Winfield details Haskins' future plans

Haskins chief executive Julian Winfield spoke at the recent GIMA conference, held at the Haskins Roundstone branch, about the four-garden centre group's outlook.

Julian Winfield
Julian Winfield

Winfield said Haskins has a £30m turnover and has "no intention" of selling up. It has a plan for six purpose-built centres within three hours of Bournemouth in middle-class areas, including to redevelop its Snow Hill site.

He said the business included retail, catering and property elements but that planning was a big issue. Key buyers were Conna Powles and for plants, Colin Brickell.

Winfield said Haskins aimed to gain Investors in People silver status in 2016 which he hoped might become gold, and described his management style as more of corset than a straitjacket.

He said core gardening was down 4 per cent since 2004/05 but that non-gardening had risen 36 per cent. This includes plants were down 12 per cent and bulbs and houseplants both falling 30 per cent. Garden furniture was down 11 per cent and pets down 85 per cent.

But gifts were up 92 per cent, food +300 per cent, clothing +141 per cent, Xmas +63 per cent and sales were 25 per cent up overall.

He said Haskins sold 1.2m hot drinks year and had a Costa-influenced barista of the year prize. Costa is coffee supplier. Haskins has 35 chefs.

Winfield said marketing was mainly via word-of-mouth and he said he was against entering the e-commerce market.

Transaction numbers are flat, with restaurant up, and garden centre down but that the "lipstick economy" and ageing population spelled a bright future for garden centres.

Buying director Conna Powles showed delegates inside the mind of a buyer. She said: "If you're pencil isn't sharp enough we'll go somewhere else," but said there were other factors in play too. Powles said catalogues were better for her than online, presentation needed to move quickly to the product benefits for Haskins, suppliers needed to know their bestsellers and to send complete orders together. She wants suppliers to spread risk with sale or return and mark down contributions and for them to tell her about legislation issues. She said: "Don't sell to us - make it easy to help us buy."

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