Speaking at the recent GIMA day conference, former Scotts Miracle-Gro managing director, Martin Breddy, described himself as "gamekeeper turned poacher" and talked about life as a retailer since taking up the helm at Squire's Garden Centres two years ago. He also highlighted plans to grow the business by 20% and increase footfall across the independent network of centres by15% in five years.
Having spent his entire career working for suppliers, including 11 years with The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Mr Breddy admitted to being unsure about taking on the role of managing director at the family-run independent garden centre business when he was offered it in 2016, asking himself "can I do this?". However, he said he has not looked back since, adding that he feels "privileged to be working for Squire's".
He detailed his plans for the business, adding that he hopes to grow the business by 20% in five years by “getting customers through the door and charging a bit more in line with inflation.”
With shopper numbers a key part of Mr Breddy’s growth plans, he has set himself he has set himself a five-year goal to increase footfall across Squire’s 15-strong network of centres by 15%, by "bringing more new customers through the door and getting infrequent customers to visit more often.”
He added: “I’ve not quite worked out how to get the customers to us that don’t know where we are,” but said, “I believe there is a huge opportunity to grow the business by attracting new customers," he said.
Describing his assessment of the business when he first came on board, Mr Breddy said that Squire’s Garden Centres’ only weakness was that “footfall was edging down a bit”. However, things had started to improve, despite the blip caused by the terrible weather at the start of spring.
He added: “Until this terrible weather, we had turned a corner and were on an upward trend for the past 15 months. The weather always trumps the economy!”
Meanwhile, he revealed that houseplants are up 15-20% for the business this year, whilst gift and catering are also performing well.
With business doing well, Squire’s is still on the lookout for new potential sites and Martin said the business feels “confident to invest” in its expansion and in “good sites”. However, it isn’t exactly spoilt for choice in the current climate. “Nothing is coming up,” he said. “There is a lot more succession planning in the industry now and I don’t see a current trend for a great tranche of good family businesses coming on the market.”
Read more in the April 27 issue of DIY Week out now.
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