Introducing the Hillier Garden Centre Awards, director Chris Francis thanked the garden centre teams for delivering another record year.
Comparing 2018 with 2017 he said, “Following an ideal year of weather announcing a record turnover year in our garden centre sales [I was] thinking, how are we going to match that. I shouldn’t have worried because yet again the teams have delivered another record year for our garden centre business.”
He said this was a remarkable achievement in face of such adverse conditions: “The year started with a wet autumn, moved onto the ‘Beast from the East’ and then almost overnight moved to record high temperatures and drought.”
He predicted major external factors that will continue to challenge the garden centre retail and wider business in the UK, in particular around Brexit and Biosecurity, with Xylella getting closer.
Garden Centre of the year
Newbury centre stood out for being excellent in all departments, maintaining standards and quality throughout the year despite some senior management being seconded to other garden centres.
Employee of the year
Newbury’s Nigel Fifield received the prize for employee of the year, voted for by his colleagues. His citation said he was always the first to help others.
When Dan Dunbar, a trained first aider, was called to attend to a customer who had collapsed with cardiac arrest he found no signs of life. He persisted with CPR till the paramedics arrived. The patient was taken to hospital and survived, according to the hospital, entirely because of Dan’s actions. Yesterday he was honoured with a standing ovation and the prize for outstanding achievement.
The Winners List
Garden Centre Employee of the Year 2018 - Nigel Fifield
Plant Area of the Year 2018 - Banbury
Garden Shop of the Year 2018 - Horsham
Restaurant of the Year 2018 - Liss
Garden Centre of the Year 2018 - Newbury
Head Office Employee of the Year 2018 - Adrian Hare
Home and Leisure Supplier of the Year 2018 - Smart Garden Products
Garden Shop Supplier of the Year 2018 - Woodlodge Products
Horticulture Supplier of the Year 2018 - Meon Valley Nurseries - for the 4th consecutive year
Garden Centre Manager of the Year 2018 - Shane Richards
Marketing, Merchandising and Social Media Award 2018 - Liss
Gardening Club Champion 2018 - Sylvia Ford
Outstanding Achievement Award 2018 - Dan Dunbar