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Little Gardener’s World With 37 locations across the country, Blue Diamond Group is the third biggest garden centre in the UK. Offering a broad range of home, gift and lifestyle product, PPS spoke to children's toy and book buyer Carla Ringer to find out more about the unique shopping environment.


arden centres have long been a popular destination for families, with frazzled parents chasing delighted children down the begonia aisle since time immemorial. More recently, the garden centre industry has capitalised on this family-friendly experience, adding in seasonal events, soft play areas and – crucially – children’s products in the retail area. The Blue Diamond Group grew out of a Guernsey fruit export company which started in 1904 and has

been expanding steadily since then; Carla describes it as ‘a very exciting, growing business to be a part of’. “Working at Blue Diamond is about offering our customers a unique shopping experience within an aspirational environment,” she explains. “Our md, Alan Roper, is a very creative and visionary man and has a very clear picture of how he wants the garden centres to look.”

Below: Apples to Pear’s award winning gift in a tin fits the Blue Diamond offering.

Right: Children’s toy and book buyer Carla Ringer. Above: Each Blue Diamond garden centre has a unique offering.

“We try to offer our customers a day out for all the family,” Carla says, “with restaurants and play areas or dedicated children’s spaces in the cafes in some locations. You could easily get lost in one of our centres for a whole day!” Carla has been working as a retail buyer for many years, with a number of high-profile names on her CV, including Harrods, Laura Ashley and, most recently, Toys R Us. “At Toys R Us, my focus was on licences and keeping on top of current trends – at Blue Diamond we are all about offering something that is completely different to the high street. We are proud to


“We have a lot of wooden and craft-based toys, so by its very nature, the type of product we stock generally falls into this category already – but yes, it’s very important,” states Carla. “To a certain extent, we are governed by our suppliers, but they are all taking the issue on board and reacting positively and proactively – for example, Keycraft plush is moving to using eco-friendly materials for stuffing. We welcome this move as we aim to carry sustainble product as much as possible.” PROGRES SIV E P R E S C H O O L

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Profile for Max Media Group

Progressive Preschool March/April 2020  

Progressive Preschool March/April 2020