The annual Hillier Garden Centre Awards ceremony, held on Sunday 26th November 2017, celebrated leading horticultural suppliers, top company performers and provided an opportunity to reflect on the trends driving a year of strong growth.
Chris Francis, Director of Hillier Nurseries and Garden Centres, welcomed guests to the event at the Botley Park Hotel. Highlighting the favourable conditions contributing to a successful year for the company, he noted: “We were fortunate to enjoy wonderful spring weather this year. This brought gardeners out in force early and they continued to shop through the whole season.”
In the 2017 financial year, Hillier Garden Centres achieved 11.5% sales growth, 8% ahead of budget forecasts. Nursery stock, furniture and restaurant sales were strong growth drivers, Francis commented: “This is a terrific result. I am also pleased that every single one of our 12 garden centres has achieved positive growth.
Top Horticultural Trends
Picking up on one of the biggest topics of the year, Francis noted that little impact on Hillier business has been felt so far from Brexit. “The exchange rate may have fluctuated, but our policy of sourcing mainly from UK growers has limited the effect on our business. It also doesn’t seem to have dampened customer demand.”
Compere for the evening, TV gardener and broadcaster David Domoney, reflected on his own career beginnings in garden centres and touched on the enduring role of the garden in people’s lives: “Gardens mean so many different things to different people. It’s the place where bees buzz in the honeysuckle and birds fly, and you have water pistol fights as a family. They are an incredibly important part of people’s lives.”
The Winners List
Award honours in 2017 went to:
Horticulture Supplier of the Year – Meon Valley Nurseries
Home & Leisure Supplier of the Year – Smart Garden Products
Garden Shop Supplier of the Year – Burgon & Ball
Garden Centre of the Year – Hillier Newbury
Hillier Garden Centre Manager of the Year – Michael Edmondson
Garden Centre Employee of the Year – Steve Simpson
Plant Area of the Year – Hillier Chichester
Garden Shop of the Year – Hillier Botley
Restaurant of the Year – Hillier Eastbourne
Garden Centre Head Office Employee of the Year – Nikki Lee
Hillier Newbury receive the award for Garden centre of the Year
Crowning a Year of Achievements
The awards ceremony topped off a year of company highlights. In September 2017, a major extension project was completed at Hillier Garden Centre Eastbourne, creating 20,000 sq. ft. of additional space. Earlier in the year, the restaurant at Botley was brought under Hillier control and will now undergo a rebuild, allowing room for extra covers.
In May, Hillier continued its record-breaking RHS Chelsea Flower Show streak with a 72nd consecutive gold medal for ‘Spring by Hillier’, designed by Sarah Eberle. This was also a milestone year for the Hillier family, with Chairman Robert Hillier celebrating a remarkable 50 years’ service. With the fifth generation actively involved and the company growing, his expressed desire to continue being a thriving family business is well in hand.
Thank you to our Sponsors
We would like to thank the following companies for their invaluable support towards the Hillier Garden Centre Awards: