Garden & Leisure links up with Waitrose on site redevelopment

Shrewsbury site renewal agreement sees retailer taking a share in Percy Thrower garden centre.

Garden & Leisure is selling half its Shrewsbury Percy Thrower garden centre site to Waitrose in an industry-first link up with the supermarket chain.

The two will redevelop the site with a new Percy Thrower garden centre and neighbourhood centre anchored by the Waitrose food store.

The store will build on the existing garden centre footprint with the new 6,000sq m centre alongside.

Garden & Leisure operations director Carol Paris said 2.4ha would go to Waitrose and the money raised would pay for the new centre.

Percy Thrower currently turns over £3m a year. "We will continue trading throughout and will move into one building. It's a series of greenhouses at the moment," said Paris.

Waitrose described the buying of the site as a "one-off deal with a garden centre" to build a supermarket on the land with a new garden centre built alongside. But Paris speculated that there could now be interest from other groups in working with the retailer.

Waitrose said: "The redevelopment of the existing garden centre will bring new investment and a significant number of jobs to the town. We are continuing to develop plans so we can give the local community the opportunity to provide their feedback."

Paris said trade this year has been "absolutely great", particularly in plants and gardening, helped by the good weather on bank holidays. "It's been good to see people buying trolley-fulls of plants, compost and gardening products," she added.

Pulling together

Eve Tigwell, consultant

"This happened before with Haskins and Sainsbury's, so why not? Garden centres will never to able to compete with super-market food offering - they need a farmers' market/deli approach. So it you have room, it's a no-brainer. Garden centres have good pulling power."

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