3 minute read

Ready for the seasons ahead

Simon Bourne, Retail Director of Perrywood Garden Centres, takes GTN on a tour of his family’s centre at Tiptree in Essex.

With an additional 88 car parking spaces opening up this spring, g bringing the total nowtomore than 400, Perrywood Garden CentreinTiptree is ready to invite even more peopleto fall in lovewith gardening

In his role as RetailDirector,Simon Bourne is involved with the Tiptree site,with its attached nursery, and a second garden centre at nearby Sudbury Having the nursery is one of Perrywood’s unique selling and point of differences hanging baskets plus edibles and herbs being grown It allows the businesstogrowwhat it wants and when, plus with low travel miles, theranges fitsnugly intothePlant Hopemessage. “Thereare absolutely terrificsuppliersof plants outthere, and we’reusing mostofthem,”saysSimon, citing Farplants and Allensmore for their ranges of edibles “But [with the nursery] we can decide what we want to grow for our customers, and they can tell us what they want We don’t always get it right, but I think our primulas are the best ones I’ve seen.”

Below: Furnitureisdisplayed throughout the storeand dressed to showwhat it might look likeinthe home.

For spring and summer sales, the planteria at Tiptree is changed. Many of the benches aremoved aside to makeway for more inspirational island displays designed to show how plants and other products can work together in a garden, and outdoor settings. This makesthe spacemoreopen and inviting for people to wonder through, as well as encouraging customers to visit moreparts of theplanteria. Lights, furniture, large pots andstatues all become partofdisplays helping to attract spontaneous sales. Forexample, aspecimencamelliaseen in full flowerismorelikely to sell as partofadisplay than it is in arow of other shrubs.

“You mightask, well what arethe displays actually selling? But theyare stopping people becausetheyare interesting.Once theystoptheymight turn round and pick something up –the moretheylook,the more they findofinterest,”says Simon. “Occasionally someone will come in andbuy the whole display, but moreoften thannot,theyfall in love and buy one of the individual items.”

Above andbelow: Artificial foliage and flowerskeep the garden theme running throughout all departments.

Theideaofdisplaying pots on awall has been adopted from aDutch garden centre.

Below: Perrywood Tiptree offers an enviable rangeof houseplants.

These displays arealso used to offer some highticketand more select items suchasthe newcomposter from Wilstone. It givesSimona chancetoexplain that gardeners can get pretty mucheverything theywant from Perrywood centres, but online offerings havemade someproducts, such as thosesold on bulk rolls,not worthstocking. “Whatwecan offer is different and special,”hesays.

At Tiptreeyou will also find some of the larger potsplanted up makingiteasyfor customers to see howtheycan actually look. Simon doesn’tthink pot saleswill be as high as they were in 2020-2021,but believes theywill always be strong,especially in urban areas, as smallergardens become the norm.

Sadly, theweather so farhas done nothing forbarbeque salesbut furnitureisdoing well. “The big sets aregoingwell andsoare the bistro sets whichI don’t understand.Normally bistro sets startselling sometime in Juneand Julywhenit’s sunny andpeople identifya spotinthe garden for them but theyare selling now!”

Located nearthe planteria, butunderglass, is the Garden Café, which has nowswitched to anew menu offeringsomething slightly different, such as sourdoughbaguettes,tothe main Restaurant.It’saquieter spacebut still busy proving that garden centres continuetobea popular destination for agood lunch. Currently the restaurant doesn’toffer table servicebut if it did, a trial wouldfirstberun at the Sudburystore.Ifthatworked, says Simon, it couldbeconsidered for Tiptree. “Butweare alwaysso busy,whenwould we makethe change?” he wonders.

Arecent change of sitefor houseplants to the atrium has given this sector a boost and helped createa ‘wow’ factor “We’ve made ita destination for houseplants and themed plants by right plant,right place. So we’ve got the hotand dry plants and light and bright shade And there’s some quirky things in there along with other products,” says Simon This has also been a great solution for the space which has nine doors leading from it and lots of customers passing through from one area to another AlthoughSimon can’tsay for sure if ‘the new l houseplants has led to an increase in sales, he’s ho new epos system from Corby + Fellas will enable hi dive intothe figures. He saysmovingall thedataove bigproject. “But we changedour processesbecause quitefrankly,weren’t good enough. Thenew system to be abit morecontrolled, have moresteps in plac outwhat’sgoing on in more places. It’spointless ha on theshelvesthat’snot selling.”

Although Simon can’t say sure layout for to an hoping the + him to deep into the says moving all the data over was a big project. changed our processes because some, quite frankly, weren’t The new allows us a bit more controlled, have more steps place and find out what’s going on places It’s pointless having stuff

More data will also with fashion and toys – two departments currently doing well. “What’s changing in toys at the moment,” says Simon, “is the range of products

Moredatawillalso help with fashion and toys–t departmentscurrentlydoing very well. “What’scha toysatthe moment,” saysSimon, “isthe rangeofp we areselling.”

Traditionally Perrywooddoes very well with educ pre-school toysand those with awildlife or sustainabl theme,but recently teenagers andevenadults haveb makinga beelinefor thegarden centre to seeits ra Jellycat toys. These soft toysare hugely popular on mediaand havecreated astrongfollowingascollecta PerrywoodTiptree hasawall of Jellycat toys displa books and other toyswhichisadrawfor customer to seethe latest introductions.

Traditionally Perrywood does well with educational, toys and a wildlife sustainable theme, but and even adults have been making a beeline for the garden see its range of toys. These toys are on social media and have created a strong following as collectables. Perrywood Tiptree has a wall toys displayed with toys which is a draw for customers flocking