Autumn plant sales given precedence over Christmas

Haskins chief executive Julian Winfield says he wants to develop autumn plant sales rather than hire a Santa Claus for a grotto.

Haskins: plants most important
Haskins: plants most important

The future Garden Centre Association chairman said: "You have to concentrate on what's important in the business. We do a good Christmas display but the most important part of our business is plants. If we lose that, our customers will view us like any other retailer."

He added that he finds Father Christmas and grottos "a distraction". Christmas sales are dropping and the season demands a "disproportionate" amount of effort to display.

"Santa's a huge effort so that's why we don't do it. If you do it you have to do it properly. It takes up space that you should be using for retailing. Haskins has improved point of sale in bulbs and chrysanthemums."

He added: "The (garden centre) offer has got broader to the customer and inevitably the customer attention now spreads over wider product groups. I don't think we have put less effort into plants but we are putting more effort in this year."

Winfield said Haskins now takes 21 per cent of its turnover in November and December, up from 16 per cent a decade ago.

Turnover pattern - Haskins turnover taken in November/December:

Category Current 10yrs ago

Gifts 12.6% 8.3%
Cafe 21.5% 11.1%
Garden plants 9.1% 13.2%
Sundries 9.3% 10.3%
Houseplants 2.8% 4.6%
Bedding 8.5% 9.5%
Chemicals 2.8% 3.7%
Furniture 7.4% 11.8%

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