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the big interview ‘Once people are hooked


they will keep coming back’ The Gardens Groupmanaging director Mike Burks discusses significant milestones, engaging with the community and keeping plants at the heart of the business


love for the garden has long been a part of life for The Gardens Group managing director Mike Burks. “Having been brought up on a retail nursery and market garden, gardening was ingrained in me from a very early age,” he explains. “Louise [Burks, co-founder and director of The Gardens Group] and I graduated from the University of Bath with degrees in Horticulture. We started work at Castle Gardens in 1987. Five years later we expanded with the opening of Brimsmore Gardens in Yeovil, followed by Poundbury Gardens near Dorchester in 2006.” The business has continued to develop over the years, increasing in size but keeping focused on some core tenets.


A


“Today, The Gardens Group employs over 100 staff across three multi award-winning garden centres, incorporating three restaurants and a farm shop,” says Mike. “Our ethos is that gardening should dominate the business and


Plants remain at the heart of The Gardens Group, and offering a depth of range and horticultural expertise provides a point of difference to those encroaching on the category


plants are a huge part of what we do. Each centre though offers customers a very special kind of service in individual settings and every October, The Gardens Group unveils its multi award-winning and much-anticipated Christmas displays, with hundreds of people flocking to wander through the magical festive wonderland, visit Father Christmas and take part in special festive events among the twinkly lights.”


2017 has also marked some significant milestones for The Gardens Group. “This year has been one of reflection, celebration and jubilation as Brimsmore Gardens marked its 25th anniversary in March and Castle Gardens celebrated 30 years back in April,” Mike explains. “Our celebrations have


given us a great opportunity to look back at how gardening has evolved in 30 years and how the business has developed from a one-till operation to employing over 100 staff. “In amongst all the anniversary celebrations, we were also awarded The Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Worrall Cup trophy for Best Marketing Campaign or Initiative for the Flower Show Forum, an initiative launched in 2016 with the aim of helping the traditional flower show to survive and thrive. More recently, Louise and I were stunned to be awarded an Outstanding Contribution award at the Western Gazette Business Awards, where we were recognised for our longstanding contribution to the Dorset and Somerset business community over the past 30 years.”


Local businesses should support each other to keep communities vibrant


8 | www.gardencentreupdate.com


GCU September 2017


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