Best Planteria

Winner: Old Railway Line Garden Centre

Old Railway Line's planteria team has focused on making the garden centre "less scary". The staff have had dedicated training sessions and set aside specific display areas to try and catch the eye of the non-gardener. Events have been extremely popular, offering a range of themes aimed at non-gardeners and young families as well as people with an interest in plants. This combination has helped to increase sales by more than 12 per cent in 2015 on the previous year.

In 2015, Old Railway Line collected The Sun/Garden Retail Award for Best Plant Retailer in Wales and the West for a second year running. This has been achieved by dedicating time to giving customers the best possible plant shopping experience.

In January 2014, Old Railway Line scrapped A-Z and grouped plants by their interest and uses, rather than names. The whole planteria is inspired by the lifestyle needs of busy customers. They need to be able to place suitable plants in the right place, which will save on maintenance time in their garden, so Old Railway Line developed its categories around this.

Examples of the new categories include "Living Screen", "Forever Green", "Wildlife Haven", "Sun Lovers" and "Shade Lovers". The intention is that this will be easier to understand and show new customers that it is not difficult to have a nice garden in which they can relax without too much hard work.

This year Old Railway Line has again tried to make the planteria less scary for non-gardeners by focusing on easy ideas and ways customers can transform their gardens.

The centre has created small displays that have the sole purpose of catching the interest of non-gardeners and demonstrating to them that it does not take much to transform your outdoor space, no matter how small.

Although these areas have been set aside for display rather than intense retail, there have been good sales from them. Benches and bistro sets repeatedly sell out from the space.

When dressing these displays, Old Railway Line has promoted planted containers as an easy way of adding colour to the garden, without all the hard work, and this has been successful in boosting sales figures in certain categories. Planted pot sales are showing an increase of more than 40 per cent and bedding pots and packs are also up by more than 10 per cent.

Old Railway Line has been very strong on seasonal promotion this year in the planteria, using local magazines to do monthly write-ups on its Plant of the Month and Monthly Gardening Tips, gardening advice videos available on YouTube, themed events promoting particular product groups and offering seasonal deals.

Reward card members are sent monthly emails to highlight events, which are also promoted on the website, in local newspapers and on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

One example of the planteria events is the "Rose Day", which was a huge success last year, selling 50 roses in one day, but this year increased to 70 sold on the day. The day itself consisted of two free talks by local rose expert Gareth Davies and special offers on roses and care products.

The planteria prides itself on providing a bed card for every plant, highlighting features and benefits in a simple way that is easy for customers to understand.

Old Railway Line also promotes its two-year plant guarantee throughout the centre, including at key service points, to reassure the customer that it is selling quality plants.

The centre believes that its planteria team is just as much of an attraction to Old Railway Line customers as the plant quality and this is why it promotes their knowledge by displaying awards and certificates of their achievements for customers to see. The team is committed to providing the best experience possible for customers and is always looking for ways to improve its service.

Finalist

Hillier Braishfield


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