Garden centre opening on Easter Sunday expects to smash sales records

Paresh Raithatha, who owns Ansell Garden Centre near Heathrow, expects to break all sales records this Easter weekend, despite his centre having completely burnt down at the end of November 2016.

Ansell Garden Centre team
Ansell Garden Centre team
He has carried on trading plants, compost and pots from outside, selling 1/3 of the lines he used to when he had a building.
Raithatha has managed to sell almost as much as he did with much more stock, and he is able to open on Easter Sunday because the law only prevents you opening if you trade from a 300 sqm or bigger building - and he has no buildings now at all, after the fire.
He will be one of the few garden centres that can open, and expects to smash his Easter sales records by opening on three holiday days instead of the two most others in England, Wales and Northern Ireland can.
Ansell Garden Centre has recieved widespread publicity after burning down, and has also taken advantage of sunny spring weather to maintain sales figures, without a cafe or indoor products for sale.
He said: "Sales have been really good. We had a stonking week last week and we're gearing up for a really good one this week as well.
"Last weekend we were 58% up on the same weekend last year and we expect this Easter weekend to smash that and be a record-breaking one.
"I've 120 pallets of compost arriving today and we have Facebook, newspapers and radio campaigns so if people don't know we're here they're going to before long."
"I'll be opening on Easter Sunday but don't actually believe everyone should be able to. It's good we're all on a level playing field and we can take a day out to spend with our families. But this year, we're in a unique position and we've got to do it."
Plans for a rebuilt garden centre go into London Borough of Hillingdon council in the next week.
Industry figures such as Dobbies' Nicholas Marshall have spoken out about how arcane the law is, which allows sex shops to open on Easter Sunday, but not garden centres.
The HTA has decided not to lobby for Easter Sunday trading this year, because of the time dealing with Brexit is taking up.
Guide to Easter Sunday trading from Local Government Association:
What types of shops are affected by the Sunday trading legislation?
Only "large shops" are subject to Sunday Trading restrictions; those whose "relevant floor area" (i.e. the internal floor area in a building used for serving customers or displaying goods) is over 280 sq metres (3,000 sq feet). "Small shops" (i.e. up to 280 sq metres/3,000 sq feet) are free to trade without restriction under either Act. Note: this FAQ does not apply to wholesale premises.
What hours can large shops trade on Sundays?
Any six consecutive hours between 10:00 and 18:00 What time can large shops allow customers into the premises? Can the public enter large shops and browse before (and after) Sunday trading hours begin? The provisions of the Sunday Trading Act relate to trading hours only, and not to the time that the shop doors open and close* to the public. Trading is defined within the Act as "the sale of goods". The shop must not sell goods outside the six hours it is permitted to trade on Sundays, but it can be open to the public for non-trading activities (e.g. browsing, the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises, or made to order for immediate consumption of the premises, etc) outside of those hours without breaking the law. (*NB Planning restrictions may restrict a shop’s opening/closing times, however.)
Do large shops have to notify the local authority of their Sunday trading hours?
No. What is the penalty for breaching the Sunday and Christmas Day legislation? It is an offence for large shops to trade on Easter Sunday, Christmas day or for longer than the permitted hours on any other Sunday. The penalty is up to £50,000 on summary conviction. Can large shops open on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day? Large shops cannot trade on Easter Sunday (Schedule 1, (2) Sunday Trading act 1994) or Christmas Day (Christmas Day Trading Act 2004). Sunday Trading Act 1994 & Christmas Day Trading Act 2004 Note: this advice applies to England and Wales only.
Can large shops open for browsing/events/displays/activities other than selling goods on Easter Sunday?
Yes. All of the above activities fall within the exemptions contained in the Sunday Trading Act. There will only be a breach if goods are sold; opening up the premises will not constitute a breach of the Act if no sales are made. From an enforcement point of view, if complaints are received, then the complainant should be asked whether any goods were sold by the shop.
Cafes/restaurants inside large shops - can large shops sell food and drink outside their official Sunday trading hours?
Yes. A large shop can open its doors to the public to visit its restaurant/café and consume food and drink on the premises (or indeed purchase food prepared to order for immediate consumption off the premises) before and after the time it is selling goods. What about garden centres? Although there have been numerous attempts to persuade the government to relax the Sunday trading restrictions for garden centres, these premises are still classed as large shops whenever their floor space exceeds 280 sq metres, and are treated as any other large shop. If deemed to be a large shop, they must not sell goods on Easter Sunday. As above, however, the premises itself can be open, and the restaurant/café can open, provided that goods are not sold in the garden centre.
Are any large shops exempt from the Sunday trading restrictions?
Yes, a large shop that falls into any of the following categories is exempt from the Sunday Trading Act 1994 and the Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004: • A farm shop selling wholly or mainly produce from that farm. • A shop selling wholly or mainly intoxicating liquor. • A shop selling motor and cycle parts and accessories. • A registered pharmacy, or a shop, which sells only medicinal products, and/or medical and surgical appliances. • A shop in the passenger sections of a designated airport. • A shop in a railway station. • A shop in a service area, as defined by the Highways Act 1980. • A petrol filling station. • A shop supplying vessels and aircraft arriving at, or departing from ports or airports. • A stand at an exhibition used for retail sale.
Are markets and car boot sales affected by the Sunday Trading Act?
No, but they may be restricted by local byelaws and planning restrictions.

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