Gift voucher changes on track

Voucher changes set for August as more high street retailers take up Garden Gift Card scheme.

Changes to the £30m National Garden Gift Vouchers scheme are on track to come in on 1 August, according to HTA marketing director Andrew Maxted.

Retailers are being asked to pay 20 per cent (up 2.5 per cent) redemption fees in line with the new plastic high street-sold Garden Gift Cards but will receive better service and margins.

The HTA said it hoped to increase income by £150,000 from vouchers through the move (HW, 8 June).

Meanwhile, sales of HTA Garden Gift Cards began in Wilkinsons stores last month and in Midlands Co-op outlets in early July.

Sainsbury's, WH Smiths, Boots and Debenhams are still the main sellers at present for the cards, which are redeemed at garden centres.

Maxted said £250,000 worth of cards have been sold since the scheme's launch in October 2011, with £100,000 worth sold in the first two months.

"That is money that otherwise would be spent in supermarkets or high street retailers. The cards are capturing spending and bringing it into garden centres," he added.

The scheme is about to sign up its 500th retailer. The cost to participants is 20 per cent of the value charged to the card.

Maxted said he believed that redeemer numbers would increase in the run-up to Christmas.

Tony Stacey has recently joined the HTA as marketing manager to promote National Garden Gift Vouchers. He previously worked for B&Q in brand and store format development.

Industry view on introduction of high street gift cards

"Bringing gift cards to garden retailing is mirroring the high street. It's the same as electronic point of sale, which started in the high street and came into garden centres, and now you almost have to have it. "I think that gift cards are a good thing because they drive footfall into garden centres - they are new and different customers. As long as you see the card's cost as a part of your marketing costs, then it is a great cheap way of attracting new customers. Then, if you do your job properly, they should come back." - Neville Stein, retail Consultant

"The cards are here to stay but whether they are the right thing or not I don't know. We were waiting to see if they were going to work technically, but they are back on the agenda. However, I'd prefer people bought gift cards at garden centres' tills." - Julian Winfield, chief executive, Haskins

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