In 2004, Coolings bought a second garden centre just over a mile from its existing successful retail nursery business. The main aims were to take out a competitor - Wyevale - and to broaden the product range that Coolings could offer.
The aim was to create something new and different so that the finished article would complement rather than compete with the main business down the road. An enlarged catering offer would also help ease the pressure on the hugely successful Arthurs coffee shop on the main site.
Structural engineer Fordingbridge was very enthusiastic in its approach and its can-do attitude persisted despite the initial ideas being altered to meet the needs of the planners.
The main objectives were to:
- Develop an environmentally and ecologically friendly building, incorporating energy-saving features to help Coolings become a more energy self-sufficient business
- Create a natural, pleasant and inspirational place for visitors and to provide the best customer experience
- Develop and enhance the nature trail and surrounding area to support local wildlife
- Increase environmental awareness among visitors and educate them of its importance
Consultant Paul Pleydell of Pleydell Smithyman guided Coolings through the design details and construction process. Hodges was the main contractor.
Foundations were dug in August 2008 and construction time was limited to eight months so the site could continue trading throughout.
The new centre incorporated environmentally friendly features.
The doors opened on 15 March and footfall has increased 40 per cent, catering is 50 per cent up and the main site had not suffered any loss of business and is 10 per cent up this year.
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