Increased family appeal raises income at centres

Appealing to families has increased income at garden centres, with soft play centres raising income, footfall and money for charity.

At the recent HTA marketing conference, Hillview Group chief executive Boyd Douglas Davies said: "The Soft Play Barn has been a fantastic investment for Hilltop Garden Store. Not only has it achieved its initial aim to attract a younger demographic and increased footfall to the site, it has also benefited the whole store, with Hilltop's sales up by 29.8 per cent this year."

Prior to Hillview Garden Centre's acquisition in 2012, Hilltop was known locally for its plant and gardening products, with little appeal to families. After the Soft Play Barn opened in October 2014, 26,123 children have been charged to play, with 1,035 attending birthday parties. Some £197,210 has been spent by customers in the barn, with £13,000 raised for the Greenfingers charity and total site sales up 29.8 per cent year on year. Set-up costs were about £40,000.

Hillview located the rustic-themed Soft Play Barn away from the existing catering offer in a previously quiet area so as to not alienate the existing customer base and to develop a pizza restaurant offer at the play barn. Entry is £2.50 for Seasons Reward Card members and £3.50 otherwise, which increased loyalty card membership from six per cent growth to 27 per cent, month on month. Greenfingers is donated 50p from each entry.

The centre is now running more children's events, such as Breakfast with Santa, and has extended its range of children's toys, books and clothing, introduced a food shop and expanded a home and leisure offering. There is also now a woodland walk and party packages with Ramsden Rare Breeds Farm. Hilltop sponsors a local under-9s football club and offers "Pizza 'n' Play" as well as summer specials. The Soft Play Barn operates daily, with 1.5 members of staff per day.

Soft play - Facilities raise cash for charities as well as footfall
Wyevale Garden Centres now has more than 50 soft play facilities across its stores. It charges a fee of £1.50 from which 25p goes to the Marie Curie charity and 25p goes to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Pots and containers

Pots and containers

Superior propagation products can justify extra expenditure by providing precise cell fill, optimum root development and healthy plugs, writes Sally Drury.

Business Planning - Inflationary pressures

Business Planning - Inflationary pressures

How can horticulture businesses respond to Brexit-fuelled inflation? Neville Stein outlines the options.

Garden centre profile: Mappleborough Green Garden Centre

Garden centre profile: Mappleborough Green Garden Centre

Phase two of the redevelopment of the former Badger Nurseries has delivered rapid and impressive results, Matthew Appleby discovers.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Garden retail Top 100 GARDEN CENTRES

Our exclusive ranking of garden centre performance by annual turnover. NEW: 2016 listing just published

Garden Centre Prices

GARDEN CENTRE PRICES w/e 21 September 2016
GARDEN CENTRE PRICES w/e 24 August 2016

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here