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The Garden Centre Group looking to rebrand

The Garden Centre Group (TGCG) has confirmed it is considering three choices for changing its name - back to "Wyevale" with "Blooms" or "Country Gardens" the other options.

Former chief executive Nicholas Marshall changed the group's name from Wyevale to TGCG in 2011 to try and give it a more local feel by adding the town's name to TGCG branding. But new owner Terra Firma is believed to want a more readily identifiable, integrated national brand identity.

TGCG has met with Wyevale Nurseries to discuss using the name for its garden centres, which it is allowed to do, and is looking to make a renaming decision in the next few months.

Wyevale started in the 1930s as a mail-order company. The first Wyevale Garden Centre opened in Hereford in 1967. Marshall renamed it TGCG in 2009, removing Wyevale branding from 90 of the chain's then 122 centres, saying: "Garden centre customers aren't interested in national brands. They're interested in the local brand of the local garden centre."

A company representative said: "TGCG includes three strong brands - Country Gardens, Blooms and Wyevale Garden Centres - and we are currently looking at how to best develop them, though no firm decisions have been made at this time."

Meanwhile, TGCG has introduced planting by colour and theme, with colour wheels and new displays in planterias to help customers shop for plants more simply.

Marketing director Sarah Fuller said: "Plant by Colour is a new horticultural initiative to help guide and inspire customers on the effective use of colour in the garden. We are using a colour wheel and six strong colours to show how combinations can create a wow factor."

On concessions, following TGCG dropping First Franchise as partner, and openness to concessions including catering, food, homeware and cards, commercial director Frank Hayes said: "The focus of our strategy is simply to leverage our partners' expertise to broaden and deepen our customer offer.

"We are continuing to develop a number of categories - pets, aquatics, clothing, books - with partners that are experts in these areas and can deliver a better offering than we can alone.
"We are also in the early stages of developing new areas based on better understanding of customers' interests and hobbies. We found that many customers are also passionate about food and cooking so we are trialling farm shops and cook shops."

TGCG concession agreements are with clothes/shoes companies, pets firms, Viners, WHSmith, The Works and Costa Coffee.

The group recently opened farm shops at Woodlands in Chichester and Stratford upon Avon and is looking for butchers, farm shops and delicatessens to open new stores in its centres. It will host a cafe at BBC Gardeners' World Live in Birmingham (12-15 June).

The 140-centre group would not comment on industry rumours that it has made rejected bids for Notcutts and Dobbies.

Terra Firma's research has shown that people spend two-to-four hours at garden centres. Resin animals sold £1m last year, with bunnies the top sellers. Private equity group Terra Firma bought TGCG for £276m in 2012.
Sector reacts to group's potential change of name

Will Armitage, chairman, Garden Centre Association
"The local brand of a garden centre is the most important thing and how the customer sees it. A few years ago they changed the names so they had the geographical location, so I don't see why they need to change their name on the business-to-business front."

Carol Paris, chief executive, HTA
"It is entirely their business decision. Wyevale is a well-established and well-known name within the industry and still many members of the public see their local centre as Wyevale."

Source : Matthew Appleby - Horticulture Week

02 May 2014
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