HTA leads community push for garden centres

Events show garden centres how to act as community hubs by sharing best practice examples.

A series of events is aiming to show how garden centres can act as community hubs.

Retailers will share best practice at the events, which follow a recent HTA Member Voice survey that found 68 per cent of garden retailers help local charities, 75 per cent participate in community events and 67 per cent support school gardening.

HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said garden centres were employers, outlets for local produce, a link with schools and charities and are used for family outings and events.

A new community hubs brochure highlights how community engagement can increase footfall, customer loyalty, staff satisfaction and enhance brand awareness.

He said centres should identify community contacts - schools, churches, groups and charities - and find funding from the Community Development Fund, Community First and Local Enterprise Partnerships.

At a recent Suttons-sponsored event on engaging communities, Woodcote Green Garden Centre general manager Phil Barnden said of his Garden Retail award-winning Green Fingered Kids Scheme: "As we got more successful, we wanted to give something back."

A voucher scheme for 220 primary schools had £18,000 to give away. At 50 per cent redemption it "got everybody going and will pay dividends", said Barnden. He added: "They might not spend money then, but they will. We're trying to create a caring/sharing atmosphere."

Woodcote Green sends an enterprise pack donated by suppliers to schools. Barnden said it was worth £20 and children can grow £100 worth of plants to sell at school fairs. In winter, he invites schools to the centre to show them how to use the kit.

Coolings in Kent hosted the event. Business development manager Neil Jackson said: "Garden centres all look fairly similar if you look at Dobbies. Being old-fashioned is a bit of a bonus these days."

He said Coolings played on its 100-year heritage and ran initiatives such as a lecture theatre. It also sponsored flower beds and supported a young offenders' garden in Bromley.

Coolings is also a Bromley enterprise awards sponsor and gives vouchers to charities. It has a nature trail for Brownies and school groups, runs a junior petunia competition and lends an egg incubator to schools.

Event series

21 February, Grosvenor Garden Centre, Chester

With case studies from the host centre and Dobbies garden centre, Liverpool

28 February, Cadbury Garden & Leisure, Bristol

With case studies from the host centre, Fermoy's Garden Centre (Newton Abbott) and Cleeve Nursery (near Bristol).

See www.the-hta.org.uk/events.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Business Planning - strategic sourcing

Business Planning - strategic sourcing

Having a robust strategy to cope with potential supply shortages is important to protect any retail business, Neville Stein explains.

Latest garden retail company results: who has done best and why?

Latest garden retail company results: who has done best and why?

Medium-sized groups in the £20m-£100m bracket such as Klondyke, Hillier, Squire's, Notcutts and Blue Diamond look to have done best as 2017 results are released.

Maianthemum

Maianthemum

Showy spikes, lush leaves and sweet scent all help to sell these appealing plants, writes Miranda Kimberley.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 100 GARDEN CENTRES 2017

See our exclusive ranking of garden centre performance by annual turnover. 

Garden Centre Prices

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world
 

Read more Peter Seabrook articles

Neville Stein

Business advice from Neville Stein, MD of business consultancy Ovation
 

Read latest articles

PLANT SUPPLIERS GUIDE

Free to subscribers, the essential guide for professional plant buyers
 

Download your copy