Former Scotts Miracle-Gro UK managing director Martin Breddy, who spent 11 years with the growing media supplier, describes himself as ‘gamekeeper turned poacher’, as he talks about his new role as retailer at the helm of the 15-strong independent Squire’s Garden Centres.

entir e time at “A

fter all the terrible things I used to say about r etailers


now that I’m on the other side,” Martin Breddy laughs. Havi ng joined joined Lever Brothers when he left Cambridge University Martin worked across a number of Unilever brands internationally befor e joining The Scotts Miracle- Gro Company in 2004. Recounting a number of eyebrow-raising stories about working under chairman of the US Scotts parent company Hagedorn, Martin adds: “He is the most foul-mouthed man I have ever worked for… He also used to call me Martino – I’ve no idea why laughs. Of his new boss, Squire’s chairman Colin Squire, Martin says:

University y,, mpany y,, Jim a why y,,” he

“Colin and Jim are two complete polar opposites. Colin is the most charming and gentlemanly man you could hope to meet. I am privileged to be working at Squir e’s.”

in my He confesses he did question it’s funny

whether or not to take on the role of MD at the garden centr e business when he was asked two years ago: “There was a point when I asked myself ‘can I do this?’ But you don’t spend 30 years selling to retailers without understanding them a bit.” Speaking at GIMA

MA’s confer ence, he A

gave delegates an insight into what he has learned about how garden retailers operate since joining Squires: Speed – I didn’t appreciate the speed at which retail operates. I was on the phone a moment ago talking about doing more over the Bank holiday weekend; opening at 7.30am with 10% off until 10.30am. We’ve had no customers for the

1 We e’ve had no c


past six weeks, so we need every hour possible to get more takings. We

e took

y,, the y,,


Price/value – As a supplier I spent years trying to figur e out the value of a bag of compost over the price. It’s very har d to price something its true value. I feel terrible for the industry I love because r etailers have the capacity to bully suppliers into low prices. At Squir e’s we will try to focus on value, not just on price because that’s what our customers want. Breadth – most of the 1 1 years at Scotts, I was focused on trying to find ways of getting our SKUs down. The US par ent company felt we had twice as many as many as we needed with 400 SKUs. In stark contrast, at any one time at a

We took the decision yesterday POS material came through today and I’ve just appr oved it for the marketing to push it through. You just don’t get the time to mess about. Another example is a conversation one morning about extending an offer on furniture after the Beast from the East – by 4.30pm that day the POS and marketing material was printed and on vans out to our centres. I’m naturally quite a cautious guy but you’ve got to just do it. rice/value

ff fer on East – by 4.30pm that day y,, 2 3 26 DIY WEEK 27 APRIL 2018

Squire’s centre, we can have 40,000 SKUs or even 100,000 on the system, once you’ve counted up every Christmas bauble. There is a massive amount of complexity

we cannot look that deeply into any one category

y.. I understand why fory,

y.. It also means y,

a retailer, it washes over them a bitr,, it washes over them when you are trying to analyse EPOS data for category management. We have 15 centres, two gift buyers, one plant buyer and our pur chasing dir ector Darran Oakley – and that’s it. When I was a supplier , I wasr,, trying to find value in the category but, as a retailer

We I

have the time and capacity are


r,, I r ealise we don’t y..

Plus, we all have restaurants now we


now,w, and

a completely different business model is needed. Suppliers; don’t underestimate how much time and effort this takes to operate. It is growing faster than key retail and is a big draw for footfall.


Human service – e haveWe have 750 people who work for us and 200- odd seasonal staff. These people are your brand, they represent you. They are fundamental when tackling online retailers. If we don’t offer brilliant human service, then we are in trouble. People are


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