Tim Mason, formerly of Hillier, but now running his own consultancy, Seapop, helped Paul Richards, who sold four garden centres from his Golden Acres Group to Wyevale in December 2014, design and build phase two of the former Badger Nurseries from January 2016.
After opening phase two of the development of Mappleborough Green Garden on the three acre site in June, sales have soared, with catering reaching 23 per cent of turnover, which is now at least treble what it was, and could reach £2m in its first full year. This means catering could soon become more turnover than the old Badger Nurseries was doing by itself.
Richards is now seeking more centres within 150 minutes drive of his Bournemouth base. He hopes to run a five centre group and will consider rundown and greenfield sites.
He said: "The coffee shop has been the most important thing to drive the centre." He said his philosophy of "build it and they will come" had been borne out by the centre taking off so quickly. There are also indoor and outdoor play areas, two new concessions (Klass and Brantano) with a third to come. Richards said the key to growth at the centre, which he kept after selling the Golden Acres centres, was that it had good turnover even without catering, so adding that element would quickly boost footfall and sales.
Golden Acres leased its glasshouses to Dorset Plants in 2014. In November 2014, Golden Acres Cash & Carry was taken over by Richards' daughter, Charlotte Richards. Her company, Plants for Trade continues to serve cash and carry customers from the same site at West Parley in Dorset.
See more in Horticulture Week in August.