Garden Retail Awards 2009: The best in the garden industry

Your guide to this year's Garden Retail Awards winners.

Full details will be published in Garden Retail on 20 November.

 

BEST THEMED PROMOTION

WINNER Burleydam Garden Centre - The Good Life Garden

Inspired by BBC series The Good Life, Burleydam's Garden Retail Award-winning themed display aimed to show how customers could grow their own food in a small area.

The garden centre hoped to help customers by showing them how it is done - and also to drive more sales.

Total vegetable plant sales were up by 85 per cent as a result. Raised beds became a product that everyone wanted, leading Burleydam to review a lot more styles, sizes and materials.

Produce from the garden goes into the Orchard Cafe's kitchen. Nothing is wasted and it reduces the food bill.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Burcot Garden Centre

Alton Garden Centre

FINALISTS

Gordale Nurseries

Homebase

Langlands Garden Centre

 

MOST SUCCESSFUL NEW PRODUCT

WINNER The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company - Miracle-Gro Singles

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company has won the Most Successful New Product Award at the Garden Retail Awards with Miracle-Gro Singles, aimed at the gardener who wants a convenience plant food.

Scotts designed the new product to provide retailers with an impulse purchase item with high-gloss, appealing packaging that could be sold at a reasonable price and that would increase the retailers' profitability of new Miracle-Gro Plant Food sales.

The company marketed the product as part of "It's Gro Time", with 50,000 leaflets providing a 50p-off voucher. Scotts erected 250 display stands in garden centres.

FINALISTS

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company - Miracle-Gro Organic Choice

Vital Earth - peat-free John Innes eqivalents

Garden Innovations - The Grow Tube

 

MOST SUCCESSFUL NEW PLANT

WINNER John Woods Nurseries - Cornus Venus

Cornus Venus, a striking new hybrid of C. nuttallii and C. kousa var. chinensis, has won the Best New Plant award at the Garden Retail Awards 2009.

Venus has long, cream-white bracts with a diameter of up to 15cm covering the plant in May once established. In autumn, the glossy green leaves take on shades of yellow, orange and violet.

A PR campaign in spring 2009 raised consumer awareness, promoted stockists and drove sales. John Woods launched the plant at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show within Capel Manor College's garden. The company is placing the plant in prestigious gardens UK-wide to raise consumer awareness. There have already been 1,750 plants sold.

 

BEST BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: NEW BUILD, REFIT OR LAUNCH

WINNER Coolings Green & Pleasant

Coolings Green & Pleasant took the Best Business Development award for the Kent garden centre's new build of a former Wyevale outlet.

Structural engineer Fordingbridge, consultant Paul Pleydell of Pleydell Smithyman and contractor Hodges put together Coolings' chairman Paul Cooling's vision for an environmentally and ecologically friendly building, incorporating energy-saving features to help Coolings become a more energy self-sufficient business.

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.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Holme for Gardens - The Orchard Tea Rooms

Golden Acres Nurseries - John Browns Garden Centre

FINALISTS

Dobbies, Shepton Mallet

Gordale Nurseries coffee shop

Hillier Garden Centre, Sunningdale

 

BEST CONCESSION

WINNER First Class Hair, John Browns Garden Centre (Golden Acres)

First Class Hair at Golden Acres Nurseries' John Browns Garden Centre has won the Best Concession award at the Garden Retail Awards.

An unusual outlet to find at a garden centre, First Class Hair opened in December 2008 in a 5m x 5m space within the main walkway up to the entrance of the garden centre.

The salon, owned by Julie Leary, has four cutting chairs, two specialist shampoo basins and waiting space.

The concession is showing a healthy profit and has seen a 300 per cent boost in business, with additional income from renting chairs to other stylists.

 

BEST CATERING FACILITIES

WINNER Langlands Garden Centre

Langlands Garden Centre won the Best Catering Facilities award for its local-produce-only menu and fresh-baked goods ethos.

The York-based garden centre says the main reason that its catering offer is special is because of its uniqueness in providing 100 per cent locally produced ingredients, cooked from scratch in its kitchens.

Combined food turnover is £1.2m and Langlands has spent 350,000 in the past year on new catering equipment so the kitchens now have 13 commercial ovens. It now employs 47 catering staff and its coffee shop and cafe bar turns over more than £850,000 a year, with the farm shop turning over more than £350,000. Combined staff and food costs are 57 per cent.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Whitehall Garden Centre

FINALISTS

Grosvenor Garden Centre

Mayshade Garden Centre

Woodcote Green Garden Centre & Nurseries

Golden Acres Nurseries

 

BEST PLANTERIA

WINNER Planters Garden Centre

Planters Garden Centre has won the Best Planteria award after the Midlands centre changed the way it stocked plants to a month-by-month and table-by-table system.

Planters decided to reduce its pre-season reserves by 60 per cent on the previous year so when it rained it did not have to take stock in at all.

To increase stock turn in promotional areas of the planteria, Planters developed a special relationship with local nursery Pacific Nurseries.

Between January and June 2009 the planteria wastage figure dropped by 19 per cent - £5,293.62. This has been achieved by little-and-often ordering from local suppliers, allowing stock turn to increase as required stock holding has dropped.

During the same period, planteria sales figures were up by 10 per cent - £48,124.75 - and the margin figure achieved was 52.2 per cent. Planters also purchased 99 per cent of plant stock from British nurseries.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Glendoick Garden Centre

FINALISTS

Whitehall Garden Centre

Palmers Garden Centre

 

BEST PETS OR AQUATICS DEPARTMENT

WINNER Planters Garden Centre

Planters' pet centre's "crazy, quirky and welcoming environment" has helped the department win the Best Pet or Aquatics Department award at the Garden Retail Awards 2009.

Around 80 per cent of customers visit weekly for bird, reptile and small animal supplies as well as sundries for cats, dogs and now chickens.

Planters has a strict animal welfare policy and high standards of animal care. It repeatedly receives feedback from customers on the high standards and how nice it is to see animals that are so well cared for.

The pet centre has worked hard on product innovation and on developing advice for customers.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Huntingdon Garden & Leisure

FINALIST

Dobbies, Atherstone

 

BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE

WINNER Whitehall Garden Centre

Whitehall Garden Centre's heritage has helped the Wiltshire-based family business win the best customer service award. Three generations of the family work in the £7m-annual-turnover centre, including 101-year-old Phyllis Self, who received an MBE and the Garden Retail Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2008.

The staff "aim to go that extra mile for the customer" and have knowledge of their customer base along with the products and plants the centre sells.

Customer care is headed by Phyllis Self. Ninety per cent of customers say interaction with staff had been an overriding reason for a return visit, according to a 2008 survey.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Sidmouth Garden Centre

FINALISTS

Tendercare Nurseries

Scotsdales Garden Centre

Woodcote Green Garden Centre & Nurseries

Endsleigh Garden & Leisure


RETAIL OUTLET OF THE YEAR - UNDER POUNDS 3M TURNOVER

WINNER Glendoick Garden Centre

Glendoick Garden Centre in Perth, Scotland, has won the award for best retail outlet with a turnover under £3m at the Garden Retail Awards 2009.

The award comes at the end of a three-year period of self-funded investment and expansion at the centre.

Glendoick has redesigned the shop and planterias, extended and upgraded the restaurant and installed an EPoS system from G7.

The restaurant, run by Jane Cox, now turns over £500,000 a year and the garden centre overall £1.88m, with £176,000 profit in 2008, a steady increase over the past four years.

Plants account for 55 per cent of the centre's sales.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Golden Acres Nurseries - John Browns Garden Centre

Sidmouth Garden Centre

FINALISTS

The Boma Garden Centre

Palmers Garden Centre

 

RETAIL OUTLET OF THE YEAR - OVER £3 MILLION TURNOVER

WINNER Scotsdales Garden Centre

Scotsdales' main goal has been to offer gardeners in Cambridge and the surrounding 30-mile area a totally professional retail gardening experience.

The challenge for Scotsdales was to make sure that, in a period of recession, the centre should attract new customers and increase the number of visits from existing customers.

It developed a strong marketing plan using its existing methods of marketing and adding TV advertising.

Core gardening represents 75 per cent of turnover and gives Scotsdales a point of difference from high-street retailers.

Scotsdales managing director Caroline Owen is the new president of the Horticultural Trades Association and will represent the industry nationwide.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Whitehall Garden Centre

FINALISTS

Gordale Nurseries

Grosvenor Garden Centre

Woodcote Green Garden Centre & Nurseries

Huntington Garden & Leisure

 

BEST ONLINE RETAILER

WINNER Whitehall Garden Centre

IT manager Adam Simpkins built Whitehall's mail-order website, beginning in 2006.

Online retail objectives for 2008/09 include contributing to overall garden centre sales by 10 per cent, offering shoppers countrywide the chance to buy the products and plants Whitehall stocks via the online shopping pages, extending the Whitehall experience online so people can buy from the comfort of their own homes and meeting customer demand. Enhancing and building on the garden centre's award-winning static website and creating a service for customers who are at work during the garden centre's opening hours and are time poor, immobile or live 35 miles or more away were also key objectives.

Solutions were to build a self-maintaining programme that links to the garden centre's EPoS system so products load onto the website automatically.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

The Internet Gardener

FINALIST

Shackletons Garden & Lifestyle Centre

 

BEST ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

WINNER Garden & Leisure Group

The Garden & Leisure Group volunteered to take part in a pilot scheme for HTA members to develop and test an environmental management support package. The project was funded by Defra using Landfill Tax revenue and managed by environmental consultancy White Young Green working in close partnership with the HTA.

The group reviewed the legal aspects, duty of care, customer expectations, taxes and duties, supply chain pressures, sustainability and NGO pressures and identified four aspects to prioritise: electricity (for lighting and power); heating (fuel electric, gas, LPG and oil); water (mains, extracting and harvesting); and waste (removal and recycling).

FINALIST

Vital Earth

 

COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION/TRAINING AWARD

WINNER Garden & Leisure Group

The Garden & Leisure Group has won the Commitment to Education/Training Award for 2009 thanks to the garden centre group's belief that any business is only as good as its people.

The company offers management training, one-day development courses, statutory training - on such subjects as health and safety and the use of forklift trucks - and specialist knowledge of plants, pets and aquatics departments.

Staff are given the incentive of moving to an improved pay scale once they have passed exams, which are a compulsory condition of employment. This is worth an extra £1.15 per hour, which equates to £2,392 per year for a full-time employee.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Hillier Garden Centres

FINALIST

RHS Enterprises

 

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT AWARD

WINNER Gordale Nurseries - Gordale and the Community

Gordale garden centre's vast range of events aimed at the local community has helped it to win the Community Involvement Award at the Garden Retail Awards 2009.

Fortnightly talks on gardening topics, linking with schools for National Tree Week and science lessons, fundraising for charities and sponsoring local sports teams are all part of the reason Gordale won the award.

Burton Manor Adult Learning Centre and Gordale work closely together and are involved in a project to restore two Edwardian steam-heated greenhouses situated at Burton Manor.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Whitehall Garden Centre

FINALIST

The Gardens Group

 

EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR

WINNER Amy Goldsack,

Shoots Garden Centre

Amy Goldsack has risen fast up the ranks at Shoots Garden Centre in the past seven years to reach a level where she has been awarded the Employee of the Year Award at the Garden Retail Awards 2009.

Her first job was as full-time assistant in the cafe, clearing tables. Now, seven years on, she is responsible for running the whole of Shoots Washington Garden Centre as the general manager.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

Sarah Dumont, Fermoys Garden Centre

Karen Jones, Gordale Nurseries

FINALISTS

Bob McQueen, Hillier Garden Centres

Lisa Joyce, Garden & Leisure Group

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

WINNER Sue Allen,

Millbrook Garden Company

Sue Allen, chairman of Millbrook Garden Company, is the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award 2009.

Millbrook was founded 30 years ago and Sue Allen retired as managing director this year. Daughter Tammy Woodhouse has succeeded her as managing director of Millbrook's centres in Crowborough and Gravesend.

The Gravesend centre played host to a retirement/30th anniversary party recently, with 130 industry figures attending.

Former GCA chairman Allen says she will continue to work on the shop floor sometimes because that is what she enjoys. She will also continue to work as president of the International Garden Centres Association, which has 19 member countries and will hold its congress in Japan in 2010.


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