Notcutts refines Christmas plan

Seasonal pop-ups fall out of favour among garden centres but Notcutts builds on previous years.

Bents, Webbs and Garden & Leisure garden centres have decided against opening Christmas pop-ups this season, but Notcutts chief executive Andy King has said seasonal shopping centre outlets can still make money with the right approach.

In 2010 and 2011, Bents had a Christmas shop at Liverpool One. Webbs, which started the trend, had shops in Gloucester and Merry Hill in 2011. Garden & Leisure had pop-ups in Yeovil and Bristol Galleries. But none of the garden centres will carry one this year.

In Christmas 2010, Notcutts was in Bluewater and Milton Keynes and in 2011 in Chapelfield Norwich and the Harlequin Watford. In 2012, Notcutts is in Watford and Cambridge Grafton.

King said analysis of the past two years means Notcutts has the Christmas plan fine-tuned. "We've learnt exactly what sells and what doesn't from the past two years. We have wage ratio down to a low level, with still good service but at a profitable level. It's about keeping costs down.

"Premium is important. A lot of Christmas pop-ups are very cheap fit-outs and look like gift counters. We try to replicate what we do in the garden centre. We have no problem getting into Bluewater and premium centres in a way some other pop-up shops would not be able to because they are not compatible with the centre."

King added that he is looking for more outlets. "They have been really successful. We are going in a little later this year, at the end of October. We know the profit per day so we're closing down at the end of Christmas Eve as there's no point carrying on in January. We know the range we can sell and there's still opportunities coming up with fantastic deals available with landlords."

Bents representative Anna Ellam said: "Bents isn't doing an additional shop this year, primarily because it couldn't find the right location. Rather than compromise, it was decided to focus all efforts on the Christmas experience at the main Bents store and the online shopping experience."

At Garden & Leisure, there will be ice rinks at Cadbury and Huntingdon.

Pop-ups Key advice

Advice on retail pop-ups from Hitachi Consulting retail director Chris Gates includes:

- New destinations for click-and-collect services.

- Include internet ordering kiosks.

- Ensure that you have frequent deliveries and some experienced members of staff.

- Check your aim - brand awareness, revenue, profit or connecting with new customers?


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