retail and giſt

The perfect proposition Garsons already dedicates a large area to its hand- picked gift and homewares selection, it covers all the bases – from home interiors, kitchenware, toys, bath, cards and crafts – and Ian doesn’t want to stop there. “It currently warrants the area it has and we have seen an upturn in sales over the last six months as we introduce new products and promotions. I think more theatre, better displays and perhaps product demonstrations would be beneficial,” he suggests.

When asked if garden centres are making the most out of housewares and giftware, Ian says its first important to establish your identity as a business and what your core focus is, he explains: “I think that you need to know your customer base and type of centre that you are so you can focus on your strengths. Some more plant based centres will not be able to sell this category of product.”

Expanding on the eco-friendly theme, Ian confirms: “we are definitely beginning to shift across the business regarding sustainability and sales of this product within all categories is increasing as people become more aware.” A representative from Notcutts garden centre says the company remains very firmly at its root as a plant orientated business. “Notcutts was founded 120 years ago through a passion for plants and we’re proud that we remain true to our horticultural roots today. Plants and gardening are still very much at the heart of everything we do at Notcutts, as we aim to inspire our customers with advice and ideas for

their own outdoor spaces,” the company says. But it’s open to adapting its ranges to suit customer needs: “However, we recognise that customers look for a wider overall experience when they visit a garden centre today, so we have expanded our gift and retail ranges according to growing customer demand.” “Gifts currently make up 12 to 14% of Notcutts’

products. Our most popular gift categories are fragrance (including diffusers and candles), toiletries and personal accessories. Gardening gifts are also popular, including our wide range of tools and gifts that encourage children to get outdoors and enjoy gardening. We recognise the ever-changing needs of our customers and the different ways they want to shop with us. We believe that the key to success in the gift and retail category is offering unique and exclusive products that offer something different to those found on the high street,” the company adds. The team at Tong Garden Centre has recently announced a £4million investment, which Sharon McNair, commercial director at Tong, says could well be used for broadening the gift offer. She says: “Our £4m investment and expansion includes a new plant canopy, indoor play and the creation of an events centre, new warehouse and larger catering offer. The final phase will see the creation of a new building to the front of the store that will see a new restaurant, better staff facilities plus increased retail space for gardening related products and indoor houseplants. This may allow us to use some of the existing space that

is currently gardening over to gift. If additional indoor retail space becomes available, we’d definitely look to increase the area and in particular expand our toy and kitchen ranges. Of course at Christmas time we do extend this area as we shrink the garden sundries lines.” Sharon explains that the biggest growth area

at the centre in the last 12 months has actually been in toys, it’s the company’s best performing category as it is up by 36% compared to last year, and she also says books continue to be a growing department for the business too. She continues: “Giftware this year is 16% ahead of last year and 12% ahead of the budget. We strengthened the team with training and merchandising skills, the department looks great.

“I think garden centres do gift well, a diverse range under one roof, for a wide age range and audience, and we’re good at keeping the offer fresh. Garden centres have definitely evolved their offer to improve the experience for customers, broaden the range beyond core gardening and introduce ranges that aren’t affected by the weather,” Sharon considers. Ultimately gifts and housewares play a huge part in garden centres and increasing the footfall into your store will only drive sales further in this category when it comes to impulse buying as well as for special occasions. If you haven’t already made the most out of this area, it might be time to open yourselves and your customers up to this wider range in the shopping experience.

GCU July 2019 | 15

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