Panellists Boyd Douglas-Davies from Webbs, Carol Paris (Garden & Leisure), Caroline Owen (Scotsdales) and consultant John Stanley discussed the top 100 garden centre research from Garden Retail and issues the industry can expect to deal with in the future.
Malcolm Scott Consultants planning consultant Primett said Webbs and Garden & Leisure have built new buildings recently.
He said: "Both Webbs and Garden & Leisure have built new buildings in the last three or four years. How has this helped in reinforcing the brand and creating theatre? Did they consciously consider the building design taking theatre into account. I certainly, agree as Carol Paris observed, that an old glasshouse sales environment can have as much, if not more, character than a new build. Is this important to the customer?
"I believe that it is and with many clients I have deliberately kept existing garden centre buildings even though the buildings are old and perhaps a bit ‘leaky' and I have added to them rather than demolishing them and ‘wiping the slate clean'."
Primett asked: "The panel referred to the importance of brand. Of the top 20 or 30 garden centress most have taken 25+ years to build up their businesses. How quickly does it take to create a brand in the garden centre industry?
"Successful garden centres also have often evolved rather than arriving all in one go. There are exceptions such as Sanders GardenWorld and Barton Grange's new centre. Is it better to let a garden centre evolve in stages and find its character?"
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