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UK’s The Garden Centre Group profits jump



April 14, 2014

garden centre

UK’s The Garden Centre Group has reported a 50% profit jump in the last financial year to £42.7 million ($70.8 million USD). Originally a disparate group of over 100 separate gardening retailers, Terra Firma, equity owner of The GCG since 2012, has worked to integrate the mostly family-owned businesses…..and it continues to expand.

With research showing that garden centre visitors were spending between 2 and 4 hours there, and 95% of them arrived without a specific product purchase in mind, The Garden Centre Group has improved and expanded its restaurant chain, and brought in specialty food retailers like butchers and beer brewers.

Mr. Hands, founder of Terra Firma says:

“They look at the flowers. They buy something. They have a cup of tea.”

He added that for British men over 45, gardening is the most popular past-time after television. Yes, ahead of sex.

Expensive products like high-end outdoor furniture, cookware and decor have been replaced by more budget-conscious lines, including a range of resin animals which grossed more than £1 million last year, making resin bunnies, the “new gnome”.

The Garden Centre Group has been busy buying up many smaller independent gardening retailers throughout Britain, with a new centre added every few months through 2013-14, although the centres retain their familiar local branding.

Many independent garden centre retailers have found it financially very tough to stay independent, lacking the capital to make these customer-attracting ‘lifestyle’ improvements. That there’s a ready investor willing to buy them, keep them open and turn them around is good, but the centralised buying system of large group retailers seems inevitably to lead to a loss of plant stock diversity, and an insensitivity to the appropriateness of plant choices for local climates and soils.

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Peter Nixon
10 years ago

“loss of plant stock diversity, and an insensitivity to the appropriateness of plant choices for local climates and soils.”

Hmmm…. the customer demographic in the broadest pejorative form, who finds a choice of speciality butchery and some boutique beer complementary to a plant purchase at their local garden centre as “value added” …. a chilling retail reality where people like Mr Hands go all out in the direction of being all things to everyone and end up being nothing particular to anyone, tarred as they are by the non transparent goop of meaningless homogeny retailing.

Loss of plant diversity and advise on fit of that customer’s growing conditions to their planting purchase is core to that customers loyalty and a return purchase. In the land of resin bunnies customer loyalty would seem as incidental as a toffee apple to The Garden Centre Group … to the tune of a 42.7 million profit no ? A profit presumed shared in part by each garden centre owner offered a bucket of money in return for “use of the familiar local branding”. Probably an offer made when their long standing family business had its back to wall since the GFC and other nasty financial visisitudes of the recent past..

The smug Mr Hand might have the smile wiped from his face if he knew how much increased profit he’s missing out on by alienating the enduring interest of the Gardening public…. Instead, he thinks he’s doing well by playing to the lowest pejorative mass market, whose ambivalence makes him feel justified in remarks like,
““They look at the flowers. They buy something. They have a cup of tea.””

More like,
“.. we ignore the gardening public’s interest, spread our incidental offer as far from that interest as possible and are lazy retailers who think we’re the smartest people in the room in view of the profit we’re making, rather than the greater profit we would stand to make if we invested in leveraging our offer, equal to the huge untapped gardening interest that is already in the market place.”

.. when it could be

“We engage with industry speakers to leverage our retail points of sale as places of horticultural excellence for the gardening public. We offer that horticultural excellence by always speaking up to our Gardening Public audience on the interest they already have and we make huge profits in return for paying attention to that interest.”

Fear not dear reader, the Gardening Public see this change for the light weight fraud it is and already vote with their feet, turning up at the many plant driven and expertise enriched alternative Plant Fair points of sale .. where the bar remains high and there’s not a jumping castle to be seen.