The final quarter of 2012 has seen a flurry of garden centre concession openings as retailers look to make up the shortfall of the year's tough spring and summer, according to First Franchise.
The garden centre concession company says more and more garden centre businesses are recognising the leisure shopping experience concessions help create, whatever the weather. Shuropody recently secured funding to invest into increasing its garden centre portfolio and has since opened in the Garden Centre Group's Bridgemere, Heighley Gate, Stockton, Osterley, Thatcham, Royston, Ramsgate and Thorbury locations. There are also instalments in Dobbies and Notcutts centres.
Ladies fashion retailer Roman Originals, meanwhile, has continued to concentrate on garden centre openings with new stores Harlestone Heath Garden Centre and Blooms GC Gloucester. Cotton Traders has opened at Sanders Garden World, Stratford-upon-Avon GC and Holland Arms.
New to the garden centre market is Klass clothing, who have also enjoyed new openings at Thornbury GC and Poppleton York. Camping and outdoor clothing specialists Mountain Warehouse have opened within standalone units in Woodbrigh and Blooms garden centres, and as a result of the difficult weather patterns of 2012, the new stores have reportedly performed extremely well.
Cotswold Outdoor, the premium camping range retailer started their fit out of Hayes Garden World in December, while 'Virgin Experience Days' has installed its 'Unmanned Display Units' into over 120 garden centres nationwide and are reporting a phenomenal sales performance in the run up to Christmas. It has been hailed as one of the best roll outs they have completed to date, according to First Franchise.
First Franchise said: "These complementary retailers enhance the garden centre offer and provide alternative reasons for consumers to visit. As a result they are becoming increasingly popular with garden centre owners who are looking to spread their visitor number across all seasons and relieve their reliance on own bought product sales.
"Cross marketing and promotions have worked very well throughout 2012. The majority of retailers that have opened this year have access to (local) loyalty schemes and customer data bases which mean customers are alerted to new openings, generating immediate interest and footfall for the host sites."
First Franchise's MD Keith McIntyre said: "We are pleased that retailers are still looking to continue to invest into the sector. It has been a difficult year for garden centre sales but we have maintained a good level of openings throughout the year. Many of these openings have taken place in the last quarter which will help garden centres attract customers before Christmas and into the New Year."