How did you get started in the industry? My father had his own gardening business and my mother and brother both studied at the RHS. I got my first job in a garden centre aged 16, where I enjoyed plants and got the bug for retail. I studied at Merrist Wood College then did an HND in garden design, followed by a horticultural degree at Sparsholt College.
What advice would you give to others starting out? Studying is useful, but there is no substitute for hands-on experience. If you can work in a garden centre while studying horticulture, you will do well. Squire’s has produced a horticultural qualification with the RHS called "Grow Our Own", which allows staff to gain a qualification while working with us.
What has been your greatest achievement at work? My team. The key to success in any industry is to create a great team culture, developing people’s skills. Also Squire’s Badshot Lea winning the Garden Centre Association’s "best Christmas" award for the South Thames area in 2015.
What does your typical day involve? I get in early to walk the shop floor with fresh eyes. Every morning we have a team meeting. However, most of my mornings are tied up with the inevitable office work.
What have you been working on recently? We are in the midst of setting up a business plan for the next year or three. We already focus a lot on creating a great customer experience at Squire’s, but I want to take this to the next level.
What does the future hold? The industry has been working hard to make gardening more accessible to more people, making shopping easy and using initiatives to allow customers to learn as they shop. The industry has also made huge strides in catering, which has so many inherent advantages. If you get the catering right, your garden centre will do well.