Kitching, who now runs Beckworth Emporium in Mears Ashby, Northamptonshire, said: "There is a trend towards garden centres going back to being growers again because they can save money for transport and because they can differentiate with varieties against the competition." He added that garden centres can also grow good-value plants of high quality.
Kitching and co-owner David Brown said trade is 40 per cent more than projected and turnover projections are at £2m for the first year of the outlet, which employs 28 full-time staff.
They hope to expand the food hall, produce market, garden nursery and restaurant hybrid to include more home-grown plants next year.
The owners are seeking planning permission for a retail glasshouse, which will house bedding plants and garden sundries, as well as a 2,000sq m production glasshouse for more bedding plants and shrubs.
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