Tough trading conditions could force retailers to stock alternative products in order to generate revenue, but they are being urged to tread carefully.
Some garden centres have reaped the benefits of diversifying into new products such as interior furnishings, but experts warn that operators considering stocking non-traditional garden-centre products should research extensively.
Aylett Nurseries director Adam Wigglesworth is one retailer who advocates caution. He thinks garden centres need to find a balance to avoid becoming the same as high-street stores.
He said: “Our strength is in gardening and we need to focus on that. What worries me is seeing all these garden centres moving into lifestyle products such as lamps and cushions. If you get that wrong, you end up with out of fashion products that you can’t sell.
“You might attract new customers but you also risk alienating some of your regular client base.”
Retail consultant Eve Tigwell agrees it is important that garden centres focus on getting the plant-selling side of the business right: “If you’ve got your core product wrong then you haven’t really got a hope.”
She said diversification was good because it could provide trade, but that it could also expose retailers to more competition.
Retail consultant Andy Campbell said there was not a one-size-fits-all solution: “Offering indoor-living lifestyle ranges is appropriate for some businesses… [although] it’s not vital that you need different ranges to be successful. But you do need extra skills and financial resources to present lifestyle products successfully.”
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