Food Pays in UK Garden Centers
In the United Kingdom, garden centers are diversified. Historically, loan institutions in the UK were wary of loaning money to seasonal business operations like plant sales, and Christmas trees. So, the plant industry began to slowly introducing non-plant products that sell year-round to even out their revenue flow. This included holiday decorations, pet supplies, perfume, and greeting cards. Today, nearly all garden centers in England sell food to increase their revenue.
Guy Topping, Managing Director, at Barton Grange Garden Center, Preston, UK admitted that their plant sales are actually 10% of their total sales. This is nothing new, food has been a staple in UK garden centers for many years. It is offered as either a catering option or in a food hall inside the store. Originally, the local pub and garden centers were the place to get your tea and scones before fast food stores arrived. Now the food hall has transitioned in to the formal restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Warren Haskins, (Chairman, Haskins Garden Center, Ferndown, UK) admits their restaurants bring customers in. If closed, he estimated that sales in the garden center would drop by 20% or more. The industry admits that the catering food option is more difficult to control. Available staffing, poor social media feedback and day-to-day operation of the business can be challenging.
If you travel to England today, you will see the food hall offers produce, a butcher shop, savory pies, baked pastries and even gelato. According to Topping, “Food-related products accounts for 60% of their sales.” He goes on to say “The British housewife’s appetite for cake and coffee is insatiable.”
Florida ‘Food for Thought’
I find this to hold true in Florida as well. Most people will travel an average of 20 miles to indulge in a delicious pastry or dessert. Food seems to be a key component when you look at Florida commercial farm operations that serve the public. Drinks, desserts or food options entice the customers to expand their ‘insatiable appetite’ while increasing revenue.
Although we don’t see this diversification in Florida garden centers, perhaps this trend will expand in plant operations in the future.