Chefs praise garden centre cafes

Top restaurateurs are eager to cash in on the success story of garden centre catering, HW discovered.

TV food experts Oliver Peyton, Mike Robinson and Searcy chief executive Duncan Ackery are all keen to run garden centre cafes.

Ackery said he is charged eight to 25 per cent of turnover to run catering at museums and destinations such as the Tate art galleries.

He added: "I'd love to run garden centre restaurants. Inspired people run garden centres."

He added that Garden Retail Award-winning Petersham Nurseries was not an ideal model for garden centres, despite being widely acknowledged to have the country's best garden centre restaurant.

"Petersham is not necessarily a role model because I don't think it is profitable," Ackery said.

Robinson said: "I can see from my experience at my restaurant Pot Kiln that you can do with a garden centre working with a kitchen garden growing for the restaurant."

But he said Petersham was an "aspiration" for garden centres to aim for. Peyton runs park cafes and said he would jump at the chance of working in garden centre catering.

Horticultural consultant Doug Stewart said garden centres should copy the Whole Foods Market in London and offer catering in each area of the centre to reflect what is being sold there.

Meanwhile, the HTA has found sector growth is still there for the taking in its Garden Centre Catering - More than Tea and Cake report. Business development director Tim Briercliffe said: "This study demonstrates that there is huge potential for garden centre catering to gain a bigger slice of the catering cake by playing to its strengths in terms of offering a venue for meeting and socialising."

REPORT FINDINGS

  • - There were 36 million visits to garden centre cafes a year - up eight per cent since 2005.
  • - This sector is worth £132m - by 24 per cent since 2005.
  • - A third of garden centre visitors said their choice of garden centre had been influenced by the presence of a cafe or restaurant.
  • - One in eight garden centre visitors has visited specifically to use the cafe or restaurant facilities.
  • - Forty per cent said that they always or often go on to buy other products, with 48 per cent saying that they did so occasionally.
  • - There are 700 garden centre cafes/restaurants nationwide.
  • - Thirty per cent of the UK population visit these 700 garden centre food outlets per year.
  • - Average visitor spend is £3.67 - up 15 per cent since 2005.


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