More than 50 people have been recruited for the additional fulland part-time jobs for the new garden centre, which is located on 6ha of land previously occupied by commercial greenhouses alongside the original garden centre. The total number of staff now exceeds 150.
The new centre, constructed over 12 months, has a 500-space car park with environmentally friendly lighting and its own bus stop. The indoor and outdoor plant areas are twice the size of the old garden centre and include extensive indoor departments including houseplants, gifts, books, pets, clothing and furniture. Concessionary businesses including Aquatics Village and Garden Buildings will also enhance the range of products and services offered.
The 460-seat restaurant provides a wide range of food and drink with a coffee lounge serving Costa coffee, a traditional stone hearth pizza oven, a daily carvery and an extensive cake counter. Free Wi-Fi has been introduced and there is also a large patio area for alfresco dining. An extendable function room, the Roundstone room, is available to organisations and private parties.
Herbert said at the opening: "It's great to have Haskins' flagship store in the area and it shows that it is possible for garden centres to expand. The Government wants to do everything it can to support enterprise and job creation. This centre shows that despite the downturn businesses can have successful new ventures."