New Build: Hayes Garden World

The Ambleside centre's new World of Plants aims to boost visitor numbers.

Curved canopies were assembled during the centre's two-year redevelopment programme - image: Hayes
Curved canopies were assembled during the centre's two-year redevelopment programme - image: Hayes

Creation of the £5m, 4,220sq m World of Plants at Hayes Garden World garden centre in Ambleside, Cumbria is complete and will make the once market-leading venue great again, retail director Keith Laird claims.

National Structures assembled the unusual curved canopies, with Dutch company Smiemans responsible for the glasshouse construction. Malcolm Scott Consultants handled planning and designed the centre.

"The build so far has been two years and we plan to stop for summer and look at finances to do the next phases we have in planning," says Laird. "There are three options - we can put in a coffee shop, plant information centre and franchises and alter part of the old building to add another section of glass to sell plants."

This year the new area will house aquatics, fencing and pot displays, Laird says, but next year will see a reduction in fencing and pots. "We've been talking to First Franchise about franchises but none are decided yet," he adds.

"We were very much falling behind new garden centres," Laird admits. "Twenty years ago we were at the forefront and over the years we hadn't made the big investment some others had. There is a lot more competition these days so we have to offer something special for the customer." Footfall and sales are up and, according to Laird, the centre nearly hit budget in 2011."

Laird says competition from Dobbies, Klondyke and Barton Grange as well as other activities in the Lake District such as Go Ape are taking up people's time. "We need another reason for people to come here," he adds.

WORLD OF PLANTS CENTRE ADDITIONS

- An 800sq m pets and aquatics department.

- An increased outdoor and indoor furniture department of 930sq m.

- An Increased terracotta and outdoor ornament offer of 560sq m.

- An increased garden sundries offer of 240sq m.

- An increased undercover outdoor plant offer in the region of 1,670sq m.

POSSIBLE THIRD PARTY FRANCHISES

- Country Casuals

- Antler Luggage

- Raleigh Bikes

Now in the garden centre

- Yeoman's Outdoors

- Edinburgh Woollen Mill


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