Scotsdales' key objective for 2011-12 was to improve customer service and help consumers find the correct product.
The second year of Scotsdales' Garden Angels assistant scheme has proved again that the customer loves being helped and given excellent customer service. Eight Angels are employed - two to three a day - with the sole job of helping customers and increasing sale values.
Scotsdales' brand within the community continues to increase and this has been assisted by all the activities the centre has been involved in locally.
The David Rayner Building is fully used by local associations from Cancer Help Unit to the Prostrate Group. Sponsorship for local sports groups and schools is all part of building the brand.
Staff motivation and retention is 100 per cent, with more appraisals and training coming in to improve performance.
Improvements to the business this year have included a specific assistant in the clothing and shoe department, a children's garden club with 1,000 members, improvements to the cafe menu, better displays in Pets, new Amtico flooring in the main shop area, the appointment of a visual merchandiser, upgraded display gardens, a new e-commerce site and two new concessions - a hot tub and a shed supplier. A new fine foods area introduced in 2011 saw a 30 per cent increase in sales.
In a difficult year for garden centres, Scotsdales' performance saw a 0.2 per cent fall in turnover, with highlights a 27 per cent uplift in the refurbished gift area and 15.8 per cent better sales for Christmas. Staff costs in each department were maintained at an average of 13 per cent, while customer service improved.
Gross margin was up 1.7 per cent at 45 per cent, reduced stockholding by four days to 54 days and cut payment period by three days to 31 days.
The centre has a five-year plan to extend the cafe for a large covered plant area, community room, to move hard landscaping to the outdoor plant section, a new cafe for parents and children with play areas, and a new toilet and baby change area.
- Judge's comment
"A superb garden centre" - Steve Bradley
Garden & Leisure, Huntingdon
Dobbies Garden World, Livingston
Quinton Edwards is the specialist property adviser to the garden centre industry throughout the UK and Ireland. We acquire, sell, value and let garden centres and horticultural businesses for proprietors, banks and financial institutions.