Dixon On ... Sales success tied to localism factor

There are smiles all round at the garden centres.

Retail sales were up by 26 per cent by the end of March. And April's hot dry weather and string of extended holiday weekends are godsends.

Nicholas Marshall, chief executive of the Garden Centre Group - previously Wyevale - estimates that bank holiday sales are 10 times that of a normal weekend.

Despite reduced domestic income, families are still spending on the garden. Recessions benefit gardening because people stay home. It's cheap retail therapy with a large feel-good effect.

Garden sundries will benefit the most, accounting for more than 75 per cent of total sales. Booming sales should feed benefits to wholesaling growers. They deserve that because the quality of plants in garden centres this year is exceptionally high.

Estimates suggest that Britain's gardening market is worth £4bn to the economy and growth in excess of five per cent per annum is expected at least to 2014 (Verdict Retail Research). That sort of prediction attracts predators.

Already, fashion retailer Next is opening a trial Home & Garden shop in Shoreham, West Sussex. And Tesco has successfully taken over Dobbies. Other large retailers will now be eyeing up garden centres as new territory ripe for invasion.

Being "local" is an essential ingredient for a successful garden centre. The gardening public likes nothing more than shopping in an apparently working local nursery.

Seeing staff busy pricking-out and potting-on instills confidence in their advice and help. The public will happily pay an extra pound or two for "real nursery" plants. This is something that the big battalions ignore at their peril.

Localisation and reconnecting with primary growers in both ornamentals and fruit and vegetables are developing trends in retail consumers. They might just prove to be the Achilles heel for over-weaning supermarkets.

Professor Geoffrey Dixon is managing director of GreenGene international.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Garden centre profile: Hulme Community Garden Centre, Manchester

Garden centre profile: Hulme Community Garden Centre, Manchester

High environmental standards, community work and support for local suppliers are all lessons for the wider garden retail industry, Matthew Appleby discovers.

How can garden centres reduce plastic use?

How can garden centres reduce plastic use?

Garden retailers are under pressure to use less plastic as the Government's new 25-year environment plan seeks to introduce a wave of measures to reduce pollution.

Will peat use be taxed or banned?

Will peat use be taxed or banned?

The Government has made strong statements on peat reduction in its new 25-year environment plan, published in January.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 100 GARDEN CENTRES 2017

See our exclusive ranking of garden centre performance by annual turnover. 

Garden Centre Prices

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world

Read more Peter Seabrook articles

Neville Stein

Business advice from Neville Stein, MD of business consultancy Ovation

Read latest articles