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Garden Centres boosted by non-plant sales

Published: 22 January 2013
Catering, Christmas and gifts gave garden centres a less-traditional sales boost last year, according to the Garden Centre Association's (GCA) Barometer of Trade (BoT) results.
GCA chairman Peter Burks said: "Despite the unpredictable and unseasonable weather playing a large part in making 2012 a very tough year for garden centres, our BoT results show that member garden centres can, and have relied on, non-traditional categories to boost their sales throughout the year.

"They adapted to the challenges of the past year by reducing their dependency on plant sales and focused on other areas of the business."

Christmas product sales saw a significant leap, up 10.35% on 2011. Catering did almost as well, up 8.84% on the previous year, clothing up 5.47% and gifts up 4.49%. Also performing well was pets and aquatics, which was up 3.42%.

Overall sales at GCA garden centres were down 2%. Plant sales fared the worst as a result of the poor weather, down 13.03% for the year. Furniture and barbeque sales also suffered, down 9.93%, while seed and bulb sales fell by 8.21% and hard landscaping dropped by 8.56%.

Fron Goch Garden Centre's catering manager and director Melanie Sewell said: "Our café has shown increased sales of 12.1% during 2012. As our catering offer represents 34% of total turnover, it helped turn 2012 into a pretty good year.

"We did not have a café until 2007 and now café turnover has reached £665,000. No one can afford to neglect this area with high gross profit margin and profitability.

"During 2012 we concentrated on driving sales through buy one get one free vouchers for breakfast and offers on hot lunches and introducing afternoon teas, in addition to improving profitability through controlling food and labour costs."

Mr Burks added: "I'd like to congratulate all our members on their adaptability, flexibility and sheer hard work in 2012. As an industry that is traditionally weather-dependent, last year could have been disastrous.

"It is testament to our members innovative nature that sales were so high in certain areas.

"I'd like to wish everyone all the best for 2013, we all learned a lot of lessons this past year. If the British weather takes an unpredictable course again this year at least we will all be prepared."

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