Van Hage centre at Peterborough Garden Park to be blueprint for the future

New-build garden centres always suffer badly after opening, Van Hage retail director Martin Taylor has claimed.

But he said he aims to make sure that the centre at Garden Park Investments' (GPI) £25m Peterborough Garden Park will not follow this trend.

"Our challenge is to see how good it looks in a year's time," said Taylor. "There have been some really good garden centres opened in the past 10 years and not one I've gone back to after a year has not looked like it's suffering a bit."

He added that he hopes for an £8m turnover rising to £10m and wants the centre to be a blueprint for future Van Hages. Taylor said the centre's catering was outperforming the long-established Van Hage main centre at Great Amwell, Hertfordshire, and had done better than its sister store overall on three days.

"If it works here we'll use it as a blueprint for the future," said Taylor. "We'll seek to replicate it at Great Amwell and maybe other locations. It's easier with a blank sheet of paper than an old established centre. We'll remodel in two or three years if this is wrong."

Peterborough, the second avenue-style garden centre after Bicester, anchored by the Garden Centre Group, had a £3.6m fit-out, with overall opening costs of £5.5m.

Turner added that he needs a large turnover to pay GPI's rent and all other costs. "This has the potential to exceed Great Amwell. It's a similar model to Bicester - we'll learn from Bicester's mistakes."

The HPW-designed interior was fitted out by Barnwood Shopfitting. Stagecraft supplied the benching.

Among the retailers on the park's avenue are Hobbycraft, Cotswold, Hawkins Bazaar, Le Creuset, Maidenhead Aquatics, Pets Corner, Past Times, Publishers Book Clearance and Andronicas cafe.

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