Retail garden industry needs to differentiate between small plant-based garden centres and large destination outlets

More differentiation needs to be made between destination outlets and smaller plant-based garden centres, according to Marcus Eyles, managing director at the Garden Store, which has completed a share buy-out.

The Garden Store
The Garden Store

The former Country Gardens senior plant buyer, who has announced the retirement of Garden Store chairman Patrick Pearce and the share buy-in of existing members of the management team, said: "The horticulture press puts a lot of focus on the big stores.

"We have a problem where the words 'garden centre' mean everything from Bridgemere at £15m turnover to a centre turning over £300,000, which is unusual in the retail market. Normally in retail there are different terms - department stores like John Lewis and local stores - whereas with us everything is called a garden centre.

"Our customers see us as a horticulture-based garden centre with qualified staff. Big stores like Dobbies are more to do with a day out than project gardening. We want to differentiate ourselves from that."

Pearce formed the Garden Store with Eyles in 2001. Both had previously worked together at Country Gardens under current Garden Centre Group chief executive Nicholas Marshall.

Eyles said: "He has stopped its demise and I wish him well. It was quite a challenge going from 39 centres at Country Gardens to 120. He said it is totally different because with very big stores you worry about loos and coach parking whereas at Country Gardens there was lots of £1.5m turnover - very similar to where we aspire to be at the Garden Store."

The Garden Store has six outlets - Billing Garden Store in Northampton, Charlecot Garden Store in Stratford-upon-Avon, Newton Regis Garden Store in Tamworth, Pavilion Garden Store in Wolverhampton, Studley Green Garden Store in High Wycombe and Whilton Locks Garden Store in Daventry.

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