Retailer to grow vegetable plants in response to demand

Surrey-based Woodcote Green Nurseries will return to growing vegetable plants next spring, initially on an experimental basis.

Managing director Chris Milan said the decision to return to growing vegetable plants was a response to customer demand. The centre planned to promote the connections between its cafe's food and the plants, he said.

It also planned to change its planteria to make it colour co-ordinated. Milan said: "We do A-Z mainly for the convenience of the staff. But if we're going to target marginal customers then we need to focus on better displays."

Woodcote enjoyed a strong year to the end of August, with sales up 12 per cent to just over £8m. Milan said focusing on simple retailing and ensuring it offered the right retail mix was paying dividends.

The centre has identified growth areas of Christmas, outdoor living, catering and indoor lifestyle.

Milan said: "We're now targeting areas where we expect to grow. I don't think we can do much with ornamental plants but we won't be taking our eye off them."

The garden centre has also developed a drive-through compost centre to reduce the need for customers to lift bags of compost.

General manager Phil Barnden said more thought was being given to customer flow - this year's Christmas offering is at the rear of the covered shopping area to draw customers past horticultural offers.

"We're trying to get customers to build it, plant it and enjoy it, and make that logical in the store. We want them to enjoy gardening and then enjoy the end result."

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