Employee of the Year - Darren Sanders, Garden King

Garden King at Swadlincote is a small 0.4ha site rented from the neighbouring builders' merchant. It includes a 300sq m greenhouse, a 300sq m wooden shop and 1,200sq m canopied planteria along with parking for 40 cars.

Employee of the Year - Darren Sanders, Garden King - image: Garden King
Employee of the Year - Darren Sanders, Garden King - image: Garden King

Garden King competes against larger centres Byrkley Park, Derby Garden Centre, Shenstone and sister centres Planters at Bretby and Tamworth.

Manager Darren Sanders has created a personality for Garden King that is unique in the trade. It is cheeky, upfront and loud. The centre's advertising made national headlines in The Sun, Star and Sport newspapers. It shouts price and good value, but is achieved by good buying, which maintains good margins.

As a short lease, capital expenditure is not on the agenda, so Darren works with what he has. He has taken turnover form £650,000 to over £1m as manager of the site and runs the centre on 16 per cent wages to sales, the lowest in the group. Yet Garden King had a low staff turnover because it is a fun place to work.

In 2011, the group looked for a new centre to brand Garden King at Bradley. They found a rundown centre that had turned over £1.5m, but had been in decline and turnover had fallen to £700,000 as the shop fell into disrepair.

In 2011-12, Darren has recruited a new supervisor to run Swadlincote, recruited a marketing manager to deal with promotions for Garden King and Planters. He has acquired a new car park for Swanlincote and organised a stock take with the vendor at Bradley to buy the stock. He has integrated new staff into the company, made changes to working procedures and changed the layout of the store.

He has organised Christmas displays at short notice at Bradley and built up relationships with suppliers including his speciality, solar lights. He has sold triple the number of the larger Planters centres, including 22 pallets of glazing balls, bought on clearance.

He had to cut staff hours in the dismal spring of 2012, but he managed this without losing any staff.

- Judge's comment

"Darren's daring approach works - a great range of achievements" - Marc Rosenberg

Brechin Garden Centre: Ben Blackstock, Stuart Baillie, Christina

MorePeople is a specialist recruitment and training practice serving the garden and leisure, produce and horticulture and food sectors. Owned and managed by experienced industry professionals, we offer bespoke value-for-money services that can be tailored to suit a wide variety of business needs.

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