Garden Centre Outlet of the Year: turnover under £2m

Winner: Timmermans Garden Centre

Timmermans Garden Centre's core values focus on creating the best customer experience, championing a reputation of horticultural integrity through authoritative plant retailing and successfully rising to the challenges presented by changing consumer habits and the ever-evolving garden retail landscape.

This year, the Nottingham centre has strengthened its management structure, reorganised the internal shop layout, introduced more aspirational visual merchandising and used newly implemented electronic point-of-sale (EPOS) data to increase growth in underperforming departments. As a result, it is celebrating another record year.

After the implementation of EPOS in 2014, one of Timmermans' main aims has been to use the data to further streamline the growth of its business, identify underperforming departments, target those with growth potential and put in place changes to boost sales while maintaining or improving margins. The four main departments targeted for growth were gifts, outdoor living, houseplants and Christmas.

Timmermans reorganised the internal shop to provide better visual merchandising opportunities, expanded the giftware ranges, changed the displays and ranges on a more regular basis and bought small and often from suppliers to keep the giftware department fresh. It introduced a discounting strategy on high-end giftware from Emma Bridgwater that has increased homeware sales above expectations.

The centre changed garden furniture suppliers away from branded items to a supplier that does not supply internet retailers and was able to supply mixed containers of a broad range of high-quality product. Timmermans increased its range of benches, companion sets and bistro sets. The barbecue range was streamlined to a smaller number of models, all of which were price checked on a weekly basis. Timmermans also expanded its garden lighting ranges.

Houseplants was a department it was keen to turn around. It changed to a supplier with a better breadth of variety, consistency of supply and at lower prices than previously. As a result, the department has enjoyed a phenomenal increase over the period.

In 2014, Timmermans undertook its first large-scale, walk-though Christmas grotto, although sales growth in plant sales remains its first priority. The Timmermans family has grown roses commercially since 1882, so it has a long-standing horticultural heritage to uphold.

Its main hardy planteria was fully redeveloped in 2014 to enhance the plant-buying experience by replacing the tired old brick-built beds with attractive bespoke rustic wooden bench-style beds that show plants off to their very best.

Timmermans' catering emphasis is on great home cooking, prepared from scratch using local food producers. In 2015 it aimed to increase growth on high-margin foods and increase average spend. It achieved this by promoting and upselling high-margin homemade cakes and desserts through better ambient display, a new refrigerated patisserie display and an expanded cake range.

The business aims to give its customers the highest levels of service from start to finish, from greeting everyone with a friendly "hello" through to assisting them with lifting heavy items into their cars - seen as a really positive final point of contact with the customer.

Timmermans differentiates itself from its competitors in the way it looks through contemporary rustic styling and by actively seeking out unusual products. The company pioneered the street food trend within the garden centre environment with its 1961 Routemaster bus that was converted into a catering operation in addition to the main restaurant.

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Award sponsor

Bosmere has been manufacturing and supplying a diverse range of innovative products to the garden and leisure industry for more than 35 years. The company offers an extensive range of covers and garden products suitable for both professionals and the amateur gardener.

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