Garden centre annual catering sales exceed £200m says trade body as department is ranked highest for many outlets

Half of garden centres offer a cafe or restaurant and they account for almost a fifth of turnover.

Perrywood Garden Centre: coffee shop now extended to 240 covers
Perrywood Garden Centre: coffee shop now extended to 240 covers

Garden centre catering sales have risen by more than 50 per cent over the past six years, with catering now ranking as the biggest department for many retailers.

In 2007-08, 40 per cent of garden centres provided catering and the annual spend in restaurants and cafes was about £130m, according to the HTA.

By 2014, on average between 15 and 20 per cent of garden centres' annual turnover came from catering. More than 50 per cent of centres provide catering and the annual turnover in their cafes and restaurants is £200m.

On average, catering now accounts for 18.6 per cent of Garden Centre Association members' sales. Turnover was up 7.1 per cent in July and 4.4 per cent year to date. In 2013, catering rose 4.3 per cent, compared with an overall garden centre sales rise of 3.7 per cent. Catering was eight per cent up in 2012 on 2011, while overall sales fell.

Ken Cox, a director at Garden Retail Award-winner Glendoick, said despite the rise in sales many garden centres are not profitable on catering. "All of the larger garden centres provide catering, so I would say 70-80 per cent of the market will have catering - maybe 90 per cent. I don't think many centres without it will survive. People are buying plants only from March-June these days."

Perrywood Garden Centre owner Alan Bourne said: "We started 15 years ago with 70 covers. Then it was 100, 160 and now 240 with the latest extension. We said we would never have a cafe, but we now know it is key to the whole business. We felt that we were good enough with our plants not to have one. But with customer comments we realised it was necessary and it is now 16 per cent of our business. From 1.30-2.30pm, our tills are swamped once people have had their meal."

Consultant Neville Stein said: "Catering is a significant revenue stream for garden centres. Many report that more than 20 per cent of their sales come from the cafe/restaurant. So it is important to measure the numbers.

"Implementing key performance indicators such as gross profit, wages to sales, sales per cover, average spend and wastage is key if the catering offer is to be profitable - and profitability must be driven harder as catering accounts for such a large slice of turnover.

"It also means that garden centre owners, who traditionally see themselves as horticulturists, might have to learn more about catering so that they can measure and monitor the performance of any catering professionals that they employ.

"It costs a lot to set up a garden centre cafe, yet they seem to be fully utilised only between 11am and 3pm. So there is a good opportunity to extend sales outside that period and perhaps even consider evening opening if planning permission allows or it is easy to do so without keeping the rest of the centre open."

Glee Catering zone

The catering zone at Glee (NEC Birmingham, 14-16 September) will feature speeches on seasonal events and marketing strategies to attract customers year round, how garden centres can win the coffee shop "wars", attracting younger customers, supply chain efficiency and more. Speakers will include the Garden Centre Association and Merryhatton Garden Centre owner Helen MacDonald.


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

What new vegetables will gardeners be growing in 2018?

What new vegetables will gardeners be growing in 2018?

Next year is Fleuroselect year of the chilli pepper and Thompson & Morgan and Mr Fothergill's have ranges around the hot vegetable, with a new way of promoting sales.

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.


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