Garden Centre Group expect "bumper Christmas"

The Garden Centre Group chief executive Nicholas Marshall is expecting brisk trade this Christmas but says 2010 so far has been hit by recession and weather.

Marshall said: "We are looking forward to a bumper Christmas," but "if anything, the recession has got worse in the last 12 months".

Nicholas Marshall added that British-grown Christmas trees and poinsettia, half of which are grown at Garden Centre Group nurseries, would lead the seasonal offer.

Garden Centre Group, which won four prizes at the recent Garden Retail awards, has signed up 1.4 million customers to its loyalty card since launch in March 2009.

Marketing director Lorrie Robertson said its loyalty-cardholders spend "considerably" more than non-members and that 55 per cent of sales in stores are now attributable to the scheme.

Robertson said the card is now the "largest gardening club in Europe", adding: "Customer insight is very important for any business, particularly when you are looking at trends, and obviously product mix and ensuring that you align what you stock with what the customer actually wants to buy."

Cardholders collect five points for every £1 spent, equivalent to a five per cent reward.

Garden Centre Group had a pre-tax profit of £13.2m for the year to 27 December 2009.

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