Garden centres' deals lure the thrifty

Garden King attributes this year's sales rise to bargain-focused approach and clearance deals.

Garden centres are turning to cheap offers to drive footfall in difficult economic times.

Centres such as Garden King, British Garden Centres, Cherry Lane and B&M Stores are using sales promotions in an effort to boost sales as the downturn continues.

Planters-owned Garden King, which has a bargain-led offer, bought a second centre at Bradley Nurseries in Staffordshire this week.

Garden King in Swadlincote, Derbyshire, reported record sales for July, August and September with an increase of 20 per cent compared with the same period last year. Total 2011 sales to date have increased eight per cent year on year.

Garden King manager Darren Sanders has been at Swadlincote for seven years and now oversees both centres as area manager.

He said the stores are doing well and the "stack-'em-high, sell-'em-cheap" concept is working. The company attributed its recent success to supplier clearance deals and the fact that it is attracting customers hungry for a bargain.

"We do a lot of product on clearance - so much so that more suppliers come to us now with product, rather than us looking for them," Sanders said.

"We will do anything - solar lights, sheds, walking aids - as long as it's a good price. They are products that have had their packaging changed or were slow-moving. People want a bargain and we use these products to generate footfall. It's only key lines - everything else is full-price."

Garden King is giving away some products for free through vouchers in local newspapers, and runs Half-price pensioners' Tuesday - the centre's busiest day.

At the Bradley site, expansion of the car park, relocation of the entrance and major structural work will begin in the coming months.

Planters Garden Centre now operates four sites - Planters in Freasley and Bretby and Garden King in Swadlincote and Bradley.

BUYER'S VIEW - Richard Jackson, gardener, QVC

"The trend will be towards bargain gardening. The customer next year will be very offer orientated. It's happening in the high street and supermarkets and will go into garden centres. Grow your own will suffer on the back of that because grow your own is relatively expensive."

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