Garden retailers pursue Olympics trade

Garden centres urged to capitalise on feel-good factor to win sales during slack summer period.

A feel-good factor could bring extra sales to garden centres from the London Olympics, with themed menus and gold, silver and bronze plant displays drawing trade during the quiet season.

Coolings business development manager Neil Jackson said the Kent garden centre's medal-themed planteria displays in the low-footfall period would "create a point of difference for people coming in". He said he would promote the displays through Facebook and email.

Alton Garden Centre director Andy Bunker said: "There will be sales of garden furniture and barbecues around the Olympics if there is stable weather. If people exceed expectations in sport it helps trade because there is a feel-good factor."

Consultant Neville Stein added that garden centres could capitalise on the mood, particularly in restaurants with themed menus. But he warned that the Olympics, Euros and jubilee may have artificially inflated general retail markets and 2013 could be tougher if it proves to be the economy that is hitting discretionary sales rather than poor weather, which garden centres have blamed.

Squire's managing director Dennis Espley said he would rather have fine weather than the Olympics as a boost for trade. Greenhouse Garden Centre owner Malcolm Scott, meanwhile, warned that TV watching would take preference over garden centre visits during the games.

Blue Diamond Group plant buyer Marcus Cousins also said the games were unlikely to help plant sales. And Haskins chief executive Julian Winfield said the early August period was one of the quietest of the year.

Research by Verdict in 2011 suggested that the London Olympics are set to be worth £100m in extra revenues to the UK retail sector.


Olympic inspiration - Sales suggestions

Alton Garden Centre director Andy Bunker suggested a range of unusual plants from the Olympic gardens that retailers could try:

- Europe garden: Shasta daisy.

- Americas garden: Asters, prairie daisies, evening primroses and coneflowers.

- Asia garden: Japanese Anemone.

- Southern hemisphere garden: exotic lilies (African, Bugle and Pineapple) and grasses (New Zealand Sedge and Kangaroo Grass).

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