Tong Garden Centre

AWARDS WON: Garden Centre Outlet of the Year (large/ destination); High-Growth Business of the Year; Service Excellence Award

Location: Bradford ,West Yorkshire

Managing director: Mark Farnsworth

Tell me about your key goals/priorities as a business for 2019.

We are hoping to start a big redevelopment project, adding more retail and catering space, much better staff facilities and an outdoor events space for talks and classes to further integrate ourselves with the local community. We are replacing a plant canopy, adding soft play facility to complement the outdoor children's area, building another warehouse and, finally, building more lakeside cabins.

What do you feel will be the biggest challenge for you as a business (or for your sector) in 2019 – and why?

Trying to manage the scale of expansion with our existing business – much depends on the site geography and the weather – is our biggest challenge as a business. As a sector, economic uncertainty caused by Brexit is worrying for garden centres. We are a non-necessary product category and if consumers fear about their jobs and income it could have a knock-on effect.

What do you regard as the biggest opportunity for you as a business (or for your sector) in 2019 – and why?

The opportunity to create a great experience for our customers – people don't just come here to shop, but for half a day out. The wider retail sector has changed massively in the last 12 months with so many big names leaving the high street. But people still want to get out of the house and garden centres are really well placed to offer this crucial leisure experience.

What was the best thing about winning a Horticulture Week Business Award for you as a business?

It's team recognition, and fantastic that all my people get the praise they deserve. They have worked so tirelessly as a team to help put Tong back on the map and take us to the next level. It makes them feel good about themselves: we came straight back here after the event and showed everybody the awards and there was such a sense of pride within the whole team.


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