The retailer will aim to significantly increase its six per cent share of the horticulture market with the launch next week of a gardening and floristry range in shops called Waitrose Flower Garden and a website called Waitrosegarden.com
Waitrose Flower Garden will comprise 850 different flowers, plants, bulbs and seeds over the coming year as well as 80 gardening tools and garden care products.
Elements of the Waitrose Flower Garden range will launch in all core shops by mid-April and 41 branches will also dedicate at least 120 sq ft of outdoor space to the range including an outdoor gardening ‘shed’ selling plants and gardening accessories. Customers will be able to pay for gardening purchases made outdoors using a cashless mobile till.
The range includes a variety of plants from topiary to herbs and fruit trees to herbaceous flowering plants. Prices range from £3 to £75 and all products have clear growing advice on labelling. A total of 40 per cent of the in-shop flower range is British and 20 per cent supports the Waitrose Foundation in Kenya.
In addition, Waitrosegarden.com, in association with online garden supplier Crocus, will sell more than 5,000 horticulture products including pots, gardening tools, plants and seeds.
Alan Titchmarsh, who earlier this month came on board at Waitrose to help raise the profile of British agriculture and horticulture, will offer his expert gardening tips and green-fingered advice on the site.
He will share tips on garden care in the ‘how to’ area of the site including appearing in video clip demonstrations, write "monthly musings on myriad subjects" and pick his top 50 gardening products for each season. Customers will be able to sign up for a monthly e-newsletter containing exclusive access to seasonally relevant content.
Gardening is the second most popular pastime for Waitrose customers after cooking and the move builds on the success of Waitrose’s fresh-cut flowers and bouquets range Blossom & Bloom.
Waitrose marketing director Rupert Thomas said: "We are pleased to be able to offer such an inspirational range of floristry and gardening products. This will make us a serious player in what is already a hugely successful category for us.
"Together, Waitrosegarden.com and the Waitrose Flower Garden range will offer something for everyone - from those who are keen to grow their own flowers, fruit and veg but aren’t sure where to start, to those with greener fingers. The offer will change frequently throughout the seasons to give customers new ideas during the year.
"The nation’s favourite gardener Alan Titchmarsh will provide invaluable tips and, combined with the excellent service you can expect from our Partners who have received extra training in this area, customers can feel confident having a go at cultivating that empty patch of outdoor space or trying something new to brighten up their garden."
The first 'pods' opened at Cheltenham, Sheffield and Rushden this week.