Differentiate to get ahead

Six or seven years ago, no garden retail conference would be complete without the presentation of the latest market-share trends data with the threat to the independent garden centre sector from the sheds highlighted prominently.

In the intervening years, circumstances changed, and the threat failed to materialise. Instead, the garden centre sector (albeit not all individual garden centres) broadly held onto its share of the overall garden market.

The key was differentiation. Above all, from the garden centre side, the well rehearsed benefits that go with being specialists rather than generalists - from higher-value/quality lines to a more local and personal approach. From the sheds, the unrivalled ability to compete on price.

There was also an understanding among customers of the different purposes served by both kinds of outlets, something that was confirmed in the latest HTA-funded Shine research, which found that even younger and less knowledgeable garden buyers understood the specialist appeal of independent garden centres.

Into a new year and the market-share challenge facing independents may be coming from a different quarter, but the solution remains the same. This week, Blue Diamond managing director Alan Roper talks of the "bomb ticking for the sector" from an expansion hungry Dobbies with the buying power of Tesco.

Roper's answer is to exclusively target the ABC1 demographic - it's how Waitrose survives, he points out - while working hard to find unique product lines and new concepts to offer its customer base, the latest being a switch to tea rooms from the now ubiquitous coffee shop. In other words, differentiation.

KATE LOWE, EDITOR - kate.lowe@haymarket.com

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Garden centre building: what's going up?

Garden centre building: what's going up?

After a lull in new builds, 2018 could see a slight resurgence in garden centres being erected.

Retail seed: crowded market for 2018

Retail seed: crowded market for 2018

Thompson & Morgan is refocusing on the garden centre seed market, hoping to win back business from Mr Fothergill's, which has expanded during T&M's long sale process.

Climbing roses

Climbing roses

Walls, trellises, pergolas and even trees can all be brightened up by these beautiful blooms, writes Miranda Kimberley.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 100 GARDEN CENTRES

Our exclusive ranking of garden centre performance by annual turnover. 

Garden Centre Prices

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles

Neville Stein

Business advice from Neville Stein, MD of business consultancy Ovation

Read latest articles