Garden Centre Retail - September 2015

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Garden Centre Retail Issue 18 • September 2015



CLAIRE WHITEHEAD The owner of Cranborne on the making of a true destination garden centre LET’S GET FESTIVE The countdown to Christmas starts now HAND IN GLOVE Exploring the grower/ retailer relationship

LOCAL HEROES How to incorporate provenance into your marketing FOCUS ON SMALL SPACES

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Welcome to...

Garden Centre Retail On with the show


elcome to the September edition of Garden Centre Retail, the only resource you need to keep up with all the goings on in the sector. As you may have already noticed, we’re a little bit bigger this month in anticipation of Glee, one of the most important trade events in the industry, taking place in Birmingham in the middle of the month. The whole Garden Centre Retail team will be there, ready to answer questions about the magazine – both on the GCR stand, and at the bar after business hours have concluded. With that in mind, we’re also launching our own show, FutureLines, taking place at Sandown racecourse in Surrey March 2 next year. The event will provide myriad opportunities to network with all the big names in garden centre retail, while at the same time mirroring the content of the magazine through a series of exclusive, cutting-edge seminars. If you want to understand where the sector is heading while at the same time maximising your own profits, FutureLines is the only place to be. Dig through the pages of this issue and you’ll get a taste of some of the kind of top-quality content to expect in March. For instance, one of the major themes of the current edition is provenance, and we have exclusive insights from two major centres on the local sourcing of plants and ingredients for your catering offer.

Skip to page 30, meanwhile, for an in-depth look at life at Cranborne in Dorset, one of the most exciting up-and-coming independents in the country. We talk to new owner Claire Whitehead about rejuvenating the site and the steps being taken to turn it into a ‘destination’ in the truest sense of the word. Finally we welcome new regular contributor Tim Jacob, who brings numerous years of experience as a plant buyer and this month discusses the grower/retailer relationship. Enjoy the issue.

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Garden Centre Retail CONTENTS





A roundup of the latest news in the industry


The HTA announce new guest speakers; GCA reveal inspection results


Announcing a brand new trade event for the garden centre industry Liz Dobbs suggests ways to turn your garden centre into a winter wonderland


Mike Still talks about the importance of constructing a brand identity

Kevin Waters on how to get the most out of your time spent visiting trade exhibitions and events

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Bents’ Mark Downton explains the benefits of garden centres growing and selling their own plants







Chris Marsden-Jones on why you should make sure you stay up to date with technology


Jeremy Wilson offers advice regarding pricing online


Ian Cross on the importance of effective packaging and point of sale


Jo Ripley of Squire’s talks about how the company is closing the horticulture knowledge gap

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contents Garden Centre Retail Issue 18 • September 2015



September 2015

CLAIRE WHITEHEAD The owner of Cranborne on the making of a true destination garden centre LET’S GET FESTIVE The countdown to Christmas starts here HAND IN GLOVE Exploring the grower/ retailer relationship

LOCAL HEROES How to incorporate provenance into your marketing FOCUS ON SMALL SPACES

How to successfully price online

74 CHRISTMAS PRODUCTS What to stock this year to tempt festive shoppers




Claire Whitehead from Cranborne Garden Centre in Dorset talks to editor Phil Mason about its future plans

Wyevale Nurseries’ Adrian Hoare discusses how the company is at the forefront of the hugely fashionable DIFM movement


Plant expert Tim Jacob discusses the mutual benefits of close working between retailers and growers

Suppliers update us on all the latest happenings

All the leading products for the garden centre industry






Geoff Hodge discusses strategies to get the most out of the desire to purchase gifts

Unusual offerings that are bound to catch the eye

Garden Centre Retail talks to Ed Deane, STV International business development manager We shine a light on three industry personalities


Beverley Spindler of awardwinning The Mains of Drum discusses the importance of provenance in a garden centre catering offer


GCR highlights a sample of what to expect at Glee in Birmingham



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Valerie Munro discusses ways to help garden centre staff become a source of genuine plant expertise

44 Garden Centre Retail September 2015


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NGGV scheme gears up for Christmas card competition



he national garden gift voucher (NGGV) scheme has launched the 2015 iteration of its children’s ‘design a Christmas card’ competition, which is now in its fourth year. The competition is for participants less than 13 years old and is intended to unite garden centres with their local community by encouraging families to visit stores during the festive season. Speaking of the campaign, NGGV marketing manager Tony Stacey, said: “Last year our Christmas card competition attracted approximately 10,000 entries and generated a lot of press

coverage for participating HTA members. “We also found garden centres using the competition to forge really strong commercial links with local schools, Guide and Beaver groups, and other children’s social clubs.” The free competition marketing pack consists of entry forms, counter-top entry form holders, posters, as well as a 2m high ‘pop-up’ entry post box. The winning entrant will receive £150 of garden goodies and see their design used on a Christmas card.

Fame beckons for Wildlife World


Batsford’s Hiroshima seedlings highlight the power of plants


atsford arboretum and garden centre in Gloucestershire has taken delivery of seeds from trees that survived the atomic bombing in Hiroshima in 1945. The seeds, which come from a ginkgo tree and an ilex rotunda, were sent from Green Legacy Hiroshima, which is an initiative set up to safeguard the surviving trees and educate people on the meaning of the plants’ existence. They were shipped over following a request from Batsford’s head gardener GCR Sep15 P07-09 News.indd 7

ildlife World has supplied a number of its products – including habitats and feeders – for use on two Channel 4 gardening shows. The first show is the eightpart Love Your Garden, which sees Alan Titchmarsh transforming gardens as he and his team travels across Britain. The Autistic Gardener, meanwhile, started in mid-July, and centres on five talented gardeners who, like its presenter Alan Gardner, are on the autistic spectrum.

Norman Sellers, managing director of Wildlife World, said: “Love Your Garden and The Autistic Gardener are both excellent programmes. “We are honoured to have contributed to such great causes. “Along with all the other suppliers, we have been a part of creating some wonderful gardens by both teams and we hope that the people will be able to enjoy our products for many years to come.”

Matthew Hall. Speaking about the trees, he said: “I read an article about the GLH project in an RHS publication and thought it would be an honour to grow seeds from an A-bombed tree so that Batsford could be part of the GLH initiative and help promote the Green Legacy.” The ginkgo seeds were sown in Batsford’s nursery in June and saplings are already coming through. It is hoped there will be about 18 ginkgo saplings out by spring 2017.

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Love the Plot roadshow signs off with a bang(er)

Wyevale’s Hamstreet garden centre has started using a ‘micro-roasting’ technique to provide its customers with sustainable coffee. During the process, single state Columbian Arabica beans are ‘recycled’ in one kilo batches.


Dutch horticulture event Seed Meets Technology will take place for the second year in ZwaagdijkOost from September 22 until September 25. A number of participants will show their latest innovations to the sector. Hulme Community Garden Centre in Manchester is set to live on, thanks to a recent money-raising effort by volunteers, involving selling home-grown herbs and a naked calendar. The funds were raised by Kickstarter. Wyevale Garden Centres has been offering customers an insight into the world of roses courtesy of the company’s own David Austin Roses-trained plant experts. The David Colegrave Foundation has announced the six scholarships potentially available to young horticulturists in 2015-16. They include student awards of £1,000, the South West Growers Show Scholarship, and the Ball Colegrave Scholarship, which is intended to fund plant-related travel and study in Europe. Catering Design Group, which has worked with numerous garden centres, has created its first creative director and business development director roles. Occupying the former position will be Drew Keen, while the later will be taken by Claire Smith.


he Love the Plot You’ve Got roadshow has come to an end, following a spectacular finale at CarFest North. Love the Plot, a campaign managed by The Garden Industry Marketing Board, said the initiative had been a huge success, covering 13 locations in six months. It reached 38,000 visitors – some of whom admitted they had no idea what to do with their garden prior to coming into contact with the roadshow. Locations included Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London, with events such as Gardeners’ World Live, Solex, and the Stratford Home

Taking it to extremes for Perennial’s Go Green


he ‘Three Peaks Extreme’ (3PE) team has reformed to raise money as part of Perennial’s Go Green fundraising effort. The team, which will take part in the London to Brighton cycle ride on September 6, raised £26,000 for the charity in 2013. Three Peaks Extreme will also be joined by members of Perennial’s ‘Grubby Gardeners’ fundraising team, including trainee garden designer Claire Vokins and RHS Wisley

trainee Jamie Butterworth. Head gardeners David Lewis and Andrew Wain, meanwhile, will be riding a seven-seater bike in the same event. Matt O’Conner, managing director of John O’Conner Grounds Maintenance and co-ordinator of 3PE’s London to Brighton team, said: “We always said we’d like to follow our epic Three Peaks Extreme challenge with further fundraising events for Perennial and this seemed like a great opportunity. We are a

cross-industry team and can appreciate the invaluable service Perennial offers us and colleagues. “We have a £2,000 team target and less than a month to prepare, but we’re all definitely up for the Go Green challenge.” The London to Brighton ride takes place over 54 miles between Clapham Common and Brighton seafront. doitforcharity-london-tobrighton-cycle-2015.aspx

Wyevale drafts in supply chain specialists Relex


yevale Garden Centres has drafted specialists Relex to support its growth plans via what the company calls its partner’s ‘robust’ supply chain solution. The decision was made following Wyevale’s review of supply chain providers and Relex was chosen out of 10 companies. Dan Zinner, trading director at Wyevale, said: “With the help of Relex we expect to see better forecasting, increased availability, reduced wastage and a more streamlined

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and Garden Show. Speaking of the effort, campaign manager David Arnold said: “We set out to take the Love the Plot You’ve Got campaign to consumers across the UK and that’s exactly what we’ve done. We’ve spoken with thousands of folk who, in the majority of cases, told us they want to improve their outdoor living spaces but didn’t know where to start. “We’ve talked with them about how to make that start, inspired them through the roadshow gardens and directed them to our website and the sites of all our brilliant supporters in the trade.”

business process. Furthermore, the system will help us to better prepare for promotions and high demand periods such as Mother’s Day and Easter, ensuring we have the right product, at the right place, at the right time.”

Mikko Kärkkäinen, Group chief executive at Relex Solutions said: “We understand the complexities companies such as Wyevale Garden Centres face and have equipped them with the supply chain solution needed to enable operational efficiency, improved profitability and, above all, greater customer satisfaction.” The companies expect to go live with a pilot in September and fully roll out the system in the new year.

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GCA Trust rewards plant knowledge excellence


he Garden Centre Association Trust has given out its annual award for Exceptional Plant Knowledge. This year’s recipient is Capel Manor College student Sian Davis, who is pictured receiving her award from Carol Paris, chief executive of the Horticultural Trades Association on behalf of the GCA. Sue Allen, trust chairman, said: “We were delighted to give our annual award to Sian, and would also like to thank Carol for being there to present the certificate and prize of £100 on our behalf.

“This is one of several annual awards made by our trust to students at our leading horticulture colleges. In addition, the trust also supports students of

horticulture by making grants on an annual basis to help with course fees and other costs. Sian said: “I was delighted to have won this award for plant identification. I would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all at the GCA Trust for sponsoring this award. “As an adult learner returning to studying, it was really great to receive an award in recognition of all the hard work I have put in. I am now really looking forward to starting my career in horticulture.”

Plant Heritage hands across the water


lant conservation charity Plant Heritage has been showcasing its national plant collection scheme to the Japan Association of Botanical Gardens. The JABG approached the charity looking to learn more about the scheme in order to set up a similar model in Japan. The charity helped to set up a two week study tour, beginning with a visit to the Plant Heritage marquee at the Hampton Court flower on 5th July, and finishing with a meeting at RHS Wisley Gardens. Penny Jones holds the GCR Sep15 P07-09 News.indd 9

national plant collection of Japanese cultivars of Primula sieboldii with her husband Melvyn in Devon. She said: “The visit was one of the best days I have had in a long time. Mr Torii and Ms Ohki were lovely and I have learnt so much.” Plant Heritage conservation manager Mercy Morris said: “Everyone at Plant Heritage is delighted to be honoured

in this way. Japan has a long and important horticultural history which has had a strong influence on the plants we grow in the UK and Ireland.”

HTA urges response to Sunday trading reforms


he HTA is encouraging its members to respond to the government consultation on Sunday trading reforms, launched on August 5. The consultation document outlines plans to give local areas the power to allow large shops – including garden centres – to open for longer on Sundays. The proposed reforms would give metropolitan mayors and local authorities the power to determine Sunday trading rules at a local level. Under the current legislation, which is more than 20 years old, large stores with over 3,000ft 2 of trading space are prevented from opening for more than six hours. HTA chief executive Carol Paris said: “As we have emphasised all along, a relaxation of the Sunday trading laws is all about choice – choice for the public to shop when they would like and choice for garden retailers to open when they like. The consultation document can be viewed here: consultations/devolvingsunday-trading-rules Comments should be forwarded to policy@the-hta.

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news: association news

Association news

The Horticultural Trades Association HTA adds new conference names


he Horticultural Trades Association has announced the latest speakers at its Garden Futures Conference, which takes place on September 30th in Oxfordshire. New names include Will Butler-Adams, chief executive of Brompton Bicycle, and Ronald van Veen, who is the chairman of European Floral and Lifestyle Product Suppliers. Other speakers include the Radio 4 Today programme’s Simon Jack, Dennis Reid of Retail Performance Specialists, and TV gardener David Domoney. The theme for this year’s conference is ‘embracing change’. A spokesperson for the HTA

said: ‘The event brings together key players in the garden industry to consider cutting-edge practices and ideas from business leaders and experts. Alongside hardhitting, business-focused content, the conference and dinner provide an opportunity for networking with leading figures in the business. ‘This year’s after-dinner speaker is former BBC senior weatherman Bill Giles, who will provide an insightful and entertaining look at the subject that everyone, especially those in the garden industry, likes to talk about – the weather.’ The event will take place at Heythrop Park, Chipping Norton.

Ronald van Veen

Will Butler-Adams

Garden Centre Association Centres found to be firing on all cylinders


he Garden Centre Association has revealed record numbers of its members received ‘highly commended’ awards and ‘awards of merit’ following its annual inspections. This, in turn, according to the organisation, has helped to drive standards and profitability. Iain Wylie, GCA chief executive, said: “Our members tell us how beneficial the annual inspections are for them. As they don’t know

when the inspections will be held, it means they are always ‘on their toes’ in order to make sure everything is running to the highest level at all times. “This ensures that customer service and retail standards are always of a high quality throughout the important spring trading period.” Sixty-three garden centres received the highly commended title, with 150 receiving awards of merit. In order to receive an award of

merit, a garden centre needs to reach 80% or above in any given category. Iain Wylie continued: “It is great to see more of our members receiving these awards, and this is a clear indication that GCA membership is helping centres to improve year-on-year. Being an award-winning garden centre offers assurance to existing customers and helps to attract new customers too.”

The GCA’s Andy Campbell will carry out an inspection without warning GCR Sep15 P11 Assoc News.indd 11

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business: christmas sales

Let’s get festive

‘Back-to-basics’, ‘hand-made’ and ‘home-grown’ sum up Christmas 2015. Liz Dobbs offers tips to turn your garden centre into a winter wonderland


Hand-made and home-grown

hristmas is always a bit of a ‘same but different’ experience – in other words, the familiar elements need to be there, but with a bit of twist. With that in mind, it’s wise not to stretch yourself (or your staff) too thin by offering a scatter gun approach. Focus on getting what matters to your core customers right instead, and then adding a little sparkle.

High impact

I’ve seen this Christmas. The theme is red everywhere, with real trees (Norway spruce), ideally making as large an impact as possible. Use last year’s decorations if you must, but be sure to add a few new big rectangular ones just for good measure. You don’t want to be left in the shade, after all. Likewise, make your Father Christmas a real old-fashioned Victorian one, put time and effort into your wreaths, and don’t forget about Britishgrown red poinsettias.

Gardening is a gift

In the minds of your customers, ‘Christmas display’ and ‘real gardening stuff’ aren’t separate departments. I’ve been asked on

Dobbies’ Christmas offer includes simple twig decorations. Wyevale is offering traditional elements, plus new quirky baubles (below)

two occasions recently by nongardeners for advice about buying hand tools as Christmas presents for gardening relatives. I suggested each visit a large local garden centre, which up until that point neither had done because they just assumed that sort of thing is bought online. Neither mentioned price. There are clearly opportunities presented by these kinds of potential customer. This could include maybe getting a garden fork Christmas wrapped and placing it in the coffee shop for the parents to suggest to their offpring.

Tree and themes

Norway spruce is the cost conscious way for families to have a


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big tree for less, with needle drop problems being easily overcome if customers get the right advice. (Visit if your staff need a cribsheet). An upcoming trend is also for households to buy a second smaller potted tree for the kitchen or hallway, typically spending an extra £20 to £30. Remember, these can go on sale two weeks earlier than cut ones. Staying on this theme, Wyevale had some well thought out tree ideas and decorations – Victorian-style decoupage on rectangular plaques, for instance, as well as new quirky collectables for kids too. As indicated, red is a universal trend, but so is bronze.

People like the idea of hand-making or crafting decorations. In practice, however, something that looks like it could have been lovingly, locally made does the job too. Dobbies is offering wreaths and decorations, with a step-by-step living wreath put together using some £2 seasonal pot plants. Waitrose, meanwhile, is increasing its range of garlands, trees and living decorations, and emphasising that its Christmas tree crop is British grown. Yours probably is too – but do you tell your customers? Displays that mix and match winter plants (such as evergreen herbs in pots) are a great, fragrant way to tempt customers. There is also nothing like using economical oldfashioned props such as hessian, wooden crates, raffia and red ribbon to show them off. One last piece of advice – make sure your Christmas offering is on show weeks before 27 November to beat this year’s ‘Black Friday’. Encourage bookings (and payment) in advance for later seasonal events, and ask yourself if customers can achieve what they want to easily online. Encouraging customers to plan ahead creates the feeling your events are special. Let people know when events, such as Santa’s Grotto or your new temporary ice rink, are ‘sold out’ to emphasise this. ◗ Liz Dobbs is a researcher, editor, writer and author on all things garden and plant-related. Twitter: @gardenslady

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business: brand awareness

Perception, perception, perception Mike Still talks about the importance of constructing a convincing and consistent garden centre brand identity, which will help your business to grow and flourish


n today’s world, we are constantly bombarded with imagery, both online and off, invariably trying to sell us something. Nowhere is this truer than in retail, where big companies spend millions every year maintaining and protecting their brand. (Which in many instances has taken years to build, and can be destroyed overnight). The perfect situation for


many companies is to get to the point where their product becomes synonymous with the brand itself. For instance, Hoover and Coke are both registered trade names that have made it into the dictionary and are therefore part of everyday language (to the extent that hoover has become a verb, with the definition ‘to clean with a vacuum cleaner’).

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So how relevant is it for garden centres to build a brand? The simple answer is that it is very relevant, and it is essential that you engage with the idea. Indeed, if you are trading, you already have a brand whether you like it or not. The moment you ‘set your stall out’, identify your business, and put a name or a logo above your garden centre, you’ve created an identity for yourself.

Brand Promise

Clearly, from a branding perspective, how you market yourself means as much to your customer as it does to you. Therefore, to be truly effective you will have to look at the question from both points of view. In the first instance, if you want to develop your brand you have to fully conceptualise and iterate

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business: brand awareness Maintaining perception

What people believe about your business (their perception) is what makes them loyal customers. It can be informed by the price you sell at, your retail environment or the staff you employ. It can also be influenced by your promotional and marketing efforts, which again can take place in-store, online and in other forms of media. The important thing is that your brand should develop its own personality, not unlike that of a person (which, in actual fact, is not a bad way to think about it). Looking at it from that perspective, a good idea is to carry out a scan of your business to ascertain whether

(real-world) retail environment, including everything from logos, visual merchandising and point of sale to packaging, and staff, language and tone of voice, everything has to speak the same language. Again allow your customers to orientate themselves and help them understand you’re the one they want. If one element is missing, or worse, is actually at odds with another element, your whole brand suffers. Your brand should be clear, reliable and believable to both your customers and your own people. Your team should, in turn, represent that brand and help bring the promise to life.

Strong branding According to Forbes, among the strongest, most vaulable and most recognisable brands in the world in 2015 are...

“Your brand should be clear, reliable and believable to your customers and your own people”

what you want it to be. Ask yourself what you want to be famous for and then make that ‘statement’ to your customer. It will, in turn, become the ‘brand promise’ you will trade by. The brand promise is more than the tangible products and services you offer. Rather, it should encapsulate the feelings your customer gets when ‘using’ your store – as well as the products and the service you offer them. Think about major brands, what they promise and how they make you feel. Now apply this thinking to your own business.

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it’s ‘someone’ you’d actually want to spend time with. Take a look at how your business presents itself in terms of corporate imagery and retail space and ask how it ‘talks’ to the customer in relation to staff, marketing and so on. The consumer will judge you on all this and ultimately exercise their choice, in exactly the same way you prefer one grocery shop to another. The most important thing is maintaining perception which, in turn, will inform what your customers say about you, allowing you to change, shape and grow into your brand, including negative and positive feedback.

Consistency is all

Bear in mind the importance of consistency when constructing your identity, which, if you let it, can become more complex the more you add to it. Again, for a successful brand, all the elements already mentioned have to work in conjunction with one another to reinforce the reality of your offer. Looking specifically at your

Holding up your end

The downside of constructing a brand identity is that by doing so, you also create a certain level of expectation. And, needless to say, if you fail to meet it in every interaction, your customers will become disillusioned and ultimately seek out an alternative brand that does what it promises. Corporate identities are not something that can be built overnight, they take time to develop, so before you can define (or redefine) yours, carry out some research so that you understand your audience and your competition. Great research will allow you to define what it is you want to be famous for, and then you can create a strategy that will allow you to focus on it one hundred per cent. Over time, your brand will then begin to grow and flourish. ◗ Mike Still is director of visual merchandising and design agency Clear Retail. 01636 830 270

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business tips: maximising trade shows

Spoga+Gafa is huge. Plan your visit carefully

You only get out what you put in With many events about to kick into high gear, garden retail expert Kevin Waters discusses how to make the most of time spent at trade shows


he range and diversity of products in the horticulture industry is so diverse – and indeed complex – trade shows can often present an immense challenge to exhibitors and visitors alike. With that in mind, and to avoid kicking yourself on the train home about what you missed, it’s important to have a strategy in place for making the most of the event. This consists, quite simply, of knowing exactly what you need to accomplish before, during and afterwards.

Must-see stands

The first task before any show is to read through its promotional materials and catalogue to devise a list of stands. You can then break them down into ‘must-see’, ‘want-to-see’ and ‘nice-but-not-essential’, in order to prioritise and make the best use of your time. Likewise, making appointments with key suppliers is also a valuable time (and energy) saving exercise. It is important to only talk to suppliers who will be of interest to you. Don’t be afraid to walk past stands of


“Making appointments with key suppliers is also a valuable time (and energy) saving exercise” no interest, as it will be of no value to either yourself or the stand holder to feign interest. It will waste both your time and theirs. With those you do want to see, make sure you cut to the chase and research the necessary information in as short a time as possible, or even just leave a name and number for a follow up call after the show. If you are visiting the show as part of a team, it is essential to divide it up into sections and allocate these to various individuals. This will allow you to avoid duplication, and yet return home with the maximum information possible. Seminar programmes, for example, can be very time consuming but, at the same time, stimulating and an opportunity to gain new ideas. They should not be missed. Agreeing who is

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going to attend which seminar beforehand will ensure all the information and inspiration is assimilated without wasting time. And a well-earned seat for 45 minutes or so also serves to recharge the batteries.

Ahead of the game

An important element that is often underestimated is not only studying what products are on offer, but also how they are being displayed. This includes what colours are being used in merchandising, as suppliers will have researched the themes and trends that will be prevalent in the forthcoming season. This can help with your merchandising and product ranging. Immediately after the show, it helps to take a few minutes to organise the information gathered into groups. It should

be prioritised and labelled as soon after the show as possible as a reminder of what to follow up. It is amazing how quickly important points drift in the face of what can become a mountain of new information. A question that is often overlooked in the aftermath of a show is ‘What lines are you going to stop doing as a result of what you’ve seen?’ What, in other words, are you going to make space for? Assuming your shelves are not half-empty and waiting to be filled, there will be a need to rationalise the range to make space for all the new lines that have been added. Finally, be certain to formulate a plan of action which can be checked at a later date. This will give an accurate and interesting record of just how effective, or otherwise, your investment of time and money at the show really was. ◗ Kevin Waters is an indepdendent garden centre consultant.

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TIME FOR A CHANGE! Simple Pleasures ® brand

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

Stand out from your competitors Offer your customers something different

ATTENTION GROwERS! De Vroomen Garden Products brand

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

De Vroomen Garden Products is represented in Great Britain by De Ree UK Glee – Stand 19H51

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01204 669445

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advertising feature

Crest Garden builds on success Flopro brings water to life

Flopro is an innovative new range of gardenwatering hoses, carts and accessories. Crest Garden has invested £1.5m in bespoke tooling to bring exciting new products combining functionality, ergonomic styling and fresh new colours to the market. Manufactured in Europe, using only the finest materials and latest technology, Flopro offers the industry a real alternative to drive the watering category forwards. The comprehensive range consists of entry level, plus and elite range products at competitive prices to cover all market needs. The Cube Hose Reel is a new design from Flopro and unique to the watering market. The innovative and stylish wall-mounted hose has an internal stainless steel coil designed for strength and longevity, giving an ultrasmooth retraction. The set includes either a 20m or 35m hose, watering nozzle and all the necessary fittings and connectors. Vibrant and strong-messaged consumer packaging has been developed which includes a ‘try me’ element so consumers can touch and feel the quality of the entire range. Advanced merchandising solutions and creative POS will enable consumers to easily identify the perfect products to meet their every watering need.

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Kent & Stowe, built on tradition, crafted for life

Kent & Stowe is a comprehensive range of garden tools in stainless steel and carbon steel, with handles crafted from natural ash wood together with a full range of top-end cutting tools. Kent & Stowe tools have been designed in the UK following research among gardeners and testing by horticultural professionals. They have a traditional look and feel with the advantage of modern manufacturing. There are new merchandising solutions, products and colour-coded packaging for 2016 to ensure it is easy to select the right tool for the job. Consumers have the reassurance of full manufacturer’s guarantees. New for 2016 is the launch of Kent & Stowe ‘Garden Life’, for the lighter way to garden. Research has identified a preference for lighter weight tools among ladies, younger gardeners, people with restricted movement or mobility issues and those who simply prefer a lighter tool. Being up to 40% lighter, the new tools are perfectly weighted, balanced and proportioned making them more comfortable and manoeuvrable in tight spaces. There are eight stainless steel digging and cultivation tools plus secateurs

that can all be displayed on a custom-built merchandiser with high impact POS.

Major boost for GYO from Plantpak by Crest

GYO is about to receive a welcome boost in the form of a marketing initiative by Plantpak, which will bring value back to a forgotten category. The campaign will centre on the theme of ‘from garden to kitchen’ and is directed at gardening for all, no matter the size of their garden, allotment, balcony or windowsill. Plantpak offers everything you need to get growing from its full range of British-made propagation products. Plantpak has put the excitement back in GYO, with vibrant packaging, strong promotions and colourful merchandising solutions. Glee Stand 19G20 - H21A

26/08/2015 16:59

business: growing your own

Home is where the heart is Famous for its plant offering, Bents’ Mark Downton describes the benefits of – and the logistics involved in – garden centres growing and selling their own


hese days, Bents Garden & Home is much more than just a garden centre. However, despite all the growth and expansion that has taken place over the years, it has never forgotten its roots as a centre for plants. The Bents business began with a love of gardening, when Alfred and Margaret Bent started growing roses from the front garden of their terraced house only yards from the garden centre’s current location in Warrington. This commitment to gardening has enabled the offer to thrive, and the centre’s on-site nursery operation demonstrates the commitment and passion it still has for plants. An in-depth knowledge of all aspects of plants, for instance, growing history, is crucial for any garden centre to be successful. That’s why our

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home-grown collection is so popular with customers, who benefit from stronger, healthier plants in their gardens. Bents’ commitment to its on-site growing operation is reflected in sales, with almost 70% of all plants sold in the first six months of the year having come from the centre’s own nursery.

Wide open skies

The home to Bents’ premium plant collection is its large open skies glasshouse. An ever-increasing level of work is required from the nursery team to ensure demand is met. Naturally, quality standards remain a top priority. Work begins as soon as the nursery opens at 6.30am, when the order list arrives from the plant area outlining what is required for the day’s sales. The team works to collect

the plants, putting them on trolleys and bringing them to the dispatch area, where each specimen is individually checked. This is to make sure they are healthy, tidy and priced before going out for sale. Bents can’t compete on all levels, for instance, with larger commercial growers specialising in certain areas. So instead, it focuses on varieties that are not as widely available on the open market, while at the same time using its expertise to grow bigger and stronger plants. Bedding, summer colour and perennials all feature strongly in a growing operation that has expanded exponentially in the past ten years.

Extremely well received With its on-site nursery, Bents doesn’t need to factor

transportation costs into its operation. This is good because, simply by virtue of their size, some plants are costly to move around, and the savings have allowed us to invest in growing the business. One result of this is that we’ve been able to focus on the strength and size of plants. Taller perennials such as Lupins, grown on a commercial scale, have been hugely successful this year. They’ve been received extremely well by customers, and strong sales continue to support this approach. Plants are cared for at the nursery by a full-time team of 10, boosted by seasonal colleagues who help with the growing and nurturing of new lines. Potting-up areas, meanwhile, see nursery workers take baby plug plants, seeds or cuttings, the majority of which are from English 

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business: growing your own growers. These are then potted, ready to begin the careful process of nurturing and cultivation which will ultimately see them flourish into the final high-quality specimens required. Watering in the nursery is controlled by an automatic system. However, all plants, both inside and out, are checked and watered by hand to ensure their ongoing strength. All plants are qualitycontrolled prior to sale to ensure only the healthiest specimens make it on to the plant area.

Environmental impact

Any external buying is controlled by a specialist team of horticulturists, led by myself, which also has overall responsibility for the growing operation. The team has long-established relationships with growers both in the UK and Holland, as well as extensive knowledge of all growing sources. The buying team understands both the practicalities and the commercial elements involved in the running of a successful nursery, ensuring it not only produces the finest quality plants but is also a financially viable operation. In terms of environmental impact, the nursery is a highly efficient operation, already

“Bents’ dedication and commitment to plant care and quality has never changed” benefiting from an established water recycling programme dating to the 1970s, when Bents’ first reservoir was built. A second lake was added a few years ago which, along with the reservoir, ensures the centre and nursery are both self-sufficient in terms of water

usage. All rain and run-off water is channelled into the lakes, where it is recycled for watering purposes throughout the centre.


The nursery team continues to research and implement

additional initiatives, such as cutting down on chemicals and increasing the use of biocontrols – nature controlling nature, in other words. Beehives also feature in the nursery as well as in the open skies glasshouse, and is something which encourages natural pollination. Bents is always looking at ways it can improve its growing operation, researching opportunities for expansion and planning future investment in glasshouses to provide a more versatile environment for plants. The growing operation is an extremely different set up to when the garden centre began and teams of dedicated rose growers tended to huge fields of beautiful plants. Now the variety on offer is vast, with shrubs, herbaceous, roses, bedding and perennials all having a place. However, the dedication and commitment to plant care and quality has never changed. Perhaps that is the thing that we are most proud of. ◗ Mark Downton is horticultural operations manager of Bents Garden & Home –


Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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27/08/2015 08:48


clementine & prosecco Autumn Fair 3H44 Top Drawer G49

We are launching a new home fragrance range in collaboration with Heyland & Whittle View the full range at the following trade shows Autumn Fair 3H44 6th - 9th September Top Drawer G49 13th - 15th September


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27/08/2015 08:48

business: consumer epos technology

We have the technology Chris Marsden-Jones discusses the different innovations available for garden centres to improve their business and steal a march on competitors


he retail landscape for garden centres has become increasingly demanding, and the growing use of technology has meant consumer expectations are moving ahead of the capabilities of many retailers. Retailers need to invest in retail technology so they can recognise and respond to their customers appropriately in this new multi-channel arena. If they do not, they will fail to be relevant and convenient to the modern consumer. The implications of this will be serious and profound and will, without doubt, lead to losing sales to more responsive, ‘savvy’ competitors.

Multi-channel environment

One key area of investment focus for all those wanting to embrace the expanding multi-channel environment is electronic point of sale, also known as EPoS. At its most basic, EPoS provides an in depth product inventory and barcoded label for every saleable item. At its most advanced, meanwhile, a system can save a business time and money through the automation of processes and provision of accurate figures. Implementing an EPoS system will bring multiple benefits to your business through intuitive management tools that support payments, stocktaking, ordering, promotions and reporting. EPoS enables retailers to identify those items that are good sellers, or underperforming, and the exact quantity sold. Armed with this knowledge


they can make informed decisions on necessary changes to pricing or promotions, plan better for each buying season and react swiftly to market changes. On its own, an EPoS system can improve efficiency, reduce errors, and increase security and turnover. The full benefits come from integrating a system with other retail technology. The addition of hardware such as mobile POS, hand-held terminals and chip and pin can help improve

Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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the customer experience with a faster, more informative service. You have probably seen it countless times when out shopping or perhaps done it yourself – the customer wants to pay by card and hovers their card over the reader only to be told by the cashier “sorry, we don’t have that yet”. Contactless technology is spreading rapidly, with most major banks offering their customers contactless-enabled cards, which allow them to

pay for low-value transactions quickly and effortlessly. Customers now expect to be able to pay for their smaller purchases in this way and, when they are not able to and have to revert to the ‘old’ way of using a chip and pin machine, there can be a mild annoyance. By ensuring you have the latest chip and pin technology in place you can offer a seamless payment option which matches the expectations of your customers.

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business: consumer epos technology

One-to-one basis

Another example of where introducing technology can improve the customer experience is the use of tablet technology for taking customers’ special orders, providing stock information, images and product options. By kitting your staff with a tablet they can carry around the shop floor, you are enabling them to engage efficiently and effectively with their customers on a one-toone basis, with all the relevant information at their fingertips. Think about taking an order for a custom greenhouse, shed or garden furniture set. Normally you would either have a staff member standing, usually outside, with the customer by the item in question with a notepad and pen. Alternatively, you would ask the customer to come inside to a static PC terminal to input the order details. While both of these methods work, the introduction of a tablet brings many benefits. For sales staff, looking up stock or product information is possible on a tablet, literally at the touch of a button. With a mixture of dropdown selections and wordsensitive look-ups, finding products could not be easier. With tablet in hand, product options, images, companywide stock, pricing, postcode look-up, customer account information and so much more is available there and then. This makes capturing of the order and customer details smooth and swift – and the process so painless it reduces the likelihood of the customer abandoning the order. It also provides the staff member with the opportunity to upsell

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linked products, thereby increasing your turnover.

Order fulfilment

From a retail perspective, while using this technology there is no longer the need to manually enter the sales docket. This

stock sell through rates and improving profit margins. Because of the adoption of the technology, retail has evolved to enable customers to order products online, and retail has become multichannel. Potential customers

“By embracing technology, retailers can ensure they are seen 24/7 across the country” means no more deciphering handwriting, verifying that options are correct, infilling any missing information. This reduces administration time as well as removing the margin for error when copying across details. All this leads to great customer service, as it is less likely there will be any issues with an order which, in other circumstances, would result in a poor experience and possibly negative reviews of your business. With stock and on-order information available in real time, this also potentially decreases lead times on order fulfilment, delivering better

will research online before they purchase, particularly with the higher value items. They need to be sure you sell that particular brand or product range, as well as offering the right options – and that you provide good service before they will travel or buy. To truly succeed at multi-channel, a retailer’s brand, products, pricing, promotions, service and delivery proposition needs to be presented consistently in the different channels (online and offline). Through integrating back office functions, in-store EPoS, and ecommerce operations through one system, retailers

can fully realise the value of the investment they have made having a physical store and knowledgeable staff. While this ever-changing retail environment can seem daunting, garden centres need to grab the opportunities it presents with both hands to ensure they not only survive, but grow and thrive. Through not only introducing but embracing technology both in-store and online, retailers can ensure they are seen 24/7 right across the country. This opens up business up to a wider audience as well as enticing the younger generations into store, ensuring the continuing success of your business for years to come. ◗ Chris Marsden-Jones is business development director at Swan Retail. He has worked in the retail software industry for 30 years, embracing rapidly changing technology and retail processes. He works with over 100 garden centres

Garden Centre Retail September 2015


27/08/2015 08:50

business: ecommerce pricing

I call that a bargain

You need to be as cost-conscious online as you are in-store. However, Jeremy Wilson advises that when it comes to ecommerce, heavy discounting isn’t always the right pricing and promotions strategy


he web has a bad reputation for driving down margins, as online transparency encourages intense competition among online retailers based on price. To some degree this reputation is deserved. After all, consumers who can quickly research product attributes, service levels and prices may be less loyal than those who cannot. And customers who don’t research tend to fall back on retailers they perceive to provide value for money. However, price is not the only factor when it comes to selling, either online or offline. Keeping that in mind, you must decide whether you are pricing and promotions-led, or if you can compete with unique products or a great service proposition instead. In addition, the initial pricing structure you set for unique products – that can’t be easily compared with other retailers – can be just as important to making a sale as any discounts you offer.

Prime advantage

One recent example shows how discounting can actually bring your brand negative attention. In July, Amazon ran its Prime day, offering discounts on a wide range of products for subscribers to its Amazon Prime service. The ‘sale’ day was billed as being even bigger and better than its promotional activity for Black Friday, another US import that happens around Thanksgiving in the run up to Christmas each year. However, not all customers were thrilled with what was


on offer – and many vented on social media as a result. Twitter hashtags devised by disgruntled consumers included #AmazonFail and #PrimeDayFail. Amazon undoubtedly will have still seen strong sales that day, and probably got rid of some unwanted stock by taking a hit on margin, but the negative attention shows how demanding customers are around promotional events, particularly online ones. That said, it is generally

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much easier to run short-term promotions online, where you can change prices at a press of a button, compared with in-store, where you need to re-ticket items as well as make changes to your EPoS system to reflect the promotion.

Competitive marketplace Retailers in the most competitive product categories online often use promotional tools other than straight discounts as a call to action to get visitors to their site to convert.

One way is to offer free delivery – or click and collect if you usually charge for it – over a certain spend threshold or for a certain period of time. Another promotional tool is to offer a voucher for use against future purchases for those who spend over a certain threshold. Argos uses this promotion, and may offer a £5 voucher for those spending more than £50 or a £10 voucher for those spending over £100. The benefit of such a

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business: ecommerce pricing

promotion is that it makes the consumer feel like they have received a discount, which will push them to increase their basket value to ensure they receive a voucher. Also bear in mind that not all of the vouchers will be redeemed – and those that are will have driven what may be an additional purchase which might not otherwise have been made. One further benefit is that this type of promotion also makes it less easy for competitors to directly compare and match their prices on branded goods that they also sell.

Research online, purchase offline

Of course, customer purchase journeys can often include online and offline elements. So even if you don’t sell online, if you have a website, Twitter account or other online presence, you still need to think about your pricing and promotions messaging. The pricing and promotions you advertise through your site could be the deciding factor in whether someone chooses to visit your centre to make a purchase. This is especially true if the item is particularly price-sensitive. However, as the Amazon Prime example shows, demonstrating value for money is just as crucial as headline discounts if you want to turn browsers to buyers. ◗

Jeremy Wilson is chief commercial officer of retail and ecommerce consultancy Practicology.

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Good, better and best The good, better and best pricing structure is used by many of the world’s biggest and most successful retailers. For any product type it ensures there is a choice of at least three products at different prices with slightly different features and benefits. Research has shown positive outcomes from offering this type of pricing structure. Dan Ariely, a psychology and behavioural economics professor at Duke University in North Carolina, has conducted research showing that offering several price points affects customers’ perceptions of value. He tested pricing structures for subscriptions to The Economist that offered different combinations of web-only, print-only and a combined web and print subscription. When offered all three choices in an advert, the percentage breakdown was: Web-only subscription for £59 – 16% Print-only subscription for £125 – 0% Web and print subscription for £125 – 84%

When offered only two options in an advert, not as many chose the more expensive option: Web-only subscription for £59 – 68% Web and print subscription for £125 – 32% So although the print-only subscription seems pointless, in actual fact it has the effect of making the combined subscription look like value for money and convinces more people to choose the more expensive option. Similarly, another pricing tactic – called anchoring – involves a human tendency to rely heavily on the first piece of information offered when making decisions. For example, this means selling a

Web-only subscription £59


Web and print subscription £125

£250 BBQ by placing it next to a £1,000 BBQ. This makes the £250 BBQ seem like a bargain, but placed next to an £80 BBQ it would seem a more premium product. For this reason, it is worth testing different price architectures that help your customers feel confident that they are getting good value for money, and understand why they paid the price they did. In a store you would do this by placing items on display together. On your website you can do it via category pages, and by merchandising similar items as alternatives on individual product details pages.

Print-only subscription £125


Web and print subscription £125


Web-only subscription £59



‘Three answer’ results

‘Two answer’ results

Garden Centre Retail September 2015


27/08/2015 08:54

advertising feature

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27/08/2015 08:54

business: know your market

On display: the benefits of knowing your marketplace Ian Cross shares insights from Johnsons’ recent brand-wide relaunch, looking specifically at its contact with garden centres and the importance of effective packaging and point of sale


ay 2015 saw the launch of a completely rejuvenated range for Johnsons, one of Mr Fothergill’s Seeds’ two main seed brands for the garden retail market. The new packets started to appear in garden centres in early August this year, ready for autumn sales and the 2016 spring season. The newly launched brand was the culmination of several years of focused work, which was started in 2011. We wanted to take a root and branch look at the range – and seeds in general – to make sure that whatever we did with the Johnsons design and range contents, it was research-based. There is a tremendous amount of experience of selling seeds within Mr

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Fothergill’s, but there is always an element of personal taste when it comes to packaging design. It was therefore important that our chosen route was backed by robust, in-depth background work.

Broad approach

Our approach was to start with a broad look at the market, meeting key retailers to see what they thought of us and our products, and how they look in-store. We did this not only with some of our existing trade customers but also ones we were not trading with. The same approach was taken with the end consumer – that is, seedbuying gardeners. This research gave us some principles on

which to base our range review and packaging designs. The following points informed what we did: • Seeds stands (even small displays) are visually complicated and can be potentially confusing products to shop from • Many seed packet sales are impulse purchases • Our displays have to ‘do the selling’ because knowledgeable staff are often unavailable to advise customers at the seed stand • Shoppers have different needs at different points in the purchasing journey • Images are the most important part of the seed pack, followed by name and basic descriptions.

Bolder image

With these points in mind we looked at branding, packet design and on-stand point of sale material. Branding was approached first, with a number of alternative designs for the Johnsons logo, with the objective to create something that was immediately associated with plants and growing, while retaining an organic feel. Once we had established the route for this, we moved on to the seed packet design. Alternative ideas were tested – both online

with web-based research across 400 interviewees, and face to face research with 100 interviewees. Both approaches looked at the packets singularly and on stands. For us, the design had to work best on stands alongside other packets, as this is how the consumer sees them in-store. The aim with a new design was to make the image bolder, the packet clearer with less visual clutter, and to bring it up to date with a more premium look. We aimed to only include basic information critical to making a purchasing decision on the front. Then on the reverse we needed to fit in as much supporting information as possible while maintaining clarity.

Clarity of message

The plastic plant label, which is unique to Johnsons, proved to be much appreciated by 

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business: know your market

“Themed variations in design – such as herbs, wildflowers, organic seeds and so on – were kept to a minimum” consumers over the course of our research. However, it was not deemed to be critical to the purchase decision so it was moved to the back of the pack, as this made the front clearer. Themed variations in design, such as herbs, wildflowers, organic seeds and so on, were kept to a minimum, again to maintain clarity. The final design was chosen on its performance based on criteria that included overall visual appeal, perceived value and quality, clarity of message, and ‘modernity’. The redesign process was not limited to the packet graphics, however, and the range content was also

reviewed along with product descriptions, and growing and care instructions. This was to make sure the range was as current and complete an offering as possible. The last stage of the process was to look at the point of sale material on the stand. As with the packaging, this was carried out with the shopper journey in mind. This is a journey that provides a useful summary for the final complete redesign. The full Johnsons range now offers more than 700 varieties of flowers and vegetables in a new design and presentation we hope will inspire new and existing gardeners alike. ◗

Ian Cross reveals Johnsons’ branding and point of sale strategy Looking for the seed in-store

Our new header cards are bold, with inspiring images of flowers and vegetables to catch the eye and frame the stands from a distance. Those looking for seeds will see them clearly and browsers will be attracted to the stand.

Looking for inspiration, and finding what to buy At closer quarters, the onstand point of sale provides general information about aspects of the range such as the plant label, themes, what to grow where, and new varieties.


Seed packets are mostly laid out in A to Z order by variety name, split into three main sections including flowers, vegetables, and peas and beans. There are also a few sub groups that are often looked for as separate from the main body of seed, which include herbs and wildflowers. Organically produced alternatives are highlighted by the use of a different pack colour but merchandised alongside like varieties.

made easier, as the two most prominent elements on the front of pack are the image and name. At this point, customers are most likely to pick packets up or study them individually so basic information is included on the front: a one-line description, sowing dates, flower or harvest dates, flower height, and references such as RHS AGM awards, perfect for pollinators designation, and heat scale for chillies.

Making the buying decision

Final decision and after sale

Browsing or looking for specific varieties has been

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A more detailed description is given on the back of pack

to help final decisions to purchase along with clear growing and cultivation instructions. The plastic plant label is located on the back of the pack for use in seed trays and pots to identify sowings. Also included on every pack are: seed fill, an image of the seedling, the full botanical name, the best growing location, and, naturally, the company’s quality guarantee. ◗ Ian Cross is marketing manager of Johnsons www.johnsons-seeds. com

27/08/2015 08:55

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25/06/2015 09:22

27/08/2015 08:55

The only lawn seed range gardens will ever need. Six premium mixtures now available.

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27/08/2015 08:56

business: bridging the knowledge gap

Planting seeds

Will Challis and Ross Humber

Squire’s head of HR Jo Ripley talks about how the company is closing the horticulture knowledge gap via its bespoke apprenticeship scheme, Grow Our Own


orticulture is central to Squire’s business, as it is to any garden centre retailer. With that in mind, in 2014 we launched our horticultural apprenticeship scheme, ‘Grow Our Own’. We did this so we could train and nurture employees who work in our plant area, specifically giving them the necessary skills and knowledge to advise customers about what to buy and how to care for their purchases. Apprentices in horticulture lead exciting and varied working lives and they are in high demand.

Introduce yourself

Apprenticeships are a good way for those who want to become involved in the industry to introduce themselves to the world of horticulture. It allows them to earn while learning, and also to combine academic study with on-the-job training and stimulating work experience. This is of huge benefit to everyone concerned. The apprentices who

we deal with are given the opportunity to attend college to undertake the Royal Horticultural Society Level 2 Certificate in the principles of horticulture. From there, they can work towards the RHS Level 3 Certificate in practical horticulture. Both of these certificates are nationally recognised qualifications. Our strategy is to incorporate a ‘blended’ approach combining

Sarah Squire, Squire’s Garden Centres We are really excited about our ‘Grow Our Own’ programme. We believe passionately that we need to make sure we always have knowledgeable and dedicated horticulturalists within our business and sadly they do not grow on trees. It has been great to witness the achievements of Fergus and Nathan, who joined the scheme last year. With Ross and Will now taking on the challenge we are pleased

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learning with comprehensive training, two things which are subsequently put into practice while working in the centre. We also add to that the exciting experience of being involved in the running of the Squire’s stand at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. ◗ Jo Ripley is head of HR at Squire’s Garden Centres. www.squiresgardencentres.

Two of the new people selected to take part in the Grow Our Own apprenticeship scheme are Will Challis, 20, and Ross Humber, 21 (pictured left and below). They were chosen from a number of applicants to take part in the scheme, which is proving popular. Ross and Will were selected because they are both extremely passionate about horticulture and it is clear that they want to make it a career path. It is obvious that they are very excited by the prospect of gaining their qualifications and are really showing a commitment to themselves and also to the organisation. Squire’s apprenticeship scheme will introduce them to a world of horticulture, allowing them to earn money while learning at the same time. They will attend Merrist Wood College and visit various garden centres during the course of the year. Talking about Grow Our Own, Squire’s deputy chairman Sarah Squire said: “Mindful of how important plants are to our business, we developed our horticultural apprenticeship scheme “Grow Our Own”.

with the way the scheme is becoming embedded in our company and the momentum it has achieved over the past couple of years. We think the balance of structured learning, through the RHS courses, and on-thejob experience is a great way to learn and of huge practical benefit to our company and to the individuals concerned. It is a very worthwhile investment on the part of our company.

Garden Centre Retail September 2015


27/08/2015 08:59

feature: let’s hear it from...


Claire Whitehead

The idyllic, recently sold Cranborne Garden Centre in Dorset is fast becoming one of the most exciting ‘destination’ garden centres in the country. Philip Mason talks to its owner about future plans, and her attempts so far to reconnect the site with its local community Could you tell me a little about the history of the centre? We are set in the former walled kitchen garden of Cranborne Manor, a private family Estate. After the Second World War, the kitchen garden was used as a market garden growing plants and cut flowers for the local wholesale market. At some point a small area was opened for the retail market, and this proved so successful that the use of the entire site evolved, and it has now been a garden centre for over thirty years. From the outset, the speciality here was old roses.


Originally, the shop was in a former chicken shed. In the late Eighties, some local ladies set up a little hut where they served tea and cake for charity. These were both so successful that they constructed a purpose built gift shop and cafe. What’s your relationship to the manor? The garden centre was set up by Cranborne Estate and also run by them until my business partner and I took over in November last year. The Manor Garden itself is open to the public one day a week

Garden Centre Retail September 2015

GCR Sep15 P34-38 Let's Hear It From.indd 34

from the beginning of March to the end of September every year. That obviously helps us in terms of visitors to the garden centre as entry is through the gift shop. What was the state of the business when you took it over? When we came in last year, things were in a state of flux to be honest, and had been for about two years. Quite a lot of staff had left, simply due to the uncertainty about what was going on. The site was also in need of a bit of TLC, which is an ongoing project.

Cranborne is set in the former walled kitchen gardens of the estate’s manor house

27/08/2015 08:59

feature: let’s hear it from...

“One major thing we’ve done is to rejuvenate and rebrand our catering, with a massive emphasis on high quality food and local provenance” We’ve got a new building being constructed, which is ultimately going to have an amazing garden in front of it. That will butt up to our existing cafe, which is something we’re also improving all the time. What had happened to the business? As is the way of things with family businesses, there had been a change of focus between the generations. They had come to the decision that they weren’t bestplaced to run a retail outlet. It was really just lacking in drive and vision. One of the ways you’ve set about rejuvenating Cranborne is by attempting to make it a true ‘destination’ garden centre. How have you done that? Cranborne has always been a destination, due to its stunning setting, the draw of the Manor Garden and the specialism in old roses and this provides a great backdrop to what we are trying to do. One major thing we’ve done is to rejuvenate and rebrand our catering, with a massive emphasis on high-quality food and local provenance. We’ve developed a kitchen garden, which is already stocking the cafe, and developed links with a number of local producers. I’ve got a fantastic new young chef in the cafe as well, Declan Chubb, whose remit is to produce simple food, cooked well. We’ve also started holding a special evening ‘set menu’ night in the cafe once a month. That is always booked out well in advance, with people bringing their own wine, which is something they seem to really like. We have also started a programme of talks and workshops, covering a broad spectrum of topics - gardening, cultural, creative etc and are looking to expand these once the new building is complete. GCR Sep15 P34-38 Let's Hear It From.indd 35

To what degree has Declan been able to impose his personality in terms of menu planning? Are you trying to compete with restaurants, cafes and pubs in the area? Declan’s in charge of the menu, obviously with input from me. I generally have something to say if he suggests anything too wacky, although it is early days yet in terms of what we might want to do, and what’s popular. With the evening meals in particular, we aim to provide customers with a top-quality restaurant-style meal, with table service, in a really unusual garden setting. We’ve gone in fairly cautiously to begin with at £24 a head for three courses, as well as canapés on arrival and an amuse bouche between the main course and pudding. We might put the price up slightly at some point, but we’re not looking to become an overpriced rarefied location. There are a lot of pubs around here, but not many places to get really good food.

Cranborne has always been famous for its roses. How important is your plant offer? It is vital, because a lot of our USP is all to do with the location. Without the plants, I don’t believe any of it would work; the site would lose its soul. So we are continuing to specialise in old roses. So plants have almost been incorporated as part of the ‘destination’ itself… Absolutely. The setting gives the background of what we’re trying to do. It’s about displaying the stock as you might see it in a real garden, rather than as you’d find it in a normal plant section. The impulse area is very much designed to provide inspiration where, along with the roses, we stock a lot of 

Garden Centre Retail September 2015 35

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feature: let’s hear it from...

“xxx” Claire and Cranborne Claire grew up in Dorset, returning after 20 years in London to live in Cranborne in 2006. She is a Chartered Building Surveyor and spent more than 20 years in private practice in the construction industry, specialising in building design and project management. She ran her own surveying practice for 12 years, working on a wide range of building projects. In recent years, she carried out work for the National Trust in Dorset. Claire has been a keen gardener for years and a Cranborne Garden Centre customer for 15 years prior to taking over the business in 2014. She said: “It is incredibly exciting to take a new direction in my 40s. I am on a steep learning curve, but relishing every moment. My design and project management skills are being put to good use and I have a great team of staff.”


different and high-quality plants. We are doing a lot of plantingup within the garden centre itself. It enhances what we’ve already got, and it also offsets the fact the Manor Garden is only open one day a week. We aim to make it feel as if we’re part of the Manor Garden itself. What’s your policy when it comes to plant area recruitment? I want experts. One good thing about staff leaving prior to our arrival is that it gave us the opportunity to source the new team ourselves. We’ve recruited people who are gardeners, as opposed to those who have come from other garden centres or from outside the industry altogether. What’s the breakdown in revenue between plants and everything else? It is still very early days, and obviously the balance will change as we develop different areas of the building. Currently, I’d say across the course of the year, it’s about half and half. We don’t have fantastic shopping in this area, so our gift shop also does very well.

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“We would really like to provide activities for children that encourage interest in horticulture and food” How has the existing customer base reacted to the changes you have made? Has there been any push-back? They’ve responded really well to it, and clearly that was something we had in mind before we embarked on the project – it’s always been known as somewhere that’s special and independent. One of the things we had in our favour was there was a lot of worry that one of the big chains would come in and take it over and it would lose its unique feel. We’ve kept that, as much as anything else, by making sure everything we do is sympathetic to the setting.

Cranborne has always been famous for its roses – and plants are ‘the crux of everything’ – but its gift shop (right) also does very well

What measures have you taken to diversify your customer base? We’ve been trying to get younger

27/08/2015 09:01

feature: let’s hear it from...

customers in, around the 30-plus mark. In the past, Cranborne wasn’t thought of as a place that families would enjoy, which is something we’re trying to change. We’ve got a children’s menu in the cafe and this time next year we hope to be running courses in the summer holidays, teaching children about gardening and cookery. We would really like to provide activities for children that encourage interest in horticulture and food, and to take a more subtle and educational approach to attracting families, without resorting to just providing play areas. Keeping with the idea of attracting a younger clientele, have you put on any musical or special events? We have, and it’s certainly something that’s on our agenda. Regarding music in particular, I’m thinking of maybe regular live music events. We have also started a regular farmers’ market. This is held on the last Saturday of each month and allows us to form relationships with small local producers. We have also hosted The Anonymous Travelling  GCR Sep15 P34-38 Let's Hear It From.indd 37

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feature: let’s hear it from... Market (a Dorset-based pop-up festival) on a couple of occasions. With that in mind, what is your policy on concessions? We don’t currently incorporate concessions, but that’s not to say we won’t. Again, it’s all dependent on what we’re trying to achieve as a brand. What kind of things would you consider? We plan to continue hosting ‘popups’. We had a local independent gift shop in last Christmas, run by someone I’ve known for a long time. They had about half of the gift shop space, and that worked very well. As we expand, we’ll think about adding more, but they’ll likely be small independents too. We’ve got a bit of barn space at the moment which we are now using to sell vintage items, with a number of local people placing their stock. I’ve had quite a few people approach me about coming in with concessions, but you’ve got to be careful. As much as anything else, you have to make sure you’ve done everything you want to before you start letting other people in. Have any other garden centres or businesses inspired you? We’ve looked at garden centres, as well as event locations, and taken elements from each. There is a place locally called the Larmer Tree, which was a Victorian pleasure garden. That has got a function building and also does festivals – they had Tom Jones earlier on in the year.


Customers enter through the courtyard, where a great many plants are displayed

The remit for Declan Chubb, the cafe’s new chef, is to produce simple food, cooked well

Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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There is also the Pythouse, which is a walled kitchen garden where they set up a restaurant years ago. Further afield, Petersham is a huge inspiration when it comes to catering, and Crocus is a massive influence on how we sell our plants. Would you ever consider e-commerce? Yes, definitely. It’s a big opportunity, particularly with our roses. That said, I don’t think we would take a massive amount of stock online. My hope is that, ultimately, people will want to become part of what we’re trying to build here, and the ones who don’t live close enough will take advantage of our online offer. I’m not concerned that it would detract in terms of

being a destination, because it is such a stunning setting and as we’re placing such a focus on our catering offer and special events, and the quality of the things that we’ve started to offer. People will come anyway – at least that’s what I hope. ◗

Claire Whitehead, owner, Cranborne Garden Centre, Cranborne, Dorset BH21 5PP Tel: 01725 517248 Email: info@cranbornegarden

27/08/2015 09:01

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27/08/2015 09:02

feature: ‘do it for me’

Embracing the DIFM concept

Wyevale Nurseries’ Adrian Hoare discusses how the company is at the forefront of the hugely fashionable ‘Do It For Me’ movement, and offers ideas on how garden centres can get involved

Wyevale Nurseries has just started to take advantage of the ‘Do It For Me’ (DIFM) movement by offering a plant selection service to domestic garden designers. Could you explain DIFM as a concept? I think a lot of it is to do with the – gradual – end of the economic downturn which, as everyone knows, seemed to go on relentlessly for years. During that time, diminished financial circumstances led to a DIY culture. Now that we have a more stable economy and a stronger sense of security, it has led to the DIFM movement. I think another factor has been the great number of garden makeover programmes around at the moment, which have highlighted the garden as a place to

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socialise, relax and enjoy. Viewers clearly aspire to having gardens similar to the ones they see on the television – but to do that yourself is quite an undertaking. Is Wyevale the first nursery or garden centre to embrace DIFM? Possibly, yes. We certainly identified it as an opportunity at an early stage and are now striving to become the natural choice for those designing gardens to come and shop at. We set the service up at the end of February – completely by ourselves – and have had about 115 new accounts since then. There’s no charge for trying to find the solutions, only the plants. I think it’s a relief for a lot of the people we deal with to have a reliable source of high-quality

plants, as well as someone who can help them out in terms of choosing what they need. We’ve had some lovely feedback. What’s your background? I’ve been in sales for about 28 years, with the vast majority of that being involved in cash-and-carry sales. That area of the job isn’t dissimilar to what I’m doing now, in that you’re dealing with the whole spectrum of the customer base. In terms of plant supply, we’re ideally placed to do it. We grow more than one and a half million plants annually and over 1,000 plant varieties on a 70-acre container site. We also back up our homegrown stock with a core range of topiary and specimens with partner nurseries across Europe. 

Wyevale Nurseries grows more than 1,000 plant varieties on a 70acre site

Garden Centre Retail September 2015 41

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feature: ‘do it for me’

Clients have the opportunity to buy into the palette of plants Wyevale Nurseries can offer and design accordingly

How should garden centres follow Wyevale Nurseries’ lead? Can you see a situation where they can advise individual customers on garden layout, obviously on a much smaller scale? It’s eminently possible for garden centres to offer a similar service, I think. Although, yes, obviously the

“DIFM is a growth area and one that is only going to become more popular”


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scale would be much different. One thing would be to offer a range of plants specifically with a ‘do it for me’ service in mind. At the moment, our clients have the opportunity to buy into the palette of plants we can offer and design accordingly. Our growing policy reflects that now as well. Garden centres could buy from suppliers with something similar in mind, specifically for people looking to develop their own space at home. Obviously range would be a factor, but there’s also the opportunity to act almost as a plant finder for people who come in with a list already written. What would be the most important thing garden centres would need to do that? To me, it’s all about having an in-depth plant knowledge, as well as offering as big a range as is feasible. Another key factor is providing exceptionally good service levels, particularly if you want to offer a truly professional service. There certainly seems to be a move in this direction across all

sections of the industry. A few of my customers – some of which are garden centres – are now actually carrying out some domestic landscape work themselves. It is a growth area and one that is only going to become more popular in the future. w

Adrian Hoare is garden design and domestic landscape sales manager of Wyevale Nurseries, Wyevale Way, Kings Acre, Hereford Tel: 01432 845200

27/08/2015 09:24

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27/08/2015 09:03

feature: dutch auction

Grow with your growers Plant buyer extraordinaire Tim Jacob discusses the mutual benefits of close working between retailers and growers


aving just returned from three days travelling around Holland, I’ve started to reflect on my recent spell as a plant buyer for Squire’s Garden Centres – specifically about how garden centres need to work with and understand their growers in order to be successful. Despite nearly 30 years in the industry, this was the first time I’d ever visited the Dutch auction, and I learnt some valuable things about building relationships with those in your supply chain. You need to grow with your growers.

Beat the clock

Many Dutch growers rely solely on ‘the clock’ for their sales.


From my point of view, this is a cold, heartless vehicle for business, with your product paraded like a lost soul, sold simply as a number to a faceless buyer. No one is aware of the price it will fetch until the very last second. No ‘pre-season reserves’ have been taken. No group orders or commitment from any retailer have been placed. And no sales team has been sent out on the road with smiling faces, chasing business from centres up and down the country. Sales at ‘the clock’ are reliant on buyers bidding through bleary eyes (it opens at 5.30am), frantically jabbing electronic keyboards as if they were playing some new

Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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computer game. Bargains are being snapped up every 10 seconds or so, but it’s ruthless and sterile, and doesn’t allow for any sort of forward planning by any side of the chain. On the morning I went, it was clear no grower was going to get rich any time soon. Temperatures were rising to record-breaking highs across most of Europe and the market was on its knees. Nobody wanted the 4,000cc trolleys-worth of stock, and very little was reaching the prices growers needed to make a profit. Growers from all around Europe had spent inordinate amounts of time tending to their prize crops, only to see them

reach pennies (well, eurocents, actually). And failure to achieve the often tiny reserve on the day results in the plants being incinerated and the grower charged for the privilege. All this drove home to me the need to work with your growers – your key suppliers – to ensure both you and they remain afloat when the waters rise.

Better judgement

Back in the old days, when my dear old dad was pricking out seedlings until well after sunset, the market was quite easy to understand. You had those that grew, and those that sold. As a retailer you took what was offered, paid a reasonable price, and trusted to your better judgement, with a little luck thrown in, that the customers would flock in and buy. Nowadays, however, it’s different, and in the same way that growers are now

27/08/2015 09:04

feature: dutch auction

encouraged to work at understanding their retail counterparts, retailers should understand growers. They should aspire to category management, which entails being pro-active. That means visiting the Ball Colegrave trials in the summer, as well as the pack trials in Holland, to assess the new breeding carried out by all the major companies. Both parties need to work with each other if they are to thrive. ‘Reserves’ are one thing that came under scrutiny a few years ago, at a time when certain retailers were chastised for failing to honour their commitments. That situation could have been avoided with a thorough understanding of customers’ needs throughout the year. Paying a fair price so that the grower makes a profit, and committing to a quantity in

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“I’m working with a Dutch buxus supplier who takes the meaning of the word ‘pride’ to a new level” advance, allows cost savings to be made on both sides.

Fair profit

As a retail buyer, I thoroughly enjoyed working with my growers. I set targets that were achievable and that benefited both parties. Prices were agreed that gave each side a fair profit, taking each of their very different risks into account. At the same time, both sides had a good idea on what the return would be – given a ‘normal’ season – and could therefore plan things such as trolley utilisation, labour peaks and troughs, seasonal promotions, bespoke labels and so on. I also enjoy working

with retailers as a supplier. Suggesting new lines, working on exclusives – or even better, charity lines – helps bring new blood into our wonderful industry. At the moment, I’m working with a Dutch buxus supplier who takes the meaning of the word ‘pride’ to a new level. His product, seen recently at the HTA show, at first looked artificial to me. In fact, its uniformity, compactness and shiny foliage made it look like it belonged in the sundry department next to the wicker hanging baskets, not in the plant area. His grower skills and commitment to produce the

‘best box in the industry’ are second to none. His pyramids and balls on average take three to four years longer than those of his competition to grow to the same size. He trims them by hand with shears two to three times a year to give them the type of tightness and density I have never seen the like of before. I learnt this is how you grow a proper buxus! I was there to set a range plan and buy at the best possible price. To be fair, his plants aren’t cheap, but he’s charging what he feels is a fair price. And do you know what? He deserves every euro. He wants to work with us, to understand what the UK retail market wants as far as sizes/shapes etc. He won’t be selling any of his lines on ‘the clock’. He is working with his customers –and growing both businesses, profitably. ◗

Garden Centre Retail September 2015


27/08/2015 09:04

product lines advertisement feature

Thermoflor – providing premises for the green wholesale sector


ell-known in the business for the construction of garden centres such as Bents and Haskins, Thermoflor also provides business premises for the green wholesale sector. This summer, the House of Inspiration, a remarkable showroom and retail experience centre in the Netherlands, opens its doors.

Experience centre for retailers

Together with Breddels Architects, Thermoflor designed and built a remarkable showroom with an area of 1,100m2 for an international wholesaler in pottery. Ter Steege, supplier of the horticultural and souvenir branches sells well-known brands such as Artstone® and World of Jet®. Its House of Inspiration is an experience centre for retailers, centred on inspiration, experience and commercial shop presentations. The building has a striking design, with modern polycarbonate sawtooth roofs, a white-coated steel


structure and an extra floor to make the most of the available space. Managing director Ineke ter Steege said: “Thermoflor definitely exceeded our high expectations.”

Indoor processing areas

Being specialised in multifunctional buildings, Thermoflor was also asked to supply handling areas for flower bulb producer Kébol and for PT Creations, a plant arrangement

Garden Centre Retail March 2015

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specialist. Both internationally active companies needed a bigger indoor handling area. PT Creations acquired a modern hall for off ices and logistics. This was supplemented with 3,800m2 buildings for processing and logistics. For Kébol, Thermoflor built a hall for the production and processing of several flower bulb species. The 11,000m2 building consists of a 17m-wide-span greenhouse, with a transparent roof made of polycarbonate.

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27/08/2015 09:04

feature: provenance catering

Local heroes

Beverley Spindler, marketing manager of award-winning The Mains of Drum, discusses how ‘provenance’ and ‘seasonality’ can be used in promoting a garden centre catering offer


wo years ago, the Visit Scotland accreditation scheme changed the name of its restaurant scheme from ‘Eat Scotland’ to ‘Taste our Best’. I attended a launch event and picked up some invaluable tips on how better to promote our food offering, and the advantages of using locally sourced ingredients. One crucial thing I was introduced to at the launch was the seasonality calendar, and I left that day with the ambition of having a vast proportion of the food on our menus sourced from local suppliers (about 40%). Returning to the garden centre, I had a meeting with the catering team and we scheduled a complete review of our menus.

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Ocean venture

On getting back to The Mains of Drum, the one thing I learnt was although we already used a lot of local produce, we actually failed to mention it in any of our menu descriptions. For instance, one of our most popular dishes is fish and chips. It was on the menu simply as fish and chips, neglecting to mention the haddock supplied to us was actually caught in the North Sea by a well-known local boat called the Ocean Venture, which, as it happened, had also featured for many weeks in a television series. The menu description for fish and chips now reads: ‘Locally caught North Sea haddock, caught on the Ocean Venture boat, served

The Mains of Drum ensures customers realise that a great deal of its menu features locally sourced food

with French fries and peas/salad.’ It’s quite a simple change, but one which makes the product more appealing – something which was subsequently reflected in a 17% increase in sales of the dish.

Time of the season

Continuing our menu review, in conjunction with our work with local suppliers, we found we were able to give much more information on the origin of the food customers were about to eat. Arming the consumer with as many facts as possible gives them the knowledge to decide if that particular food choice is right for them. Not only did we review the contents of the dishes but, in turn also provided a more diverse menu in the process. Gluten free, 

Garden Centre Retail September 2015


27/08/2015 09:05

feature: provenance catering Arming the consumer with as many facts as possible gives them the knowledge to decide if that food choice is right for them

vegetarian and smaller portions were all provided for, in a clear and easily identifiable way. Not wanting to disappoint our frequent diners, meanwhile, we were able to look back on previous sales of individual dishes and design a ‘Tried, Tested and Loved’ section, which retained the favourite choices. Instead of daily specials, we keep the same menu for about 12 weeks and then review it at the end of that period so we can monitor the popularity of the dishes before planning the next menu. If a dish is proving extremely popular, we like to retain it on the new menu and the rest will be planned in line with the seasonality calendar. We are also mindful of the varied produce our local suppliers can provide us with for the next 12 weeks. Not only do we have far less wastage following the preparation of the menus, but by naming the provenance of the food, we have found it has actually increased sales in the restaurant by 13%.

”By naming the provenance of the food, we have found it has actually increased sales in the restaurant by 13%” Grow your own

The ‘Tried, Tested and Loved’ section of the menu means regular diners’ favourite choices are retained


Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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As well as using local suppliers whenever possible, we have also started to grow our own herbs. Being a garden centre, it makes sense for the plant team to tend an area from which the catering team can select herbs daily. We also found this encourages customers to plant their own herb gardens. Another small but effective addition to our locally sourced menu was the introduction of our home-made ‘Drum dressing’, which is used with a lot of our side salads. Previously, dressings were made with an Italian olive oil but the catering team created its own using a rapeseed oil harvested less than 20 minutes from the centre. The flavour was equally good, if not better, and it has further strengthened our relationship with the rapeseed oil supplier. From a marketing perspective, it 

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GCR Sep15 P49 46 Vitavia.indd 49 Full pages.indd

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feature: provenance catering

is important for me to know exactly what is happening between the catering team and suppliers so we can effectively promote the use of their food in our restaurant. To have an association with, say, a particular butcher, egg supplier or cheesemaker helps both businesses, because customers are more likely to come if they recognise the product. For example, Ballater-based butchers HM Sheridan are Royal Warrant holders and supply products to the Queen when she’s in residence at Balmoral. We serve their sausages as part of our cooked breakfasts, and also stock a varied range of their produce in our food hall. To further encourage customers to try Sheridan’s offerings, we invite them into the store for tastings. This association works both ways, as Sheridan’s then advertises that its award-winning sausages are served in Scotland’s only ‘five-star’ garden centre, while we benefit by using a butcher who also supplies The Queen. Since gaining our five-star accreditation from Visit Scotland, we are approached daily by suppliers who would like us to use and stock their produce and form an association with us.

Quid pro quo

Working with local suppliers is very much a two-way street and, where we can, we always take


the opportunity to promote their products. An example of this is with our egg supplier, who we worked with on a combined advert for a local magazine, promoting the fact that their eggs get delivered to us within half an hour of being laid. This ‘farm to fork’ advert was not only excellent in promoting the freshness of our eggs but also, by including the name of the farm, gave them some good advertising. We have also worked with the aforementioned local rapeseed oil producer by taking a stand next to them at The Scottish Home Show in Aberdeen. We stocked their products on our stand and, likewise, they sent their customers to our stand. Building these relationships and taking part in activities outside the normal business day helps you to get to know these people in their own environment. With that in mind, as part of the restaurant team’s training, the catering manager will try to take as many of the staff with her when she visits her suppliers. This, in turn, enables them to talk more confidently about the food they are serving and improves their overall rapport with the customer. ‘Staying local’ with our food suppliers is not only about reducing our carbon footprint but also about working closely with our local communities and making them proud to have us on their doorstep. ◗

Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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Eggs are delivered to The Mains of Drum within half an hour of being laid. The kitchen also has its own herb garden

Beverley Spindler is marketing manager at The Mains of Drum, Drumoak, Banchory, Aberdeenshire Tel: 01330 811000

27/08/2015 09:06


The Toronto based designer celebrates its tenth year in business in 2015 & only its third over here in the UK. This September, Chive debuts its colourful, contemporary & eclectic range of interior pots, vases & terrariums to the Glee Crowds!

GCR Sep15 P51 Chive/Surbridge Ad.indd 51

27/08/2015 09:13

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GLEE Stand 17R61 T 02392 248 550 E W

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

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feature: glee show preview

Show preview: Glee 2015 In this part of our special Glee focus, Garden Centre Retail looks at unusual areas, features and exhibitor highlights

The new product showcase and Glee awards According to Glee organisers, the new product display is the place to go to see the most “innovative, unique and commercial products” from the hundreds of suppliers expected at the event. The awards, meanwhile, will see new designs and products displayed for consideration, with the best of each category receiving the coveted accolade. Show visitors can also cast a vote for their favourite, with the winning entrant ultimately being awarded the retailers choice award.

The green heart

Introduced in 2014 to help bring plants back to the centre of Glee, the Green Heart area is aimed at bringing together the biggest and most respected UK growers to showcase their plant ranges. Originally intended to be

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a showcase of UK growers, the area has expanded to incorporate international growers. More than 60 growers are expected to use the area to launch 2016 ranges and latest varieties – as well as to participate in a new programme of activity, designed to encourage further engagement with plants. The area will be headed by independent garden consultant and GCR contributor Kevin Waters. He said: “I am very pleased to be part of the ongoing development of Glee’s Green Heart, and really hope that people will take advantage of the opportunity to get up close and personal with plants at the show. “The objective of the promotions we’ll be creating is to highlight the importance of plants, not only to our garden centres but also to the lives of our customers. We’ll be creating displays which

appeal to all the senses and make gardening accessible to all, pulling material from all sectors of our centres, including the gift area and even the restaurant.”

Food and catering zone

The food and catering zone is focused on one of the fastest-growing profit areas for garden retailers. The zone is now in its fourth year and is designed to give garden retailers an “unrivalled opportunity to gather best practice examples, advice, contacts and products to help them initiate or improve their catering offering”. This year, seminar content will focus on key themes such as ’how to grow your restaurant successfully’, and ‘how to take inspiration from and compete with the high street’. There will also be a special session on how to use your cafe as your USP.

Knowledge hub

Business guidance is at the heart of the show’s dedicated education and learning centre, the knowledge hub. The area promises a raft of seminars, designed to help improve and grow businesses. The area is also described by the organisers as the “perfect place to relax and learn”. The hub is being run in association with The Horticultural Trades Association.

The Garden Industry Marketing Board

The Garden Industry Marketing Board will be showcasing unique garden leisure designs for small spaces. These are specifically aimed at appealing to 30 to 45-year-olds who want to do more in their gardens. Via seminars in the knowledge hub, there will also be the opportunity to hear about the latest consumer research. This is designed to 

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feature: glee show preview





Workshops Seminars & Café Emergency Exit

HALL 19 Entrance

HALL 17 Entrance

HALL 18 Entrance


HALL 20 Entrance




Glee innovators zone

Launched in 2009, the Glee innovators zone, according to statistics released by the event, has helped more than 150 companies break into the garden retail market. The area is designed to nurture grass-roots product development, as well as oneoff design ideas. At the same time, it is aimed at ‘bridging the gap’ between marketready new product launches from established companies, and pre-commercial product ideas. Organisers are expecting more than 30 new companies this year.

Entry to Glee is free to all pre-registered visitors, with a charge of £20 being levied on those who turn up on the day. For more information, visit

Getting there

Glee takes place at the NEC in


Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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highlight the wants and needs of younger gardeners and the key hooks for getting them into gardens and garden centres.





GIMA business village

The GIMA business village is home to a large selection of up-and-coming companies, exhibiting with the support of GIMA. This year there will also be the GIMA business lounge, where visitors can take a break, arrange meetings and visit with key suppliers. The ‘buyers connect’ speed networking sessions, meanwhile, will see selected exhibitors meet with show visitors for 10-minute slots.

International buyers centre International visitors will find the UKTI international buyers centre (IBC), which will be operated in partnership with Gardenex, a useful resource. Located in Hall 18, the IBC will be led by the Gardenex team,

Birmingham, from Monday 14 to Wednesday 16 September. It is open between 9am and 6pm on the Monday and Tuesday, and from 9am to 4pm on the Wednesday. If you are arriving by car follow regional signs to the NEC, where visitor car parking is plentiful and free. A free shuttle bus service is available from car

who will be on hand to provide support and advice as well as translation services. The IBC will also be home to ‘international buyers connect’, a special speednetworking event. A Glee spokesperson said: “To really find out how you can export to build your business just head for the UKTI stand, where international trade advisers will be on hand to discuss every aspect of what it means to export, where and how. “There will also be case studies from businesses that have already succeeded, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and discover more about the options available. “A range of seminars from UKTI and UK businesses will also be hosted on the stand.”

parks to the halls. The nearest railway station is Birmingham International railway station, which is located on the NEC site. Birmingham International Airport is linked to the NEC by the free ‘SkyRail’, which departs every few minutes and takes 90 seconds to travel between the two locations.

27/08/2015 09:51

Premium Planters

Inspiring Britain's gardeners for over 35 years Come and see us at Glee where we will be showcasing over 200 new products, including additions to the


RHS endorsed range of planters. Sales enquiries:

01233 621090

Hall 19: Stand C20-E21

WIN A TRIP TO DUBLIN WITH BORD NA MÓNA UK At GLEE 2015 Bord na Móna UK (Stand no. 18L10 – M11) will be showcasing a range of growing media and soil improvers, which covers all the peat-based and peat-free bases. It is also ahead of celebrating its exponential UK growth with an exclusive competition for retailers to win a trip to Ireland. As well as some great show deals on product and lots of branded celebration cake! Retailers visiting the stand are in with a chance of winning a short break for two in Ireland’s atmospheric capital city of Dublin. The break includes return flights from any UK airport, two nights’ accommodation, a trip round the Guinness factory and 200 Euros of spending money. All they have to do to be in the running for the prize is answer three simple questions on growing media, Bord na Móna and Guinness!

Meanwhile there will be exclusive GLEE only on stand special offers on product for both new and existing customers, subject to credit reference or trading history. Bord na Móna will also be launching its 2016 promotional programme at GLEE as well as its new catalogue. The promotional programme features multi-buy promotions across all Bord na Móna’s core horticultural products throughout the season. These will include a three for £12 on

50 litre multipurpose, a four for £10 on organic green compost, a four for £10 on garden soil and a three for £12 on peat-free multipurpose. RRPs for the core range of peat-reduced and peat-free multipurpose as well as the specialist blends start at £5.99 for 50 litres. The range is delivered with the full backing of the massive resources, technological innovation and marketing support of the premier global supplier in this category, combined with the tight knit and fleet of foot accessibility of the UK sales team. Charles Farmer, head of consumer for Bord na Móna UK said, “Bord na Móna UK is all about one stop shop, market leading quality peatbased and peat-free growing media. We’re at GLEE to celebrate our unique ability to give trade customers the reassurance of buying best in class, while ensuring that the consumer gets great results every time - whatever the task and whatever their preference in terms of peat and peat-free.”

Bord Na Móna UK, The Forge, The Stables Business Centre, Rooksbridge, Somerset, BS26 2TH t: 0800 973 555 f: 0800 055 6681 e:

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feature: glee show preview

Glee exhibitor preview


We take a look at some of the companies who will be exhibiting at Glee this year...

Regatta By opening a Regatta concession you can add the UK’s biggest outdoor clothing brand to your product range, the company said. This generates a commission-based income, with no up-front cost, it said, adding that Regatta manages its concessions from store fit and staffing to sales and marketing to make the process as easy as possible. You can see a Regatta concession for yourself and find out more at Glee. Stand: 17P10-Q11

Crest Garden

Davidson Richards EPoS specialist Davidson Richards works with more than 60 garden centres. Providing a complete multi-channel EPoS and retail management solution, Davidson Richards enables retailers to easily connect other applications, including web stores or financial accounting. 24/7 access to real-time retail intelligence data provides total control. Customer service has been improved in-store by easy-to-use tills with contactless payments. OpSuite has changed the cost of ownership and maintenance levels with no software to buy and low monthly subscriptions. Davidson Richards takes care of the updates, maintenance and back-ups itself. Stand: 17U55


Crest Garden will launch a raft of products at Glee. Flopro is a range of watering equipment in which Crest Garden has invested £1.5m in bespoke tooling to bring “exciting new products to the market which offer the industry a real alternative”, the company said. New for 2016, Crest Garden has also launched the Kent & Stowe ‘Garden Life’ light-weight tool range. The company said its research had identified a preference for lighter-weight tools among women, younger gardeners and people with restricted movement or mobility issues. Stand 19G20-H21A

Hutton Garden Products Hutton has been exhibiting its British-manufactured garden product ranges at Glee for many years and said planning was key for a successful show. Research begins by looking at the product portfolio and what is new in the garden furniture market. Ideas are then pooled to narrow down n hew products for the following year, at which point the team evaluates the size of the potential market to ensure FSC-certified wood is sourced and the products fit Hutton’s 15-year warranty scheme. The company said Glee requires a lot of paperwork

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and it also has to ensure all product literature is designed, signed-off and printed in plenty of time for the show, adding that it is imperative that customer information is

Boody organic bamboo eco wear supports the global trend for all things green and ethical. Boody bamboo is plantation grown and requires much less water than cotton-based fabrics. Even the box is recycled and printed on using vegetable-based ink. A spokesperson said Boody recognised that the garden centre retailer was under enormous pressure and, with more customer choice, profitability was more challenging than ever. More than 650 health and garden centres in Australia stock the brand, the spokesperson said, and earn more than 100% profits from a carousel taking up only 1.6ft 2. Stand: 17T50

clear and concise. When all the preparation is complete, it is time to attend the NEC, set up the stand and meet customers, both present and future. Stand: 20D10-E11

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New Burford from Eden changes the aluminium greenhouse game The new Burford Greenhouse from Eden Halls Greenhouses has fast become the most popular model in its revolutionary “Zero Threshold™” range. Launched in March, the Burford boasts many superior technical benefits never before seen in the market. The six foot wide Eden Burford offers a whole series of game changing design breakthroughs. This includes the revolutionary, patent pending, Eden Zero Threshold™ Sliding Door System, which offers users ‘no trip’ access for added safety and convenience. This is particularly helpful for wheelchair users and for anyone using a wheelbarrow or trolley. A host of other technical innovations include increased volume of air from the high eaves providing an improved growing environment with more room for plants and people. High capacity 80mm wide gutters increase rainwater capture, allowing for easier cleaning, leaf removal and improved rainwater run-off. The glazing clip and

gutter design minimises internal condensation drips and helps eliminate the problem of the glass turning green with algae. There is also an accessory channel in the roof ridge bar designed to accommodate hanging baskets etc. within the structure, maximising the usage of space. The Eden Burford comes in three sizes – 6x6, 6x8, 6x10 – with a number of added value options and accessories. 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 twelve year frame guarantee and many safety features, such as base corner covers to prevent grazed ankles and a new key locking system with simple, push button action. Robust and easy to assemble and with the benefit of British design and manufacture, the Burford has a starting RRP of £549 including VAT and home delivery.

Eden Halls Greenhouses Ltd, The Distribution Centre, Stoke Road, Stoke Orchard, Nr.Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 7RS 01242 676625 •

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us 30 e e H d s d 18 n e a Stan m Co EE – GL at

Fallen Fruits adds a touch of ‘glass’ to your garden! Garden giftware company, Fallen Fruits, whose themed, designer collections are inspired by nature, has extended its beautiful ‘Best for Birds’ Collection with a new range of Hobnail Glass bird baths and feeders. These new additions provide a welcome alternative to the traditional wood bird tables, as well as embracing the current consumer passion for all things vintage. The Hobnail Glass is reminiscent of Victoriana and add the perfect period feel to any style of garden. The collection of bottle feeders, bird baths and hanging bird feeders come in both clear and coloured glass – there is a choice of blue, green and purple – and have been delightfully designed to attract wildlife as well as reflect light, making them an eye-

catching attraction in your garden. Fallen Fruits managing director Michael Hall explains, “Attracting wildlife into our gardens is a key issue and important to many homeowners. However, when it comes to buying products with which to do this, there is not a lot of choice in terms of style and design. “We wanted to offer consumers something a little bit different to the conventional wooden bird tables currently on the market and we know, from customer feedback, that the vintage trend is still very much alive. We believe our new Hobnail Glass Collection offers the perfect blend of practicality and beautiful design,” adds Michael. As with all Fallen Fruits garden and giftware ranges, the ‘Best for Birds’ collection can be incorporated into the company’s in store ‘shop within a shop’ proposition.

Fallen Fruits Ltd, Lower Barns Business Park, Ludford, Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 4DS Tel: 01584 87 33 77 • • e-mail:

We’ve grown something your customers will love

Johnsons is launching a NEW range this season, with a fresh design, researched with gardening consumers. Still with the high quality and expertise customers expect, from one of the longest established names in packet seeds. Contact your sales representative to find out more about stocking the new range, or visit our website.

Visit us on our stand at GLEE: Hall 19 G50

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feature: glee show preview VegTrug

Vitavia Vitavia Garden Products Ltd has launched two new greenhouse models in 2015 designed to have low threshold entrances for easy access. The Phoenix is a double door, low threshold unit, available in five sizes (8x8, 8x10, 8x12, 8x14). The Apollo meanwhile is single door, available in five sizes from 6x4 up to 6x12. The ranges start at £339 for the Apollo 6x4, with anodised aluminium frame and horticultural glass. The company said: ‘Vitavia is always looking to expand its network of retailers, which already boasts of over 100 sites throughout the UK’. Stand: 20H26-J27

Greenman Garden Tools Reedy Supplies, the home of Greenman Garden Tools, is launching an ergonomic range that takes design cues and fabrication processes from traditional British farm tools. The company said the range

had been designed for ease of use and functionality. A spokesman said: “Their uniqueness lies in an extra-long handle, which has been steamed and bent just below the midpoint. This bend allows for

Tarmac Building materials and construction solutions business Tarmac will launch a range of plastic tubs developed for the garden centre market at Glee. The tubs, created by Tarmac’s Cement business, have been designed for a variety of gardening and landscaping tasks and are convenient because users can take out the exact amount of product required and reseal the rest - saving time, waste and money. Chris Cooper, packed products manager, said: “We’re thrilled to

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efficient transfer of power from hand to tool, making digging easier and less back-breaking.” Greenman tools are traditionally crafted from sustainable ash with stainless steel heads. Stand: 18K65

VegTrug, the self-contained raised planter company, will be extending its wildlife product range as well as launching a second generation of its iconic V-shaped product. The wildlife range expansion follows on from the success of the company’s Tweetie range of bird feeders and bird boxes, first shown at last year’s exhibition. The Tweetie range will also be accompanied by sister products aimed at bats, bees, butterflies and insects. As CEO Joe Denham explained: “VegTrug is able to provide a suitable home for most Great British garden dwellers, thanks to our very active new product development programme.” Stand: 17Q30 – R31

Brundle Gardener be bringing this new range to Glee. We have responded to demand from garden centres and their customers for simple, ready-mixed cement and mortar products. “The new packaging includes our famous Blue Circle branding, which reinforces our strong heritage of customer-led innovation. “These products help users achieve the intended results - and we’re excited to offer this to gardeners all over Britain.” Stand: 19F50

Brundle Gardener has spoken of its excitement at returning to Glee. The online retailer has described the annual show as a ‘permanent and popular’ fixture in its calendar, as the company prepares to exhibit its eye-catching products for the third year at Glee. The range illustrates the company’s ethos of offering customers something different in gardens and garden centre displays. Products include unique hand-crafted steel fireballs, and bright and bold

Brighton sheds. Business manager Paul Smith said: “We are delighted to be returning to Glee. We pride ourselves on our friendly and flexible approach, and we can’t wait to showcase our products, new and existing, to such a receptive audience.” Stand: 18L55

Garden Centre Retail September 2015


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OVER 130 NEW PRODUCTS Town & Country’s new vision to be unveiled at Glee Following almost a year of development work involving customer focus groups, consumer research and trends forecasting sessions, the UK’s leading gardening gloves and footwear supplier, Town & Country, is taking the wraps off a fresh new vision for the brand. Against the backdrop of an increasingly challenging and more competitive retail environment, the company began a strategic review of its position and its offer to retailers and consumers at the end of 2014. Customer insight research was conducted to elicit detailed and confidential feedback from major retailers to help build a new product and brand strategy for the business. In addition, feedback was invited from

all group members and key buyers. The objective was to understand the market development, listen to customers and quickly react to their valuable feedback. Key areas identified for development were packaging, POS and display, with a general feeling that more innovation was needed to bring a fresh new look and excitement to the brand. The evolution of the brand – to be shown in full on Town & Country’s new stand at Glee (18M10) – includes a refreshed corporate logo and a strong visual identity, which is in evidence in the exciting and innovative new concepts for products, packaging, POS and merchandising displays.

01530 830990 •

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feature: glee show preview Eden


Following on from the launch of its Zero Threshold range, Eden Greenhouses has added a purpose-designed shelving and staging system for installation with the ‘zero threshold’ concept. The new staging and shelving system is designed to enable gardeners to maximise the space available to them. It is intended to fit perfectly in every size of all the four models in the new greenhouse range, and is available in aluminium and green or a black powder coat finish. Stand: 20D24-E25

SLKids wants you to have some fun by playing with the toys on its display. Its products are aimed at children visiting venues such as garden centres. An SLKids spokesperson said it was great that young children liked going to garden centres but, at some point, they would need a distraction as parents

browsed the water features or the family sat down to enjoy a relaxed lunch. SLKids added that space planning played a significant role in its design philosophy and the company would seek to ensure customers maximised their budgets while using the minimum of real estate. Stand: 17U40

Fiddlehead Fairy Gardens The Fiddlehead Fairy Gardens range is expanding this autumn with the launch of a number of new products at Autumn Fair and Glee. The current range is being augmented with new houses, accessories and animals, with further products being launched around Christmas. The company said: ‘Miniature gardening is a fast

Neudorff UK

growing pastime and retailers are reporting excellent sales of both specific products and also an uplift in sales of ancillary items such as planters, alpines, soil, etc. ‘As miniature gardens can be planted almost anywhere, the pastime opens up gardening to those who don’t own a garden’. Stand 20L32

Global Stone Paving Global Stone supplies premium natural stone and porcelain paving products. Its Garden Style collection is specifically curated in response to demand from garden centres for ‘immediate purchase’ items. The range initially consisted of affordable natural stone paving, setts, pavers, accessories and features, but expanded this year to include collection and home delivery on 19 natural paving options. Now, in response to “changes in garden designs for more modern and easy-to-maintain outside living”, it is expanding the range further to include contemporary setts and porcelain paving, available for 2016. Stand: 20G54

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After a successful season, Neudorff returns to GLEE 2015 with a range of new products. According to the company, it has had a great year, which has included an increase in stockists, as well as ‘exceptional’ sell through of its key products. Neudorff will introduce ten new products at this year’s show, which is the largest introduction since the brand launched in the UK in 2012. Each new addition has been developed in-house and features natural active ingredients - an element that is present throughout the entire product offering. Stand: 19D50

Deco-Pak Deco-Pak one of the UK’s leading suppliers of decorative aggregates will showcase its latest product ranges, alongside inspirational point of sale displays. The company said: ‘Retailers looking for products that feed into the continuing trend for traditional British architecture and landscaping, will love the contemporary design-led packaging of the new Heritage Aggregate Stone collection. ‘The heritage theme continues with the launch of eight birdhouses and feeders. The colour coded packaging is

100% recyclable, and includes helpful information on bird care. ‘Handcrafted rainbow sandstone water and garden features will also be launched, in the form of The Eastern Stone Co. range. This including a 90cm Buddha head and a 95cm tulip planter. The Chelsea Garden Range of professional grade horticultural sands and gravels has recently received newly redesigned packaging and point of sale that features the products in use.’ Stand: 20K30-L31

Garden Centre Retail September 2015


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feature: glee show preview Johnsons

Smart Garden Products

This season, Johnsons has a new range with a new look. With a new design across packets and point of sale, the range builds on the tradition of the Johnsons brand, with a “more upmarket feel”, the company said. Johnsons has also introduced a culinary herb collection with UK herb expert Jekka McVicar. With 47 varieties, the packets include advice on which meals each herb complements. Other new products on the Mr Fothergill’s stand include the GroTray, a compact propagation system ‘that only needs watering once’. Stand: 19G50

The 2015 GCA-GIMA Supplier of the Year Award winner Smart Garden Products is introducing an array of new products at Glee following its launch of 350 lines across five new ranges last year. Included are many technical and decorative innovations in its Smart Solar lighting category. The recently added Outside In Designs Clocks and Lanterns collection will also be showcased for the first time, as will many more products, ranges and promotions under

Bord na Móna Bord na Móna UK is running a trade promotion offering reduced trade prices for the autumn. The products involved are 100 litre bales of landscape mini chip bark, 50 litre bags of soil improver and 7kg tubs of ‘Chicken Poo’, all aimed at helping retailers make the most of autumn/ winter preparation sales. Landscape mini chip bark is ideal for weed suppression

Pleydell Smithyman and moisture control, while the soil improver and Chicken Poo products are designed to feed, invigorate and improve soil structure. Garden retailers ordering the promotional products for immediate invoice and autumn delivery can enjoy significant savings which they can take as extra margin or pass on to consumers in the form of BOGOF deals. Stand: 18L10-M11

Garland/Worth Gardening Garland/Worth Gardening is launching over 70 new products at Glee 2015. New products include a compact tidy tray, a colander trug and planting aids in the shape of bulb planters and a soil ejection plunger. The company’s propagation range

meanwhile will be boosted with the introduction of a one-top electric propagator and a micro grow light garden. Commenting on the effort, operations director Tony Dedman said: “We find that Glee is an excellent launch

the Smart Garden and Smart Solar brands. Stand: 18K30-31

pad for new products. “Last year we introduced around 50 new products at the show and this made a major contribution towards the 49 per cent growth in turnover we recorded in 2014. That growth is continuing.” Stand: 18L10-M11

Pleydell Smithyman is a design and business consultancy with specialist experience in the garden centre industry and allied sectors. Its multidisciplinary team works out of offices in Telford as well as Glasgow, “delivering commercially sound yet innovative solutions for businesses across the UK”, the company said. Director Paul Pleydell added: “A tried and tested approach develops meaningful business and planning strategies, explores creative architectural, retail and restaurant solutions, and delivers commercially focused results.” Clients include Squire’s, Webbs, Scotsdales, Klondyke, Hillview and numerous leading independent garden centres. Stand: 17Q50

Fallen Fruits Garden giftware company Fallen Fruits is showcasing new products, as well as its ‘shop within a shop’ merchandising concept. Its products feature a mix of materials sourced from around the world, including ceramics, metal, hobnail glass and photo-style fabric prints. Ranges include wildlifethemed umbrellas, cushions,


tote bags, doormats, garden lighting and more. Its ‘shop within a shop’ merchandising concept involves the company supplying garden centres with a selection of items which are ‘subtly themed and carefully categorised, priced and supported with eye-catching, inspirational point of sale’. Stand: 18H30

Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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27/08/2015 10:48

Come and see whats new at GLEE Hall 19, Stand D10

Hall 19, Stand D10 For more information visit our website or contact Customer Services

Tel: 0114 281 4242 or e-mail:

extends its wildlife range and unveils second generation V-shaped planters at Glee VegTrug, the original self-contained raised planter company, will be extending its wildlife product range as well as launching a second generation of the iconic V-shaped VegTrugs which made its reputation for design combined with accessibility and unique planting depth. The wildlife range expansion follows on from the phenomenal 2015 season success of its Tweetie range of bird feeders and bird boxes first shown at last year’s exhibition. Visitors will be able to see the latest Tweetie range, which features the Tweetie Pad bird box and Tweetie Feeder bird table, on the VegTrug stand (17Q30 – R31), along with sister products aimed at bats, bees, butterflies and other insects. The range extension follows on not only from Tweetie’s popularity but also from the country’s continued and growing obsession with back garden wildlife residents.

VegTrug Ad.indd 1

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As CEO, Joe Denham explained, “VegTrug will be able to provide a suitable home for most Great British garden dwellers, thanks to our very active new product development programme.” Equally exciting will be the launch of the latest VegTrug, a ‘second generation’ of the iconic range which combines enough planting depth for root vegetables with raised bed accessibility and stylish design credentials. New styling, new features and new materials alongside the traditional plantation grown cedar will all combine to attract buyers’ attention at this year’s GLEE debut for the new range. Joe Denham added, “GLEE is one of the most important shows in our calendar and as such is the perfect platform on which to unveil our latest wildlife range of products, as well as our muchanticipated second generation of VegTrug v-shaped planters.” Stand no: 17Q30 – R31 01206 230025

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feature: plant focus

Plant focus: mind the (knowledge) gap Horticulture expert Valerie Munro discusses ways to help garden centre staff become a source of genuine expertise for plant-curious customers


hen I met award-winning garden designer Adam Frost recently, I was impressed with his down-to-earth approach. While he undoubtedly realises that creating something beautiful and inspiring is important, for him it’s more of a practical and involving process. In other words, it’s about bringing together a passion for plants and people, as well as an understanding of how space can work to create special places where everyone wants to be. To that end, he is championing ‘added-value’ knowledge in the garden centre world, taking groups of staff out of their normal duties and sharing expertise with them via the rudiments of garden design. I don’t suppose that all of his bright young things will end up winning gold medals at Chelsea – or perhaps they will – but his very wellmade point is that unless an attempt is made to fill the skills gap, garden centres will be left in dust as merely a place to buy plants.


Up to speed

Ok, perhaps not everyone wants to be a garden designer. However, there are many other sides to the world of plants, including propagation, pest and disease control, nutrition, pruning techniques and more. With that in mind, I’m wondering how many of those on the UK garden centre ’shop floor’ have been invited to learn more about the plants in their care. There they are, being asked what ultimately amounts to quite basic questions by a customer, in a uniform that indicates a level of knowledge. Is it not rather embarrassing for anyone in that position to say, ‘I’m sorry I don’t know the answer to that’ and then simply scuttle away? Surely it would be more positive all round if said employee could engage in a helpful way in order to answer the question. But this will only come if management takes time to develop the knowledge level.

Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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Adam Frost’s garden design highlights, among other things, the issue of knowing what plant needs to go where

Garden centre staff should be able to engage in a helpful way to answer questions about plants in their care

Knowledge gap

One area in which this gap in knowledge shows itself very readily is in the question of ‘what plant should I put where?’ I’ve watched customers coming into a plant area and, because they need some basic help, all they can do is stand and stare. Normally plants are displayed in an A-Z fashion without much reference to size and shape. This lack of information can be very confusing to a novice gardener. An easy fix would be to create a trial border space for customers to place plants. That way, they could get a quick view on whether the colour, shape and sizes of the plants could work well together. Another solution could be a soil-filled raised border planted up by plant centre staff and labelled ‘Looking Good Together’. This could change from season to season and also include useful tips about soil type needed, sun/ shade tolerances, and so on for the featured plants. It’s the same with plant pests and diseases. For a trained horticulturist it is comparatively easy to spot what is attacking or affecting a plant, and to then come up with a suitable and legal remedy. However, should the garden centre manager prefer to tread a safer path, a solution would be to establish a dedicated area so

27/08/2015 09:19

feature: plant focus

Little boxes In many of the suburban gardens I visit, space is the limiting factor. And the one foible I find regularly with my novice gardeners is that they constantly feel the need to fill their already small garden with huge plants. Inevitably, my first conversation usually focuses on how much bigger the garden would look if they chose something a little less cumbersome. At the same time, I’m also always looking for those small plants that have more than one attractive characteristic. There is no point in having something that needs to be fussed over for months only for it to flower for just a few days and then disappear for another year.

‘current plant issues’ can be illustrated clearly, together with ‘how to’ sheets, to deal with the specific problem, also listing appropriate remedies on sale in the shop. Both these ideas would provide a useful focus with a double benefit. The customer is reassured that they are in a welcoming and knowledgeable plant centre. At the same time, the assistant feels valued because they have been able to develop their own horticultural skills in a safe and structured way.

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ (H 45cm x S 60cm) is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial with large, ovate or heart-shaped basal leaves and sprays of small, bright-blue flowers in spring. The first ‘performance’ is when it produces a haze of the prettiest forget-me-not-like flowers as the months start to get brighter.

Ceratostigma willmottianum

until the following year before even thinking about doing any light pruning, as I consider its spikey seed heads are a feature worth keeping during winter. Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’. I consider this evergreen variegated plant to be one for all seasons, particularly in mild winter regions. In colder areas it is best grown in a container and brought indoors to a cool, bright spot for the winter. It won’t grow beyond 90cm in height or width, is reasonably drought-tolerant and doesn’t really mind whether it’s in the sun or partial shade. w

Skills renewal

We live in a world of continuing personal development, and from a business perspective this is completely correct. The ongoing renewal of skills is absolutely necessary for your business to continue to grow, and to keep up with and surpass your competitors. (Particularly in an environment where those competitors include online retailers such as Crocus, which makes it its business to communicate as much as it can about plant care as an integral part of its digital offer). And speaking of online, there are also a range of digital solutions, such as the ones run by ACS Distance Education (www., the HTA (www. and the GCA (

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Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’

On removing the faded flower stems, the plant then revs up for its second stunning ‘encore’, when the delicately variegated basal leaves develop into a neat rounded clump. Surprisingly, this variegated plant will tolerate full sun but will really thrive in shade. It was championed as the perennial plant of the year in 2012. Ceratostigma willmottianum is a small shrub, (H 1m x S up to 1.5m). I value this plant for its intense blue flowers that normally appear in late summer and early autumn. But, just before it drops its leaves for the winter, the foliage turns red – another bonus. This plant does extremely well in full sun, and it’s such a welcome sight after the summer perennials have gone past their best. I tend to leave the plant untouched

Euphorbia characias ‘Tasmanian Tiger’.

Valerie Munro is a horticultural broadcast journalist. As Auntie Planty, she offers a garden mentoring and plant problem-solving service.

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27/08/2015 09:20

INDEPENDENT, IMPARTIAL, INVALUABLE • Quinton Edwards are recognised as market leaders in the disposal and acquisition of freehold and leasehold garden centres, plant centres and horticultural businesses throughout the United Kingdom. • In Spring 2012, we advised Terrafirma on their purchase of The Garden Centre Group, now Wyevale and since then, we have sold, let and acquired 25 separate properties and businesses totalling £32.5 million, we currently have offers on five properties/businesses totalling £9 million. • In our last full financial year Simon Quinton Smith undertook 98 valuations for bank, sale and tax purposes, at a total value of £268 million.


• There is currently unprecedented demand for garden centres and plant centres throughout the United Kingdom. If we can be of assistance to you please contact Simon Quinton Smith on 01635 262520 or







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(Due to Retirement) Well established and Successful Garden Centre Beautiful Location Good Access to Inverness Detached 3 Bedroom Tied Bungalow Our Ref: 0198

Our Ref: 0220 Circa 23 Acres with 1.9 acres of Glass plus 3 acres of multi-spans and substantial Irrigated plant standing out areas. With or without trading potential Our Ref: 0222 11.73 acres with 4.56 acres of glass 2.78 acres of multi-spans, office block and ancillary buildings.

EAST ANGLIA GARDEN CENTRE MAIN ROAD FRONTAGE FREEHOLD FOR SALE With Tea Room, Gift Shop & Farm Shop Modern Well-Appointed Bungalow in Land Our Ref: 0134

27/08/2015 09:13

product news

Product news

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

Little Billy hopes to clean up


arden vacuum manufacturer Billy Goat has released a comprehensive range of new products Speaking of the new ranges, a spokesperson for the company said: “The collection consists of vacuums for all applications. At 20in wide, the wheeled, lightweight Little Billy is designed for small gardens, yet with a wide nozzle it provides superior suction. “Also designed to meet the

EGO is so proud


needs of both the domestic and residential markets is the KV Series. However, these models are also suitable for commercial applications. “With a 27in width and a five-blade impeller with serrated edges, the KV Series maximises suction and tackles debris with ease.”

Tatton success for Grange


ecorative garden structures company Grange is celebrating after its sponsored show garden ‘Reflecting Photonics’ won the gold award at RHS Tatton Park. It was also awarded the RHS People’s Choice Award in the best large garden category. The conceptual garden was created by designers Helen Elks-Smith and Kate Hart, in conjunction with the University of Southampton’s

optoelectronics research centre (ORC), to celebrate the United Nations International Year of

Light. According to the company, Helen and Kate created the garden to reflect the world-leading research into light-transmitting optical fibre which takes place at the ORC. Grange senior product manager Rob Giles said: “We would like to congratulate Helen, Kate, the ORC and the rest of the team on their fantastic achievement.”

Business partners acquire Global Garden Solutions


upplier of resin garden storage and furniture Global Garden Solutions (GGS) has been acquired by business partners Duncan Pratt-Thompson and Richard Greenhill (both pictured). The GGS core product range is manufactured by Suncast in America which, according to the company, has been a market leader for more than 25 years. It holds an exclusive

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distribution agreement for the UK. Richard Greenhill said: “Having developed

long-standing, trusted relationships with retailers across the UK in the homewares sector, the acquisition is an exciting opportunity to replicate this success in the garden and leisure market. “We’re looking forward to working with the existing team who, from day one, have shared our enthusiasm to drive the business forward. Their extensive experience is invaluable to the business.”

GO has launched a range of 56 volt lithium-ion battery-powered garden products to keep gardens looking tidy. Products include a lawnmower, two strimmers, a hedge cutter, a chainsaw and a blower. According to the company, the range is available only to garden centres and specialist independent garden equipment dealers, “guaranteeing there will be no price pressure from sheds and cut-price retailers”. EGO marketing director Steve Roskell said: “Customer satisfaction is extremely high. The quality of EGO is unrivalled in the cordless sector and the added power provided by the 56 volt lithium-ion battery puts it in a class of its own – rivalling petrol-powered alternatives but without the fumes, fuss or noise.”

Gardman on solid ground


ardman has expanded its doormat range following a recent upturn in sales. The company is introducing 28 new lines across its Garden & Home Co and Gardmanbranded ranges, with the lineup covering all price points from value to premium. The range includes its unique EasyMat system, which enables its customers to customise their own doormats. EasyMat itself has undergone what the company is calling an ‘extensive refresh’, incorporating a new logo, clearer point-of-sale messages and a new portable, highcapacity island display stand.

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27/08/2015 09:22

product lines IBC launches garden centre division

Howzat! Plantscape brightens the Ashes

uying group for independent builders’ merchants IBC has announced the launch of its garden centre division. According to the organisation, it will be working with garden centres to assist and add value to their procurement process. Commercial director Paul Read said: “It’s an obvious step for us in truth. A number of our existing supply partners cut across both general merchant supply and garden centres, and our model lends itself perfectly to the many Independent

ricket fans on their way to and from an Ashes test have been greeted by a riot of colour after Plantscape supplied thousands of flowers for the Nottinghamshire town of West Bridgford. About 100 individual planters were supplied, including barrier baskets, hanging baskets and threetiered floor-standing planters. The town is close to Trent Bridge cricket ground, which hosted England’s match against Australia on August 6. Mark Stone, Plantscape managing director, said: “We


garden and lifestyle centres across the UK.” National sales manager Marc Coulson said: “We are really excited about the launch. We are already working with our first garden group members, garnering feedback and starting to create value for both them and our supply chain.”

Toolbank lays out its trade show plans


ower tool and hardware wholesaler Toolbank has released details of its autumn trade show schedule, which will take in seven one-day shows in the space of four weeks. The season kicks off on September 10, with the Dartford branch show at Brands Hatch racing circuit in Kent. This will be followed by dates

in Warrington, the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon, Sedgefield, Leeds, Armagh, and finally Newmarket racecourse. All the shows promise ‘oneday only’ deals, as well as incentives such as free parking and catering. More than 200 brands will be represented across the product sector.


are pleased to be working with Streetwise Environmental and adding colour to West Bridgford and around Trent Bridge. It is an area of Nottingham which is popular with visitors and local residents and businesses will want to show it off to its best.”

Haddonstone expands and enhances


arden ornament manufacturer Haddonstone has expanded its Northamptonshire office, as well as enhancing its acclaimed show gardens. The extension includes a new reception area, an interior showroom, and a library with books dating to 1729. The office now has full disabled access as well. The expansion is to allow visitors and stockists to see Haddonstone designs in a real garden setting. Set across four acres and divided into smaller themed areas, the company’s show gardens, meanwhile, are open all year round. According to the company, it is always looking to expand its stockist network in the UK and overseas.

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GCR Sep15 P67-68 Product News.indd 68


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The one stop shop for all your horticultural needs be it either pictorial packets or wholesale seeds for plant sales.

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Artificial Grass Lawns Create stunning landscapes with our wide range of high quality artiďŹ cial grasses. We stock a range of competitively priced turfs available to trade in cut lengths and also, for 2014, trade only grasses available by the full roll enabling you to be even more competitive.

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GCR Sep15 P69 Kings/HiTech Ad.indd 69

27/08/2015 09:23

products: category review

How to sell... gifts

Geoff Hodge offers some tips on how to make your garden centre the go-to location for present buying


owadays, it seems we’re all becoming more generous, with statistics suggesting that presentgiving has never been more popular. This includes garden centre customers, who on the whole are an indulgent lot. It’s time, in other words, to make sure your gift-giving offer is up to speed. The first thing to look at is your buyer. A dedicated gift department is all well and good, but it is of vital importance that whoever is doing your buying has an eye for it. That means a good understanding of what’s popular, which items are trending and what people really want to give and receive. With that in mind, also remember that you have a captive audience, with most garden centres proving a great, out-oftown shopping experience. People come to you to relax and have a good time, and ‘buying something’ is already at the front of customers’ minds. In other words, you should set out to sell some of the most beautiful, practical, and ultimately desirable objects available anywhere in the retail world. What could be better than receiving some colourful plants or a well-planted container? (Or a pair of expensive Felco secateurs, a Victorinox Swiss Army penknife, a stainless steel tool set, and so on…)

Good signposting

It’s vital that your gift suggestions are obvious to your customers, so make the most of point of sale, and use good signposting. In the same way, make sure your customers can see and feel the quality of the goods you have on display. I know theft is a serious problem, but having expensive items squirrelled away behind locked cabinets is so off-putting. You have to have someone constantly on hand to unlock them – otherwise your customers will be off faster than they can say ‘I can’t be bothered’. As presentation is everything when it comes to giving, the obvious added extra for any purchase is to have it beautifully gift-wrapped. It’s that finishing touch that shows the giver actually cares about the person in question. Just slapping a bit of cheap wrapping paper over it won’t cut it these days, for no other reason than ‘cheaply wrapped’ gives the impression of ‘cheap gift’. You need to go the whole nine yards if you want to be known for your gift service. You have no excuses, as there are so many fabulous gift wrappings available, including gift bag presentation styles alongside more traditional paper, tissue and cellophane wraps. Many of your customers won’t want to look cheap, so offer both a basic wrapping service and a deluxe one. Most people will trade up.

Other services

Also, nearly everyone knows a keen gardener but may not have a clue what that person would like to receive as a gift. In that instance, vouchers are a godsend. Obviously, there are the standard HTA variety, but have you considered


Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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the possibility of developing your own? They obviously have the advantage that they have to be both bought and redeemed at your centre, which ensures you have a guaranteed customer returning. You could also offer gifts of pre-loaded loyalty cards, or club membership cards with all the benefits that joining the system brings. Alternatively, how about a gift of a garden visit from one of your plant experts to help design part of the garden or to help solve problems? It’s a great way of promoting your business and guaranteeing a customer for life. It’s also brilliant for selling plants alongside a whole range of troubleshooting products. ◗ Geoff Hodge is a writer and broadcaster. He writes for various gardening magazines and websites and has written eight books. Previously, he was a garden centre manager

27/08/2015 09:24




Inspiration in the Garden

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A family business with 40 years of growing media expertise. High quality Irish peat and compost for the Garden Centre & Grower Flexible, nationwide distribution with product support

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The UK’s leading manufacturer and importer of Brushware, Bentley have teamed up with the National Trust to create a range of unique quality garden tools suitable for every need. The National Trust range consists of over 30 gardening products including brushes with a unique double locking universal handle, dustpans, rakes, stainless steel trowels and stainless steel spades.

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products: gifts ▲

Zoo In A Tin

Apples to Pears has added to its ‘gift in a tin’ range with ‘Zoo In A Tin’. Following on from last year’s ‘Farm In A Tin’, the zoo set includes all the animals you would expect, plus an illustrated felt mat. Creatures include penguins, which have their own pool, and monkeys, which occupy themselves swinging on the zoo sign, The set is suitable for ages four years and above, with the chunky wooden play pieces doubling as colouring-in shapes. RRP: £9.99

▲ Ancient Wisdom

Latest products


Unusual offerings that are bound to catch the eye

Designed to be both beautiful and fun, Ancient Wisdom puzzle boxes are definitely ideal garden centre gift material. They are made by craftsmen in Saharanpur in northern India, and have amazed and intrigued people for generations. Originally, they were called ‘magic boxes’ and were heart-shaped and made in Thailand, the company said. As well as providing a challenge to those receiving them, they also have the potential for add-on sales as containers for smaller items such as jewellery. RRP: from £7.50 each

Heyland & Whittle

British bath, body and home fragrance brand Heyland & Whittle has announced a collaboration with Seasalt Cornwall. According to the company, its three new Seasalt collections are inspired by famous Cornish locations, including Sennen, Lamorna and Roseland. Each collection includes a traditional reed diffuser, reed diffuser refill, soy wax candle and soy wax candle in a tin. Heyland & Whittle is already a provider for Liberty and Fortnum & Mason.

▲ Cuckoo gifts

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Cuckoo, which manufactures cute gifts, has described its year so far as ‘crazy busy’. The company has transformed its collection, adding the MiYim organic cotton Baby Plush line, as well as the imaginative Calafant cardboard craft kits. It has also augmented its range with LuMoo makeme felt friends, the Escabbo bath toy collection, and the Deglingos plush and Mistinguette dolls range. On the personnel front, Cuckoo has been appointed the UK and Ireland distributor for Small World Toys and Mahina Merfins. RRP: £11.99 for set of four duckies

Wild Things

Wild Things designs and manufactures sun catchers and jewellery, incorporating Swarovski crystals. Its ‘fantasy glass range’ includes hummingbirds, butterflies, dragonflies, angels and songbirds, and are designed to be suitable for garden centres. The company provides point-of-sale displays, extending from counter-tops to floor-standing trees, as well as a self-lit hanging display. RRP: £8.95-£9.95

Garden Centre Retail September 2015


27/08/2015 09:27

products: christmas ▲

▲ Think Outside

Decor and furniture expert Think Outside has announced its Christmas lines. The festive collection is called ee-i-ee-i-o, and features Father Christmas, Rudy the Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, all rendered in the company’s ‘signature bright, fun and quirky style’. Non-human orientated products in the range, meanwhile, include ‘In the Dog House’, which is a fully padded and insulated kennel. The company is also releasing a new bird feeder in the shape of ‘the bird palace’.

Latest products


What to stock this year to tempt festive shoppers

▲ Reindeer for Christmas provides live animals for festive promotions, including those taking place in garden centres. It has a herd of 30 reindeer, with the company now on its fifth generation of homebred animals. Its reindeer have appeared at Wembley Stadium and were filmed for a Morrisons Christmas commercial. A company spokesperson said: “With our experience and pedigree, Reindeer for Christmas is a must for your festive promotions, whether that’s Santa and sleigh arrival, or two reindeer on permanent display.”


Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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Specially crafted soap designs to make you smile all hand wrapped with care. Have ‘Soap Much Fun’ with our cheeky penguins, or indulge your loved ones with sparkle and glitter, all these soaps are made from top notch ingredients, are paraben free and kind to sensitive skin. Trade discounts are available with volumes over 1000 units. Fast turn around times could see stock on your shelves within weeks. RRP: From £5.00

▲ Reindeer for Christmas

Premier Decorations

Premier Decorations is highlighting its outdoor Christmas lights, specifically its best-selling Snowing Shower range. The lights come in blue and white in a range of sizes – from 50 LED bulbs to 150 LED bulbs. They are designed to look like snow falling from the sky. When draped on a house, tree or inside the house, the Snowing Shower lights are intended to provide a ‘truly magnificent and eye-catching’ display.

Christmas Cabin

Building on the success of its best-selling Christmas tree stand – Cinco 8 Advantage – Christmas Cabin has introduced the Cinco 6 Advantage. The product is designed to be robust, boasting a generous three-litre waterholding capacity. The screw bolt system, meanwhile, is easy and quick to set up. In the words of the company: “The Cinco 6 caught the imagination of customers and is hot on the heels of its big brother in terms of sales.”

27/08/2015 10:00

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SLKids SLKidsspecialise specialisein inthe thesupply supplyof ofrobust, robust, versatile versatile,,commercial commercialplay playproducts. products. We Wework workwith withyou youto tocreate createaaplay playarea areathat thatfully fully engages engagesthe thekids, kids,maximises maximisesincome incomeopportunities opportunities for foryour yourgarden gardencentre, centre,and andfits fitseven eventhe thetightest tightest budget budget

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IT’S NOT WHAT YOU DO, IT’S THE WAY THAT YOU DO IT... Why not enhance your displays by accessorising with products that will help you sell that all important associated product or display the products for sale to incentivise the customer. Timber Displays can offer these accessory items at affordable prices that won’t break the budget or eat away at the extra profit gained through your increased sales.

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27/08/2015 10:05

latest products

latest products

A round-up of product ideas for all your garden centre departments

Weber barbecues

Weber has announced its range of potential Christmas gifts, ranging from gadgets to full-units designed for the ‘serious barbequer’. Products in the company’s current range include its instant read thermometer, its bear claw shredders, as well as the Big Book of Barbeque. Further up the scale meanwhile is the Genesis E330 barbeque, which boasts three stainless steel burners and a ten year warranty. Speaking of the range, a company spokesperson said: ‘Whether it’s for the experimental, the seasoned, the aspiring or the uninitiated barbecuer, Weber has a selection of gifts and gadgetry to suit all budgets and tastes this Christmas.‘From stocking-fillers she never knew she needed, to the ‘big’ gift sure to knock his Christmas socks off, we have compiled a list of ideas, perfect for gourmet gifting.’


Buttacup’s Flow planter

The world’s first crescent-shaped planter – the ‘Flow’ – has been launched by Buttacup. The product is curved to fit the side of any standard circular water butt. It features a drip-feed valve system aimed at keeping plants continuously watered. The Flow is manufactured in the UK and is available in a range of colours, including dark green to match a standard water butt. RRP: £11.95

Fallen Fruits’ Kids in the Garden umbrella range

Fallen Fruits has extended its ‘Kids in the Garden’ range with a collection of umbrellas featuring baby animals. The novelty umbrellas come in eight different designs, incorporating baby elephant, monkey, meerkat and lion motifs. Farm yard-related themes include piglets, lambs, cows and chicks.

Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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Eden rainwater collection system Eden Greenhouses has launched a co-ordinated rainwater collection system following the success of its ‘zero threshold’ aluminium greenhouse range. The system comprises a 100L water butt, made from recycled materials, which comes complete with a black water-butt stand and a hosepipecompatible tap. A gutter-connecting kit, designed to offer an easy solution to joining both gutters to a single water butt, is also part of the range. The whole system is supplied in black and grey to go with all four of the greenhouses in the company’s zero threshold range. RRP: £39.99

Fallen Fruits managing director Michael Hall said: “Our Kids in the Garden collection aims to introduce children to gardening in a fun but informative way. “And these adorable umbrellas will help them enjoy the great outdoors in any weather.” RRP: £7.99

27/08/2015 09:30

people: horticulture careers

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



We require someone with a passion and knowledge in plant care to optimise our presentation, advice and sales, in particular the ‘outdoor plants’ section. Responsibilities include assisting with the day-to-day operations of the Plant Area to ensure the highest standards of service, housekeeping and performance are met; to achieve or exceed sales and gross profit targets while minimising costs; to recommend plants, products and services to customers; to ensure all complaints are recorded and dealt with in line with company policy; to regard stock as an investment which needs to turn back into cash as quickly as possible; to take an active role in plant care; to plan and construct inspirational displays; to ensure all paperwork is up to date; to input sales information on to the EPOS.

We are currently seeking a plant area assistant for an established retail nursery in Lancashire. Retail experience is preferable but a good peopleperson with a drive to succeed will be considered. We are looking for someone with an interest in growing and selling plants. Some plant knowledge is preferred but not required as on-the-job training will be provided.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to




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


Salary: £12,000 – £13,500 depending on candidate.

MORE PEOPLE Warwickshire

The centre is a large destination centre that, as part of a big group, is well-known for its location and appeal. The planteria manager will be responsible for one of the largest departments in the centre and will look after the day-to-day maintenance of the plant stock as well as motivating their team to provide the highest standard of customer service. The role will also have duty management responsibility across the entire centre. The successful candidate will have a broad knowledge of horticulture and garden retailing, possess good commercial acumen, be capable of analysing and interpreting business data, able to demonstrate effective leadership qualities and be capable of motivating and managing a team. Experience in a similar role is essential as this is a role with a great deal of responsibility.

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to



We are seeking someone to implement changes to enhance customer experience when purchasing our specimen plants. They will be responsible for merchandising and presentation of plants and products and delivering team sales targets; driving impulse sales; championing Tendercare advisory services, open days and events; ensuring the sales team are trained and capable of delivering fire and first aid procedures and to oversee security for the retail area; and overseeing repairs and improvements via a monthly report. The successful applicant must have experience in running a retail or wholesale planteria space; plant knowledge to RHS level 3 minimum or industry-gained equivalent and be good at directing a team of semi-skilled labour on their own initiative. A clean driving licence is also desirable.

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

For more details, please go to

For more details, please go to


GCR Sep15 P77 Jobs.indd 77


Garden Centre Retail September 2015


27/08/2015 09:30

people: trading with

Trading with... Ed Deane STV International This month Ed Deane, STV International business development manager, discusses the company Give us a brief outline of your company and its products?

STV International is a family-run business and a leading supplier of pest control products to retail. Since 1993, STV has built an outstanding reputation for innovative product and packaging, supporting retailers in an increasingly competitive market. Our four brands target a specific pest problem – The Big Cheese for rodent control, Defenders for caring control of pets and wildlife, and Zero In and The Buzz for insect control. We employ 45 permanent staff at our Norfolk base and are fortunate to have a great many long-standing team members still working within the business.

What is the ethos of the company? Uniquely, STV is focused on its core function – the supply of household pest control to retail. We sum this up in the simple statement ‘STV Live Pest-Free’, which we build all our ranges around. We aim to be the full-line supplier to solve any consumer’s pest problem.

What is the company structure?

STV operates from a head office in Norfolk, including warehousing, production and showroom. We opened an office in Hong Kong in 2014 to support our procurement and sales operations in


Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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the Far East. Edwin Allingham, our founder and managing director, remains at the heart of the business, and the company has a flat structure meaning everyone has a voice. Having so much experience under one roof is vital to STV’s success. We have a great team here at STV, we’re totally committed to supplying five-star products that win over new customers.

What is your route to market?

STV sells products through a wide variety of channels, including DIY, grocery, garden centre, hardware and variety stores. The breadth of our offer means an opportunity exists in any number of outlets. While we can support retailers directly from our own warehouse, many find the wholesale network to be more convenient, and we distribute extensively through some key wholesaler partnerships to service this demand. We currently have 14 sales agents managing a large part of our sales to independents, alongside an in-house key account sales team. Finally, we have a growing export division managed from our head office.

What is the split between independent garden centres and multiples in terms of turnover and profit?

We have worked hard to keep a balance between our independent and multiple channels. Our work on the fixture and packaging has been developed with the independent customer very much in mind, and independents remain at the heart of the business strategy. Initiatives such as the ‘Key Stockist’ programme serve to underline our commitment to these retailers.

What additional support and promotions do you offer for garden centres?

Our key stockists benefit from prominent shelf edging strips and layout plans to help maximise returns from shelf space. We also offer seasonal promotional packages that offer retailers extended credit, promotional pricing, and in-store POS to support the deals. We had great success in 2015 with our spring promotion campaign, and helped retailers to capture vital early-season sales. The showroom at our head office offers customers the chance to work through their range plans, plan their own in-store implementation and draw on the knowledge of the team here. As well as this, STV provides product ‘how to’ videos for use online or in-store, available to download for free on our trade website. Throughout 2016, we intend to provide key stockists with platforms such as digital point-of-sale and online ordering that contribute to STV’s continuous support.

How will you remain competitive for the next 12 months?

We have invested in our people during the past 12 months to support our endeavour to lead the market in product innovation and quality. We also plan to step up our marketing to reach both trade and end users. w CONTACT

Ed Deane is business development manager of STV International Tel: 01953 881580

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The Curry Sauce Company produces a range of superb curry sauces that are ready prepared, offering wonderful convenience. At the same time however, the sauces are so gorgeous that they allow your customers to prepare a meal in minutes every bit as good as they would expect from their favourite restaurant. Our sauces, naan breads and chutneys are stocked nationwide by fine food retailers such as Delicatessens, Farm Shops and quality Butchers.

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Our sauces, naan breads and chutneys are stocked nationwide by fine food retailers such as Delicatessens, Farm Shops and quality Butchers. Call now for more information or to place your order.

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Call now for more information or to place your order. The Curry Sauce Company produces a range of superb curry sauces that are ready prepared, offering wonderful convenience. At the same time however, the sauces are so gorgeous that they allow your customers to prepare a meal in minutes every bit as good as they would expect from their favourite restaurant.

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people: staff room


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

Holly McNeil, bedding supervisor, Squire’s Hersham How did you start out in the garden centre sector? By complete accident. I had always wanted to be a scientist and had completed a Master’s degree in plant pathology. But when I started working in a lab I realised I missed being outside with the plants. I took a summer job at Squire’s and never left. That was six years ago. What is the best thing about your job? I love that at the end of the day you can look around the plant area and say to yourself: “Yes, it looks good.” The opportunities to learn that have arisen

– for example about growers and their operations, new plants and so on – have been another great part of the job. I was also lucky enough to travel to India to learn about my vocation via a Rotary International group study exchange. What is your favourite section of a garden centre? The deciduous shrubs. I really like plants that lose their leaves in the winter, as the marked changing of the seasons is one of my favourite things in nature. We are so lucky to live in a country where each season is so individual.

What is your favourite flower or plant? Choosing a favourite plant is a hard task, but my favourite tree is definitely liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as the tulip tree. It has stunning leaves and flowers.

Melanie Lyons, garden team, Cranborne

Alex Rees, florist, Battersea Flower Station

How did you start out in the garden centre sector? I moved from Berkshire and heard about this job through the Dorset grapevine. I came for an interview and loved it here. Luckily I got the job.

What is the best thing about working in a garden centre? Being outdoors is fabulous, in the summer in particular. When we have had nice weather this year, it’s been great.

What is the best thing about your job? Buying the plants, and creating new flower beds.

What is your favourite plant? My favourite that we have in at the moment would be the hydrangea paniculata, which is doing really well. It’s beautiful and long-lasting.

What is your favourite section of a garden centre? The plants. What is the most interesting thing about you? I’ve travelled around the world doing yoga. What’s your favourite day-to-day chore at work and why? Checking through the plants, and creating new displays. What would people be surprised to learn about you? I used to swim for the county. What is your favourite flower or plant? It’s impossible for me to narrow it down as I love them all. I do love listening to the hum of the bees on the nepeta though.


What is your favourite day-today chore at work – and why? I’d say taking in the deliveries of new stock because you get to see everything at its absolute best. Huge trolleys of colour rolling in – really lovely.

Garden Centre Retail September 2015

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What would people be surprised to learn about you? I starred in EastEnders when I was a baby. I was in the background of a shot at someone’s birthday party. Weirdly, I’ve never watched EastEnders. What’s your favourite chore every day? I love meeting people. I’m on the cut flower section and, while making up bouquets, I end up chatting to the most interesting people. We’re right by a bus stop, in the centre of London, so people from all walks of life pass by.

27/08/2015 09:31

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

26/08/2015 16:47

Garden Centre Retail NEXT ISSUE...

Out on 1 October LET’S HEAR IT FROM...

The owners of Battersea Flower Station

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Plant trends for 2016: exclusive report from major Dutch trade show Plantarium The future of garden centre design How to become a social media inuencer Re-invigorating the image of houseplants

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