missing human contact and, if we can offer more than just a trading experience or retail transaction, it will keep us strong. It also helps to offer training because not everyone is a natural at that. Plant people are the rock stars of our business but they often need support to help them engage with customers.

the centres. It may seem like a small detail but it adds value to get things like your floor and ceiling right. People come to your shop and buy more if you’ve got the environment right. If you let it go, you will lose shoppers. Car parks are another one; we employ our own gardeners to make sure the planting in spot- on in our car parks. We use proper landscape gardeners. They are fantastic and I think they could graduate to having other roles within the business.

5 6

Property – As a supplier I underestimated the amount of time it takes to run an estate. We have 11 freehold centres and four freehold centres. The former have planning issues and you have to

Environment – we have a mixed estate and are working to update

work with local councils, whilst the latter have complicated contracts. We just re-built our Woking centre with little change out of £4million. Marketing – We

in-house person with an assistant and two graphic designers but we have a £50million business and are putting new material out all the time. It is a pretty tight team. My frustration is that we could do with growing it.

7 8

External focus – Unlike at Scotts, I haven’t done a single

spreadsheet in two years. I just take a list of things to Colin, we sit down and have lunch and talk about them. Sometimes it can be a bit ‘seat of the pants’ as a retailer but that’s the nature of it. The great thing is you can talk to your end users every day of the week and don’t have to worry about the internal stuff. We are extremely customer and externally focused and it’s great. The centre staff think we ‘office lot’ are a bunch of wasters, so we have all pledged to spend two days working on the shop floor – it totals 60 days of labour. I was in West Horsley the other day scanning-in stock and working on the till.

have one

Culture – garden centres, especially family-run ones, have a very particular way of doing things. I think it is really unique and beats the private equity investors. When it works well, it is really special.


Martin concludes: “In an ever-more frantic planet, we can give people a bit of a haven and a place to relax. When I first started, I asked our team

to watch customers and how they behave. When we get it right, then people almost visibly relax when they walk into a garden centre.” He believes there is “huge opportunity” to grow the Squire’s business and has set a goal to grow footfall at its centres by 15% in five years; both by attracting new customers and “getting infrequent customers to visit more often”.

27 APRIL 2018 DIY WEEK 27

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40