By 2009, this had left Longacres with some old and tired buildings that were inefficient to heat and a till area that was too small, as well as a cafe that was inadequate and poor customer flow. It won permission to rebuild in late 2010 and work started in June 2011.
Longacres wanted to increase energy efficiency, use more natural light, improve customer flow and access, enlarge the till area, visually enhance the site, improve the toilets and restaurant, add a deli, improve the food section and integrate with the existing glasshouse buildings.
The buildings being replaced represented 50 per cent of the retail space available, but Longacres wanted to keep trading throughout. So two temporary buildings from Spaciotempo were erected to house various departments. Thermoflor supplied the framework and Vear was the builder.
The roof is made from materials with a high level of insulation and to allow in as much light as possible for energy efficiency. The vents in the roof are climate-controlled and close when rainfall is detected. Rain is collected for reuse elsewhere in the garden centre.
Underfloor heating pipes and a heat exchanger should reduce heating and cooling costs by 70 per cent. The build was like a complicated jigsaw puzzle, as Longacres moved sections to allow new vinyl flooring to be laid.
Bevans family butchers and deli was built by Technakouda and includes traditional materials and high-end machinery. Cafe owner-manger Nino redesigned the restaurant to increase customer numbers and improve the menu, as well as installing a feature wood-burning pizza oven.
Every section of the centre remained open throughout the work. The main till area has expanded from 10 to 17 tills, with 24 tills across the whole site. Diesel and electricity costs are down and customer feedback is good. The restaurant has seen a 300 per cent rise in turnover and the food area has seen up to triple growth.
In June, the centre was almost 20 per cent up, number of transactions up 14 per cent and average spend up three per cent.
Frensham Garden Centre
Creative Gardens Donaghadee
Timmermans Garden Centre