Budgens eyes garden retail sites

Convenience chain is looking for prime garden centre sites on which it can build supermarkets.

Convenience chain Budgens is in talks with several garden centres about building supermarkets on their sites.

The chain is seeking ABC1 demographic areas (lowerto upper-middle class) throughout England and South Wales. It is already in talks with four garden centres.

The supermarket would pay high rents to attract the middle-aged female customers they share with garden centres. Stores would be around 400sq m and have a fresh-food emphasis.

The chain sees a synergy between food and garden centres, and describes the proposed stores as "not a Tesco, Co-op or Asda. They're good quality without the expensive tag of Waitrose."

The 191-shop chain said building a supermarket at a garden centre gives customers two reasons to visit.

Budgens stores are owned by independent retailers working in partnership with Musgrave Retail Partners GB. A Budgens representative said: "I can confirm that we have had conversations with a number of garden centres."

Other supermarkets are also capitalising on the garden centre business. Waitrose is building a new store in Shrewsbury at Percy Thrower's garden centre, owned by Garden & Leisure, and is constructing a new garden centre on site as part of the deal.

Meanwhile, grocery supplier Nisa has recruited Bybrook Barn Garden Centre in Kent, adding £1m to the group's annual turnover. It is the third garden centre in the company's portfolio. Bybrook Barn initially allocated 150sq m to its convenience offering and has been doubling its weekly sales in this area.

Nisa has 3,500 stores and turns over £1.5bn a year. It has branched out into retail sectors such as rail companies and leisure companies as well as garden centres.

Nisa group sales director Andrew Mouse said: "Nisa provides a unique support package that can be adapted across a wide spectrum of retail sectors."

The buying group moved into garden centres by supplying a fine-food store at Johnson's Garden Centre in Boston, Lincolnshire. At the time, Mouse said: "Tesco didn't buy Dobbies because it liked plants. It bought it to sell food."

Supermarkets Garden centre business

Tesco owns 31 Dobbies garden centres.

Waitrose is building at Percy Thrower's and Northampton Garden Centre. It has 41 mini garden centres at its stores.

Sainsbury's plans to redevelop and build at Malmesbury Garden Centre in Wiltshire.

Nisa supplies three garden centre food outlets.

Budgens is currently in talks with garden centres.

Morrisons has 102 mini garden centres outside its stores.

Marks & Spencer plans to build on the site of Stephen H Smith Garden Centre in Scunthorpe.

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