Image: Matt Bament and George Hillier, Hillier Garden Centre Area Managers, are presented with the award for Multiple Garden Retailer of the Year by British actress and comedian Jo Caulfield
Hillier Garden Centres is delighted to have received the award for Multiple Garden Retailer of the Year at the 2017 Garden Retail Awards. This is the second year running that this award has gone to Hillier. A Highly Commended result was also achieved in the category of Best Multiple Business Refurbishment, Refit or Extension for Newbury. The garden centre was extended in 2016, including the opening of a new restaurant, Mulberry & Thyme.
The Garden Retail Awards, hosted by leading industry publication Horticulture Week, celebrate outstanding achievement in the garden retail industry. The winners in each category are chosen by an independent panel of industry experts.
Chris Francis, Director of Hillier Garden Centres, commented on the win: “We are really proud to receive this award again. It is a testament to the dedication and hard work of everyone in our garden centre teams and our head office team. The last financial year was really strong for us, finishing nine percent up and 2017 has also started positively. With a major extension project underway at our Eastbourne Garden Centre and RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2017 in May, we hope to keep delivering inspiration and a great garden centre experience to our customers.”
A Year of Evolution
Hillier Garden Centres are at the heart of the 152-year-old Hillier business. The Hillier team is constantly striving to evolve, which has led to significant developments across the portfolio of 12 garden centres in the last year.
In November 2015, Hillier opened its first Farm Shop in Horsham, providing customers with a range of locally-sourced every day and specialist foods, from fresh eggs and meat to homemade chocolates. The major aim was to help the growth of the local economy and community by improving the local produce offered to local customers – all while reducing food miles and Hillier’s carbon footprint.
The Farm Shop is a brand-new development, but there has also been a significant level of expansion in existing centres. The Mulberry & Thyme restaurant opened in Newbury in February 2016 and sales grew 27% in the centre as a direct result, thanks to the vast internal seating capacity and high-quality interior. At Sunningdale, the plant area has been renovated and shopping area expanded by 25%. A trade card scheme was also launched at the centre in April 2016 offering discounts to business customers at the centre. As a result, Sunningdale has seen a 16% increase in turnover.
The changes have undoubtedly paid off, with turnover increasing. And, importantly customers appreciate the changes and are spending longer in store browsing product lines or enjoying a bite to eat. With over 170,000 new customers signed up to the Hillier Gardening Club in the last year, the momentum is there to provide even more positive changes in the future.