"In the past 10 years in retailing a lot of people have found it easy because of a tidal wave of borrowed money. That momentum has gone," he said.
"If you are going to get growth it's not through inflation because it's hard to pass on prices. It's about growth through being innovative and doing a better job as a retailer. That's why there is such variation between retailers' figures (in 2011)."
The head of the 13-strong garden centre group also revealed a new concept in catering. "Betty's Tea Room at Redfields is all you need to know. Classic English tea rooms - that's the future."