GTN January/February 2022 - Garden Trade News, UK

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Advice & informattion for garden centre proffessionals

Peter Seabrook

The original gardening superh superhero

PUGHS GARDEN KITCHEN More outside the box thinking

GCA AWARD WINNERS 2021 Pughs and Barton Grange are No1

GTN’S GREATEST CHRISTMAS AWARDS – 36 pages of Garden Centre Christmas Greatness


What are you planning?

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What a start to 2022


ime flies when you’re enjoying yourself, and we have really enjoyed the great start to the gardening year here at GTN. Data analysis from the GTN Bestsellers Epos reports each week have seen sales soaring at previously unheard-of levels for January and February as we benefit from a combination n of new gardeners and better than expected weather. Everyone we speak to seems to agree that the weather could, as we get back to “normal”, be the biggest factor in levels of growth for 2022. If we have a fine and mild spring, then sales could grow by as much as 10% and if the weather goes against being outside in the garden then growth may be as low as 2%. From the amount of stock being delivered and already in store at many garden centres I guess many

In this issue...

5 Peter Seabrook “Mr Gardening” 10 Record year for Choice Marketing 6 Thinking outside of the box 4 – Pughs Garden Kitchen 19 GCA Awards for 2021 20 Cultivation Street 2022 24 GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards Christmas at: 26 The Old Railway Line 28 Squires Badshot Lea 30 Silverbirch 32 Altons 32 Little Dobbies Richmond 33 Millbrook Gravesend 33 Newquay Garden Centre 34 Bents 36 Cherry Lane Podington 36 Downtown 37 Fron Goch

will be hoping for the better weather! One thing is for certain, Garden Centre Christmas retailing is greater than ever! The reason this issue is late in publishing is that we saw so many great examples of Christmas excellence when judging The Greatest Christmas Awards we just had to hold the press and add pages to the issue to fit in as much as we could. There are 36 pages of garden centre Christmas coverage in this issue with more to follow in GTN Xtra over the coming weeks. The sad start to this year came with the news of Peter Seabrooks sudden death. Peter was a good friend to GTN and to the industry as a whole and especially a great supporter of garden centres. We will miss him hugely and send our sincere condolences to his family and close friends.

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37 38 40 41 42 44 45 46 48 50 51 52 54 56 58

Hillmount Cheshire Pughs Pengelly Planters British Garden Centres Garsons Esher Gates Garden Centre Aylett Nurseries Blue Diamond Rosebourne Woodlands, Kent Barton Grange Sapcote Garden Centre Webbs of Wychbold The judges and sponsors

60 BBQ Gourmet – LOFA Member Profile 61 HTA Column – Christmas is here to stay 62 Garden Re-Leaf Day 2022

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Garden Trade News is published by Potting Shed Press Ltd who also publish: GTN Bestsellers, GTN Xtra, Glee Daily News and the Glee Catalogue, and the Solex Sun. Potting Shed Press also supply Garden Radio to over 100 garden centres across the country.

Director Trevor Pfeiffer

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January / February 2022 3

Garden Centre Champions

Trevor Pfeiffer , GTN

Editor I'm sure the news has saddened m any in horticultu garden industry. re and the He will be sorely missed as a cham new plants, for do pion for wn to earth gard ening and his un enthusiasm for ev bounded erything that is go od about horticu gardening. Peter lture and always had time for people, and ty press events he alw pically at ays asked the mos t perceptive and questions, but alw difficult ays in a very pleas ant way. All in the world of gardening media will be grateful fo role in setting up r his the Garden Writ ers Guild that be Garden Media Gu came the ild. In particular, Peter wanted all and salaried journ freelance alists to have a vo ice and to celebra success via the Ga te their rden Media Guild Awards. Peter we you for that. thank I last saw Peter at the Westland Pres s Day in Novembe 2021 where the su r bject of peat and peat replacemen talked about earn ts were estly as you can imagine. He was form, asking point on good ed questions of th e Westland team enjoyed his com . We all pany for the day. More recently I co rresponded and spoke about the Letter on Peat wh Open ich has generate d so much covera issues Peter pass ge about ionately felt were being ignored. Pe everything I can ter, I'll do to keep those iss ues on the agenda get a full and prop so that we er story for the ind ustry and all gard about growing m eners edia. All you want ed was for peop and enjoy beautif le to grow ul plants and boun tiful harvests! Thank you for all the support and encouragement have given me ov you er many years. In haste...

“Mr Gardening” - the original gardening superhero

Peter Seabrook MBE, died suddenly at home on Friday 14th January 2022. When the news broke it turned that Sunday into a sad day. We understand he hadn’t been ill and was working with his usual haste but suffered a heart attack at home. What followed was an outpouring of love and affection for a man who touched so many hearts across all parts of horticulture. Obituaries appeared across the world in horticultural trade magazines and in all of the UK national newspapers, even on the front page of The Sun! Here is just a selection of the tributes received at GTN… 4 January / February 2022

Garden Centre Champions

Iain Wylie, Garden Centre Association We were very shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news of Peter Seabrook’s passing. He was a huge supporter of garden centres and an integral member of our industry. Peter was in at the very beginning when our organisation was formed and has supported us throughout. He will be sorely missed. Peter played a big part in the early days of the GCA and was an Honorary Member. He attended our conferences and kept very much in touch with all that was going on with our organisation and the industry. He visited member centres and was keen to share best practice. He also spoke up for us on many issues on a national level and we were very proud to have him on our side.

Jill Kerr, Blue Diamond

The Blue Diamond Group was saddened to hear the news of Peter’s death. We had worked with Peter to promote The Sun Newspaper’s “National Prettiest Rose Competitions” which Peter had run in 2018 and 2019. Peter was a supportive and enthusiastic man with a huge love of roses. He will be greatly missed.

Boyd Douglas-Davies, HTA President

It was with a heavy heart that I learnt of the passing of Peter Seabrook. He was, without doubt, “Mr Gardening” - the original gardening superhero. I was fortunate to meet Peter in the early days of my career in Horticulture. The enthusiasm he shared with me 30+ years ago never diminished. He enthralled and educated the public through TV, radio and the written word for decades. His passion for everything garden related was infectious. He

engaged with children as easily as he did with their grandparents. He had time for all and was never slow to share his opinion. Many a time I have shared a stage with Peter and been amazed at his unwavering ability to answer any question. His ‘readers letters’ were legendary and hugely entertaining. The industry has lost a true champion. A character. A media giant. A knowledge that will be impossible to replace. Above all, we have today lost a friend.

Neil Gow, retired garden centre owner Like many millions of people, I feel I have known Peter almost all my life. In Your Garden on the old BBC Home Service in the 1960’s, becoming Gardeners Question Time in the 1970’s; Gardeners World on BBC TV in the 1970’s; Dig This on Pebble Mill at One; weekly columns in The Sun and Hort. Week; Amateur Gardening, the list goes on before we even start on the books he published and what appeared in the media of other countries. Creating gardens on Sunflower Street at the NEC Gardeners World Live and Chelsea Flower Show was the launch pads for many new plant varieties. Peter was always at the leading edge of ‘new’ in the horticultural and gardening worlds. Peter was an integral part of The National Schools growing competition 20 plus years ago, and in recent weeks we had been working on plans to bring it back later this year. Driven by his passion to involve young people in gardening, he would give that youngster his time and encouragement to keep growing. His enthusiasm for what the students at Pershore High School were doing in the school Horticultural Unit was incredible. While we worked on the Chelsea exhibit with Poppins for the D of E last year, I think Peter made 3 if not 4 visits to the school and sent in a camera crew too. Peter was always so generous in his time and knowledge. He gleaned knowledge of all things gardening and horticulture and was always hungry for more. Peter was never afraid to challenge or ask the awkward question. His pocketbook was famous, yet it never seemed to run out of pages? However even more of that knowledge absorbed was in the brain - where did Peter file it all? Where did he get his energy from? Almost running around a show ground, (often pushing a trolley of plants) bouncing from stand to stand at a trade show, tramping miles around a nursery or seed trial ground, and holding the floor at a conference or meeting. Was that slice of fruit cake, apple or cup of tea really enough to keep him on the go? Spending

an evening back in October in one of Peters favourite pubs, near where he lived, after a long days work together, Peter decided a cup of coffee would round of his meal nicely. 4 sugar lumps into quite a small cup was an obvious source of energy that quite surprised us. However continuing to consume all the remaining sugar lumps in the bowl like sweeties really took us aback! Perhaps this, in conjunction with his passion to see plants on the agenda every day, was his source of energy? A natural communicator whether on the radio or in front of the camera, Peter would always put subjects at their ease, yet realising the commercial needs that make the world go round. Peter was never one to miss spotting the opportunity for a story. Peter leaves behind him so many legacies for our industry to continue. He would expect us to pull together and get on with the job. David Colegrave Foundation he was instrumental in helping set up 30 years ago. And of course, the marvellous memories so many of us have from our work with him on projects. But the suddenness of his passing means there is plenty still to be done. His passion for Floral Fantasia at Hyde Hall has to be continued. The displays planned at Chelsea to commemorate his 50th year showing at the event need to happen. The multiple displays Peter had planned for Gardeners World Live this June in celebration of his 60 years of presenting programmes for the BBC and indeed their own Centenary must be progressed. Peter, be sure we will all pull together and keep those plates spinning for you, while of course seeking to keep the Peat Debate you so righty instigated in the news too. To so many colleagues (friends) from across the world he was unique in so many ways. Thank you Peter from us all, our industry will miss you in so many ways. Peter, in your own words, as you would usually sign off your podcast – “Until next time …”

January / February 2022 5

Garden Centre Champions

Mike Wyatt, GTN Associate Editor So, we must now get used to a garden industry without Peter John Seabrook MBE. No witty banter from the lectern at conferences, no heckling from the auditorium, no presentation of posies to the Queen at Chelsea, no mugshot smiling back at us from the pages of The Sun and Amateur Gardening, no gentlemanly words of approval or encouragement when something pleased or inspired him. We surely had fondly imagined that Peter would live forever, such was the way he continued right up to his death to throw himself untiringly into his work. When I last spoke to him about his misgivings about the forthcoming ban on peat in growing media, he insisted he had no plans to retire. After Margaret, his wife of 60 years, died with Covid in 2020, Peter is on record as saying that work helped him to deal with his grief. I first met him at a seed company press lunch after I joined Practical Gardening magazine in 1981. Percy Thrower, Clay Jones and Geoff Hamilton were still around. To be honest, I was a little star-struck and, as a journalist with no horticultural background, nervous about whether I would be able to hold my own in conversation with a man whose words of gardening wisdom on Pebble Mill at One and Gardener’s World I had swallowed enthusiastically. I need not have worried. I owned up to a mere smattering of technical knowledge but professed my love of plants and gardening. “That’ll do,” Peter said. “If you love it, the rest will stick like glue.” Encouragement and a supportive attitude were Seabrook hallmarks. An appreciative note (or, later, an email), always drafted “in haste”, would often follow something that had caught his eye. His primary motivation seemed to be to make sure that the entire world shared his passion for gardening. His written and broadcast output and Sunflower Street projects at Chelsea inspired a generation – and his work with young people nurtured another. (The day before he died, he was helping children at a school in Essex plant acorns to grow saplings for the Queen's Jubilee Canopy.). His projects with schools are reported to have helped more than three million children discover the pleasures of growing flowers and vegetables. Peter had championed the horticultural industry for most of his life. He once aspired to opening his own garden centre but the planners turned him down. His broadcasting career started on BBC Radio’s Home Service in the Sixties, while the highlight of his TV career was taking over as host of Gardener’s World in the 70s after Percy Thrower was dismissed for promoting commercial products.

He even had a following in the US, thanks to featuring over more than 20 years in a TV series titled The Victory Garden. The job he undoubtedly loved best was as The Sun newspaper’s gardening correspondent, a role he held for 45 years, during which he wrote 2300 columns, never missing a week, while his column in Amateur Gardening had run uninterrupted for 36 years. He had also been a regular contributor to trade magazines, including Horticulture Week and Nurseryman & Garden Centre. Out of loyalty to them, he would never agree to writing for GTN! He had a generally warm relationship with the Royal Horticultural Society, serving as a show judge for many years. When Practical Gardening magazine built its first Chelsea Garden in the 80s, he took the trouble to tell us why our medal was no better than a Silver-Gilt: “The plants weren’t good enough.” He was always forthright. As GTN Editor and MD Trevor Pfeiffer said in his tribute: “Typically at press events Peter always asked the most perceptive and difficult questions, but always in a very pleasant way.” The world of gardening media will be grateful for Peter’s role in setting up the Garden Writers Guild, now the Garden Media Guild. Peter wanted all freelance and salaried journalists to have a voice and to celebrate their success via the Garden Media Guild Awards, now an eagerly-awaited annual fixture. Most recently, Peter was a signatory to the Open Letter on peat which generated so much media coverage of issues he felt were being ignored. Frank, honest, sincere, warm, loyal, passionate…and a truly good friend of an industry he greatly enriched. I hardly need say how much we are going to mis him.

Simon Hedley, The Real Soil Compa ny

Dougal Philip, New Hopetoun Gardens Peter Seabrook was one of the iconic characters in gardening for all my life, always with a strong view on any topic raised and a real champion of horticulture. He wouldn’t suffer fools gladly and you rightly had to be on your toes when discussing anything with him. I apologised to him once for inviting him to judge the Chelsea Product of the Year on a Sunday afternoon as I knew he would have to miss cooking his speciality Sunday Roast Lunch. He gave me that lovely Peter smile and then pontificated on his belief that all men should learn to cook as he only started to learn how to cook when he had to take over cooking from his wife Margaret . He was a delightfully wise old owl and will be greatly missed.

2022 ............... Mondayy, January 17,

26 ............... Monday, January

0 PAGES, AFTER 45 YEARS & 2,30

17, 2022




of one of THE discovery gold “first England’s a make could coins” £400,000. metal detectorist King The near-perfect was III token Henry 1257 with struck around Africa. gold from North the coins Only eight of inch in — just under an with diameter — exist almost all in museums. detectThe anonymous the find orist, who madeDevon last in Hemyock in its discovered only year, photo he rarity when a was seen posted online by Spink auctioneers. ecologist The man, an outon a first detecting said: “It ing in ten years, find it.” was humbling to of the Some 52,000 and coins were minted about valued at 20 pence,it was £60 today, butits weight worth less than all in gold and virtually were melted down. by It will be auctioned London Spink in central on January 23.

PETER SEABROOK, The Sun’s legendary expert, gardening never forgot the moment he discovered the sheer joy of growing a plant.

dug a Aged just six, heinto his handful of seeds wartime grandfather’s watched and allotment beautiful them grow into sweet peas. multi-coloured later, through

And 80 years in The his Saturday column began writing Sun — which he year, 1977 — in Silver Jubilee that pasJOY . . . in he was still sharing and vegetables. CHELSEAQueen and sion for plants generations six 2010 with Thanks to Peter, more than Kate Kabengle, of people, including schoolchildren, million three gardens and learned to love gardening. writing for When he started daily newspapermedia Britain’s biggest a worldwide Peter was already shows on the star, with gardeningTV. BBC and American wrote more than In 45 years he The Sun, and never 2,300 columns forweek. missed a single of a heart attack on When he died he had been making Friday, aged 86,The Sun’s biggest-ever plans to build year’s Chelsea Flower exhibit at this the Queen’s Platinum Show to mark Jubilee. he presented with Her Majesty, whoat Chelsea, was one year a posy every along with Beatle of his biggest fans,and acting legend George Harrison — whose garden he Barbara Windsor looked after.

Comic star . . Gnasher

Beano’s Gnasher is a gnut roast fan By BEN O’DRISCOLL

6 January / February 2022



Rare . . . Devon find

£400k for Henry III gold coin field find

Menace’s the DENNIS side-kick sausage-loving vegan. Gnasher has gone carThe comic canine turns nivore unwittingly food in to plant-based Annual. the 2022 Beano bangers He steals some they and, after learningthinks: vegan, were I like? “What else might at cats.” I’ll draw the line rights Yesterday animal said: campaigners Peta is “The vegan revolution in full swing.” an Gnasher — officially wire-haired Abyssinian been a tripe hound — has since he fan favourite in 1968. first appeared He is the 84-year-old to comic’s latest character be given a make-over. and Bash St Kids Fatty called to Spotty are now Fred and Scotty. said: Beano The to find a “Gnasher is yet like sausage he doesn’tto try but will continue one he each and every comes across.”

Marquee full of flowers



ON CAMERA . . . filming Pebble Mill At One in the 1970s

L . . . with FRUITFU Windsor Barbara Scott and hubby at Chelsea

NEW SHOOTS . . . gardening with schoolchildren in South London, 2010

TOP OF THE CROPS . . . Peter with tulips at Hyde Hall

Picture by his friend ARTHUR EDWARDS

Y u were our Yo Sun shine

and big FRIENDS, colleagues world names from the gardening to Peter. last night paid tribute took over Alan Titchmarsh, who Gardeners’ show from him on BBC2 was the most World, said: “PeterHe was a good generous of men. colleague in the friend and a great together at years that we worked Show. the Chelsea Floweryear I made a “I remember the as well as garden at the showprogramme. presenting the TV from the “I was hauled away finish off and to garden I was trying exhibit of an of front in stood which I’d had strange plants about on with the no time to swot up his notebook grower. Peter openedresearch and reeled off all his use. to me for material man he was. “That’s the sort of We will miss him hugely.” writer Bob Flowerdew, gardening on Radio 4’s and long-time guest Time, said: Gardeners’ Question and “Peter was so knowledgeable which his delivery so measured, always added gravitas. glove, “He was like a velvet resolve.” gentle but with a steely worked with Steve Bradley, who for 20 Peter on his Sun column respected years, said: “He was from across the whole industry, plant to a lady with a house complex somebody with a vast in producing geraniums California. ever come “Nobody else has was his life’s Horticulture close. he was good work and, by God, at it.” Steve’s wife and colleague Val added: “With those flower and hats distinctive him ties, people sought out. He was generous with his time. “Where he found his no I’ve from energy

idea.” in tributes poured Telly garden expert“His And yesterday of gardening to the David Domoney said: and from the greats DIG TIME . . . in ’76 “Britain’s favourite drive to support schools man they called has when he replaced children’s gardening gardener”. the son of a Percy Thrower on Peter John Seabrook, inspired many new ball bearing factory, Gardeners’ World tool-grinder in a on his grandfather’s generations.” star of TV’s was brought up Charlie Dimmock, near Chelmsford, “Peter was farm at Galleywood, Garden Rescue, added: for a newbie Essex. there was full of kindness, even starting out. As a boy he discovered by growing his like me when I was sense of money to be made and selling them “He had a wicked dry beloved sweet peas shop. humour that was understated, the glint of to the local flowerwas 15, and still at and subtle, althoughgave it away By the time he afford to pay £60 — mischief in his eyesgentleman.” school, he could — to fly from Southsometimes. A true of the a fortune in 1951 Holland Keith Weed, President end Airport to world’s Society, said: Royal Horticultural champions of to visit the “One of the greatest away. biggest flower market, near horticulture has passed Aalsmeer, respected and was “Peter was hugely award for Amsterdam. He trip held the RHS’s highest the still making the out services to horticulture, We will at 86 to check to Victoria Medal of Honour. new plant varieties about. miss him enormously.” tell his readers skipped In 1952 he off school in Chelmsford for his first-ever Chelsea visit to the at all. To Flower Show. I plot or no garden He Peter said: “When before his smallest was their gardener. marquee garden, and just Sun office, Molli them Peter wife Margaret went into the always had Fantasiahe and his assistant bulbs will be so missed in Theour days by it just CHEERS . . . with his up adored him and saw him.” death full of flowers I can Ajax mower thousands of at him in absolutely where he brightened flowers or whenever she IN TRIM . . . with trusty Christman planted colourful display. blew me as if it in presents of to trim a big smile after she had wolf-whistled created our brilsummer’s still remember people to bringingto taste and sample. quite a follow- the street — only to be asked in her At Chelsea Peter Sunflower Street for this e The Sun, I had joine As well as encouraging to Margaret, his geraniums was yesterday.” Peter was a apples on 1970s joined liant award-winning with radio. the wild-growing “Peter was devotedwho died during plants and veg, hated ing on TV and gardening expert He left school garden displays. of nesting blackbirds grow anywhere without window box. but After regular Pebble Mill At campaigner who waste wife of 60 years suffering qualifications him “I couldn’t go fun, Peter took few lunchtime show Flower Show.” his even on holiIn 2005 a pair display, and just as passionate of garden in 2020 after dementia stop As well as having returned to BBC that the Chelsea for Peter craftily called n asked questions, bein green bins instead column, lockdown that did not and was only person into the and vascular It was terrible he still used keep National Service he Britain’s new One — and Dig This! which helped being full-time his job seriously hold the three top moved the birds began going to compost. In his last day on the beach. landing his first working just as Saturday, he Alzheimer’s hole weekly slot the Queen arrived booklets. same mower to it was my job.” Britain to for nine years. verbena plant in her at horticulture, you can read on making a gaping horticulture — began to boom. own him get rid of the unsold came when my family but he once got 50,000 in gardening job, plans to outlaw local the two 40ft lawns for services to Honour, the slugging it out, the display — which which garden centres break “He created a for the to run his of Att The Sun campaigns against for a 200-year-old 40 pet to win a awards Medal of Peter’s biggest TV his home in Chelmsand raised £7,000 presenter of the in the top Peter had hoped but his planning for a competition for a Sun the Victoria in gardening. entries entrr Victoria memory of Honour and also amused Her Majesty. Our thoughts are firm which owned Thrower, legendary ford immaculate. a stunning peat RHS Associate was sacked for mower nursery business site into Percy — far more than Alzheimer’s Society. Alison, son Roger He was w The Sun’s Editor-in-Chief, mow and garden shops.amazing Gardeners’ World, In 2020 Peter designed with 10,000 Peter was so fastid- application to turn a 12-acre down. daughter night: “Just before Harlow Carr Medal.for services to products. to win a Jag. pyramid lawn contt Peter put his to those Newton, said lastwas helping children with his was turned of Tom and Rachel.” promoting commercialwas a gardening contest . . . on Service 10ft-high floral ious about his awarded the MBE had a wicked senseto he a garden centre plans for him. e Pe Peter CALL-UP Edwards said: 2005. his death, Peter Essex to grow oak and grandchildren constitution down he was for Chelsea. Peter said: “Percy the prolooking good that12in horticulture in Yet fate had other in the show to be His friend Arthur and once replied colleague plants colleague. A hum for the each mistakes in a weekly early years when He’d been presenting and they humour, When Covid forced it at the Royal at a school Peter’s friend androyal phomowed 7.30am to acorns to plant who asked if Via“Peter was a wonderful cut He often spotted and wrote to the god. fingers, he re for 25 years he rebuilt digging from It a reader at saplings from Canopy. wilting to make sure the the greenest of witty and for 45 years, Sun a week — help trade magazine could do a better job gramme him with a nobody — me. Edwards, cancelled, Jubilee could Society’s gardens the man with strip three times 5pm for six days miles a replaced tographer Arthur in his ele- Horticultural have been he sought Queen’swas adored by all, from being taken gra a thoroughly decent, editor saying he much where “There was do Lineker be to to was perfect. Essex, Gary was “He plan plants: will in had and cycling ten work. like but he was hired. said: “Peter person. He his was Flower Hyde Hall his wife Margaret’s death Royal Family and celebrities Day.” that it could help,stiff As a young man the Royal — and used the same ploy to get led Chelsea repo day to and from a two-year diploma his help warm at after off Match Of The a weekly audience reports ment He Service, and joinedtaught him would be too missed.” the same year. the ordinary people who wanted such pride in solace which in turn He quit to take who they had the Peter soon had of Agriculture, National in 1977, the cost Show. He took they from Alzheimer’s use.” first break in radio, has turned plants, even if and on a Saturday totalling eight million, and Army Service Corps, at the Essex Institute prove useful. exhibitions a new for general loved tellSince then, Peter The Sun’s Floral to grow his built up his encycloof the to TV. Peter appeared Dig This!. skills that would was looking for perfect He also where he also Hall plot into taught me to type gardening show, when The Sun became a firm favourite the of plants — and two The Queen Hyde Peter said: “Theyto go to lessons in afternoon suddenly axed, Editor, he was ing how he ended paedic knowledge Margaret, who was Royal Family. But when it was60,000 copies of a Gardening Barbara in and paid for me up also met his wife candidate. bedroom Peter was left with column was titledI Windsor’s floristry. Win on the same course. that, decades booklet he had paid for to accompany And his first Sun time there, Peter bought longer existed. ‘Dig This!’ Peter said: “By the “Little did I realise RanWhile he was GONG . . . MBE in 2005 those florists’ skills show that no lawnmower, a as the and later, I would useof flowers I’d grown a TV his first push he was soon hired a 12in cylinder to make posies give to the Queen at Luckily, somes Ajax with half a hundredweight. my garden to weighing in at 80 years later, in Remarkably, nearly


I was saddened as I’m sure were a lot of other people to he ar of the sudden death of Peter Seabro ok. Peter Seabrook was a rea l hero of mine especially during my ear ly horticultural years along with Percy Thrower and Geoff Hamilton. His passion for horticultural new no bounds. Even if you didn’t agree with some of his ideas, you always knew that his position was wh at he felt was the best for horticulture. I was lucky enough to me et him last month. He still had a twi nkle in his eye and a vast knowledge of all things horticultural. He was a huge influence on our indust ry and will be sorely missed.


Garden Centre Champions

Paul Owen, Veg Trug I had the pleasure of meeting Peter at many trade shows and some local social events and each time his enthusiasm and vigour for the horticulture industry shone through, I was so honoured to be invited to talk on his podcast a few years ago and our business from the very beginning has enjoyed his wealth of knowledge and his precise and thought provoking questions. A true gentleman and a global horticultural legend!

urne Carol Paris, Rosebo s re nt Garden Ce

of Peter I am very sad to hear e been very hav I Seabrook’s death. time with Peter nt spe e hav privileged to HTA. Peter was when I worked at the supporter and s ou always a tremend ge if he thought llen cha rly ula would reg erent ways diff there were better or thusiasm en ’s ter Pe s. of doing thing horticulture s ng thi all for n sio and pas knowledge was inspirational & his much missed. be l wil ter Pe incredible.

David Carey and John Fothergill, Mr Fothergills Seeds Peter was the consummate professional. His commercial knowledge, technical understandingg, attention to detail, appreciation of how the industry works today and has h evolved over the decades, let alone his journalistic skills, contacts, an undimmed passion for gardening an nd his sheer graciousness, made him, in n our view, unique and irreplaceable. He was a constant presence at our annual press day. He would always be the last to leave as he made sure that he saw everything that was being grown and spent time with our trials team to understand what problems and successes they had during the year. While he was a supporter of our company, he never failed to tell us where he thought we were going wrong and that is why we trusted his opinions. The shock and sadness upon the announcement of his death and the outpouring of sentiment from the many people who knew him, speaks volumes. The world is a poorer place without him.

Colin Squire, Sq uire

s Garden Centre We were so sorry s to hear of the su dden death of Pe Seabrook. He wa ter s such a special m an, full of such en enthusiasm and ergy and I will miss him ve ry much, persona as a fine ambassad lly and or for our industry . I find it very hard believe he will no to longer be with us with his ideas, his and his friendship smile . I have known Pete r since the early 1960s. I first met a nurseryman’s co him at nference at Persh ore and I spoke wi about my wish to th him open a garden ce ntre, Peter was ex helpful with sugg tremely estions and peop le to contact. Whe HTA retail group n the became the Gard en Centre Associa 1966 Peter and I tion in were among the founding membe first chairman wa rs and the s Charles Nottcut t. For a period, Pe an inspector for ter was the GCA. I think it would be fair to Peter played a hu say that gely significant ro le in the success industry, through of our GCA, through his journalism and his enthusiasm for pla sheer nts and gardening . My most recent co ntact with Peter was at BBC Gard World Live last su eners mmer in Birming ham, where he de beautiful rose ga signed a rden. I subsequent ly had a brief chat at Chelsea in the with him autumn. Over the years Peter helpe us in the garden d many of centre industry to exhibit at the RH Flower Show thro S Chelsea ugh his imaginativ e Sunflower Stre Peter believed ga et. rdening was for everyone and his columns in The Su n made gardening approachable, understandable and fun for million s of people. His jou also promoted so rnalism many exciting ne w plants which su British growers an pported d retailers. Peter’s boundless enthusiasm for pla nts, gardening and people will be sadly missed by so many of us. Thre generations of th e e Squire family we re privileged to kn Peter. My late fat ow her D.J. Squire, m yself and my daug all shared a deep hter respect and affec tion for him. So m colleagues at Squir any e’s have all told m e in the last few how highly they days regarded Peter. He was truly loved an respected by so d many in our indus try and beyond. M E Robinson, Ro bins

on’s Seeds Peter was a long-tim e friend of the fam ily, going back to his early days at Strike s Garden Centres ov er 40 years ago. Alw a joy to chat at any ays of the flower show s. He was always a gentleman but neve true r afraid to speak his mind. Horticulture has lost one of it ch ampions, he will be greatly missed. The family at Robinson’s , Home of the Mamm oth Onion.

Paul Owen, Veg Tr ug

Ihad the pleasure of meeting Peter at many trade show s and some local social events and each time his enthusiasm an d vigour for the horticulture indus try shone through, I was so honoured to be invited to talk on his podcast a few years ago and our business from the very beginning has enjoyed his we alth of knowledge and his precise an d thought provoking questions. A true ge ntleman and a global horticultural legend!

hore High School Anne Watson, Pers r of the RHS Horticulture Unit

porte Peter was a great sup port and l and gave advice, sup oo Sch h Hig at Pershore ea Flower els Ch S ies such as the RH wonderful opportunit prise sur a de ma and t and presen to students both past ou thr gh to en Kristian Foxley got visit to RHS Wisley wh the Year to of r ne g School Garde the finals of RHS Youn give his support. ember school in 2018 will rem Staff who were at the g. He nin Eve ion tat talk at Presen him for his wonderful on as a ati pir ins my s wa o man wh was a wonderful kind was an honour guru in later years, it child and became my d within the sse mi ly sad he will be to work with him and Horticulture Industry.

January / February 2022 7

Garden Centre Champions

Michael Cole, Garden Centre Consultant When I first started work at Notcutts in St.Albans in 1978, I used to go home for lunch and the first time I ‘encountered’ Peter was watching him on TV, gardening in the Pebble Mill at One garden. Through my career I got to meet Peter on many occasions and every time his passion for plants and our industry shone through. Peter was a true gentleman, and a fantastic advocate for the Horticultural Industry, he will be greatly missed.

The Bourne Family, Perrywood Garden Centre Peter was always keen to hunt out the next high performing plant variety, so would always quiz Alan about what we were growing and mention several recommendations of his own in return. His passion for plants was evident to all who met him. Peter once worked for Cramphorn’s on Newton Road in Sudbury, which three years ago came into our ownership and is now Perrywood Sudbury. He came along to our first anniversary party and shared his stories of working on the site, telling us he used cycle to work

from Chelmsford, a four to fivehour round trip! We will miss his dedication to the industry, his support for Perrywood, his floral fantasia displays at RHS Hyde Hall, his ties, his notebook and his smile.

I find this so difficult to write. What great times we had with you, Peter, building the first ever Sunflower Street Gardens at Wembley in 1993, Boston Massachusetts in 1994 (where we were swamped by your U.S. TV fans, ladies of a certain age) and then for the next three years at Chelsea. You were always on the lookout for every opportunity to promote gardening, particularly with children and came up with the best campaigns. You could be counted on to be a bit controversial at any GCA

conference but then lightened the mood by reading some of those delightful letters received from your public. That is all summed up by your passion and enthusiasm for the gardening industry and your boundless energy in whatever you were doing. Somehow you were able to continue like that even when you devoted more and more time to Margaret as her health deteriorated. Thank you for being such a gardening legend, a real supporter of Greenfingers and above all just being a lovely man. It was a privilege to know you.

en Roger Crookes, Gard nt ta ul ns Co Centre

man. We will miss this gentle wledge kno ge hu a Legend! with den gar the and n de gar of the ds of loa h wit d industry. Combine med see ays alw he m do humble wis , ne to have time for everyo Peter. including me. Thanks

Bid to continue Peter Seabrook's legacy and grow Floral Fantasia into a

Centre of Excellence

A fundraising bid aiming to secure the future of ‘Floral Fantasia’ at RHS Garden Hyde Hall, has been launched by a group who hope to continue and evolve the popular bedding display, developed in recent years by the late Peter Seabrook. Peter poured much time and energy into helping grow ‘Floral Fantasia’ over the past three years, into what is a spectacular showcase of seasonal UK bedding at the Chelmsford garden, and features colourful and diverse planting including Rudbeckia, Calendula and Sweet Pea, a favourite of Peter’s. His vision for Floral Fantasia, as a display area to inspire gardeners, a trial location to assess new varieties, and a facility for training and education in the use of seasonal ornamental plants, is part of Peter’s legacy to British horticulture. The RHS has confirmed its commitment to the project at Hyde Hall for the next three years when funding has been secured. Its plan for 2022 include a spring viola trial and an extensive trial of poppies as part of the ‘Year of the Poppy’ celebration, along with the usual planting of sweet peas and new variety demonstrations. Fundraising has been initiated to continue Peter’s legacy and a working group, formed during a meeting at Hyde Hall last week includes the following individuals: • Michael Smith (W. D. Smith & Son) (Chair) • Paul Hansord (Deputy Chair)

8 January / February 2022

Sue Allen, Millbrook Garden Co and Greenfingers Chairman

Listen to the Memoria l edition of Peters Podc ast; This week in the Gard en at: /s/ thisweekinthegarden/ memorial

• Ian Le Gros (RHS)( (Deputy Chair) • Robert Brett (RHS) • Tim Kerley (Kerley&Co) • Stuart Lowen (Ball Colegrave) • Molly Christman (RHS Floral Fantasia Apprentice) • Ian Bull (RHS) • Christine Woodhouse (RHS) This group will approach businesses and individuals for donations to support the long-term development of the 2000 m2 Floral Fantasia as a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for seasonal plants and the use of colour in the landscape. As of 24 January 2022, a total of £19,000 per year has been pledged for the next three years, but significantly more is needed to secure ‘Floral Fantasia’ for that period. Simon Crawford, of Burpee Europe Ltd. writes “I have watched Peter Seabrook invest a huge amount of time and energy into Floral Fantasia over the last three years. It was definitely a passion for Peter and I hope we are able to come together as admirers of his work to ensure this legacy lives on for gardeners everywhere. • Any business or individual interested in making a donation can contact the ‘Floral Fantasia Working Group’ at: • For any other information, please contact

A season of high rainfall is set to ignite the market for lawn moss killers as the spring lawncare season gets underway – according to the expertts at Neudorff, which has been at the forefront of developiing natural gardening products since 1854. A classically wet winter, combined with compacted lawns from heavy wear during the pandemic, has created an ideal environment for moss to thrive. This has prompted Neudorff to issue a call to action to retailers, to ensure that lawncare categories are stocked to the max with top-selling moss remedies in time for the anticipated rush in demand. Leading the charge against moss infestations is Neudorff’s CleanLawn Moss Control for Lawns Concentrate. Biodegradable and based on the active ingredient pelargonic acid, this driver of brand loyalty offers fast, visible results. New for the 2022 season, curved bottles are being replaced by an ergonomic, upright design that’s easier to handle, while revised labelling reinforces the glyphosate-free message and drives awareness of the moss killer’s fast action. To help retailers to capitalise on growth in the natural lawns sector, Neudorff is also throwing the spotlight on its innovative Organic CleanLawn. In line with the company’s ethos of supplying products that are gentle to people, pets and the environment, the 3-in-1 organic fertiliser is derived from natural raw materials.

Neudorff helps retailers to drive sales of lawn moss killers

CleanLawn Moss Control for Lawns Concentrate has a RRP of £12.75 for an 1L bottle, while Organic CleanLawn has a RRP of £9.25 for a 2.5kg pack, or £24.49 for an 8kg pack. For more information visit www.

Organic CleanLawn packaging, sporting Neudorff’s distinctive yellow and green livery, clearly communicates how the formulation leads to strong lawns that suppress moss and weeds. Packaging also throws the spotlight on key benefits – a thicker, greener and more drought-resistant lawn – ramping-up the sales appeal at the point of purchase. Prominent indication of Organic CleanLawn’s natural, safe and effective ingredients, and reassurance that the formulation is child and pet safe, further enhance its appeal to eco-savvy consumers.

Guy Jenkins, Consumer Manager at Neudorff’s UK distribution Partner, DLF Seeds Ltd, said: “This year we have seen increased media focus on novel ways to maintain quality lawns without the use of traditional chemicals. Neudorff has been leading the transition towards organic and natural lawncare and new ergonomically designed concentrate bottles with enhanced labelling will accelerate purchases of lawncare remedies based on natural, raw materials – especially as the UK is currently witnessing ideal conditions for moss to thrive in domestic lawns.”

Neudorff, experts in natural gardening since 1854, is one of the few companies worldwide to develop its own plant protection and plant care products, with the widest range of products certified by the Organic Farmers and Growers’ Association. Since entering the UK market in 2012, the company has built-up an enviable reputation for offering the highest quality gardening products that are gentle to people, pets and athe environment.

GTN Promotion

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Record year for Choice Marketing

There has never been a better time to join Choice Marketing – Join today and share in the success.


he 43 garden centres that make up Choice Marketing had a bumper Christmas 2021 after sharing a record rebate of over £2.4 million pounds. That’s an average of almost £56k per centre. Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, this long-established group of UK independent garden centre operators have joined together to share their collective knowledge, experience, expertise and buying power, to provide themselves with an undeniable and tangible competitive trading advantage over other operators. Choice Marketing are now actively recruiting new members to strengthen their group and to add to the impressive list of award-winning centres. With members in England, Scotland and Wales, Choice welcome enquiries from across the UK. Could working together with other like-minded businesses be the ideal next step for yours?

Who are Choice Marketing? Highly regarded in the garden retail industry, Choice Marketing has an enviable and wellearned reputation for being one of the leading buying and marketing groups serving the UK. First and foremost, Choice is a collaborative group of like-minded, independent garden centre operators who have come together to learn from each other and to share their collective knowledge, experience and resources to maximise the individual trading performance of each centre. “Our primary function is to combine our significant buying power to procure competitive and advantageous buying and trading terms

10 January / February 2022

from suppliers and service providers, for the benefit of all members,” explains CEO Michelle de Lavis-Trafford. Founded in 2002, Choice Marketing is a selffinancing business, registered as a ‘not for profit’ Limited company, owned exclusively by its members, with each member having an equal shareholding. There are currently 27 members of Choice, operating 43 garden centre sites between them, with a combined gross turnover in excess of £150m.

8 compelling reasons to join Choice Marketing Excellent trading terms and enhanced business relationships with the industry’s leading suppliers. You retain your independence, identity 2 and autonomy whist taking full advantage of the greater influence, the improved buying power and the many other benefits that comes with being part of one of the most respected and collaborative buying groups in the industry. You’ll receive your share of a rebate 3 payment worth over £2.4m in addition to already enhanced trading and payment terms. Access to a non-compulsory, group marketing 4 agency that are highly experienced in our market, through which you can procure a comprehensive range of marketing, CRM and print services, whilst sharing best practise and economies of scale with group colleagues. Pricing and trading terms are negotiated 5 on your behalf by fellow members saving


you and your team countless hours back at the centre. (Every member has an opportunity to be full involved in these discussions, and we welcome anyone with specific interest or expertise to join one of our trading forums to assist with these negotiations for the benefit of the entire group. Being part of a large group allows you 6 to share in the wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise of fellow members. One of the most overlooked benefits of a group like ours, is the unlimited access you have to a pool of highly experienced colleagues in the group who willingly share information, advice, ideas and best practice, enabling us all to improve and progress our businesses. Excellent support network for your staff 7 and senior team – Imagine your plant manager, catering manager or admin staff having access to a network of over forty people who do the same job as them and being able to share ideas, enquire about stock availability, to interrogate sales information, to ask advice and share best practise. 24/7 access to a support and information 8 hub that contains a wealth of information such as supplier terms, contact details, comprehensive price files, supplier promotions, industry calendars, examples of marketing material, data from successful marketing campaigns and years of comparative sales data from fellow colleagues, by site and department to allow you to benchmark your own business performance in so many areas.

GTN Promotion Here’s what Choice Marketing members say Will Blake, is the second generation of the family to join St Peters. He is general manager at the family firm and Chairman Elect of the GCA: “St Peters have enjoyed the many benefits of Choice Marketing membership since it helped establish the organisation back in 2002. Choice is one of the industry’s leading buying and marketing groups and has forged strong, mutually beneficial working relationships with dozens of key suppliers throughout the garden centre, gift, home and leisure sectors. “As an independent garden centre, we really value the combined influence and buying strength that Choice gives our business, as it far exceeds what we would be able to achieve on our own. The enhanced service we receive from suppliers combined with the direct lines of communication that the team at Choice have with key account managers across our supply chain, ensures that any issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently. “The team at Choice negotiate the very

best prices and trading terms on our behalf, which frees up countless hours in our own business and allows my senior management team to devote more time to the day to day operation of the centre. It also enables us to concentrate more on other important strategic issues facing the business”. “When you look at the modest cost of membership and then you consider the many benefits we receive, not forgetting the financial returns we enjoy, it is probably one of the best investments we make on an annual basis. Colin Barrie along with his wife Mandy founded Caulders back in 1999. Colin is also a member of the Choice sundries forum, playing a vital role in the negotiation of supplier trading terms on behalf of the Choice membership: “The Caulders group have benefitted enormously from being part of Choice Marketing. As we run multiple sites, the fact that each

manager can access a central price file and trading terms hub, via the Choice web site has been invaluable. “Although Choice’s strength lies with horticultural sundries and plants, they have also negotiated excellent trading terms with numerous suppliers across gifts, Christmas, food, home and outdoor leisure sectors which has been great for our business. “The off-invoice discounts we enjoy have made a significant improvement to our operating margin but in addition to that, the turnover based rebates that we earn on purchases with Choice suppliers, total tens of thousands of pounds and make a sizeable contribution to our bottom line. “I really value the networking opportunities and the camaraderie that exists within Choice. Chatting to Choice colleagues either by phone, or in person at one on the many trade events, and at the Choice conference has, on so many occasions given me really valuable insight. I have received recommendations for service providers, found out about new suppliers, learnt about fast selling products that I didn’t even stock, and have had the opportunity to discuss new trends and issues that affect my business, with people I can trust and whose opinion I value. “There is definitely strength in numbers. When negotiating prices, or discussing delivery issues, or credit terms or stock availability or any other preferential terms or supplier issues, there is no doubt that having the weight of Choice behind you is a real advantage. “I am very confident that we have received better terms, better service and better stock availability from suppliers, as a direct result of our association with Choice Marketing”.

Choice Marketing is probably one of the best investments we make on an annual basis

I am very confident that we have received better terms, better service and better stock availability from suppliers, as a direct result of our association with Choice Marketing

For more information To find out more information about Choice Marketing or to apply to join Choice either phone or e-mail the Membership Manager; Anthony Gould, anthony.gould@choice-marketing. or contact Michelle de Lavis Trafford, CEO, The Choice Marketing team would be delighted to meet with you in person, either at your own centre, or at one of the many industry trade shows held throughout the year. Alternatively, we can arrange a meeting at one of our member centres, to enable you to speak with someone who is already enjoying the many benefits that membership has to offer.

January / February 2022 11

Hamac Trading are Distributors of Garden, Large Display, Crea!on Group and Hansa Crea!on Plush Products! Hamac Trading are delighted to announce we have launched New Exci!ng Brands & Product at the Spring fair 2022 Hamac are the Exclusive distributors in the UK and Ireland of Crea!on Group Animatronics, Hansa Crea!on Plush Display & Retail products, InLiteFi Ligh!ng Figurines and Hamac Displays Fiberglass Products & Accessories Hansa Crea!on create the World’s Most Realis!c Plush Animal Reproduc!ons. Producing over 7,000 products with over 500 lines carefully selected for our UK stockist. Crea!on Group Animatronics “where there is a story behind every product”. Crea!on Group are the world’s leading manufactures in Animated Figurines with over 55 years of experience in the industry so there’s no doubt they know how to create fascina!ng animated displays. Hamac Displays is your one stop shop for Display, we have the widest range of realis!c life-sized models, Anima!on and Vinyl Backdrops in Europe. InLiteFi is our exci!ng new premium light brand with the unique combina!on of !berglass, coloured aluminium and LED lights giving customers an incredible experience both day and night! Hamac Garden has the Largest range of Water Features in Europe with stock available all Year! Bring your garden to life with our hand painted Garden Crea!ons resin animal and garden gnomes. Our showrooms in Northern Ireland have over 2000 products on display. A visit is highly recommended, or if you are unable to visit, you can take our new virtual showroom tour.


Thinking outside the box

A family building on its’ strengths

Continuing our series of articles featuring garden centres thinking outside the box to move their business on, Neil Gow reports on the Garden Kitchen development at Pughs in South Wales.


t can often be tricky in a family business when the next generation come along. More mouths to feed, new ways of wanting to do things and of course it is always easier to see better ways to do something when you already have success on your hands. None of this is new to the Pugh family, now with the fourth generation operating the business. Starting back in the 1940’s Sydney Pugh would be rightly proud of what his family is doing today. Thinking outside the box, identifying opportunities and seizing them is obviously a family trait.

Pugh’s is a brand and has so much more to offer our customers... By the mid 1960’s the thriving business growing fruit and veg and selling the produce from the gate was added too with two shops in town, by the second generation, Colin, selling eggs and milk bought in daily. With competition increasing from these new outlets called supermarkets, it was time for Pugh’s to move on. The next generation started growing and selling plants and by the mid 1970’s something akin to a garden centre was emerging, even if it did still close for lunch and on Fridays! Third generation, sons Graham and Ian joining the business saw seven day a week trading, the buying of some adjacent land and businesses so that a car park could be created. The development of links with the local school however may have been

The purpose built unit is next to a Co-op store and has EV charging in the car park

January / February 2022 13

Thinking outside the box

Cacti and succulents make a very eye catching display between the seating areas and other products for sale

a real foundation of the success of today. This started a succession of talented young people working in their formative years in the garden centre. Throughout this time of change, Colin remained adamant that ‘growing’ was retained at the heart of the business, something which has come back to the fore once more in 2021.

Other early adoptions of the growing business were: • TV advertising, • fork-lift unloading of stock (unusual in 1980!) • on site concessions and The Garden Village concept • moving the commercial growing off site to make more room for retail • internet shopping (this was the late 1990’s!) • development of a second garden centre outlet (Wenvoe 11 miles west along the M4) Now the fourth generation are getting involved. Nicola and cousin Kara, both of whom have been encouraged to build careers outside the family firm first, are bringing their skills of marketing and HR respectively to bear on the business. Embracing change through the opportunities they identify is again showing through as a family strength. The Pugh family value of “… if you are going to do something do it right and first time …” saw them hold back the launch of their latest venture. Initially planned to launch in the spring, but wanting to get the detail sorted and until the first Covid lockdown was behind them, their thinking outside the box

14 January / February 2022

Greetings cards are one of the biggest sellers.

Local pies - Yum! Cacti are popular with customers

Thinking outside the box came together, August 2021 saw the opening of The Garden Kitchen by Pugh’s. 14 miles east along the M4, from the main Pugh’s site at Radyr, towards Newport at Rogerstone. As their website says: “The Pugh family is planting new roots for another successful new business, The Garden Kitchen by Pugh’s. Whether you’re a budding plant parent, lifestyle enthusiast, lover of food, coffee connoisseur or just here for a good catch up with friends and family you’ll only need to visit this place once to know.” Is it a food hall, is it a deli, is it a coffee shop, is it a restaurant, is it a houseplant jungle? Meeting Nicola Pugh on site at Rogerstone, she enthuses: “Pugh’s is a brand and have so much more to offer our customers and we are keen to hit the ground running with all our ventures”. “Aiming towards a slightly different demographic to our traditional garden centre customer, we are focusing on the high level of ‘female buying’ in that 35 - 65 age bracket. These ladies want good coffee, they want good plants, they want a twist on traditional food, they are interested in gifting whether it is for others or treating themselves.” With a Co-op convenience store next door which includes an Amazon Hub locker kiosk, and situated close to 1,000 newly built homes, this leasehold, purpose-built 3,100sq/ft unit was fitted out by the Pugh’s Construction firm. The fit out is simple, stylish quality. 1,000 Welsh products are amongst the Sku’s all monitored via the new EPOS system. Sitting comfortably alongside the

convenience store, Pugh’s leave selling lines like fresh milk to the shop next door, along with the highly perishable groceries such as fresh fruit and veg, prepacked sandwiches and meal deals. While you can buy a paper cup of Costa coffee in the Co-op, you can also purchase food and beverages ‘to go’ from Pugh’s. However, what they are really about is their hospitality in a relaxed, comfortable, yet efficient, seating area with around 75 covers. Already around 60% of the site turnover is coming from walk-in hospitality, although as Christmas retail trade increased, that dropped back slightly as shop sales rose. Saturday night opening, with a full late licence, requires booking. Table service, with orders and payment taken by tablet linked to the kitchen and barista servery, continues in the evening and a more sophisticated menu still utilising fresh and local produce. Evenings sees average transaction value rise to nearly £78, a 310% increase on the daytime hospitality average. Perhaps not surprising, however the daytime average spend is 72% above that achieved in The Watering Can Coffee shop at the Radyr garden centre. Recruitment in retail and hospitality is becoming increasingly challenging: “Key to retaining good staff is recruiting the right ones in the first place – many of our team now have 10 to 20 years service - but it is difficult, especially in hospitality, particularly chefs,” says Nicola. Pugh’s have the advantage of being a true family business, but as has been confirmed over the months of the pandemic, the family are passionate about their people and the

many of our team now have 10 to 20 years service - but it is difficult, especially in hospitality

The “Coffee and Plants” branding shines through

January / February 2022 15

Thinking outside the box

The Garden Kitchen servery and signage, clearly linked to Pughs Garden centre credentials

team care about their place of work. Pugh’s know they cannot compete with many trades on pay rates, perhaps not even able to match some other high street retailers. The package on top of the good work environment is supplemented with many of the benefits expected these days by staff. This has been brought into focus over recent months of the pandemic and is at the top of the family’s agenda with a recent launch of a Health Assurance Scheme for staff which gives them access to a 24-hour help line for support with mental health and wellbeing worries. Staff Discounts, Monthly Prize Draws, Individual Staff Life Insurance, Annual Personal Development Reviews, Uniform Allowance, Yearly Holiday Giveaway, Increasing holiday entitlement based upon years of service , all go towards making Pugh’s a great place to work. Certainly, every member of staff we talked to was passionate about the job and the business they work for. Little wonder then that the family have recently launched a scheme that incentivises family and friends of existing staff to come and join the business. The launch marketing for “Coffee and Plants in Wales” has been done entirely online through social media. New independent media channels were set up for the new business, harnessing the power of foodie and lifestyle bloggers, even before the Kitchen was opened. Their objective was to create

16 January / February 2022

Team members wearing uniform that incorporates floral design used throught

you get into all the product mix of gifting and gardening lines again with the emphasis on local wherever possible. Even the candle range is a locally made range by a father and son team with a great local back story. Producers now hunt out Pugh’s as they recognise them as a force to join with. “A recent Taste of Wales trade food fair at the Celtic Manor saw 33 producers make advance requests for meetings with our buyers. A humbling experience and testament to the effort the team have made in putting our food offering together across our three sites” Nicola explained.

Christmas Houseplants adjacent to the deli - why not if they sell?

Welsh Lady Jams and Marmalades. You’d expect nothing else!

the experience where people would want to photograph their food to put onto their posts and share. Attention to detail like the aesthetically pleasing toilets are a talking point, for the right reasons, and another reason for people to comment to friends and followers. Cross marketing with the 30,000 plus engaged followers on social media via their Radyr centre and a further 15,000 similarly committed cohort from Wenvoe has brought customers who might have eaten at Radyr to the Rogerstone site, but Nicola identifies the enormous opportunities ahead for more cross selling of the sites and for on-line sales of other products like garden furniture and outdoor heating. This will be a focus for next season as the logistics of the new online facilities and distribution hub come to fruition. ‘Local’ is a key ingredient in the recipe of success in Pugh’s food offering through their hospitality and sales of food for retail. In The Garden Kitchen the deli counter offers locally produced cheeses (as well as those from further afield), local butcher produced pies, Scotch Eggs and other delights. Then there are getting on for 1,000 other items before

33 producers made advance requests for meetings with our buyers Only just 2 miles and no more than 10 minutes off J28 of the M4, next time you are heading that direction make The Garden Kitchen by Pugh’s your stop off point rather than the M4 services at Magor or Cardiff West. You won’t be disappointed. Be prepared to join a bit of a queue for your refreshments, but everything we saw coming out of the kitchen looked well worth any wait! What comes next? In addition to looking for other sites suitable for more Pugh’s Kitchens, the new Food Hall at the Wenvoe centre, developing a specialist logistics and fulfilment centre for the online shop and customer deliveries are all underway, more thinking outside the box is a certainty. Another member of the family is an Occupational Therapist . What opportunities could there be utilising her skills in health referral, rehabilitation, and wellbeing combined with the recognised benefits of plants and gardening in good mental health? You might have to wait and see, but the rate this Welsh family move at it won’t be for long.


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The Old Railway Line celebrate regaining the title they last won in 2018

The Old Railway Line and Barton Grange are GCA No 1’s


he GCA Awards for their members achievements in 2021 were announced in February during a virtual Presentation Day live stream event. Iain Wylie, Chief Executive of the GCA, said: “Following the understandable decision to cancel the January conference, we felt it was important to still share our experiences and celebrate our members’ achievements of 2021. New GCA Chairman Tam Woodhouse told GTN: “Although not the start to my term of office as chairman of GCA that I was hoping for, the virtual GCA awards day on Tuesday 15th February was a big success. It was brilliant to be able to celebrate the achievements of our members and get the insight from our GCA inspectors. We have received much positive feedback about the day with several commenting that although it was sad not to meet in person, the online format meant many more of their team members could watch the presentations than would usually be able to go to our annual conference. Following her visit to Barton Grange to handover their trophy Tam added, “It has also been great to visit Barton Grange this morning to present the team with their Destination Garden Centre of the year trophy. We started the morning with a big team celebration amongst the primroses. Everyone I talked to was rightly proud and passionate about the achievement of winning for the 9th time and also delighted to be awarded the

Ruxley Rose award for their plant area. What a great team and if the standards I saw today are anything to go by they are getting ready for award number 10!” Managing Director of Barton Grange Garden Centre, Guy Topping, said: “What an achievement? Winning Best Garden Centre and Best Plant Area in the UK is a dream! It’s a real honour to have been given these titles, especially with the challenges we’ve had to navigate over the year. The teams haven’t let the adaptations we’ve had to make due to the pandemic faze them and have continued to work exceptionally hard. They’ve done an unbelievable job in making the garden centre such a fantastic and safe place to be, I couldn’t be more proud.” Mark Cleary, founder of The Old Railway Line Garden Centre said, “We are thrilled to have been awarded as Best Garden Centre in the UK for 2021. Up against Garden Centres across the country, we were happy to have made it to the top 10. Then then be crowned top spot is a real honour, we’re all over the moon.”

• Christmas Competition (Garden Centre category) – Castle Gardens • Christmas Competition (Destination Garden Centre category) – Barton Grange • Environment and Community Award – Coolings Nurseries • Ruxley Rose (Garden Centre category) – Cowell’s • Ruxley Rose (Destination Garden Centre category) – Barton Grange • Barton Grange Trophy for Commercial Creativity and Innovation – Barton Grange • Customer Service Award – Best Customer Service – The Old Railway Line • The Indoor Lifestyle Award – Best Indoor Lifestyle Retailer (Garden Centre category) – RHS Harlow Carr • The Indoor Lifestyle Award – Best Indoor Lifestyle Retailer (Destination Garden Centre category) – Barton Grange • The GIMA Award for Best Garden Products Retailer (Garden Centre category) – Klondyke Group – Garden Wise • The GIMA Award for Best Garden Products Retailer (Destination Garden Centre category) – Perrywood – Tiptree • Dick Allen Award (Most Improved Garden Centre) – Hillier – Eastbourne • The Outdoor Living Award – Best Outdoor Living Retailer (Garden Centre Category) – Klondyke Group – Stokesley • The Outdoor Living Award – Best Outdoor Living Retailer (Destination Garden Centre Category) – Fron Goch • GCA Grow Training Award – Blackbrooks Garden Centres of Excellence: • Barton Grange, Bents, Cowell’s, Fron Goch, Haskins Snowhill, Perrywood Tiptree, Planters Tamworth, St Peters, The Old Railway Line, Webbs of Wychbold. Associate of the Year: • Allensmore Nurseries The Worrall Cup: • St Peters Garden Centre

Barton Grange win the Destination Centre of the Year for the 9th time!

Garden Centre of the Year: • The Old Railway Line Garden Centre Destination Garden Centre of the Year: • Barton Grange Garden Centre.

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Cultivation Street celebrates

10th year helping schools and communities Cultivation Street is the Horticultural industry’s longest running campaign supporting community and school gardening together. In 2022, the campaign celebrates 10 years of supporting schools and communities engage with plants and nature.


ver the years, Cultivation Street has awarded nearly £200,000 to communities and schools across the nation, as well as over 50,000 plants and gardening materials. They also support hundreds of garden centres by encouraging communities to engage with the front line of the horticultural industry. This helps to form relationship with garden centre retail staff and Ambassadors who are always on hand with advice and inspiration. To encourage the communities, there is an online resources centre, dedicated to giving hints and tips on starting, maintaining, and nurturing the gardens. There is a blog that is constantly updated with guidance ranging from sowing and growing fruit and veg to information on how to fundraise. It’s also a hub to keep up to date with stories of the amazing schools and communities that enter the Cultivation Street competition.

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Over the last decade, many national newspapers have dedicated pull-out spreads to Cultivation Street, including The Sunday People, Sunday Mirror, and The Daily Express. Features on BBC News & ITV have also showcased some of the competition’s many winners over the years. There is so much positivity surrounding this campaign

The Wonky Garden, winners in 2021

Community gardening creates harmony and integration of neighbours that is has inspired other horticultural associations and societies to come on board and support community gardening. The past 10 years has seen Cultivation Street enjoy sponsorship from the HTA, Syngenta and most recently for the last 3 years, giant in the gardening world, Miracle Gro.

Managing Director of Evergreen Garden Care, Mark Portman says, “It’s been a pleasure to be involved in Cultivation Street for the past few years and be sponsor again for its 10th year encouraging schools and communities to engage with nature and spread the love of gardening. At Miracle-Gro we’ve had the pleasure of supplying materials for these communities and schools and seeing them put to good use for some incredibly creative displays which impress the judges every year.” Founder of Cultivation Street, Chartered Horticulturist & Broadcaster David Domoney says, “I feel so grateful for all of the industry support in establishing the campaign that gives such an enormous contribution to society. Community gardening creates harmony and integration of neighbours, irrespective of age, background, ethnic diversity, gender, or ability. It’s a great equaliser and teaches us the importance and power of engaging

CULTIVATION STREET 2022 with nature for our mental and physical wellbeing. I’m proud to have been able to serve with the past ten years of my life encouraging children and adults to garden together and enjoy the positivity it brings. Garden retailers are engaging with their local communities on a daily basis. Andy Bunker, Director of Alton Garden Centre says, “Cultivation Street is a truly great way of getting community’s gardening together, we are all aware of huge part gardening has played particularly in the last two years and what better way to continue the enthusiasm than working as a community to build a garden however big or small and whether it be beautiful bedding or grow your own, novice or expert a truly great event.” Cultivation Street’s sister campaign Illumination Street encourages the nation to brighten up their streets and front gardens over the festive period. This is sponsored by British Garden Centres group and Boyd Douglas-Davies, P.R. & Communications Director, says, “I’ve watched Cultivation Street grow and grow into the national institution that it now is. It has inspired huge numbers to make a little difference to the plot they’ve got. It’s engaged the public, young and old, with Garden Centres up and down the country. It’s fantastic, here’s to the next 10 years!” Alongside the campaign, there is the annual Cultivation Street competition, where schools and communities enter the following categories to win some incredible prizes.

David Domoney with Evergreen Garden Care MD Mark Portman

School Gardens This category rewards school gardens that enrich the educational environment for children. 1st prize - £1,000 and a Miracle Gro hamper; 2nd prize - £500 and a Miracle Gro hamper; 3rd prize - £250 and a Miracle Gro hamper; Two highly commended prizes of £100 and a Miracle Gro hamper.

Community Gardens This category rewards gardening projects bursting with community spirit, with 1st prize - £1,000 and a Miracle Gro hamper; 2nd prize - £500 and a Miracle Gro hamper; 3rd prize - £250 and a Miracle Gro hamper; Two highly commended prizes of £100 and a Miracle Gro hamper.

For more information visit

Gardens for Better Health This category rewards gardens that have a positive impact on the mental or physical health of the local community. 1st prize - £1,000 and a Miracle Gro hamper; 2nd prize - £500 and a Miracle Gro hamper; 3rd prize - £250 and a Miracle Gro hamper; Two highly commended prizes of £100 and a Miracle Gro hamper.

Gro’ Your Best This category rewards the most creative display created using Miracle-Gro’s free bag of peat-free compost. 1st prize - Miracle Gro hamper; 2nd prize - Miracle Gro hamper; 3rd prize - Miracle Gro hamper; Winner of Public vote - Miracle Gro hamper.

Garden Centre of the Year This category rewards Garden Centres who have gone above and beyond for their local community and school groups with cash prizes. 1st prize - £1000; 2nd prize - £500; 3rd prize £250; Ten highly commended prizes - £100.

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The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Teams After visits to garden centres across the UK during November and December, and then weeks of meetings, debate and discussion the winners of GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards 2021 were finally announced on the Inspiring Retail Stage at Spring Fair on Monday evening, 7th February, where great Christmas retailers and suppliers joined us for a celebration of all that’s great about garden centre Christmas retailing.


he Greatest Awards team of judges had a truly wonderful time visiting all of the 57 garden centres nominated in this year's awards and were overwhelmed by the excellence of garden centre retail teamwork once again, despite continuing difficult circumstances. GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards recognise the teams of great people who make garden centre retailing so special, without them the great displays and memorable customer experiences would not be possible. Thank you to all the teams we met for their time and their enthusiasm. If you were not able to attend Spring Fair on Monday the Awards presentations can be watched via the Spring Fair on demand page: https://www.springfair. com/the-on-demand-programme-2022 or on YouTube at: uczv1eJuONPm7yiZXDNR3wa Huge thanks goes to our sponsors: Woodlodge, Elho, DCUK, Solex Global Journey, Glee and Kaemingk for making the judges' face to face visits possible this year and for providing prizes for the Gold Award winners.

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GTN’S GREATEST CHRISTMAS AWARDS 2021 – THE WINNERS The Greatest Large Garden Centre Christmas Team GOLD AWARD - Bents SILVER AWARD - Barton Grange BRONZE AWARD - Garsons Esher, Pughs Radyr

The Greatest Mid-Sized Garden Centre Christmas Team GOLD AWARD - The Old Railway Line SILVER AWARD - Fron Goch BRONZE AWARD - Woodlands Garden Centre

FINALISTS • Barton Grange • Bents • Garsons Esher • Gates Garden Centre • Millbrook Gravesend • Perrywood Tiptree • Pughs Radyr • Rosebourne - Aldermaston • Woodbank Garden Centre

FINALISTS • Bosworths • Fron Goch • Perrywood Sudbury • Tates South Downs • The Old Railway Line • Woodlands Garden Centre

GTN’s GREATEST CHRISTMAS AWARDS The Greatest Small Garden Centre Christmas Team GOLD AWARD - Silverbirch SILVER AWARD - Newquay Garden Centre BRONZE AWARD - Pengelly Garden Centre FINALISTS • Hillmount Cheshire • Newquay Garden Centre • Pengelly Garden Centre • Pughs Wenvoe • Silverbirch

The Greatest Group Garden Centre Christmas Team Smaller Group Centres GOLD AWARD - Burford House BGC SILVER AWARD - Albrighton BGC BRONZE AWARD - Blue Diamond Newbridge, Little Dobbies Richmond, Thatcham BGC

Larger Group Centres GOLD AWARD - Squires Badshot Lea, Brigg BGC SILVER AWARD - Blue Diamond Cadbury, Blue Diamond Derby BRONZE AWARD – Braintree BGC GROUP CENTRE FINALISTS • Albrighton BGC • Blue Diamond Cadbury • Blue Diamond Derby • Blue Diamond Newbridge • Braintree BGC • Brigg Garden Centre BGC • Burford House BGC • Little Dobbies Richmond • Squires Badshot Lea • Thatcham BGC The Greatest Christmas Houseplant Team GOLD AWARD - Perrywood Tiptree SILVER AWARD - Webbs Wychbold BRONZE AWARD - Aylett Nurseries, Barton Grange FINALISTS • Aylett Nurseries • Barton Grange • Little Dobbies Richmond • Perrywood Tiptree • Webbs Wychbold

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GTN’s GREATEST CHRISTMAS AWARDS The Greatest Christmas Pets Team GOLD AWARD - Planters Tamworth, The Old Railway Line SILVER AWARD - Squires Badshot Lea FINALISTS • Gates Garden Centre • Planters Tamworth • Squires Badshot Lea • The Old Railway Line The Greatest Winter Garden Care Sales Team GOLD AWARD - Gates Garden Centre FINALISTS • Garsons Esher • Gates Garden Centre • Squires Badshot Lea The Greatest Outdoor Plant and Christmas Tree Team GOLD AWARD - Barton Grange SILVER AWARD - Millbrook Gravesend, Perrywood Tiptree BRONZE AWARD - Pughs Radyr FINALISTS • Barton Grange • Bents • Bosworths • Cadbury • Lakeside Plant Centre • Millbrook Gravesend • Perrywood Tiptree • Pughs Radyr • Studley – BGC The Greatest Festive Food Hall Team GOLD AWARD - Barton Grange SILVER AWARD - Garsons Esher, Pughs Radyr BRONZE AWARD - Bents

The Greatest Christmas Community/ Charity Initiative GOLD AWARD - Pengelly Garden Centre SILVER AWARD - Cherry Lane Poddington, Pughs Radyr & Wenvoe BRONZE AWARD - Hillmount Cheshire, Perrywood Tiptree & Sudbury FINALISTS • Cherry Lane Podington • Groves Bridport • Hillmount Cheshire • Pengelly Garden Centre • Perrywood Sudbury • Perrywood Tiptree • Pughs Radyr • Pughs Wenvoe • Tates South Downs

FINALISTS • Barton Grange • Bents • Garsons Esher • Pughs Radyr • Rosebourne - Aldermaston • The Old Railway Line The Greatest Christmas Sizzle Team GOLD AWARD - Altons SILVER AWARD - Gates Garden Centre BRONZE AWARD - Downtown Garden Centre FINALISTS • Altons • Downtown Garden Centre • Gates Garden Centre • Hillmount Cheshire • Pughs Wenvoe

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The Greatest Social Media Christmas Marketing Idea GOLD AWARD - Pughs Radyr & Wenvoe SILVER AWARD - Pengelly Garden Centre, Sapcote Garden Centre BRONZE AWARD - Rosebourne Aldermaston, Weyhill & Hampton in Arden FINALISTS • Garsons Esher • Pengelly Garden Centre • Perrywood Sudbury • Perrywood Tiptree • Pughs Radyr • Rosebourne - Aldermaston • Rosebourne - Weyhill • Sapcote Garden Centre The Greatest Garden Centre Christmas Video GOLD AWARD - Sapcote Garden Centre SILVER AWARD - The Old Railway Line BRONZE AWARD - Pengelly Garden Centre FINALISTS • Pengelly Garden Centre • Pughs Radyr • Pughs Wenvoe • Sapcote Garden Centre • The Old Railway Line The Greatest Covid Safe Christmas Team GOLD AWARD - Aylett Nurseries, The Old Railway Line SILVER AWARD - Barton Grange BRONZE AWARD - Webbs Wychbold

FINALISTS • Aylett Nurseries • Barton Grange • The Old Railway Line • Webbs Wychbold The Greatest Christmas Event Special Award GOLD AWARD - Webbs Wychbold FINALISTS • Gouldings • Hetland • Planters Bretby • The Old Railway Line • Webbs Wychbold The Greatest Christmas Supplier GOLD AWARD - Kaemingk FINALISTS • Festive • Florasilk • Gisela Graham • Hills Interiors • Kaemingk • Otter House • Premier • PTMD • Smart Garden Products


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Triple Gold for The Old Railway Line


he Old Railway Line scooped the most Gold Awards in GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards 2021 for The Greatest Mid-Sized Garden Centre Team, The Greatest Covid Safe Christmas Team and The Greatest Christmas Pets Team. Plus, they also collected a Silver award for their Christmas Video. And all just days before they were announced as GCA Garden centre of the year. A truly great team! Our judges said that Christmas at The Old Railway Line had been thought about, planned and created by the whole team across the whole centre. Festive bunting across the Plant Sales Area, staff all wearing festive waistcoats, to adding that bit of Christmas sparkle to their Afternoon Tea display that extra the attention to detail by this team appeared limitless. From the moment you arrived in the car park to the checkouts as you leave, Covid safety was in your mind, with

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signage, sanitising, outdoor seating for coffee and snacks without even entering the main building. Their Christmas events programme had been developed to keep the volume of people outside with donkeys, alpacas and even singing reindeer to entertain along with the Christmas Parade and outdoor children’s disco. In Pets, Christmas had really come to town with a very festive look including an animated nativity scene, a collection for the local animal rescue centre along with loads of gift ideas for pets from the most luxurious coats for your dog to wear right through to coat conditioner! Every corner of the department said “Christmas”, even the cold-water fish tanks were decorated with snow blanket and Vivid Arts penguins. Their Christmas video once again gave the John Lewis Christmas advert a run for its money and we suspect, at a tiny fraction of their budget.


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Gold & Silver for Squires


erennial Greatest Christmas Award winners, Squires Badshot Lea won Gold in The Greatest Group Large Garden Centre Christmas Team category and Silver for The Greatest Christmas Pets Tea. The Awards judging visit found that the team created a perfect balance between inspiration and driving volume sales, making it easy to shop whilst adapting the offer to their local market. The pet and aquatic team adopted a strong approach to intensive display of Christmas merchandising whilst adding a few Christmas touches to the main section as well.

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Golden moment for Silverbirch


estled in the Clyde Valley, Silverbirch Garden Centre is now a multiple Gold Award Christmas Team winner. Once again, the team delivered the most flamboyant display created by a dedicated team over many weeks that results in a superb customer experience. Our judges were, as usual, wowed by the thought and detail presented in the displays which were of a very high standard. If you are ever near the Clyde Valley, do pop into Silverbirch, say hello to Andrew and the team and see for yourself!

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Christmas Sizzle is hot at Alton’s



he Greatest Christmas Sizzle Team is once again at Alton’s. An incredibly strong team who work together and play together. They are passionate about helping others to get the most out of barbequing and driving sales all year round, especially at Christmas!

High Street win for Dobbies


ould Little Dobbies be setting a new trend for garden centre Christmas retailing? Their use of houseplants as the front and centre of the Christmas displays by the team at Little Dobbies Richmond not only impressed the judges, but it was also wowing Richmond High Street customers too. No wonder they were awarded Bronze in The Greatest Group Small garden Centre Team category.


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Wonderful teamwork at Millbrook


reat creativity, coordination and teamwork by the team at Millbrook Gravesend wins them the Silver Award for The Greatest Outdoor Plant and Christmas Tree Team. “A wonderful Christmas experience, inside and out,” said the GTN Greatest Awards judges.

Newquay debuts with Silver


newcomer nomination in GTN’s Greatest Christmas Awards, Newquay Garden Centre walked away with Silver for The Greatest Small Garden Centre Christmas Team. Our judges said the teams at Newquay had made a great effort to bring consistent and sales friendly festive displays across all the garden centres departments. Well done Newquay!

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Team Bents win Christmas Gold


hristmas 2021 was golden at Bents Garden & Home thanks to a real team effort that could be clearly seen by the cooperation through the coordinated displays in different departments in the centre. During our judging visit the team were seen in action helping and assisting customers

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with enthusiasm and interest. The standard of merchandising was excellent and showed how the team had worked together to create the Christmas magic. That’s why they won the Gold Award for The Greatest Large Garden centre Christmas Team. Bents also won a Bronze Award for The Greatest Festive Food Hall Team. Enjoy…


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Silver for Sensory Santa


he young team at Cherry Lane Poddington created an extremely well thought through Christmas experience to win Silver in The Greatest Christmas Community or Charity Initiative. Their sell out Sensory Santa Experience, was sensitively created showing a great understanding of the difficulties faced by families with children having special needs. Parents children and the siblings were all thought of. Every garden centre creating a Santa experience could give this sector of their community some thought at Christmas.

Downtown BBQ Turkey Bronze


owntown Garden Centre in Grantham turned up the heat to win Bronze in The Greatest Christmas Sizzle Award with their huge displays and ranges of BBQ’s and firepits. Selling on-line and in-store the Downtown team saw very strong sales as a result of their ‘BBQ your Christmas Turkey in conjunction with Broil King’ promotion featuring Russell Davies.

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Teamwork wins through at Fron Goch


he Silver Award Mid-Sized Centre Greatest Christmas Team at Fron Goch have made many changes since our last visit in 2019. A new building, centre entrance into the Planteria, more covered space and a welldefined route through the now clearly defined ranges with the feel of Christmas throughout the store. It’s clear the excellent team work together on buying and bringing ideas together.

Instant Community Charity connection for Hillmount Cheshire


pened in August, Hillmount Cheshire has been welcomed by the community locally and their work with local charities and hospitals to increase awareness has won them a Bronze Award for The Greatest Christmas Community or Charity Initiative. A Santa event to raise funds for Warrington Hospital Childrens Charity and 35 Riley dog soft toys given to the local Childrens Hospice prompted the Mayor to visit in December.

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Golden Memories at Pughs


aking Memories at Christmas won Pughs at Rdyr and Wenvoe the Gold Award for The Greatest Social Media Christmas Marketing Idea. The cameo displays with photo opportunities encouraged customers to take their own photographs, upload them to their social media so in effect those customers were doing the advertising for Pugh’s! The whole concept of this campaign worked for everybody. It gave great display ideas, backed up with loads of plants and products to buy so that the customer could recreate themselves at home, therefore it sold product as well as the business. Then of course there was the bonus of a chance to win a great holiday voucher as a prize. Pughs Radyr and Wenvoe also won Silver Awards for The Greatest Christmas

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Community or Charity Initiative and the teams at Radyr scooped more Silver Awards for their Festive Food Hall Team and their Outdoor Plant and Christmas Tree Team. The Radyr team were also rewarded with a Bronze Award for The Greatest Large Garden Centre Christmas Team. As our judges said: “For the team at Pugh’s, on their tight restrictive site, this award is testament to the enthusiasm, skill and passion of the people. To have won Bronze in this category when up against the biggest garden centres in Britain is a truly fantastic achievement.”


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Team Pengelly strike Community Gold


he Greatest Christmas Community or Charity Team are the small but enthusiastic team at Pengelly Garden Centre in Cornwall. The Gold Award winning team at this small centre go above and beyond for their local food bank with several events and initiatives that ensure that local folks don’t go without food at Christmas. The Pengelly Christmas craft weekend is a great way to build support with small local businesses and drive very high Christmas footfall wins them Silver for The Greatest Christmas Marketing, together with Bronze awards for their Christmas Videos and in the overall Greatest Small garden Centre Team. Thinking outside of the box is what team Pengelly do so well, and with only a small shop building the whole team have created a wonderful Christmas decorations department out in the plant area - it looked amazing! Team Pengelly know their strengths and one strength is their highly entertaining staff - their regular social media videos and fun and highly engaging!

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Santa Paws delivers Gold for Planters


he team at Planters Tamworth were right behind selling product to pet owners with a well display and stocked pet department covering everyday needs to treats. Their Santa Paws grotto was well thought out and carried through by this enthusiastic team of retailers,

winning them a Gold Award for The Greatest Christmas Pet Team. Gerald Ingram told GTN: “We had a lovely afternoon at the Greatest Christmas Awards presentation at Spring Fair, and it is nice for our team to get some recognition. Our Planters Pets team will be very delighted.”


The Ice Rink at Planters Bretby, one of the few garden centre ice rinks in 2021, carried on a tradition of skating at Bretby since the 19th century

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Brigg and Burford House Golds top off 5 Christmas Awards for BGC


British Garden Centres teams at Brigg and Burford House picked up Gold Awards for The Greatest Christmas Large and Small Group Garden Centre Teams. Albrighton’s team added Silver with Braintree and Thatcham completing the collection with well-earned Bronze awards too! Brigg was a standout Garden Centre in the judging, a new manager with high street retail experience, leading an experienced team, to create a larger Covid-safe Christmas experience.

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From first steps into the incredible Christmas display, to the incredible positivity of the Christmas Teams and the smiles on the faces of shoppers it was clear that this was, put simply Best Practice. At Burford House the team were relishing the creativity and support they were given as part of BGC. The way they had themed Christmas across the whole of the re-vamped centre really impressed/ The happy, Albrighton also embraced the welcome changes their inclusion

in the new BGC family and created a magical atmosphere with some impressive sales growth from great displays. The Bronze Award winning team at Braintree also enjoyed the newfound energy to exert their own influence over the Christmas trading approach, balancing commerciality with creativity At Thatcham, the team provided inspiration and fun combined with a practical and commercial approach. Well done to the whole centre team.



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150 years of tradition wins Christmas Greatness for Garsons


arsons at Esher topped off their 150 years celebrations by winning Silver and Bronze Awards in The Greatest Christmas Awards 2021. Their Festive Food Hall Team was awarded Silver for going the extra mile when it comes to maximising the trading opportunity at Christmas. And the whole garden centre team won the Bronze Award for The Greatest Large Garden Centre Christmas Team. With Christmas such an important part of the total offer, the team planned and executed the build and refresh with authority and professionalism, maximising on the unique 150 year anniversary.


Gardening Gifts win Gold for Gates


he Christmas team at Gates were the clear Gold Awards winners when it came to The Greatest Christmas Winter Garden Care Team. Our judges said: “The garden care department was well stocked and just about everything was possible as a gift for a gardener. From Stewarts plastic funnels decorating a Christmas Tree to the latest Stihl battery powered garden equipment. “Cameo displays of ideas for propagation to frost protection all backed up by the Gates Gardeners Hamper displays. Great team ‘buy in’ to generating sales at Christmas to all those new gardeners Covid has brought us.”

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COVID safe Christmas at Aylett’s


t Aylett Nurseries the team have been totally committed to keeping their customers and colleagues safe from the outset of COVID-19. This continued confidently whilst serving the increased customer numbers through the Christmas peak of 2021, winning them Gold for the Greatest COVID Safe Christmas Team. Houseplants are very important part of the offer throughout the year at Ayletts, but at Christmas the team go above and beyond, particularly when it comes to their own grown Poinsettias which is why they wone the Bonze Aard for The Greatest Christmas Houseplant Team.

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Christmas Sparkles at Blue Diamond


he Blue Diamond teams at Cadbury and Derby executed their own unique approach to merchandising and display to the full Blue Diamond Christmas to win sparkling Silver Awards in The Greatest Group Christmas Garden Centre Team categories. At Blue Diamond Newbridge the dedicated team made the most of the Christmas offer in very limited space whilst the new development progresses. Bronze Award winners, they are past masters at intensive merchandising.

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Social Media Advent wins for Rosebourne


he teams at Roseboune Aldermaston, Weyhill and Henly in Arden won Bronze for their Advent Calendar on Social Media during December which generated plenty of footfall and sales. The judges said: “A hugely professional and competent approach to extracting maximum value out of the social media opportunity at this time of year across all important categories of Christmas, houseplants, real Christmas trees and food halls.”

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Wonderful Christmas at Woodlands


n the highly competitive Greatest MidSized Garden Centre Team category, the team from Woodlands Garden Centre in Ash, Kent created a wonderful presentation across all the Christmas categories including their wonderful restaurant. Delivered with confidence and authority by the team, it made for a truly a memorable customer experience with some brilliant customer service touches.

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Full house of Christmas Awards for Barton Grange Barton Grange Food Hall:

The challenges of the last two years have been met with determination, innovation and passion by the Food Hall team dealing with new health and packaging laws, Covid safe shopping whilst retaining the high quality of produce and merchandising. It was evident that the team worked closely together to give the customers the best shopping experience possible.

Barton Grange Christmas Tree/ Outdoor team: Enthusiastic team, high quality trees (UK sourced), well presented in watering containers to give the customers assurance of freshness. Excellent product information and a 123 step guidance for choosing and taking your tree home safely and cleanly. The promotion of plants and other products as seasonal gifts was professionally and clearly presented. The Planteria really felt like Christmas throughout. The Christmas theme runs throughout the centre from entrance to exit through gardening, bird care, outdoor plants and catering. A fantastic example of really giving the customers a Christmas treat. The feeling was that promoting family and fun for Christmas would hit the right note. Themes include KItchmas and rainbows mirroring the NHS appreciation shown in recent months.

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Dog Alfie is the video star at Sapcote


he Greatest Garden Centre Video category was a vey hotly contested category this year with hardly a whisker to separate the main contenders! The heart-warming video of Alfie the dog enjoying his shopping trip to Sapcote with William showed off the range and depth of product for sale to make your Christmas special. This was

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backed up by other videos, including the one ‘walking through’ their wonderful Le Max village (more like a town!!) display. Almost 60,000 views helped Sapcote pip other contenders to the Gold Award. The Sapcote team also won Silver in The Greatest Social Media Campaign category for their consistent messaging over the Christmas period, target at least two posts every day.


Special Gold Wards for Webbs Enchanted Garden


iven the uncertainties about COVID we didn’t have any Greatest Christmas Award categories specifically for Christmas events, however the judges felt that where centres had gone to exceptional efforts to hold events that should be recognised with a Special Award, with Webbs wining the Gold Award. Their Enchanted Garden, a purely outdoor, sound and light display was a truly unique experience for all ages from the walk-through story telling garden to the transparent bubble igloos for adult dining. Utilising their Riverside Gardens, so not something every garden centre could recreate, the team pulled off a stunning event that was totally inclusive while being Covid safe.

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Christmas Theatre at Perrywood


hristmas at the Theatre was the theme the teams at Perrywood Tiptree and Sudbury created and implemented wining Gold for The Greatest Christmas Houseplant Team, Silver for The Greatest Outdoor Plant and Christmas Tree Team and Bronze for their Greatest Christmas Community and Charity Initiative. Their charity team work saw all members of the teams at both centres making masks to support Greenfingers and delivering food hampers to nominated members of the community in need. Houseplants for Christmas at Perrywood are presented by the Team at Tiptree to the very highest retail standards and the plant team grab every opportunity to create eyecatching displays that capture the essence of the Christmas season.

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The Greatest Judges and Sponsors A team of truly great Christmas Judges visited all of the nominated garden centres in this years Greatest Christmas Awards. Here’s their overall comments:

Andy Campbell Whilst I have done many Christmas Competition judging tours in the past, this was the first time I have been involved in The Greatest Christmas Awards. It was great to talk with all the teams involved in planning and creating inspiring, magical displays alongside highly commercial retailing practise. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and came away highly enthused by the skills and professionalism within our industry. Thank you and well done the garden centre industry!

Doug Stewart Fantastic, it is so good to see such an amazing array of winners. Congratulations to the teams on their outstanding achievements. Best practice oozed from garden centres this Christmas.

Steve Myatt The standards of the displays, the innovation and presentation developments grows more impressive year by year.

Neil and Nicci Gow The standards of retailing we saw this Christmas, given all the difficulties of supply, working safely and never knowing when the next lockdown might come, just shows the resilience and determination of our highly professional industry. Staff who are passionate and enthusiastic were rightly proud of what they had created, from the smallest centre with a limited budget to the biggest destination centres, made selecting finalists a really tough task. Everybody deserved a gold award!

58 January / February 2022


Roger Crookes This process of meeting the teams who make Christmas happen in Garden Centres always leaves me feeling confident in the resilience of our trade, and 2021 was no exception. Despite all the challenges, Garden Centre teams applied themselves with imagination and good commercial sense to deliver Christmas ranges and displays which helped build their business, not just at Christmas but also through the rest of the year as ‘delighted customers’ will often return in other seasons. And that creates another opportunity for us all; how do we continue to delight and inspire profitable sales throughout the year using the skills which we developed in the Christmas season?

Trevor Pfeiffer After several years of not being able to go out and meet garden centre team at Christmas, these visits and the ensuing judging was pure joy. The teamwork, and it’s real teamwork, across garden centre departments to delight all customers leads the way and sets an example of just what can be achieved to other retailers. I can’t wait for the next batch of Greatest Awards judging visits! See you all soon!

The Greatest Christmas Awards Sponsors Thanks to our sponsors for enabling the judges’ visits, without you they just wouldn’t happen. But as well as sponsoring to facilitate the judging or sponsors have also given prizes to Gold Award winners as follows: • DCUK - £500 worth of stock to Silverbirch and The Old Railway Line • Elho - £500 worth of stock to Gates Garden Centre • Glee – 2 hotel rooms for Glee 2022 to Pughs • Global Journey - £250 worth of stock to Aylett Nurseries and The Old Railway Line • Kaemingk – One of their display trees to Pengelly Garden Centre • Solex – 2 hotel rooms for Solex 2022 to Altons • Woodlodge - £500 worth of stock to Burford House BGC, Squires Badshot Lea and Perrywood Tiptree

Sept 6-7th


Celebrating 50

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January / February 2022 59

LOFA Member Profile

Re-invent outdoor cooking with BBQ Gourmet What is your garden centre missing? You can now get 30% off RRP on all BBQ Gourmet products.


ecoming the one-stop shop for all your customers’ BBQ needs takes some preparation. BBQ Gourmet helps you get there with its wide collection of cooking essentials for your customers. That includes seasonings, injections, butters, oils, marinades, and sauces to Find us at: whip up delicious meals—perfect for Unit 5 Whiteheath pre-BBQ impulse buying! Business Park To nail the best flavours and Corston Malmesbury Wiltshire SN16 0HJ impress their guests, your customers need the right combination of products—from the marinades to make the meat tender and the sauces that add taste to the grilling hardware that lets everyone practise this magic in the right setting.

With BBQ Gourmet’s flavoursome product range on your shelves to complement your BBQ hardware, you can invite your customers to experience a real grilling experience! The products are available for wholesale purchase, which means you can benefit from: • A minimum order quantity of just 3 of each product • Free shipping across the UK Mainland for orders over €250 • A flat 30% off RRP on all products for resellers • A wide range of award-winning products to win over your customers When the sun’s out and the grill’s out, you’ll be ready to meet your customers’ needs.



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60 January / February 2022

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Christmas is here to stay Boyd J Douglas-Davies, HTA President


hristmas is here to stay… I guess that’s no big revelation as it has been around in some form or other for over 2,000 years. BUT it is only a (relatively) few years ago that we started to hang decorations on Christmas trees in the house thanks to Prince Albert first bringing a tree indoors at Windsor Castle in 1847. Then decorations would have been handmade, crafted from wood or glass – hand blown decorations are believed to have been invented in Germany in the 17th century. Fast forward to Harrogate 2022 and sustainable decorating & gifting is there to be seen more than ever. Glitter is already a thing of the past following the highlighting of its impact on waterways a few years ago. Plastic or shatterproof decorations are really now for circumstances that require a ‘safer’ environment and glass and wooden decorations are becoming more and more prevalent. Whilst we are all seeing this at trade shows it is important to think about how we get the message across to the public before the coming season. How about a collaboration of suppliers appearing at the imminent Garden Press Event (London, 9th March) telling journalists what they can expect to see in garden centres across the country this year? The appearance of new players in Harrogate, such as Woodlodge with their Snowlodge range, is very welcome. Our industry thrives on innovation and competition. In recent years, Smart Garden has developed the Three Kings range to such an extent that it is now one of the larger exhibitors, in terms of space, at the show. I can remember their first appearance when they just occupied a small space in the Hall that they now have to themselves – all bar one small area. No doubt the traditional supply chain has watched these new players and upped their game, which can only be good for all the retailers visiting.

Offering a cut tree recycling service has been common practice at garden centres across the country for years but there are two other, environmentally driven, options coming to the fore. Many charities are now offering a collect and recycle service, for a fee. On the first weekend following 12th night trees are collected from homes and taken to a central point for recycling. Well done to Tony & Will Blake, St Peters GC Worcester, for jumping in their branded van and supporting their local hospice this year. Traditionally we all wanted customers to come back with their trees in January and we’d often reward them with a restaurant voucher. Maybe those days are gone and we need to be proactive in building in a collection service when we sell the tree? Go one step further and offer a ‘swap’ service – sell a large foliage plant and deliver it when you collect the displaced tree? A quick google search leads me to believe that no garden centre has yet taken on the ‘Tree for Life’ initiative. This is where a pot grown tree is delivered and collected from the customer every year for a number of years. It is the same tree each season, unless it has become too large for the house, in which case you start again with a smaller tree. I can hear many a GC operator turning the page saying ‘nope, not for me’ but maybe just a few will be recognising that, as ever, times are a changing and for us to sustain our businesses we need to be learning from others who aren’t afraid to rock the boat and try something new. Christmas will live on… with or without us!

Glitter is already a thing of the past following the highlighting of its impact on waterways…

Find out more

The Horticultural Trades Association is the UK industry’s leading membership organisation. It welcomes all sectors of horticulture – to join please contact

FUNdraising for Greenfingers Charity

Garden Re-Leaf supporters unveil plans for the big day Since the Greenfingers charity announced the return of the Garden Re-Leaf Sponsored Walk & Cycle Challenge on March 18th, the organising team have been inundated with individuals and corporate teams confirming their place at the start line. Not only this, but many others have also confirmed their plans for the big day – let’s find out more!

The Garden Re-Leaf Sponsored Walk & Cycle Challenge

FUNdraising ideas for Garden Re-Leaf Day 2022

One of the most popular activities in the Garden Re-Leaf roster, the Sponsored Walk & Cycle Challenge has helped to raise over £730,000 since its inception in 2012. This year the event will welcome teams from across the industry including Durstons Garden Products, Deco-Pak, GIMA, Mr Fothergill’s, as well as Glee, headed up by Event Director, Matthew Mein, who was the brains behind the walk all those years ago and has since completed every walk. Joining Matt on the start line will be fellow Garden Re-Leaf ‘all-star’ walker, Kimberley Hornby from Hornby Whitefoot PR, alongside her wider team, as well as Capi Europe’s Kate Ebbens, who will be using the walk as part of her training for the London Landmarks Half Marathon on April 3rd, which she will be running to raise funds for Greenfingers. Cyclists set to tackle the course will include Simon Mullholland from Westland; Rivington Garden Designs’ Beverley Coleman, Chris Ramsden from Hozelock; and Frost Garden Centre’s Jack Goodhand. Samantha Broadway, James Nutt, Jon Honeyball, Michael Wallis and Amanda-Jane Camp from Mr Fothergill’s will also be saddling up to join the fun!

Here’s just a few ways you can get involved and help Greenfingers to continue creating magical gardens in children’s hospices across the nation: 1 Plantathons are perfect for generating some buzz instore whilst simultaneously generating more stock and donating to Greenfingers. Previous events have included 12- and 24-hour Plantathons. 2 Hold a virtual quiz, with a minimum donation for all entrants. 3 Raffles and tombolas are a great way of getting lots of people involved. Gather prizes from around your store, or ask friends and colleagues to donate prizes, before selling raffle tickets ahead of the grand unveiling of the lucky winner! 4 Cake sales and coffee mornings – are simple yet effective FUNdraisers. 5 An online auction is a great way to raise funds and involve your friends and colleagues 6 Team up with friends and colleagues to complete a virtual walk or cycle challenge. Set yourselves a target – 100 miles for example – and work together to achieve it. Walk around your local area, on a treadmill, whatever it takes! Keep in touch via Zoom to keep the group enthusiasm going!

Garden centre support Each year, garden centres from across the country pull out all the stops to celebrate Garden Re-Leaf Day and use this as the ideal opportunity to kick start the gardening season. In fact, many make it Garden Re-Leaf weekend to help maximise the FUNdraising total across three days. So far this year, garden centre support has been confirmed by British Garden Centres, Millbrook Garden Centres and, at Perrywood Garden Centre, the much-loved quiz is back!

62 January/February 2022

Friday 18th March

How to get involved in Garden Re-Leaf Day 2022

Registration for the 2022 event is now live, and as already mentioned, Greenfingers is also on the look-out for sponsors of the event. To find out more please contact Linda Petrons by emailing

Leon Boots Company

is increasing its garden retail footprint across the country helping to drive year-round sales & profitability


s Leon Boots Co. continues to switch up the outdoor footwear category with the most lightweight wellingtons ever, the potential for year-round sales for this popular footwear category is higher than ever. 2021 was a great year for the father and son business that is Leon Boots Co. and 2022 is already set to be a hugely successful year once again as the popularity of this unique record-breaking brand continues to grow at a fantastic rate. Kevin Burgess from Leon Boots Co., said: “We truly appreciate all the support during our introductory year into this very friendly, close industry and especially to the following who joined us at the very beginning and have helped us so much, including Paul Smith of Chessington Garden Centre, Michelle Taylor of the Blue Diamond Group, Dan Lawton from Langland’s Garden Centre, Steve Searle of Monkton Elm Garden Centre, Simon Heard of Bernaville Garden Centre, Shane Matthews from Planters Garden Centre and Alison Marsden from Barton Grange. All of their support has been amazing and is hugely appreciated. “2021 was also the year when we made our Glee debut and I have to say I was extremely nervous, but by the end of the three days we were totally blown away by the friendly approach from so many retailers, a credit to this industry. The show helped us to open a number of new accounts including Klondyke Garden Centre, Choice Marketing (who also had us attend the Choice members’ annual conference and trade show), Perrywood Garden Centre, Camden Garden Centre, as well as Decco. The latter surpassing our expectations significantly and who has been a huge help in raising our profile within this market sector. “Finally, our congratulations and thanks to Peter ButlerJones who wore a pair of our ultralight Explorer Wellingtons to break the World Record at the London Marathon, a tremendous achievement!” Why Leon Boots is the most exciting new name in wellington boots Unlike any other boots on the market today, a display of ultralight Leon Boots will be a hub of comments and exclamations as shoppers try and get their heads round the fact that the boots weigh practically nothing. In fact, they only weigh as much as a couple of apples – or 219g for those wanting a more exact figure. Wellington boots are the mainstay of any garden retailer but for so long the category has remained unchanged, with any new additions so often compromising on style or quality. With the Leon

Boots offering retailers can rest assured that they are offering something that is built to last, looks great and appeals to a wider range of shoppers. Each style benefits from over a decade of expertise within the outdoor footwear sector and is manufactured from award-winning, injection moulded EVA/TRC polymer. This polymer whilst lightweight does not mean a compromise on functionality and is used widely already in premium branded running shoes like Nike, Adidas and Sketchers. Leon Boots Co. proudly boasts a wide range of features which offer longevity for users including being fully insulated working in temperatures as low as minus 30°C, split and crack resistant, 100% waterproof, and featuring a removable and washable sock liner. But it’s not just the boot that is lightweight, the price tag is too. The Garden Ankle Boot is priced at just £34.95, making it both a great impulse buy as well as increasing the product’s gifting potential. This is now our bestselling wellington boot in garden centres and even has an optional free-standing display unit for siting in impulse locations or in front of fixture, driving incremental sales. The Garden Ankle Boot was only introduced into the range June last year and has already proved within the industry to be an amazing addition. Available in pillar box red, navy, sunflower yellow, fuchsia, black and traditional green, Leon Boots’ Garden Ankle Boot is an eye-catching footwear range that stands out on the shop floor. The supporting merchandising display unit also makes it easier than ever for retailers to optimise sales. Taking up just 0.25m2 of floorspace and featuring anywhere from eight to 10 pairs of wellies, all Leon Boots merchandising units come complete with boxed product, meaning they are ready to be located anywhere in the store for complete flexibility and offering great ‘pick up’ potential. In addition to the Garden Ankle Boots, Leon Boots Co. also offers a longer length Explorer (unisex style available in black and green - RRP £49.95), the Montana (ladies’ style available in navy and green - RRP £39.95) and the Otter for children (available in navy, yellow or pink - RRP £19.99). The Leon Boots UK team has ensured that sufficient stock is readily available as the season unfolds. Delivery for all orders can be completed in as little as 2-3 working days and minimum carriage paid orders are as low as 15 mixed styles/sizes across the range, making it possible to add new lines as the demand requires and not worry about overstocking.

To find out more

Retailers interested in stocking the product offering are invited to contact the UK office on 01934 315386 or email or

THE SUMMER OUTDOOR LIVING EXHIBITION Be inspired by new products & ideas 12-14 JULY 2022 Halls 17/18/19 NEC, Birmingham | 02392 258844

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