Conference explores key ideas for garden centres

Garden Centre Association's conference encourages delegates to think of creating unique images for their outlets

Delegates to this year’s Garden Centre Association conference were taken to two very different outlets as part of the event. First stop was Webbs of Wychbold, which puts an emphasis on plants, many of which are grown on site. Visitors also had the opportunity to explore the riverside gardens to pick up ideas. Although the company currently operates just one site, plans are under way for expansion to other locations. In contrast to Webbs was a visit to the state-of-the-art, 22ha Dobbies at Atherstone, the biggest garden centre in the UK, according to the company. The site includes a garden centre, farm and outdoor clothing shops and a country park. Amaze and an interpretation centre are currently under construction. Its focus is on the whole retail experience, with plants being just one part of its lifestyle offering. Presentations on the Tuesday encouraged delegates to think about creating unique images for their outlets. Robin Bennion, managing director of the Bennion Consultancy, encouraged garden centre owners to think of ways to differentiate their store from local competition and from the sheds. “B&Q will always have to be cheaper but garden centres can develop their own image and the sheds cannot get anywhere near that. Think about your local town or city and the shops there. “Each is different and garden centres must do the same and create a point of difference

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