GTN July 2021 - Garden Trade News, UK

Page 10

Interview

Marshall is back… again! If you were starting a new garden centre venture right now, would you be bold enough to only curate a range of garden and home products that are made in the UK and or have a sustainable story, only sell peat-free composts and only stock plants grown in peat-free media with not a black plastic pot in sight? Nicholas Marshall and his team at the newly formed Country House Group have done just that, starting with a plant and home centre at Windlesham, and with aspirations to open many more new plant centres at stately homes across the country over the coming years… In this article, GTN catches up with Nicholas and his team to hear about this venture and what makes it so different from anything they have tackled before.

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indlesham Plant and Home Centre, part of the Lavershot Barns complex, is a location that means a lot to Nicholas Marshall. It was once the HQ for his Country Gardens group – his office is now a kitchen showroom! There is also a pinetum on-site, reputedly planted by his great, great grandfather, the plantsman, Joseph Hooker. Most recently the site was better known as Windlesham Garden Centre, a former Wyevale site. Now the Country House Group, which Nicholas heads up as CEO, has taken out a lease on the centre to create a different sort of garden centre experience. So, what has made Nicholas return to the garden

10 July 2021

centre industry when he could have easily and gracefully retired? “You couldn’t keep me away”, he professed. He continues, “I love the garden centre industry and I loved Country Gardens where we first started. All the people that helped make Country Gardens, are still with me and we decided that we wanted to go back to our roots and do another Country Gardens. Only this time we wanted to choose where we wanted to be. We thought ‘do we want to be in a retail park?’ The answer was no. We would much rather be in a country setting, in, for example, a large country house. A place where people, the customers, would immediately recognise

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