EXCITING REDEVELOPMENT AT SQUIRE’S IN WOKING

Squire’s Garden Centres is to create a stunning new garden centre at its Woking site by extending the existing shop and improving the plant area with a new outdoor canopy. There will also be a stylish new Café Bar.

Sarah Squire, Squire’s Deputy Chairman said “We are very excited about our redevelopment plans for Woking. The project has been a long time in gestation and we are so keen to get started. Next spring you will see a centre that has been transformed yet still remains one hundred percent true to our horticultural heritage, retains its sense of place and is sensitive to its location and the surrounding area. There will be an inspirational plant department and a new Café Bar with both indoor and outdoor seating. The indoor space will have a light and airy feel – great for plants and for people. Without giving too much away, we have some really interesting ideas for the look and feel of the interior. We can’t wait to re-open and offer a great range of plants and gardening products to our customers.”

To be able to carry out the works safely Squire’s in Woking will close to the public from 18th June and it will re-open next Spring. Squire’s offered the much-loved donkeys at Woking a new home at another Squire’s centre nearby, but the owner has decided to re-home them locally.

Whilst Squire’s in Woking is closed customers can visit Squire’s in Chertsey, Cobham, Hersham or Badshot Lea.

Hillier Continues Chelsea Winning Streak with 72nd Gold

The most successful exhibitor in the history of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show has continued its winning streak.

Hillier was awarded a gold medal for its ‘Spring’ by Hillier garden, making this the 72ndconsecutive Chelsea Flower Show where Hillier has won gold. This impressive result also means lead designer, Sarah Eberle, remains Chelsea’s most decorated designer with a total of 14 gold medals at the show – this year she celebrates the ‘treble double’; three years in a row of two golds for her gardens.

A beaming George Hillier enthused: “Chelsea is the lifeblood running through Hillier. It plays such a vital role in the business so we are absolutely delighted to have won gold for the 72ndtime in a row! It is absolutely a team effort and I want to extend a huge thanks to every single person involved, from our designers Sarah and Caitlin to everyone that works so hard throughout the whole year to make it all possible.

“Our mission is to inspire the creation of green living spaces for now and the future and, by adding to our legacy, this year’s garden has certainly helped us achieve that.”

Having exhibited plants at Chelsea in some form for over 100 years and having now maintained the record for consecutive gold medals, the Chelsea Flower Show grows more important to Hillier each year. The show is the platform from which the company launches many of its new plant varieties, including two in 2017 that are exclusive to Hillier. Malus x purpurea ‘Crimson Cascade’ is a rather unusual weeping Malus discovered in a garden near York and Corydalis ‘Porcelain Blue’ is a striking true-blue variety with a delightful fragrance and long flowering period.

Another attraction on the stand this year is the ‘Memory Tree’. Visitors are being invited to write down a treasured gardening memory and hang a plant tag on the Davidia involucrata tree, commonly known as the ‘Pocket Handkerchief Tree’, with the first tag having been hung by Alan Titchmarsh on Press Day. The aim is to have thousands of hanging tags by the end of show week.

Notcutts Shows Support For East Anglian Air Ambulance

Staff at Notcutts’ head office in Woodbridge have teamed up to raise hundreds of pounds for East Anglian Air Ambulance, which provides a helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) for the people of East Anglia.

Money was raised through a series of charity events held at the headquarters of the garden centre group, including raffles, baking competitions, and sample item sales. Members from Notcutts’ sports & social team presented the cheque to East Anglian Air Ambulance at their offices on the 4 May.

Lee Rogers, who works as an IT Systems Assistant at Notcutts, but also acts as a sports & social representative for the company, said: “When we voted on who we wanted to donate the proceeds of our fundraising to, East Anglian Air Ambulance was a unanimous choice. It is an extremely deserving charity and we’re very happy to do our bit to support their lifesaving work in our region.”

Anna Karien-Drost, Fundraising Officer at East Anglian Air Ambulance, said: “We were delighted to receive this generous donation, and would like to thank Notcutts for choosing us as their nominated charity, we are very grateful for their support.”

SURVEY SHOWS GARDENING IS GOOD FOR THE MIND, BODY & SOUL

A survey by Squire’s Garden Centres has found that a massive 93% of people said that gardening helps keep them fit and healthy, and 20% of people surveyed said that it was their main form of exercise.

Sarah Squire, Deputy Chairman at Squire’s said, “Gardening is a great way to achieve a low impact workout, full of movement and stretching but without the strain on the joints of pounding the streets. Plus best of all it’s free!”

Warm up to gardening

81% of people questioned by Squire’s said that they never stretch or warm-up before gardening, so to make your gardening workout even better Squire’s advise a ten minute warm up and stretch to help avoid any aches and pains.

It’s not just plants that need water in the garden

Only 39% of people surveyed said that they drank water while gardening. Tea or coffee was the drink of choice for 38% of people, 9% drank nothing at all, and 2% of people surveyed enjoy an alcoholic beverage while gardening!

“Just as you would drink water in the gym you should also do so while gardening, as dehydration can lead to increased muscle stiffness after exercise.” said Sarah Squire. “So remember, it’s not just plants that need water in the garden – you do too!”

Gardening is good for your mind, body & soul

As well as being good for your body, gardening is good for your mind and soul too. 92% of people felt that gardening gave them space to think and clear their mind. 45% of people surveyed said that gardening made them feel happy, and 40% of people said it made them feel relaxed and calm. So make regular time for yourself in the garden. Spending time outdoors helps us to feel less stressed, improves our mood and enhances our concentration by allowing us to recover from mental fatigue.

Sarah Squire added: “The therapeutic effects of gardens and gardening are well known, and our survey results demonstrate this, with 92% of people saying that gardening gave them space to think and clear their mind. I defy anyone not to feel relaxed and let the cares of the day slide away in a garden.”

So don’t bother donning Lycra for a grueling exercise class, simply pop on your wellies, get outside, and be a happy gardener!

NEW BUILD GARDEN CENTRE NEAR NOTTINGHAM FOR NEWSPAN

This time last year planning was approved to turn Bridgford Garden Centre into one of the largest destination garden centres in the UK. Fast forward a year and spades are in the ground and steel is in the workshop gearing up to deliver this exciting New Build Garden Centre near Nottingham, in the Greenbelt.

The new Garden Centre will combine retail with catering options as well as an extension to an on-site indoor play area and café – providing a fantastic destination for the whole family. Visitors will have 9,500m2 to browse in the main retail building, including a covered cold house plant area, with an additional 450m2 available in the extended play barn.

The Garden Centre will be in our signature a steel portal frame design, providing a spacious and bright feel to the internal areas. The front of the Garden Centre will have decorative glazing which will provide a distinguishable and attractive welcome to visitors. Bridgford will open it’s doors in 2018.

Squire’s donate nearly £4,000 to charity Greenfingers

Squire’s Garden Centres are pleased to announce that they are donating £3,847.82 to the charity Greenfingers. This is the amount of money raised from the government 5p carrier bag charge since April 2016.

Squire’s customers have bought over 96,000 5p carrier bags in the last year, which has generated the money that is being given to Greenfingers, a charity who creates magical gardens at children’s hospices around the country.

Deputy Chairman Sarah Squire commented “We are delighted to pass on the proceeds from the government 5p carrier bag charge to Greenfingers. They create such amazing gardens for children and their families to enjoy at hospices around the UK, at a time when these families are facing huge challenges.”

Linda Petrons, Head of Fundraising & Communications at Greenfingers Charity added “We are extremely grateful to Squire’s for choosing to support us this way. This generous donation will help us reach our target of £1 million as part of our ‘A Million Moments’ appeal. Through the appeal we aim to bring the gift of a garden to at least 5,000 children and their families who spend time in hospices throughout the UK.”

The 5p carrier bag charge came into effect on 5th October 2015. Since then Squire’s have donated a total of £5,676.90 from the carrier bag levy to Greenfingers. This is in addition to other fundraising carried out for Greenfingers throughout the year.

Dobbies announce new restaurant team

Dobbies Garden Centres has announced that there will be three top industry professionals joining its restaurant team.

Head of Restaurants, Costas Constantinou, one of twelve of Nicholas Marshall’s new recruits at Dobbies, has introduced a new structure to include Regional Restaurant Managers. The roles have been created to support the leading garden retailer’s 34 stores and lead on new initiatives for the business.

Alan Waddington brings over 35 years of experience in the catering industry, including being a Regional Manager for Wyevale and Group Catering Manager for Aston Martin. Alan will take the lead in driving new initiatives to revamp the beverage offer across the centres.

Susan Givens, was awarded the accolade of Restaurant Manager of the Year at Wyevale last year having built up a career in garden centre restaurants for over 17 years.  Susan has incredible baking skills and will form the core of Dobbies ‘freshly baked’ strategy.

James White, formerly a Regional Manager at Wyevale has a career spanning over 15 years in garden centre restaurants.  James has extensive experience in project management and will form part of the restaurant regeneration programme.

Costas commented: “Alan, Susan and James are joining the Dobbies team at the most exciting time.  With significant improvements planned for this year, the new Regional Restaurant Managers will be at the forefront of delivering unrivalled standards of food, service and customer experience”.

The restaurant offer at Dobbies will be improved with local ingredients being at the fore. Working with British farmers and manufacturers to provide a variety of options to suit wider dietary requirements, as well launching a new children’s menu, are priorities for the new team to better serve customers visiting Dobbies.

Hillier Supports National Sun Protection Campaign

The start of the growing season is here, with thousands heading off to their local garden centre. As well as tips on how to look after their plants, visitors to Hillier in Eastbourne will soon also be given advice on looking after their skin.

Hillier is joining over 150 major garden centres across the UK in promote Watch Your Back! a sun protection campaign backed by a team of celebrity gardeners, including Alan Titchmarsh, Charlie Dimmock, Joe Swift, Toby Buckland, Andy Sturgeon, Anne Swithinbank, David Domoney and David Stevens.

The campaign, now in its second year, was devised by the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund and is also supported by the Garden Centre Association, The Professional Gardeners Guild and The National Allotment Society.

Although we are all vulnerable, Watch Your Back! targets men over 50 who spend a lot of time outdoors as they are 70% more likely to develop melanoma, typically on their backs and in areas that are hard to spot leading to a later diagnosis.

Melanoma rates in the UK have more than quadrupled over the last 30 years, however many of us, especially men, still don’t understand the need, or have the motivation to use sun protection regularly, check skin for signs of change or know what to look out for. This attitude may explain why more people in the UK die from melanoma than in Australia or New Zealand, both of which have the highest incidence in the world.

To help impact this, Hillier is promoting the following advice:
PROTECT: Wear SP30 sunscreen, sleeves, a hat and seek shade between 11am and 3pm
DETECT: Regularly check skin for changes and ensure you know what to look out for
PREVENT: Melanoma and other skin cancers, but enjoy your time outside

The campaign has the support of a number of high profile horticulturalists. “This campaign makes huge sense and reminds gardeners that their own health is every bit as important as that of their plants,” says Alan Titchmarsh MBE. “Too many of us are unaware of the true dangers of over-exposure to the sun, and how sunburn can lead to melanoma and other skin cancers,” comments Joe Swift.

Top tips from the experts
The charity has worked with Mr Siva Kumar and Mr Samuel Orkar from the MASCU (Melanoma & Skin Cancer Unit) at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead to produce a set of sun protection tips, a guide to skin checking and information on how to keep skin healthy, designed especially for all gardeners.
Visit www.melanoma-fund.co.uk for further details.

Book a skin check at Hillier Garden Centre Eastbourne
Hillier Garden Centre Eastbourne will be hosting a Skin Check Clinic, overseen by Mr Siva Kumar and his team, on Saturday 20th May from 10am – 3pm. If you would like to book a spot, visit:
http://www.melanoma-fund.co.uk/skin-check-clinics/

NEW FINANCE DIRECTOR AT SQUIRE’S GARDEN CENTRES

Squire’s Garden Centres have appointed Mark Wilson as their new Finance Director. Mark joins Squire’s with a wealth of experience, having worked for Unilever for nearly 25 years in a variety of Finance, Buying and Corporate Strategy roles, as well as working for 10 years as Finance Director at Vitacress, a family owned supplier of fresh produce to the grocery trade.

Martin Breddy, Squire’s Managing Director said “I am delighted to announce that Mark Wilson has joined Squire’s Garden Centres as our Finance Director, replacing Steven Palmer who retired at the end of April after 8 years service at Squire’s. Mark is very familiar with our business, having lived for many years near our Woking centre, and is now based in Fleet, near our Badshot Lea centre and the Group Office. He joins Squire’s with extensive knowledge and experience, and I and the rest of the team look forward to working closely with him to continue developing and growing the successful family business.”

Dobbies to launch national online garden centre Dobbies to launch national online garden centre

Dobbies Garden Centres has signed a five year agreement with Speciality Stores, the general merchandise subsidiary of Ocado Group plc, for the provision of online services. These services will enable Dobbies to launch a new online store early next year serving the whole of the UK.

Dobbies will benefit from the technology, software, logistics and expertise employed by Speciality Stores, and its online orders will be fulfilled using Speciality Stores’ general merchandise warehouse. This agreement will enable Dobbies to offer an outstanding online experience, delivering direct to existing as well as new customers across the UK.

The terms of the five year agreement are not being disclosed.

Nicholas Marshall, CEO of Dobbies, said:

“Online, excluding food, is now approaching 40% of UK retail sales and rapidly growing. Yet, online garden retailing is just a few percent. The garden centre industry is at least ten years behind the rest of the retail world. The gardening market in the UK is worth £4 billion. The potential is therefore enormous. For us to partner with Ocado the best online retailer in the UK is a brilliant opportunity for Dobbies, and its customers.”

Andrew Bracey, Chairman of Dobbies, added:

“In our first year of ownership of Dobbies, we are delighted to announce our partnership with Ocado and its general merchandise subsidiary, Speciality Stores to take Dobbies online across the UK.  Ocado has an outstanding reputation for service and quality. I am confident that together we can grow a very successful online business for Dobbies across the whole of the UK.”

James Matthews, Managing Director of Ocado General Merchandise, said:

“We are pleased to announce this agreement which will enable Dobbies to launch a new online service for their customers, powered by our technological and logistical know-how. The expertise we have gained through operating our current Speciality Stores businesses and our Fabled joint venture with Marie Claire has allowed us to provide a compelling service proposition to Dobbies and we are excited to be working with them to help grow their online presence.”