Forty years ago the term Garden Centre was virtually unknown in the UK when Warren Haskins, who had just taken over the family retail nursery business after his father’s death, decided to open a small garden centre shop at Tricketts Cross in Ferndown. This added a range of garden sundries, furniture and other gardening equipment to its already extensive range of plants.
As the concept of a one stop store for gardening grew in popularity, so did the company. Warren Haskins says that the first year’s turnover was £28,000 with a staff of just 10 people.
“In 1994 we relocated from Tricketts Cross to our site at Longham which gave us the opportunity, with a lot of detailed planning, to open our first ‘new concept’ centre,” said Warren. “The shopping experience that we created has proved so successful that we have since demolished and rebuild two of our other centres, the latest being our centre near Worthing which reopened last Spring following a £12 million investment.”
The £32 million turnover company is still family owned and operates 4 centres near Bournemouth, Southampton, Worthing and Crawley.
“We are now regarded as destination centres in that our garden centres are considered places to visit as much as places to shop,” said Warren. “The introduction of bigger, more sophisticated restaurants has definitely not taken the focus from our core gardening offer. Our buying team now sources suppliers from across the UK, throughout Europe, and sometimes further afield, to introduce new interesting and exciting ranges each year.”
Looking to the future he says that the company hopes to acquire a 5th garden centre in the south of England in the near future but will continue focus and develop its good service, quality and range of products while maintaining the high standard of facilities that the business offers.