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Are Garden Centres set to become the new department stores?

Dobbies Garden Centres
Lifestyle retail is nothing new. Pioneered in the 50s, right now it’s a growing category. It’s where a number of products & services are sold together under one roof to appeal to a certain type of customer. Success comes down to knowing your customer. Successful lifestyle retailers curate products they know their customers would want.

In #retail there’s always the temptation to try & sell everything to everybody. Department stores in particular could have been great at lifestyle retail. In its heyday John Lewis & Partners did lifestyle retail, whereas Debenhams lost its way.

In this post pandemic world there’s plenty of blurring traditional boundaries. Savvy retail brands are looking for opportunities to steal a march on competitors, and one extremely dynamic area has been Garden Centres.

Sales grew +28% in 2021. Why? Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) figures showed the pandemic created a gardening boom with 3+ million people finding green fingers because they’d spent so much time at home.

Quick to capitalise on this, lifestyle retailer Selfridges launched Garden Centres at its stores. But it wasn’t just upscale retailers that jumped into the sector, The Range and B&M Retail amongst others all doing the same.

But what did the 2,000 UK Garden Centres themselves do? As an agile & entrepreneurial sector valued at £3bn in 2022, they didn’t just sit still. The UK’s five largest garden centre groups Dobbies Garden CentresBritish Garden CentresBlue Diamond GrowersNotcutts Ltd. and KLONDYKE GROUP LIMITED have all been super busy.

The largest of those is Dobbies with sales up 36% in 2021 to £304m. Its 75 outlets include 6 High St stores focusing on houseplants to satisfy the demand driven by Instagram. Smart move. Continuing smart moves, a recent partnership with Waitrose & Partners sees 2,000 products in their food halls. How’s that for #lifestyle retail ?

I visited Dobbies Royston to see what was going on! In a super modern spacious retail environment with plenty of free parking I found a huge range of family and pet friendly gardening, retail and restaurant options plus concessions for Pavers ShoesCotton TradersRegatta LtdPets Corner, and many others. On a Monday morning this place was full.

Dobbies describes themselves as ‘not your average garden centre; we exist to enrich people’s lives and nurture connections between people, the community and the environment. Dobbies offer carefully considered ranges in-store and online, high quality services, great restaurants and cafes as well as engaging experiences.’

Garden centres are located on leafy edge of town sites, with lower overheads, more space, ease of access, with plenty of free parking, & have the opportunity to easily expand retail sales areas. They've seized the opportunity to become lifestyle retailers, taking over from department stores for many. Smart move for local business?

If you are an ambitious Garden Centre brand looking at expansion, and need some marketing support on how to maintain your brand, activate it at local level and engage your outlets in your campaigns, get in touch with We Are Acuity today for a FREE marketing audit by clicking HERE.

Or if you'd like to read more about Local Marketing have a look at our blog page "Local Thinking': https://www.weareacuity.com/local-thinking-our-blog

#marketing #advertising #local

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