Multiple Garden Retailer of the Year - Winner: Hillier

Hillier has had an incredibly successful 12 months. The family-run business employs more than 500 people across its wholesale nursery, tree and garden centre divisions, and grows two million plants a year.

Multiple Garden Retailer of the Year - Winner: Hillier
Multiple Garden Retailer of the Year - Winner: Hillier

At its heart are the 12 garden centres, which have seen significant developments.

One of the biggest was when Hillier opened its first farm shop in Horsham. A major aim was to help the local economy by working with local producers while reducing food miles and Hillier's carbon footprint. Recent additions include a fishmonger and butcher as well as a fresh fruit and vegetables offering.

Expanding the offering in existing centres has also been a priority. The Mulberry & Thyme restaurant has opened at the Newbury centre, which previously had a very basic food concession. Hillier appointed a head of restaurants and a development chef to set up the restaurant, with plans to roll out this best practice model across the group. Mulberry & Thyme opened in February 2016 and sales in the centre grew by 27% as a direct result.

The garden centre at Sunningdale expanded too, with improved options for domestic customers and a new scheme for trade customers. The planteria was renovated and the shopping area increased by more than 25%. The trade card scheme was introduced as part of Hillier's cash and carry to assist customers wanting to buy in bulk. It launched in April 2016 and offers a 40% discount on nursery stock and bedding plants as well as 25% off landscaping and 20% off everything else. The result has been a 16% increase in turnover.

The Winchester garden centre was completely refitted along with indoor flooring and signage. The planteria was also improved with new benches and the garden centre's entrance was relocated to the planteria, with a window retail display introduced for the shop. Turnover has increased by more than 14% and 170,000 customers have signed up for the Hillier Gardening Club.


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