Based in Epsom, Surrey, The Old Moat is a unique garden centre outlet offering work experience in horticulture, catering and retail to people with mental health issues. Every year, it helps around 150 people to gain the confidence and skills needed to move back into mainstream community life.
In March 2017, The Old Moat was hit with the news that the NHS -clinical commissioning group that funded its services was no longer able to support the outlet. A big step-change redevelopment was needed to attract more footfall and revenue to fund its work 100% from commercial revenues, grants and donations — or it faced closure.
The management team’s goal was to secure its services for decades to come by creating a financially sustainable community enterprise through a bold redevelopment of the garden centre. At the same time, it was critical to protect and retain the "special feel" and purpose of the place for those it supported, customers, staff and volunteers.
A feasibility study and business plan was approved by the board of mental health charity the Richmond Fellowship. The board agreed to buy the site and invest £850,000 to secure the centre’s future. Work began in July 2017 on the site, which stayed fully open throughout with mobile caterers maintaining services during the kitchen refit. To help the redeveloped outlet compete in a crowded market, the centre’s identity was refreshed in November 2017.
As a result of the redevelopment, The Old Moat has increased commercial revenue by 55% and grown the volume of garden centre transactions by 56.1% year-on-year. Café revenue has risen by 71% and the centre had its busiest month ever in May 2018, with revenues just shy of £100,000 for the garden centre alone.
Growth levels for the garden centre are 65% above the average for regional competitors, while the café’s growth is 75% above the regional average.
The redevelopment has improved the visitor experience with easier access, double the number of car parking spaces, more indoor and outdoor seating, accessible toilets in the café, a larger, better-equipped kitchen and a new shop selling more gifts, cards and houseplants.
The outlet’s first-ever fundraising and events officer has delivered sell-out quarterly quizzes, a walled garden concert, a dog show, Halloween events, a Christmas open evening, and a musical fundraising event.
Pugh's Garden Centre
CATEGORY SPONSOR: Bathgate Horticulture
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