£15m centre to open this week

Barton Grange's new £15m garden centre is scheduled to open this weekend.

It is about eight years since managing director Guy Topping decided to develop a garden centre and 80-berth marina. Topping has spent six days a week for the past year working on the new store, which features a retractable roof over the 400sq m planteria, similar to Bents' Open Skies building. Also included are a large farm shop, restaurants and a garden park in addition to the marina. A hotel is also planned.

Topping said: "If you're a destination centre it's vital to have a good range of offerings. There's only so far you can go with the traditional garden centre ranges."

He believes it will become harder for "run of the mill" centres to do well although those that focused on what they do would continue to succeed.

Topping hopes developing a food offer through the farm shop will lead to increased footfall as customers return more regularly than they would for the garden centre. "We've sourced local meat, cheese and bakers to show the character of the area. Our location in Lancashire is good for that. But quality is even more important than being local."

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