to an existing model or is it a bespoke system? We worked with an external company on structure and development and then started building our own modules from there.

gardening now than he did when he started. The majority of our modules are delivered at the basic level, mainly aimed at staff who haven’t got necessarily got any prior experience of horticulture. The way it’s

“We asked our members what they wanted and we did it. It was that simple” We’ve brought in what’s known as an instructional designer, Antony Snow, who does all the technical stuff and writes the modules with input from ‘subject matter experts’. He’d probably admit that he knows more about

worked is that over time, the baseline for knowledge has risen higher and higher, which in turn frees up the real experts in garden centres to answer more complex queries. It increases the value not only of the people that are

How do you choose the modules? We asked our members what they wanted and we did it. It was that simple, at least at the beginning. Everyone wanted one on compost, so we did one on compost. We’ve still got the long list, which keeps throwing up really interesting and useful topics, not all of which are related to horticulture. What other topics are there? The most recent examples are ‘Think 21 and Think 25’, which are about selling age-restricted products. The response has been phenomenal. Christmas crackers and party poppers are age restricted and a lot of our members didn’t know that. We’ll be looking at pet and aquatic departments, giftware and so on. In the next 12 months, we’re also intending to put together a customer service module. Knowledge is great, but if you can’t communicate that knowledge, it’s sort of self-defeating. 

Garden Centre Retail May 2015 17

29/04/2015 10:08

business: GROW How do you source the content? From the members themselves. Subject matter experts exist in all garden centres and people give their time to contribute to the modules and check them. How it works is that we’ll contact Fred in such-and-such garden centre because of his knowledge of hose fittings, interview him and then write up the content from there. It’s amazing where these pockets of knowledge are. One of the great joys of being a member of the GCA is the spirit of sharing, cooperation and collaboration that exists within the organisation. GROW is a good example of that in action. Do you have a particular area of expertise? I think it’s best to let others be the judge of that. I tend to act as a coordinator, between the volunteers providing the information and the instructional designer, Antony. I did get involved recently in providing content for the bulbs and potatoes modules though. How important is the kind of knowledge and customer interaction promoted by GROW going to be as the industry moves forward? It’s going to become increasingly important. It’s becoming more and more about customer experience, and the added value of going to the garden centre itself, including the ambience.

GROW modules are designed with the needs of the GCA members in mind

“It’s becoming more and more about customer experience” Customer service has definitely improved over the last few years, because it’s had to. The difference is the interface with human beings. Can you see GROW ever starting to take in digital marketing or online selling? Not at the moment, but again, you never say never. There are currently three broad schools of thought

regarding online selling – those who are embracing it, those who think it’s an interesting idea and those who are doing nothing out of choice. The last group are quite happy to use technology, but only to get people to the garden centre itself because they view that as the essence of their offer. Plants can be shipped online, but it’s not

A selection of the GCA modules • Basic Plant Knowledge • Basic Pruning • Basic GYO Fruit • Basic GYO Vegetables • Basic Growing From Seed • Basic Houseplants • Basic Planting • Intermediate GYO Tomatoes • Intermediate GYO Potatoes • Basic Watering


• Basic Compost • Basic Pests and Pest Control • Basic Diseases and Disease Control • Basic Weeds and Weedkillers • Basic Plant Foods • Basic Starting a New Lawn • Maintaining a New Lawn • Basic Lawn Care

Garden Centre Retail May 2015

GCR May15 P17-18 Ian Wylie Training Q&A TW.indd 18

• Basic Wild Bird Care • Basic Soil Types • Basic Bulbs • Real Christmas Trees • Artificial Christmas Trees • Christmas Houseplants • Basic Barbecues • Using Danish Trolleys • Think 21 • Think 25

like online supermarket shopping. Until you’ve seen the plants, you don’t know what you’re getting. At the moment, we’re working more on product knowledge content. What modules are you going to add during 2015? We’re about to release modules on barbecues, which will be followed up fairly quickly with garden furniture. Beyond that, we want to get to grips with customer service – that’s a big one. It will probably take more than one module. We’re also looking at the viability of making GROW accessible to those using mobile devices. We’re only at the beginning of that process though. It certainly won’t be in the near future. w Iain Wylie is the chief executive of the Garden Centre Association

29/04/2015 10:08

Quality since 1920

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“This proves advertising does work if it’s done properly. We took 65% of current annual turnover during the 17 day sale!” Trissie Beard. MD. Brook Leisure, Surrey.

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a Great Retail sales opportunity for 2015!

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28/04/2015 16:29

business: customer journey

The customer journey: how to get them to shop the whole store Mike Still discusses the importance of intuitive garden centre design in maximising potential footfall


ow often have you found yourself in a supermarket struggling to find what you wanted? Or, come to think of it, on any shopping trip where you become frustrated because you just cannot begin to know where to look? Invariably the larger the store, the harder it becomes. Now ask yourself how it left you feeling – confused and irritated, or as with many customers in that situation, annoyed enough to leave the store to go and buy from somewhere else. With this in mind, think about your own garden centre and ask yourself if this is happening in your store. Might your customers be feeling the same?

Farmshop Gift Food Deli Food




Cook Shop


Cafe Cook books

The reality of retail

Many garden centres carry an eclectic mix of products, and why not? Invariably, there is space to fill and money to be made through product categories that have been added to year-on-year. The question that needs to be asked, however, is whether you are actually getting the most from the product being sold in the


Use a bubble diagram to begin designing the customer journey

space that it’s occupying. The reality of retail is that you can always sell more and that is something that can always be achieved if the basics of store layout are in place. Store layout is the foundation of any retail business and the old adage ‘a building is only as good as its foundations’ certainly rings true. It really is that simple – create a store layout that flows seamlessly, is easy to navigate, has interest and aspiration throughout and above all makes sense. That’s the foundation for even greater success.

Garden Centre Retail May 2015

GCR May15 P20-21 Customer journey TW.indd 20

Table top

Through the eyes of the customer

Going about creating the ideal layout may feel a little daunting, particularly when confronted with a blank sheet of paper. The best place to start however is through the eyes of the customer. Understand your customers, why they are there, what the most important areas for them are and what have they come to buy. With that knowledge, you can come up with various ‘customer journeys’ that can help you develop your store plan.

At the same time, it’s also necessary to be mindful of what you want to sell and how you get the customer to buy it. This means knowing what the most important areas of the business are from your point of view. And don’t forget the ageold dilemma of how and where you build in flexibility in order to respond to the seasonal changes that are so important when running a garden centre. Understanding all this will help you to inform the layout of your garden centre at a basic level. However, the task in hand is to create a

28/04/2015 16:30

business: customer journey

seamless journey that moves the customer through from one area to another – pulling them through your retail space without them even having to think about it. Done correctly, people will begin to shop what were previously the quietest areas of your space.

Adjacency plan

The next step in the process is to create an ‘adjacency plan’ by using a simple bubble map (see left). Be sure to plan-in all the fixed departments like cafes, play areas and anywhere else that might be too expensive to move. Then, apply simple logic regarding what goes where. Remember

GCR May15 P20-21 Customer journey TW.indd 21

that every step through your retail space should lead to the next, as well as being easily understood. For example, your food section should be adjacent to the cafe, with any cookshop items also nearby. This principle is illustrated by the way grocers put morning (baked) goods next to cereals, tea and coffee next to biscuits and so on. It creates an internal logic, encouraging the

plan visible ‘strike points’, that is, key display areas that will help pull the customer through and signpost the departments. By using various fixture types with different heights, you can create a retail landscape that will make better sense of the space and create real focus. All this will help the customer find what they’re looking for and sell them much more along the way.

“Remember that every step through your retail space should lead to the next” customer to think about what they need, while providing them with a simple way to get from one category into another. There is also a feeling of authority as one area ‘adds’ to its adjacent category. With this in mind, always be sure to consider what categories are the natural leads to move customers from your outdoor to indoor space and vice versa. Once you have your adjacency plan, you can easily overlay pathways through to key areas, create a customer journey through the store and

Garden centres are very fortunate. Like most operators in ‘leisure’ retail, they exist in what can only be described as the ‘good mood’ sector, with customers who are typically more relaxed and have more time on their hands. In many instances leisure retail is about self treat, and invariably the trip to the garden centre evokes thoughts of wonderful times ahead, whether relaxing in the garden or buying and decorating the tree at Christmas. The customer in other words, is there to spend!

Relaxed and happy

Now go back to thinking about your last trip to the grocer. Create anything that will cause negative emotions and your customers will just stop buying. There is so much that can and does impact upon their mood that it is imperative that you do everything you can to keep them feeling relaxed and happy. Never underestimate what a great store layout will do for you. We have seen many great store layouts deliver back massive sales increases. Remember that typically 80% of your sales will come from just 20% of your inventory. Now imagine what you could do if the customer could see and find their way to the other 80% of your product that is hidden away. ◗ Mike Still is a Director at Clear Retail, a Visual Merchandising and Design Agency which analyses, designs and merchandises retail concepts to help increase sales. 01636 830 270

Garden Centre Retail May 2015


28/04/2015 16:31

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28/04/2015 16:31

feature: let’s hear it from...


Nick Joad

The General Manager of Haskins Roundstone discusses life at the company’s largest garden centre

How long have you been at Haskins? I joined just over five years ago, starting out as the General Manager at Snowhill, so I’ve gone from the oldest and smallest site to the newest and biggest one. I’ve been at Roundstone – which is in its third year of trading – for about 18 months now. What’s been the biggest change since you’ve arrived? Probably the importance of the restaurant, which is now a massive part of garden centres across the board, and certainly of what we do. Our catering currently equates to about 20% of our turnover. We’ve got space for around 550 covers at any one time, and people will come here now just to go to the restaurant, to eat their breakfast, lunch or dinner. GCR May15 P23-26 Let's Hear It From.indd 23

So it’s become as much a ‘destination’ as somewhere people go to shop… It has. We’ve had to turn to that kind of model, because of the need to bring in people all year round, rather than just at times when the weather’s good. A related development is the amount of undercover shopping space that we’ve got now. Catering is one avenue, a more modern shopping environment with more product ranges is another. A lot of people, particularly men, see going out shopping as a chore. This offers a slower pace than the high street. It’s a much more pleasant, leisurely environment. The site is massive. Why was this particular location chosen? This was a smaller garden centre, already owned by Haskins, which 

Garden Centre Retail May 2015 23

28/04/2015 16:32

feature: let’s hear it from...

we then redeveloped. The old one was where the car park is now. Prior to that it was a nursery. The original owners moved, which enabled us to buy the land. It’s three times bigger than it was. How have the local community taken to the new, much larger, centre? Was there any push-back from people who wanted things to remain more traditional? At the beginning, it was a bit like Marmite – you either liked it, or you hated it. Ultimately, people have come to like it and the business has grown accordingly. There’s a lot of positivity about the site, but the regular customers needed a bit of time to get used to it. As far as we’re concerned, it’s done one of the things we intended, in that it’s attracted a much wider audience. Traditionally, our customers were aged 45 upwards, but we now get a much younger group of people. It was the same brand before the redevelopment, so there’s been no issue from a continuity point of view.

beneficial to both us and them. The idea is that you’ll shop the whole of the garden centre, rather than just a small part of it. When Warren Haskins built the original centre in Ferndown, it was using an entirely new concept, informed by the American consultants that he’d brought in. He had a very definite idea of how to sell to people. What does that mean in practice? When you walk in the first thing you see is an abundance of houseplants,

this is important to reinforce our identity as a garden centre and sets the tone. The path takes you naturally to the left, past the restaurant, the seasonal mat, then through the main doors and out into the bedding and garden plants. The path then carries you around, past all the garden sundries. In the middle of it, there’s home and gifts. The idea is that all areas of the garden centre are shopped. Another factor from the design point of view is the weather. The pathway structure is situated so if

Above: Catering now equates to about 20% of turnover at Haskins Roundstone

How do you set about designing a facility of this size, that’s got to serve so many selling functions? Effective design related to the customer journey has been a big part of the Haskins philosophy since the beginning, and it certainly informs what we do. From our point of view, it’s all about the flow and trying to get customers to move around the facility in a way that’s most


Garden Centre Retail May 2015

GCR May15 P23-26 Let's Hear It From.indd 24

28/04/2015 16:33

feature: let’s hear it from...

“The idea is to build the Haskins brand around the products that we sell” much they’re going to spend. When Warren opened Ferndown, this model was unique at the time. It woke up the industry. Previously, it was all just converted greenhouses with a few bits built on.

it’s tipping down with rain or it’s cold outside, you’re more inclined to go into home and giftware after you’ve been to the restaurant.

Below: For Haskins, effective design is about the flow of customers through the garden centre

Why is the restaurant at the beginning of the customer journey? You want people to see their visit to the centre as part of a leisure activity, so the idea is to give them the opportunity to have their refreshment first. They can sit, have a cup of tea and some cake, and have a think about what they’re going to buy and how

How often is the layout reviewed? It’s a matter of continuous improvement, rather than just changing things for the sake of it. We’ve been trading here for three years, and last year we moved every shelf and changed the path structure slightly. That was to give people a sight-line of everything, which they didn’t have before. Given how important catering is now, how do you develop your policy regarding hospitality? We try to cater for a wide range of needs and tastes, and also to be convenient, so we’ve gone for a self-service restaurant rather than a table service format. We’ve situated everything so it has its own area – baguettes, salads, soups, as well as a pizza oven. We provide a meal of the day, the same as a traditional garden centre, but not as the only choice. Haskins has a group catering manager who works with suppliers and looks at trends. The majority of what we produce on site is freshly made.

The history of Roundstone A horticultural nursery and a garden centre have existed on the 15 acre Roundstone site for over 40 years. The nursery was developed into the Roundstone Garden Centre in the mid-1970s. Haskins purchased the busy garden centre in November 2000. It traded successfully in the same guise and footprint until March 2012, when a £13million new build centre opened. Careful planning – and the large site – had ensured that the final demolition of the original centre only took place a few months ahead of the new centre’s official opening. The new centre, complete with a team of 150 staff, is now a true destination garden centre, with bright and well laid out departments and a busy 460-seat restaurant. The centre now enjoys an annual turnover of £8million and hosts a variety of community based events. These range from the annual sponsorship of the ‘Angmering In Bloom’ contest, to themed events for local charity events and collections.

What are the specific challenges in managing a garden centre of this size? In the first instance, the site obviously presents a lot to maintain. There’s the upkeep of the facilities, as well as all the landscaping and making the plant areas look their best for customers. That’s a big task. Is there ever the temptation to fill the space with concessions? Not within the main facility itself. Some garden centres can’t necessarily work the space they have well enough, so they sell it off 

GCR May15 P23-26 Let's Hear It From.indd 25

Garden Centre Retail May 2015


28/04/2015 16:33

feature: let’s hear it from...

“The managers see how things are from the shop floor, so it makes sense to listen them” and go down the concessions route. We see space as our biggest asset – we’ve just put in a cook shop. The idea is to build the Haskins brand around the products that we sell, rather than integrating it with other companies in that way. We do have some concessions, like Hobbycraft and the aquatics centre, but they’re over the other side of the site, away from the main building. We want to add value according to the customer profile in a way that doesn’t give away our identity. It’s not a shopping mall. How much autonomy do you have as a manager within the larger corporate structure? Quite a lot. It’s always been the same for Haskins. If we have a good idea about growing the product and the brand, it will be considered and implemented. The managers see how things are from the shop floor,

Above: How much space is allocated to products is something managers are invited to consider Below: The buying process is an experience – people want to look, touch and feel

so it makes sense to listen to them. That could be in relation to how much space we allocate to certain product ranges, or suggestions if space isn’t working hard enough. The buying function works very closely with the retail ops function. We’re actually a relatively small business, which means we can work together quite closely. What was one of your suggestions that increased sales? I recently observed we didn’t have a wide enough range of building materials – paving, aggregates, that kind of thing. I suggested we increased our footprint and sales of those types of products grew by 35% in one year. Again, that’s something a manager is ideally positioned to look at, because it was about the use of space. We analysed the sales, as well as comparing the market and benchmarking ourselves against other garden centres. We simply looked at the opportunities that were out there. If you’ve got a number of garden centres that have the same product range in the same format, it becomes a bit samey. You’ve got to make it a unique experience. Why has Haskins not embraced online selling or e-commerce yet? For us, part of the garden centre offer is that you have to come here


Garden Centre Retail May 2015

GCR May15 P23-26 Let's Hear It From.indd 26

and visit, so we have to factor that into any discussion about online selling. We get coach parties coming to Roundstone, and there’s even a local bus route that runs through the site. Shopping here is a leisure activity that people want to enjoy as an experience. The buying process is also very experiential, and often impulsive – people want to go and look, touch, feel and choose. I don’t see the lack of opportunity to buy online as a concern. What trends do you see developing over the coming months? Going forward, I think we’ll need to factor in impulse buyers and gardeners as well – people who want to make their outdoor space look good quickly, rather than gardeners that can do everything. Conversely, people also want to make their outdoor space more useable all year round. Personally, I think the ‘grow your own’ market has reached its peak and is probably in decline, so we need to take account of that. But there’s a growing trend with building materials and ornaments. It’s an exciting time. ◗ Nick Joad General Manager, Haskins Garden Centre Roundstone 01903 777666;

28/04/2015 16:33

advertisement feature

Creating the feel-good factor in your garden centre’s restaurant


atering can play a major role in boosting your garden centre’s appeal and turnover. Thermoflor has discussed this matter with experts from the sector and contributes expertise in the field of design and construction. Food is emotion At the Garden Retail Experience congress that took place in the Netherlands, various international entrepreneurs expressed their views on the catering concept. Ed Webb of Webb’s Garden Centres said: “Our restaurant accounts for 20% of our total turnover, with cups of coffee representing the largest proportion. You can sell food and beverages 365 days a year. There’s a very emotional aspect to food and it’s very suitable for a personalised approach. We deliberately use our new restaurant as an instrument for challenging customers to provide feedback via social media.” Erwin Meier (Ernst Meier AG, Zurich) also has a restaurant in his garden centre. “When we built our new garden centre in 2011, I made every mistake I could possibly have made. One

of them was to accommodate the restaurant on the first floor. Now that I’m about to expand it because it’s become too small, I realise that I situated it in the wrong place.“ Design and construction In the last edition of GCR Gabriele Guile of Vision Commercial Kitchens shared her views on innovative design in garden centres and restaurants with us.

She analysed various decisive factors. Thermoflor would like to add some that will further enhance the feel-good factor for your customers: • Make due allowance for the kitchen in an open public area: good ventilation and exhaust fans are essential. • Ensure pleasant, gentle insulation and reflection of sunlight; not too hot and not too cold. Use sun-reflecting tinted windows. • Create a good mixture of dark shaded areas and parts with daylight insolation. Besides providing advice on materials, Thermoflor will also gladly help you with expert advice on the best place to locate a restaurant in your garden centre, possibly via an extension. We can also help you save costs by thinking about ways of saving energy, for example through a combination of effective isolation and transparent areas.

GCR May15 P27 Thermoflor Advertorial TW.indd 27

Experiences in the UK We have built extra areas for accommodating restaurants in garden centres for several customers in the UK. For example, we have recently built an extension at Forest Lodge in Farnham, enabling them to expand their restaurant. The extension is covered with a 12m roof combined with a 5.6m roof and we used large windows of almost 2x2m. The extension means that twice as many visitors as in the past can now enjoy Forest Lodge’s gastronomy and the garden centre’s catering turnover has doubled.


Ferry Breugem, Sales Manager Tel +(31) 6 53194354 Tel + (31) 45 5411458

29/04/2015 10:07

feature: inspirational catering

Food for thought: increasing turnover with inspirational catering Carr Farm Garden Centre on the Wirral has turned itself into a true ‘destination’ site, with a state-of-the-art restaurant at its heart. Ben Jones talks us through the planning, design and implementation – and dramatic increase in turnover


Garden Centre Retail May 2015

GCR May15 P28-31 Catering Carr TW.indd 28

28/04/2015 16:35

feature: inspirational catering


pring 2010 was a complicated time. We were in the middle of a recession and the weather was unpredictable at best. Growth had been static since 2007 and with rising costs, Carr needed to come up with a plan and revolutionise its business. Following close collaboration with Chris Primett of Malcolm Scott consultants, it was decided that we would redevelop much of the existing garden centre. The focal point of this was to be a new restaurant, which continued to serve our local customer base while encouraging a rise in group travel, in particular out of season.

Design and plan

Our original coffee shop – a converted greenhouse – could only cater for 120 covers, with a turnover of £400,000. Restaurant turnover is now projected to reach £1.75m within the next few years. The increased footfall is fuelling overall growth to the tune of around £10m. The new facility was split into several key areas. The Atrium restaurant in the main building caters for 250 covers, boasting a striking glass frontage with a raised central roof that creates a high visual impact. At night, the building floods light onto the surrounding fields and can be seen for almost a mile to the east and west. During the day, the fields offer a pleasant view for customers – who will eventually gaze out across a seven acre wild flower meadow and herb kitchen garden, both due to be added as the site develops. Counter space in the main building was kept to a minimum. While many garden centres offer large self service areas, our main focus was on high quality table service. This approach enabled us to offer the customer a more relaxing experience, with many people visiting as a treat or as part of a family day out. The Atrium Street Cafe offers a further 50 covers. It is the focal point of the whole garden centre, with an eight and a half metre

GCR May15 P28-31 Catering Carr TW.indd 29

roof, paved walkway and feature brick walls. It offers alfresco dining whatever the weather, all year round and links the main garden centre to the ‘craft courtyard’ where we have the potential for a further 100 covers this spring. All areas are linked through a four-point Epos system that sends orders directly through to the kitchen, allowing customers ordering from the craft courtyard to have access to the main menu.

“Increased footfall is fuelling growth to the tune of £10m” Integrated concessions

The integration of the old courtyard buildings, some of which date back to the 17th century, proved difficult. The brick and stone structures had been built up over the centuries so we took the approach of contrasting and highlighting the buildings. The main coffee lounge area has a tall glass window overlooking the old dairy building. At the same time, the Atrium Street Cafe’s grand end glass and black steel wall stands tall, facing the house where managing directors Sue Armstrong and David Jones grew up. A sloped paved walkway continues out of the building into the heart of the courtyard where customers can

see ironwork in action in the Austro Metal concession, take knitting classes in Voirrey Craft or even have their hair done. The courtyard will become a great space for events, with a Victorian carousel, farmer’s market and flower shows all in the planning stages.

Turning up the heat

In moving the business forward, we were presented with an opportunity to improve our environmental credentials. Our old coffee shop had been running off an outdated oil burning heating system. Combined with thinly-insulated walls, this 

Garden Centre Retail May 2015


28/04/2015 16:35

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28/04/2015 16:38

feature: inspirational catering

meant we struggled to maintain a pleasant temperature during winter months. It was also proving increasingly expensive. An air source heat pump system now forms the basis of the heating in the new restaurant. The facility was built with densely insulated Kingspan panels. The system can be inverted during the summer months to act as an air conditioning system and with five independently controlled fans, the restaurant can be maintained at 21ºC all year round.

Food and drink

One of the great successes of the new restaurant has been our ability to tie in our offering from retail food sales with catering. The fresh fruit and vegetables and butcher’s produce used in the menu are all available for sale within the garden centre. Using local suppliers was crucial to this, with award winning Bexleys butchers of Liverpool offering a wide variety of sausages (including a subtle toffee apple flavour that has been a great hit with younger families). Our chef’s special, ‘ring’ Cumberland sausage

with mash and onion gravy has also been a great hit. We have put in place key offers to reward regular customers. A 15% discount is available to all of our club card holders on food and drink before 11am and after 3pm on weekdays, while two for £12 specials are available to OAPs on selected meals such as lasagne.

Carr Farm’s new catering facility is crucial to attracting visitors

“Social media has been crucial in reaching a younger clientele” Looking back

Initially we had expected to be opening the restaurant in autumn 2014. However, the project was delayed, meaning that we would miss the crucial Christmas trade. We did not want to compromise on quality, with ‘finishing touches’ added to various areas almost as an impulse. The flexibility integral to the building process allowed us to recover from any setbacks. The building work was finally completed on January 10 2015, leaving us a two day window to

That’s the bottom line

January, February and March are traditionally very quiet months for the site due to its background as a nursery. In 2014, visitor numbers were only 22,500 for the three months. This year we have doubled that figure and crucially, day visitor numbers – those travelling for more than 30 minutes – have increased from 5% to 15% as a proportion of overall visitor numbers. In fact, March 2015 set a new record for turnover in the restaurant with gross revenue of £75,000. This has coincided with 20% growth in garden centre sales on the back of the higher footfall, despite the cold weather conditions. The focus of our plans was and remains to achieve this consistency of turnover. ◗

Table service differentiates the hospitality offer

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get the restaurant open on time. Head chef Terence Fenlon worked well into the early hours. We added images to our website and then used social media to spread the word. Social media has been crucial in reaching a younger clientele and in keeping people informed throughout the build. The main restaurant opened on time on 12 January and more than 600 covers were served on the first day. Through word of mouth alone, the restaurant achieved its first £5,000 turnover for a single day the following weekend. Managing director David Jones said: ”The feedback was fantastic. Our food had always been outstanding, but now we have a state of the art building for customers to enjoy it in.”

Ben Jones is company director of Carr Farm Garden Centre Birkenhead Road, Meols, Wirral CH47 9RE 0151 632 1457

Garden Centre Retail May 2015


28/04/2015 16:36

feature: plant focus

Plant focus: can you feel the love? Customers will go that extra mile to procure brands they love, says Lucy Summers. You just need to choose the right products


’ll bet there are times when you take a sneaky peek at what your competitors are up to. Don’t deny it, we all do it. We mither about how our competitors pulled off their last terrific promotion or how they run their businesses day-to-day, convincing ourselves that every other business out there is doing so much better than our own. However, rival companies could be going through any number of scenarios. They might be teetering on the brink of collapse or have internal management wars. They might even be peering back at your company wondering what they could do to be more like you.

Are you a ‘love brand’?

When you’re seemingly unable to establish any meaningful traction no matter how hard you try, it’s easy to model your company on a competitor, mimicking their products, style and pricing. But it hardly makes you stand out from the herd. Copycatting the competition is a destructive habit but observing their strategy is infinitely more useful. One of the methods you can employ to help develop your own unique corporate identity is to research brands you love and ask yourself why you love them. If you can nail valid reasons for your allegiance to certain products, it will help you understand what it takes to become a ‘love brand’. I’m a Lakeland and John Lewis fan. They sell dependable, consistent, competitively priced, up-to-date products, and customer service is tip-top. I also drive out of my way to purchase a particular brand of butter at a particular shop when I can buy a butter mountain at my local supermarket around the corner. It’s another of my love brands and I’m happy to go the extra mile to procure it.


Garden Centre Retail May 2015

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I hate to say it, but there is nothing innovative in your garden centre that inspires my loyalty. The offering is pretty much identical across the nation – I can barely slip a Rizla paper between you. Why shop at garden centre A when I know garden centres B and C all have the same products and customer service? It is much more likely that you get repeat customers because of your geographical location. But what else distinguishes you from your rivals?

Selling the right products

It may well be you aren’t selling any love brands in your store. Most of your plants are entirely predictable. Largely imported, you may well need to consider sourcing from smaller wholesalers in order to sell something more aspirational to gain customer loyalty. Even supermarkets offer their own top-end ranges, so why not you? One brand I recently came across is Garden Girl. It has terrific outdoor clothing for gardeners that’s both stylish and eminently practical. It’s very different

‘Love brands’ like Garden Girl could attract customers to your garden centre

from your merchandise and is the sort of product that may well elevate you to ‘love brand’ status. In the same way, we’ve got UK companies producing stylish flowerpots. They’ll cost you more, but you can also charge more. Get away from the same-old, same-old imported pots. By default, people trust local, specialist experience over bland, faceless multinationals.

Create a customer survey

Some potential questions to ask: • Why do your customers shop with you rather than competitors? • Ask them to name three things that inspire that loyalty • What do they dislike most about your business? • What is the one thing about your business they most admire? • Do they think you are any different from your competitors? If so, in what way? You get the picture. Discover what your customers really want from you. Create a company that gives visitors reasons to love you. I recently discovered a nursery dealing with specialist ground cover perennials. They aren’t a big, slick, shiny operation like the big sheds. What seduced me? Interested, friendly, knowledgeable staff and great quality plants with a number of the rare cultivars that I can’t buy at your place. They also thoughtfully dispensed free tea and cakes to visitors all day. What’s a slice of cake amongst friends? Surely you can afford to dispense some largesse towards your customers now and again. Free tea or coffee as we browse is a nice thing. Your bean counting and obsession with profit margins leaves no room for the personal touch and not one of your customers feels special. You’ve definitely got some ground to cover if you want to be a love brand.

28/04/2015 16:39

feature: plant focus

Ground cover plants

Heuchera ‘Rave On’

well as being absolutely corking in mixed beds. Persuade your visitors to provide an average to moist soil, keep them well watered in dry weather and they will enjoy a carpet of marbled splendour. Pulmonaria ‘Trevi Fountain’ (H. 25cm x S. 60cm) is my pick for quick growing ground-rugging, displaying silver splashed fresh green foliage and smothered in pillars of azure blue flowers in early summer. Pulmonaria ’Dark Vader’ (H. 25cm x S. 50cm) is reputed to be mildew resistant and although the flowers are typical species pinky-mauve, the foliage is exceptional. Overlapping mounds of ivory-speckled deep green leaves create continuous, dense low maintenance ground cover for challenging outdoor spaces. w

Heuchera ‘Midnight Rose’

Image credits:

Talking of ground cover leads me nicely into our plant focus this month. Ground cover plants are amongst the most useful, beautiful and versatile plants on our planet and much coveted by gardeners. Please be good enough to display some of these plants growing purposefully in your establishment so your customers don’t have to guess at what they do or how they should be planted. Heucheras and lungwort really earn their stripes in covering awkward tracts of garden scenery, and the varieties on offer are plentiful. I’d plump for Heuchera ‘Rave on’ (H. 20cm x S. 36cm), perfectly happy in sun or partial shade, for the stunning red-coppered silvered foliage. It’s an abundant bloomer with dainty sprays of steepled vibrant pink flower spikes in early summer. A light haircut after the first flush of flowers will encourage an encore through late summer. Heuchera ’Midnight Rose’ (H. 25cm x S. 40cm) is aptly named with extremely appealing beetroot-hued lobed foliage spotted with raspberry and it has typical dainty sprays of white coralbells in June. Happy in full or partial shade, this variety will happily embrace full gloom. Advise gardeners to plant it en-masse in a tricky, deeply shaded, area of the garden providing a plant that is fit for purpose and incredibly attractive too. The lungwort aren’t often heralded, and why not? Sure they are prone to mildew if left to thirst, but what a brilliant solution for problem areas, as

Pulmonaria ‘Dark Vader’

Lucy Summers is a landscape designer and writer. 0800 772 3766 Pulmonaria “Trevi Fountain’ GCR May15 P32-33 Plant Focus TW.indd 33

Garden Centre Retail May 2015 33

29/04/2015 10:08

product news

Product news

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

New catalogue from Grange


arden structures and fencing company Grange has launched its new brochure for the 2015 season. The brochure contains 84 pages, highlighting decorative garden structures as well as the company’s fencing offer, which includes its iconic Metpost brand. Commenting on the new brochure, senior product manager Rob Giles said: “This season sees some significant investment in marketing the Grange brand. “The company has proved its logistical abilities in its positive handling and communication during last year’s storms. Now we need to demonstrate the aesthetic and added value aspects of the range and affirm our commitment to engaging the consumer.”

Reedy taps into craft market


eedy Supplies has launched its new garden tool range, drawing inspiration from heritage gardening and traditional craftsmanship. The tools are made from Ash, incorporate stainless steel heads and are ideal for both budding gardeners as well as old hands. Adam Greenman – who has developed the range based on old tools found in his grandfather’s shed – spoke of the recent product launch,

taking place at Liberty in London. He said: “It is fantastic to see our range selected by an institution such as Liberty. Its ethos and brand values of heritage, innovation and design sit so well with this range of tools. We’re thrilled to supply them and look forward to seeing them in store.”


Alternative to Fibreclay launched


he Pot Company has launched its new Clayfibre faux lead planter range as an alternative to the now discontinued Fibreclay. ‘Clayfibre’ is manufactured using eco-friendly techniques

Glove manufacturer pitches in for Greenfingers

and recycled materials that will weather in an authentic manner over time. The business, which delivers nationwide from its warehouse in Kent, has already begun to import containers of the faux lead planters into the UK. The launch follows several months of product development, during which other materials were rejected.

own & Country sold around 3,400 pairs of gardening gloves on Garden Re-Leaf Day, according to figures released by the company. The glove specialist pledged to donate 25p for each of its products sold as part of its fundraising efforts for the charity Greenfingers. Town & Country chief executive Barry Page said: “We are delighted with the sales figures that have come in so far. They show that a whopping 3,400 pairs of Town & Country gloves were sold in the first three hours of Garden Re-Leaf Day. “We look forward to confirming the final tally once all the figures are in and we can calculate the final donation that we will be making to Greenfingers.”

Norfolk rose partnership


eter Beales has announced a range of classic climbing and shrub roses intended for high-end garden centre customers. The range has been developed in conjunction with local wholesale rose grower Whartons Nurseries of Pulham St Mary and consists of a number of distinct varieties.


Garden Centre Retail May 2015

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Nursery manager Ian Limmer said: “We regularly have customers ask whether our roses are available to purchase in their local garden centres. “With this joint venture, we are hoping to be able to connect with gardeners searching for Peter Beales branded roses. Over 200

garden centres are already expressing a keen interest in supplying the range.”

29/04/2015 10:05

products: category review

How to sell... candles

Geoff Hodge discusses how to get away from the ‘gift shop’ mentality by integrating candle sales into your central offer


henever the gardeners I speak to moan about garden centres, it’s never “Oh, they always charge too much,” or “They never have what I want.” Rather, it’s always “They’re not garden centres any more – they’re gift shops and Christmas stores.” So I rant back at them that if they went to garden centres more often, visited all year round and bought plants in autumn and winter, those centres could probably stock core gardening products exclusively. That usually shuts them up and sends them off with their tails between their legs. It’s obvious that consumers have noticed that you stock great gift products and that you’re convenient places to buy gifts – so make the most of that and milk it for all it’s worth. One major gift area that has grown massively in recent years and does have a connection to plants and in some respects gardening, is candles. The new Royal

Horticultural Society Fragrant Gardens Collection from Wax Lyrical is an obvious link for those who want a horticultural or gardening link. They feature original botanical illustrations from the RHS Lindley Library, combined with the company’s classic English garden fragrances.

Sexy scents lead to successful sales

Scented candles seem to be some of the most popular lines. However, I rarely, if ever, see (or more correctly, smell) garden centres using their scent as a selling point. I’m sure if I was wandering around a store and could actually smell their delicious aromas wafting my way, I might be tempted to buy some. I’m sure it’s an absolute no-no to have naked flames in a covered shop (unless you want the Health & Safety Executive sniffing down your neck and closing you down). But the major candle suppliers also produce complementary scented reed diffusers, which provide a fantastic flamefree alternative to candles and could easily be used, helping you to sell both lines. Maybe your supplier would provide free samples for just such purposes. Don’t laugh – there’s no harm in asking.

Practical linking

But candles aren’t just gifts. They are useful and practical purchases in their own right, for use all around GCR May15 P35 Geoff Hodge Candles TW.indd 35

the house and garden. Surely one way to stop the moans that your centre’s turned into a gift shop is to get away from the gift shop mentality. Corralling all your gift lines together into one huge area so that customers have to fight to get to the planteria is a sure-fire way to put off proper gardeners. Instead, integrate them with other garden and gardening products, using them for linked sales and add-ons. This will not only dispel the gift shop myth but it will surely increase the average basket spend too. The obvious choice is to put candles and tea-lights among the outdoor and conservatory furniture and barbecues – they’re a natural linked sale. But room scenters among the houseplants and the right relaxing aromas elsewhere will all encourage your customers to pull out their wallets and purses. With so many people worried about declining bee populations, creating displays that make people aware of the problem and selling bees’ wax candles among plants that attract bees into the garden may put some extra cash in the till. If you do want to milk candle sales for all they’re worth, then there are some great initiatives out there. The Yankee Candle Loyalty Card is one such idea – giving a £10 discount after ten £10 purchases. And, to prevent further ‘garden centres are just gift shops’ angst, when a keen gardener comes in asking for fork handles, don’t try to sell them four candles! w Geoff Hodge is a writer and broadcaster. He writes for various gardening magazines and websites and has written eight books. Previously, he was a garden centre manager.

Garden Centre Retail May 2015 35

29/04/2015 10:02

advertisement feature

A burning passion for quality


erhaps the greatest contribution a company can make is to remain loyal to the truths from which it was founded. At no other time have we been more proud to be an American company that has consistently produced a superior product, for over 147 years, unequalled by any in the world. Our founding father, Amos Ives Root, was a shining example of the American spirit. Known as ‘the father of modern day beekeeping,’ A. I. was a gentleman of integrity and scientific curiosity who was just as at home in the pulpit as he was addressing a Congressional hearing. A true innovator and entrepreneur, he always sought a better way. His inquisitive mind led him to build a better beehive and create new ways to harvest honey. In 1869, he founded the A. I. Root Company where he manufactured a beehive that for the first time made it possible for beekeepers to harvest their honey without destroying the colony of bees. His books and magazines, including The ABCs of Bee Culture and Bee Culture Magazine, continue to be published today and remain as the primary source

GCR May15 P36 Root Candles Advertorial TW.indd 36

of information to the beekeeping industry. In the 1920s, the Root brand of honey was advertised and well known to be the finest table grade honey available. A.I. was a visionary with faith in others who dared to dream. A friend of the Wright Brothers, he published the first account of their flight (found today in the Smithsonian Institute) when few others believed what they had done. He was a humanitarian lauded by 11-year-old Helen Keller for his kindness. The Root Company’s early honey and beeswax enterprise

turned to candle making in 1928 at the request of a local priest looking for higher quality candles. Today, we remain a leader in liturgical candles as well as producing beautiful decorative candles with lovely fragrances for your home. Nothing can compare to the quality of a Root Candle. Each is carefully handcrafted using processes mastered through five generations of craft smanship combined with the latest in manufacturing

technologies. The results are pure and simple: lasting fragrance, rich colour, longer and cleaner burning, uniquely appealing textures and, honestly, the finest candles you can buy. Now in its fifth generation, the Root family continues to extol the virtues of honesty, integrity and plain hard work that exemplify our company. Amos Ives Root wrote in 1917: “I looked up at the stars and stripes that were floating in the wind from the flag pole over our company and said, ‘The A. I. Root Company, God permitting, will last for years after A. I. Root, himself, is gone.’” Root Candles are sold in fine gift and speciality shops across the country. We’re also right where we started in 1869 in Medina, Ohio within our beautifully restored original brick building. Visit our website at for a retail location near you. Exhibiting at: Harrogate Fair – July Autumn Fair – September Glee - September ◗

29/04/2015 10:01

All natural beeswax blend for a longer and cleaner burning candle.

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GCR May15 P37 Root Candles Ad.indd 37

28/04/2015 16:42

Jarloc is a brand new, innovative solution to prevent candle theft. See how Jarloc works at Garden Centre Retail May 15 Amora ad.indd 1

22/04/2015 14:31:02

Sweet Cherry Blossom blends with warm Amber and gentle Vanilla, soft like a drift of blossom on the breeze /

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GCR May15 P38 Jarloc/Ash&Burr/Heyland.indd 38

Handmade in England

28/04/2015 16:42

products: candles ▲

Cherry Blossom by Heyland & Whittle Heyland & Whittle has introduced ‘Cherry Blossom’, its new fragrance for the spring and summer months. The product includes a reed diffuser and refill to fragrance a room, alongside two candles made with a blend of sustainable soy saw. According to the company, the fragrance is designed so that the cherry blends with the warm amber and gentle vanilla. RRP candle and diffuser: £28 Tin candle: £12 Refill: £17.50

candles Latest products

▲ Art Candles summer-scented tins Art Candles has released a range of summer fragrance scented tin candles. The natural soy wax products are designed to burn cleanly and are sweetly fragranced. Scents in the range include frangipani, mango, coconut, citronella, ylang ylang and lemongrass. Minimum order of £50

Scented candles, diffusers and related products Jarloc

Jarloc is a new security solution designed to help retailers prevent glass jar candles from being stolen. The product is standalone and reusable. It fits snugly inside the top of the candle jar, before locking into place, preventing access to the wick. The lid fits on top allowing the candle to be displayed as normal.

▲ Ashleigh & Burwood’s new ▲

Lubylu reed diffusers

Lubylu’s reed diffusers use ecofriendly, non-toxic fragrance oils, blended with the summer months in mind. The diffusers come in a core range of 20 scents, including sherbet lemon, rhubarb, fresh linen and the exclusive blend spa day. The Lubylu creations are all packaged in bespoke boxes. RRP: £15

GCR May15 P39 Products Candles TW.indd 39


Ashleigh & Burwood has brought to market two new seasonal fragrance lamps designed to add a ‘second wave of freshness’ to its initial launches. The new products are Black Cherry and Lavender and Vanilla. Both are available in 250ml and 500ml sizes. The products are being launched with supporting point of sale materials, including a counter card encouraging consumers to try both fragrances. RRP 250ml: £6.25. 500ml: £11.50

Garden Centre Retail May 2015


28/04/2015 16:43


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28/04/2015 11:56

Introducing the Revolutionary Zero Threshold™ Greenhouse

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28/04/2015 16:43

products: outdoor buildings

Latest products

outdoor buildings Eden Greenhouses

Eden Greenhouses has launched a new range of builds based on the company’s Zero Threshold sliding door system. The CAD-designed innovation means that users can enjoy ‘no trip’ wheelbarrow and trolley access. The ‘Eden’ range comprises four new designs – Birdlip, Burford, Blockley and Bourton. RRP: From £379 for the Birdlip 4x4

The latest innovations in sheds and greenhouses

Nordic Garden Buildings

Nordic Garden Buildings has announced its new collection for 2015. The range consists of more than 4,000 garden building combinations, with a variety of over 25 different products, available in a wide range of sizes, colours and roof designs. According to the company, Nordic is the only UK supplier to have the CE mark on its full range of buildings. RRP: From £4104 for the GH4-B Greenhouse

Nison Greenhouses

Vitavia Garden Products

Vitavia Garden Products has launched two new greenhouse models for 2015, both with low threshold entrances for easy access. The Phoenix is a double-door greenhouse available in four sizes (8x8, 8x10, 8x12, 8x14). The Apollo meanwhile is a single door structure, available in five sizes from 6x4 up to 6x12. RRP: From £339 for the Apollo 6x4

Store More Garden Buildings

Store More Garden Buildings is one of the largest and longest standing distributors of metal and plastic garden sheds in the UK. Lifetime plastic and Lotus metal products head a range which includes Biohort, Canberra and Duramax buildings. Store More delivers using its own specialist drivers. RRP: From £199 for the Canberra 6x3

GCR May15 P41 Products Outdoor Buildings.indd 41

The EaZi-Click Polycarbonate Aluminium Greenhouse range from Nison features an innovative assembly system, aimed at reducing build time by up to 60% compared to other aluminium greenhouses. The EaZi-Click system allows for easy cleaning without disassembly. The range features a 15-year frame warranty and full customer support. RRP: From £399.99

Tiger Sheds

Tiger Sheds has launched a unique product in the shape of its Flex Apex Garden Shed. The flexible garden building can be assembled in a variety of ways, with the windows and doors sitting wherever desired (windows can be positioned on either side of the building, for instance, and the door can hang on the left or right hinge). The shiplap cladding is 12mm, and the extra thick frame is designed to ensure that the building is strong, thereby increasing its lifespan. RRP: From £319.99

Garden Centre Retail May 2015


29/04/2015 10:00

New for 2015 - Hedgehog Houses


M a ga ke ld rd yo lif en ur eh a av en !

Antiqued ornamental stoneware from Hampshire Gardencraft

Fantastic creatures

Adorable Animals Phone | 01730 895182

Large figurines & ornaments

GCR May15 P42 Fairy/DargonStone.indd 42

Handcrafted in Hampshire from reconstituted limestone. Hardwearing, finely detailed and beautifully finished. Trade only - Trial orders available - Contact us for details

28/04/2015 16:44

products: outdoor accessories ▲

La Hacienda’s garden accessories

La Hacienda has developed an extensive range of garden decoration items including lanterns, mirrors and wall-mounted planters. The collection follows on from a previous expansion in 2014, during which the company added a selection of garden collectables such as its colourful, highly detailed metal statuary, as well as both contemporary and traditional wall art. RRP Metal Wall Art: £24.99

Safe haven for hedgehogs

Hampshire Gardencraft has added a ‘hedgehog house’ to its Dragonstone collection of garden ornaments, planters and statuary. The product incorporates a practical design complete with air vents for creature comfort. Every Gardencraft piece is handcrafted and antiquefinished in the UK from hardwearing reconstituted limestone. Supply is trade only. RRP: £49.99

▲ Soane Mouth of Truth fountain

Haddonstone has launched a collection of designs replicating historic works of art currently on display at the renowned Sir John Soane’s Museum in London. Dating from the Roman Hadrianic period, the Mouth of Truth mask depicts a figure with an open mouth and flowing hair. It can be incorporated as a wall plaque or adapted for use as a built-in wall fountain. RRP: £295

outdoor accessories Latest products

Smart Solar water fountains

Smart Garden Products has launched six new Smart Solar water fountains to complement its existing range. Smart Solar fountains are environmentally friendly, working in direct sunlight without the need for mains electricity. The company has also given its website a new look, with content including product information as well as access to YouTube video clips. RRP: £40

GCR May15 P43 Products Outdoor Accessories TW.indd 43

Fire, iron and stoneware to complement your core offer

Corona BBQ Fire Bowl

Gardeco has improved the design of its Corona BBQ Fire Bowl, incorporating a removable, height-adjustable barbecue grill. The Fire Bowl has four legs for increased stability and comes with a charcoal grill option and two real stone side tables. The product is made from 100% cast iron and burns both charcoal and logs. RRP: 113cm high, £169.99; 132cm high, £219.99

Garden Centre Retail May 2015


28/04/2015 16:46

latest products ▲

H2o2go Carts

H2o2go Carts has just secured a 700 store contract with a major UK retailer as its products impress supermarkets and garden centres across the country. The company rolled out its mobile plant watering carts to more than 100 Waitrose stores last year. Director John Bull, said: “Our simple yet sorely needed water carts are increasingly proving to be an essential tool for any efficient retail plant and flowers operation.” From £485

▲ James Wong ‘Grow For Flavour’ plants Sutton Seeds has released its new James Wong ‘Grow For Flavour’ plant range. The product series has been produced by the company together with James Wong to coincide with his new book. It includes Sweet Corn F1 ‘Mirai White’; Chilli Pepper ‘Chilaca’; Chilli Pepper ‘Serrano’; and Tomato ‘Rosella’. Average RRP: £4.99 (single plants); £9.99 for three

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

Accents from Deco-Pak

Deco-Pak’s new decorative Accents range is made up of 12 different materials including interior sands, crystal glass and polished pebbles. Designed to add colour and sparkle to containers around the home – including candle holders, table centrepieces and vases – Accents contributes add-on sales opportunities to existing floristry, candle and house plant areas. RRP: from £2.99

▲ Woodlodge National Trust range Woodlodge has collaborated with The National Trust to produce a series of vintage style pots. The four new ranges are inspired by the landscapes and buildings cared for by the National Trust. They are the Inspired range, the Flora range, the Forge range and the British range. All the pots are guaranteed frost-proof. RRP ‘Inspired’ range: £5.99-£39.99


Garden Centre Retail May 2015

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▲ Barrettine’s Green Force Triple Action

Barrettine refers to its Green Force triple action weed and feed moss product as a ‘high performance fertiliser and moss killer. Perfect care for perfect lawns’. The contents of the pack, which weighs 8.75kg, cover 435m2. The product and the packaging are designed to save both time and space. RRP: £21.99

29/04/2015 09:59

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Garden Centre Retail

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28/04/2015 12:25

28/04/2015 16:47

people: trading with

Trading with... Pete Monahan

Eden Halls Greenhouses

This month, Eden Halls Greenhouses’ marketing manager Pete Monahan tells us more about the business Can you give us a brief outline of your company and its products? Halls is an established British brand that can trace its roots back to 1936. It was the first company in the world to massproduce aluminium greenhouses. Now part of the Juliana Group alongside its sister brand Eden Greenhouses, the company is based near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire, where it employs around 28 staff, rising to 34 in the busy spring season. The key personnel are managing director Steve Robertshaw and myself. In charge of sales for the north is Will Robinson and for the south, David Boswell. What is the company’s ethos? We aim to become the world’s leading manufacturer and supplier of the complete residential greenhouse solution. To be acknowledged nationally and internationally as the global leader in greenhouse innovation, quality, service and overall reputation, by manufacturing only the highest quality greenhouse products. What is your route to market? The company sells its brands exclusively through distributors. These are garden centre, multiple and internet based,

together with export customers in over 12 countries worldwide. What is the split between independent garden centres and multiples in terms of turnover and profit? There is a 50/50 split in the UK market between garden centre business and other forms of retail. What additional support and promotions do you offer for the garden centres? We offer garden centre stockists an exclusive rolling year-round programme of promotions. We also offer sales training, free POS, brochures and promotional literature. Together with centre specific advice, such as how to display, merchandise and maximise greenhouse sales. Just one example of our commitment to supported sales is the roadshow we ran to back up the launch of the new Eden Zero Threshold range. We took greenhouses to all prospective retailers so that they could explore and learn about the physical product before the consumer launch. We enjoyed a 100% strike rate as a result. Which are your bestselling products? While the Halls Popular remains massively successful, the key seller at the moment is the Eden Burford greenhouse. The Eden Burford comes in three sizes – 6x6, 6x8 and 6x10 – and includes the Eden Zero Threshold Sliding Door System (patent pending). It also comes with three glazing choices: 3mm horticultural glass, 3mm long pane toughened safety glass or 6mm polycarbonate, and a choice of finishes: aluminium, green or black. The Burford has a starting RRP of £549 including VAT and home delivery. What is your brand’s unique selling point? At the moment the key USP is the Eden Zero Threshold Sliding Door System, which offers users ‘no trip’ access for


Garden Centre Retail May 2015

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added safety and convenience. The Eden brand is positioned at a mid-range price point and its mission is to enable all gardeners – from the keen firsttime purchaser, to the knowledgeable horticulturalist – to enjoy a technologically superior, ‘made in Britain’ product at an accessible price point. Are you planning any new products over the next 12 months? Yes – a range of integral staging and shelving for the Eden Zero Threshold models and a complete range of greenhouse accessories to include eco features such as water harvesting. New product development is a year-round commitment for us and we will always be seeking to improve and expand our consumer offer with the full back-up service that the retailer needs. We have some great new products in the pipeline. w


Interested retailers should contact their Eden representative or call the company on 01242 676625, or email

29/04/2015 10:44

people: horticulture careers

For full details on all jobs, please go to Call 01903 777 580 or email with your vacancy



A large independent garden centre based in the south west is seeking an experienced garden retailer to take control of its garden sundries department. This individual will need a good understanding of the garden centre market as product knowledge will be essential in providing customer service to the required standard. The successful candidate will report to the head of horticulture and have the opportunity to be involved in buying and merchandising.

A well respected group of garden centres is seeking an experienced garden centre manager to take on the leadership of one of its largest sites, which has the potential to grow further. There is a generous remuneration package with the potential for a vehicle. Candidates will ideally have garden centre management experience but good retail site managers with seasonal experience will also be accepted. Ideally this is a position for an established candidate but if you have experience working as an assistant manager or department manager in a very large site you may also be suitable.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to



An award winning garden centre and nursery seeks an experienced plant area assistant. Key duties include undertaking daily watering and stocking of the outdoor plant areas; creating dynamic displays; answering customer queries and being knowledgeable about planting combinations. You will assist in other areas as needed. You have a passion for plants and understand what makes a high quality shopping experience. Horticultural experience, plant knowledge, good customer service and communication skills are essential. You’ll work five days a week including one day at the weekend and some bank holidays but will be given a day’s holiday in lieu and be paid time and a half.

A large Nottinghamshire wholesale nursery is seeking a talented and highly knowledgeable horticulturalist to run its retail plant centre. Responsibilities include serving customers, routine checking of the plant centre, plant labelling, arranging deliveries, completing stock requirement sheets, restocking sales area, displaying ‘Looking Good’ stock, dealing with telephone and email enquiries, keeping the sales manager informed of customer requests, balancing the till daily, planning seasonal promotional sales, liaising with social media and advertising coordinator. Man-management experience is preferred.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to



A well known nursery in Woking is seeking a part time nursery assistant to join its team. The candidate should have nursery experience, good plant knowledge, a positive can-do attitude, full clean drivers licence and be computer literate. Work hours are flexible and approximately 20 hours per week.

A garden centre group based in the south of England is looking for an experienced procurement professional to join its buying team. Must have a comprehensive knowledge of the UK plant industry to take responsibility for the ranging, negotiation and promotions of close to £10m in plant sales. Quality will be key as well as a keen understanding of seasonality. Creative flair through varied range building is required.




Please apply with a full CV. Only candidates with relevant experience will be contacted.

For more details, please go to GCR May15 P47 Jobs TW.indd 47


MORE PEOPLE Nottinghamshire

MORE PEOPLE South East England

For more details, please go to

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28/04/2015 16:50

people: store visit

Making space for summer In the first of a new series, GCR assistant editor Mollie Bennett takes a trip to Squire’s in Washington, West Sussex to find out how one of the company’s biggest garden centres prepares for summer


ashington is one of Squire’s busiest sites, sitting mid-way through the turnover chart for its 15 centres. I spent the day shadowing staff, getting a taste for how garden centres get ready for the summer months. The first thing I noticed on arrival was how much variety there was, including a pottery studio, a soft play area, a newly redesigned aquatics and pets area, and a hot tub and Jacuzzi centre. There is also a cafe bar. 9am The shift started with a staff briefing, covering all the important issues of the day, before everyone headed to their own departments. The previous night had been blustery, so a lot of time was spent clearing the outdoor area and making it presentable for the arriving customers. My first job was to check the plants for pest and watering issues. 10am With the spring holidays looming, the centre was hosting an Easter egg hunt, as well as ‘create and grow’ activities for children. Running until lunchtime, it was an object lesson in how to appeal to families – particularly the special, bunny themed Easter basket. 11am While the Easter activities were still taking place, I moved the spring stock to a separate spot, and made space for the summer delivery which was on its way. Speaking of his preparations for summer, manager Chris Dartnell said: “We start getting ready in January and make sure we’re fully prepared by the end of February. We expect the season to run through till the end of the May – but weather depending it can go through to the end of June.” 12 noon As well as rearranging displays, a lot of old stock had to be cleared and taken off sale, again to be ready for the summer stock. To ensure nothing is wasted, Squire’s –


Garden Centre Retail May 2015

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which has recently updated its Epos system – runs a round-robin delivery service, visiting all 15 sites, redistributing products and delivering promotional materials. When asking about issues around stock, Chris said: “We get a lot in early to be ready for the season and ready to drive the sales if it starts prematurely. Then we just order little and often to make our lives easier. Bedding is coming into its key time now, which relates to associated products like compost, weedkiller and fertilisers. From a cash point of view furniture is the high-driving sector, but with volume lines it’s always the gardening products.”

2pm-5pm With the day coming to an end it was time for recovery, with the staff preparing all department areas for the next morning’s opening. It’s only going to get busier from here on in… “Last year we increased our footfall by around 8-10% during spring and this year that seems to be following on,” said Chris. ◗

Mollie Bennett is assistant editor of Garden Centre Retail magazine. Email

29/04/2015 09:58


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

Peter Kilworth, general manager, Glebe Garden Centre, Leicester

How did you start out in the garden centre sector? I started working weekends at Glebe to earn money so I could keep my old mini-van on the road. What is the best thing about your job? Having the opportunity to make a positive difference to how the business operates and then seeing that reflect on how Glebe GC is perceived by our customers.

What’s your favourite section of a garden centre? Without doubt the plant area. I get a real buzz walking through it, especially in the spring. How do you think garden centres have changed over the last ten years? I think all businesses, particularly retail, have had to become more focused on their customers’ needs. We have to keep re-evolving and improving all aspects of how we operate and communicate. Of course modern technology, social

George Richardson, owner, Richardson’s Garden Centre How did you start out in the garden centre sector? I started work at 12 years old bagging fertilisers in a garden shop in Sunderland on a Saturday and helping pot plants at the nursery on a Sunday. Things progressed from there to a YTS scheme at another local garden centre when I was 16. I then moved to Pershore College at 18 before starting my own garden centre aged 22. What’s the best thing about your job? Doing something that I enjoy every day and the diversity that goes with owning your own business. What’s your favourite section in the garden centre? Plants. I could talk about them all day. I also find watering them very therapeutic when stressed. What’s your favourite flower or plant? That’s a hard one as I like so many. I think my spring favourite has to be snowdrops. I’m lucky to have masses of them planted in my lawns and growing wild in the hedgerows. It’s a great sign that spring is starting all over again.

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media and catering have all made huge impacts, too. What’s your favourite day-to-day chore at work and why? Walking the garden centre first thing in the morning and being inspired for the rest of the day. What is your favourite flower or plant? That’s a really hard question but as I’m always drawn towards buying loads of spring flowering bulbs, I’ll say tulips.

Thomas Broom, horticultural manager/resident florist, Petersham Nurseries

How did you start out in the garden centre sector? I originally trained as a florist, but had always gardened and had an affinity with plants. I began working in the garden centre sector five years ago. What is the best thing about your job? I love working with the seasons and the changes they bring. I really enjoy watering early in the morning – it gives me time to think and put my coming day into order – although it doesn’t always go to plan! What’s your favourite section of a garden centre? Herbaceous perennials are my favourite. Here at Petersham

Nurseries we have a wellstocked herbaceous section, with a lot of cottage garden favourites along with some unusual varieties, too. How do you think garden centres have changed over the last ten years? We have seen a lot of interest from younger gardeners who are interested in growing vegetables and herbs for culinary purposes. What is your favourite flower or plant? So many, but it has to be the sweet pea – for its scent, variety and abundance of flowers. What would people be surprised to learn about you? I am a classically trained singer. And I can speak Japanese.

Garden Centre Retail May 2015


28/04/2015 16:50

people: staff room Theresa Scattergood, plant manager, Squire’s Garden Centre How did you start out in the garden centre sector? I worked for many years at an insurance company. I always had a love of gardening and did a few jobs helping friends and family. I decided I wanted a complete change of career and saw a job advert for an assistant in the plant area at the centre in Washington, where I joined in 1998. By day I was sweeping, writing plant labels, putting out plants and tidying, but every evening I would study, to learn more about plants.

days are ever the same. Squire’s gives you freedom to be creative, which I really enjoy. I am surrounded by beautiful plants, which are ever-changing and I am always interested when new plants arrive, so I can learn more about them. I love interacting with our customers and

What is the best thing about your job? For me, I have the perfect job. No two

David Lingard, plant area assistant, Aylett Nurseries How did you start out in the garden centre sector? My career in horticulture came about after my dad suggested I get myself a part-time job to earn some cash, so I got a Saturday job at Fordham Nursery & Garden Centre. Saturdays became full weekends, and then school holidays, and eventually a full-time career in the sector, following a stint at Writtle College to study BSc (Hons) Horticulture. What is the best thing about your job? That’s a tricky question. I enjoy so many different aspects of my job. However, I would say that it amounts to three main things: replenishing empty beds and shelves; variety – interacting with the wide ranging customer base; and working for a familyrun independent centre, where the focus is more on horticulture and plants. This has refreshed my passion in the sector and enabled me to use my experience and education more effectively. What’s your favourite section of a garden centre? Without doubt, the planteria, especially herbaceous, seasonal bedding and promo/display areas. What’s your favourite day-to-day chore at work and why? I would have to say keeping my area of responsibility tidy and fully replenished and ensuring all stock is pulled forward and condensed with all labels facing forward.


Garden Centre Retail May 2015

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offering help and advice. They are always so friendly and want to know more. What is your favourite section of the garden centre? No surprise, the plant area! I get great pleasure from looking at the plants, their shapes, size, colours and the array of fragrances. The plant area is everchanging with the seasons. What is your favourite plant? I love so many, including roses and the dramatic banana plant. If I had to choose, it would be Trachelospermum ‘Star Jasmine’. I love how it changes colour in the autumn. It can be freestanding or climbing. It’s evergreen but above all it has a wonderful scent.

Janet Carpenter, retail sales assistant, Perrywood Garden Centre How did you start out in the garden centre sector? Previous to Perrywood Garden Centre I worked at Boots the Chemist and then a local hardware store. I was looking for a job that was local and I already knew the till system! What is the best thing about your job? Working with such great colleagues and being left to get on with the job. What’s your favourite section of a garden centre? When I visit other garden centres I like to spy on them to see what they are doing differently. I am not a gardener but I enjoy looking at the plants. How do you think garden centres have changed over the last ten years? It’s not just about the plants anymore and it is a family day out. What would people be surprised to learn about you? Absolutely nothing whatsoever! I have two grown up children and one grandchild on the way. What’s your favourite day-to-day chore at work and why? Tidying and filling shelves. I have OCD when it comes to gaps on the shelf. It has to look just right. What is your favourite flower or plant? Dianthus. They remind me of my nan’s garden from when I was a child. She was a brilliant gardener.

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