How did you get started in the industry? Horticulture has always been in the family. My parents owned a nursery in North Petherton in Somerset and Monkton Elm is the local garden centre to that. I started there, then I went to New Zealand and studied plants in Auckland, and that's where I fell in love with plants. That's my passion and working in retail is the other side of it.
What advice would you give to others starting out? Read a lot so you know your plants because knowledge is power.
What is the best aspect of your job? Seeing the results of my hard work pay off.
And the worst? The rain and the snow.
What did you learn from being joint winner of the Garden Centre Association/Westland Star of the Future award? We tightened up on stock control to make sure we have the right product in the right place. Hot spots are vital. We worked on average spend and now understand net profit, and the effect we can have on it. We realise the importance of linking with other departments and cross merchandising. The effect of getting the right plant in the right place at the right time is amazing - it can double or even triple sales. I now realise how vital the personal touch is and how it affects what people spend. Now I'm looking ahead with new ideas for improved point-of-sale signs.
How do you wind down after a hard day at work? Going to the gym, spending time with friends, looking after plants at home as well as work and growing fruit and veg.
What are your plans for the future? To carry on in horticulture and go where the industry takes me. The Westland star has been the focus of the year and now I can look at other projects. Anyone thinking about entering should do so right now. This is a brilliant programme that will enable you to meet some fantastic people and stretch yourself, achieving results both for you and your garden centres.