Garden Centre Group calls time on concessions partner

The Garden Centre Group decides to bring its concessions strategy in-house after long history of third-party involvement.

Concessions: a significant part of business for many garden centres
Concessions: a significant part of business for many garden centres

The Garden Centre Group (TGCG) has announced that it has dropped First Franchise as its concessions partner.

A TGCG representative said: "The Garden Centre Group's agency arrangement with First Franchise for attracting permanent manned concessions to its centres has been brought to an end as a result of our decision to manage this strategic part of our business directly, rather than through a third party."

Former TGCG manager Keith McIntyre founded First Franchise in 2004, and the then Wyevale has been a big customer in the past decade. First Franchise declined to comment on the decision.

TGCG has also this year entered an agreement with Space & People for short-term concessions from one weekend to six months (HW, 21 February) having formerly worked with First Franchise. Space & People also works with Dobbies.

In May 2013, TGCG appointed Frank Hayes as commercial director to oversee concessions. Alex Dean is the group's promotions manager. New TGCG concessions include WHSmith (HW, 7 February).

Terra Firma bought TGCG in March 2012. Previous TGCG chief executive Nicholas Marshall said in 2012 that he wanted TGCG to be one-third gardening, one-third restaurants and one-third concessions.

First Franchise is still the main concession provider for the wider garden centre sector and is now working with Tesco superstores and Tesco Extra stores with its Promotional Space company introducing a range of third-party in-store promotions.

Operation Snowflake - The long-term effect?

The Garden Centre Group (TGCG) is adding concessions into 12 centres as part of 'Operation Snowflake'.

Barton Grange managing director Guy Topping, who sold his Bolton centre to TGCG in 2013, said: "TGCG is spending money and changing the customer flow, and fitting in as many concessions as possible. They're doing this in 12 centres to see how it goes before rolling it out everywhere else. As long as they have concessions and keep people coming through, it's not a bad option for smaller centres like Bolton because it's hard work out there. If you can get the rental money it can make the garden centre, but long-term, how attractive is the effect of a concession village in a small-to-medium garden centre?"


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