We are the Barack Obamas of retail says Dobbies garden centre boss

Garden retail leaders said they are bucking the retail gloom to become as feelgood and popular as US president Barack Obama.

The garden industry celebrated a 10 per cent increase in sales this year and discussed future issues at the HTA annual conference last week.

Dobbies chief executive James Barnes said consumer demand is changing and how Dobbies is meeting those demands at the HTA's Garden Futures event.

He said: "We can become the Obama of retail. We are in a fantastic place right now. We've heard how awkward it is out there." He said garden centres were "an antidote to anxiety" and offered products to customers that are built to last, life balance, a human bond, a back to basics approach, eco credentials, bite-sized indulgence, social networking through the internet and the opportunity to sell crafts, cooking, grow-your-own and to promote more recycling and "less tat".

Barnes said that "makes our brands strong" and that "garden centres are ideally placed to capitalise on these opportunities".

He added that garden centre values include environmentalism, community and localness, cocooning and brands with integrity. "We have an umbrella to sell a wider range of products and broaden our appeal," he said.

 

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