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Alex Polizzi steps in to help struggling garden centre

Published: 15 January 2013
A garden centre that has been fighting for its life since opening last year has received unexpected help in the form of television small-business guru, Alex Polizzi.
Alex Polizzi steps in to help struggling garden centre
Oak Garden Centre in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, was set up by Brad White after DJ's, the garden centre he and other family members helped his father David White run, went into liquidation in 2012. Brad took the business over from his father and gave it its new name.

But, David told "It's a new business but it started its life at the wrong time - June. It's normally our busy time, but last year there just was no busy time because of the weather and the double-dip recession. It was a disaster. We nearly lost everything in the summer."

However, they were then contacted by the team that produces BBC 2's The Fixer, a series in which Ms Polizzi helps businesses that are having a hard time.

"The fixers got hold of us somehow, but we have no idea how that happened," said Mr White. "Apparently it's all done randomly; they look for family businesses that are struggling.

"They've been filming for the last two and a half months and it culminated last Friday."

He described the experience as "Different! We thought we'd have to spend a lot of money to get things turned around but we've just had different ideas, with changing round the layout of our shop, the products we stock, with the houseplants - we've put a small greenhouse inside the shop so now it's an indoor houseplants display and not costing us anything to heat.

"We've also had new marketing and signage - we've put lots of chalk boards around the place. It's all been done as economically as possible and we've only had to spend on the labour."

Asked if they were pleased with the result, he said: "Beyond a doubt, it's fantastic." But it was too soon to tell if the improvements would help business. "It's early days: this spring will tell us," he added.

The Fixer series will be screened in March, with an estimated 2m viewers.


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