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recruited to help Jim and David develop the concession side which continues to be a major draw for customers at Polhill today. The Sevenoaks site also has a popular restaurant, Novell’s, which was originally Polly’s Pantry. Six years ago it was relocated to cater for the demands of Polhill Customers enabling a wider menu choice and improved service to the many visitors it continues to receive each year. As affordability permitted, the garden centre continued to grow along with the expectations of Polhill customers and to meet the growing needs of regular clientele Polhill invested in new areas such as clothing. Then came the hurricane of October 1987 which hit the South East

with a vengeance. Parts of Polhill were lifted off the ground and a third of the centre needed to be rebuilt. This was a very trying time and chaos surrounded the country in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane and to actually get someone out to repair the glass houses was near impossible. Despite all this the Garden Centre continued trading and with the great Polhill team spirit, spare parts were shipped in from Holland and Jim, David and the team at Polhill literally bolted the glasshouse back together and rebuilt the damaged areas which took nearly a year as the devastation was so great. The Novells bounced back from this severe setback and it was not long after that Allison Cross now Mrs Novell joined the company as stock controller, aged just 20, and made a significant impact by making the warehouses more efficient. She rose to become managing director showing a passion for customer service, buying and selling and enjoying a hands-on role. When she began her career in the industry Allison worked in

every Garden Centre department before taking a business diploma after leaving school early to follow her desire to work in the Garden Centre sector. About 10 years ago, the Novells identified the opportunity to open

a second branch and bought the site in Cambridge. This ideal location is set in an apple orchard which was originally planted in 1922 for growing apples to supply local colleges. The Novells applied the same philosophy as Sevenoaks and the development of this site is also driven by customer demand and for this reason it continues thrive. Four years ago, Cambridge, was expanded with a large extension which allowed for the introduction of pets and garden furniture.

Jim Novell

Polhill Coton Orchard can also boast of an in house Post Office which was the first Post Office to open up in a Garden Centre and as Coton was going to close their post office in the village, the villagers were happy that this service was retained for the local community. The Cambridge tourist bus also stops regularly there on a round trip of the local area bringing many new visitors to the centre. Any products not available at the Cambridge site can be bought

over the internet or delivered directly to Cambridge. Polhill Cambridge has since gone on to open a farm shop and a Massarella’s Restaurant to name just a couple of the trading partners at the centre. The Garden Centre is run on a daily basis by Richard Bailey the Manager and Ian Hack the Plant Manager who support the on site team to help develop new ideas and take the business forward. Polhill takes pride in grow your own: Peter Bensted, who

started as a Saturday boy 13 years ago in the aquatics centre has progressed through the ranks and undertook work experience there from school and subsequently went on a trainee management scheme that the garden centre supported. He now holds the title of IT director. Other directors are Mark Novell, technical director, Russell Wood, finance director and Dan Hume and Scott McCabe who are retail directors. Both centres have ambitions for the future which include

continued growth and to further meet customer needs by improving its product ranges which will all ultimately be available from its evolving internet site www.polhillcentre.co.uk. We hope you enjoyed reading our history and would like to thank all our customers for your continued support.

From Left to right: Joshua Novell, Allison Novell, David Novell, Jim Novell, Andrew Novell and Mark Novell

www.polhillcentre.co.uk

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