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Garden centre groups invest in facilities

Garden centre 2

Three of Britain's biggest garden centre groups have upgraded their facilities for 2015. Hillier, Squire's and Klondyke are upgrading some centres and looking at aspects of e-commerce.

Hillier is revamping 12 sites including Liss, Sunningdale, Chichester, Botley, Newbury, Winchester, Braishfield, Horsham and Eastbourne. It has a limited online shop with no-clickand-collect facility. Garden centre director Chris Francis said adding to this is "part of our mid-term future development plans".

Hillier's gardening club, launched in October 2014 now has 100,000 members, with 150,000 expected by the end of June. Principal contractors are polytunnels by Fordingbridge, shop refits by Target Shopfitters, flooring by Signature Floors and benches, plinths and crates by Timber Display.

Hillier has had Corby & Fellas electronic point of sale (EPOS) in its stores for the past six years.

Klondyke has EPOS in four of its garden centres and has five more underway. The Corby & Fellas systems will be in 25 Klondyke centres by the end of the year.

Squire's now has systems from the same company at five of its stores that went in during January, with 10 more to follow in July.

The move to EPOS will lead to a customer loyalty scheme in 2016 followed by a click-and-collect service, which Squire's expects to be "more profitable" than a website because it brings customers into stores. It may consider e-trading after that.

The company has plans to redevelop Woking Garden Centre in 2016 and longer-term improvement plans for Long Ditton, Washington and Cobham.

Klondyke chief executive Bob Hewitt said he will look at click-and-collect after the systems are bedded in but there will not be a transactional website.

The company's gardening club will upgrade thanks to the electronic point of sale systems. Redevelopment is complete at Kelso and Klondyke has planning permission for a rebuild at Savilles in Leeds that could start in summer 2015 after tendering.

Klondyke also has planning permission for a new restaurant, and refurbishment at Stokesley as well as plans for Edinburgh, Polmont and Weavervale. Hewitt said the garden season in the north has yet to take off.

Source : Matthew Appleby - Horticulture Week

20 March 2015

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