Notcutts to roll out show gardens as sales beat budgets

Notcutts Garden Centres' is to roll out display gardens across all 18 stores as sales beat projections by double digits.

Notcuts chairman Nicky Dulieu said the £45m repositioning of the group to put plants at the centre of the offer was "on track".

The investment includes a £3.6m revamp of the Norwich centre, as well as renewed restaurants across the estate and an overall focus on showcasing the company's horticulture expertise.

Dulieu said: "It's the first of 18 we want to do across the whole business to help set us apart and give us something special to customers when they come to visit the garden centre.

"The strategy is kicking in and we're very pleased how we've done so far. The show gardens are now really cementing the fact we want to be seen as experts in the industry."

The garden includes 700 plants across 60 varieties and includes four areas , the Retreat tranquil spot, the shady garden including ericaecous plants,  seasonal colour section, and the Table culinary plants feature. Notcutts designed the garden in-house and it took three weeks to build. Plants included are Hydrangea ;Annabelle', Festuca 'Intense Blue', pleached limes, hostas, azaleas, heucheras and dicksonia among others. Norwich manager Richard Greenacre said the garden aims to celebrate and inspire.

Show gardens at garden centres have long been features at some garden centres, with New Hopetoun using them to inspire customers and Scotsdale having gardens using specialist landscape suppliers to showcase their products.

Meanwhile, Notcutts is completing revamps at Staines and Woodford Park and extending Woodford Park's restaurant in the spring.

All other garden centres are planned to be revamped over the next four years.

The next garden centres to get show gardens are at Wheatcroft, Staines And Tunbridge Wells, all later this year. Wheatcroft's garden opens in June, designed by Notcutts’ Head of Visual Merchandising, Marco de Jongh; Plant Buyer, Stuart Andrews; and Dulieu.

On 2017 sales, she said: "Gardening has led the way because it kicked in so early. We've also been very good on garden fiurnuiture, and restaurants, particularly those that have been developed, are performing strongly."

She added that cold and dry weather had reduced sales in the last week and a half, which have "not been quite as strong as at the start of the season" but that she was "not concerned at all" by the lack of rain.

Dulieu said because weeds are not growing and slugs were low in numbers, "some of those products are not selling as well [as expected]."

She said on Brexit and the subsequent weakening of the pound: "We have had to look more carefully at furniture and Christmas and try and achieve more product differentiation to help customers if there are any price changes."

Meanwhile, Notcutts, Creative Gardens and Primrose have been named in a list of top 1,000 London Stock Exchange Group 'companies to inspire'.

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