Factors behind divestments

The number of leading garden centre operations that continue to grow their own plants (to a greater or lesser degree) has been in steady decline for many years thanks to a variety of factors - and the reasons behind the latest wave of divestments are no different.

For some, it's been entirely about wider economic factors with rising input costs and downward price pressure on plants. For others, a fundamental shift in core business activity away from growing to retail.

For others again, it's about the challenges of managing two utterly different businesses successfully and an understandable desire for greater strategic focus. For others still, it's been about the desire to diversify into new business areas, without constraints.

But for the still sizeable minority of leading garden centres that do continue to grow their own plants, the answer to the questions of whether or not to continue doing so must also hinge on two additional factors - firstly, where the core skill set of the contemporary operation lies, and secondly, what its customers truly value about the business.

As Barton Grange managing director Guy Topping notes, the operation's focus is already on areas of the business other than growing - and its plans to expand its offering into the wider leisure sector play to existing skill sets.

For Perrywood Nurseries, meanwhile, for whom home-grown plants remain at the core of the offer, to remove growing facilities would take away a crucial part of what their customers perceive as their value.

As owner Alan Bourne says: "It's our grass roots and where we started, and we're still increasing the turnover on plants. I hope that will always carry on."


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