Garden Centre Group plans innovation to boost customer experience

This year has been "one of the most difficult for garden centres", according to Garden Centre Group (GCG) chief executive Nicholas Marshall.

But he said he will keep faith with his plant-focused philosophy while introducing a series of innovations to improve customer experience at the group's 120 centres.

Marshall said: "We haven't got a short-term policy. It's not this year plants and next year rubbish gifts. It's a long-term strategy. We've sold more plants this year than last, which is quite surprising given the hard spring."

GCG's innovations include revamped and new pizza/pasta restaurants. Garden and pizza-pasta menus are in most centres, while dedicated Pizza Express-style menus are seeking a new customer profile at Heighley Gate, Old Barn and Bridgemere (opening in January 2011).

Marshall added: "Cooking rather than microwaving attracts better staff. Let's get cooking as opposed to buying in and heating up."

Many restaurants have soft play areas attached. Marshall said his new e-learning scheme (HW, 25 June) was creating better service while better menus and decor, including new toilets, was bringing in an audience of younger people.

GCG will host an event to celebrate 50 years of Bridgemere Nursery & Garden World on 16 July.

MENU HIGHLIGHTS

  • Frustino and Italian bread, £3.69
  • Scrambled egg and pancetta, £5.99
  • Maccheroni al torchio ragu, £7.49
  • Garganelli del giardino, £7.49
  • Tiramisu, £3.99
  • Tregothnan tea, £1.99
  • Lavazza coffee, £1.60

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