Standards have improved so much that the entry level for the Garden Centre of Excellence title was raised again this year.
It is run by the Garden Centre Association and to become a garden centre of excellence, companies have to achieve at least 82 per cent on the judges’ score cards. The audits are compulsory for GCA members.
The judges were consultants Eve Tigwell and Ian Boardman, who visited 150 garden centres in the UK.
Boardman said: “It never ceases to amaze me how standards can keep rising. It has not been an easy year, with a fast start and a dismal May for many, but the best centres keep on getting better.”
Tigwell added: “The enthusiasm for the audit process is wonderful. It’s good to see the standards being used as management tools, rather than whipping posts.”
The judges won praise from GCA chairwoman Sue Allen: “We really owe them our gratitude for completing this daunting task efficiently and consistently.”
Director of Heighley Gate Garden Centre Gerard Humble said: “We are delighted. It is a good thing for all garden centres. You can see how you are doing and if your points slip, you have to take it on the chin.”
Marketing director of Bents Garden Centre & Nurseries Matthew Bent was delighted to retain the North West title for a second year.
“We work really hard at improving customer services,” he said.
The national garden centre of the year will be chosen at the GCA conference in January.
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