GTN Xtra caught up with Gardman Crest MD, Nick Davies, in the run up to Christmas during one of his brief calls into the new Gardman Crest Showroom in between his many visits to garden centres during December.
What everyone wants to know is how the integration of Gardman into the Westland Crest business is progressing. “We've had an incredibly hard and challenging year in integrating this great Gardman business. Not only integrating it, but creating a completely new warehouse and inputting logistics to future-proof the business,” Nick explained.
“As I’ve said to many a retailer, it's no different to what they've been doing over the past few years. When a retailer decides to knock his restaurant down and put a bigger one in, everyone goes through a degree of pain at the beginning to achieve the end result, but when you get through the pain, then you start enjoying the fruits of what you've invested in. In a very honest and straightforward way that is what we've done. We've invested hugely in the categories, the brands and most importantly the people. We have also invested in infrastructure, which was what Gardman as a business needed to get back into the playing field."
“The King's Lynn distribution warehouse was a great site doing an absolutely brilliant job, however we found out very early on into the acquisition that the lease could not be renewed and at some point in the future, the site would run out of space. So we knew we had to do something about it."
“We at Gardman Crest as part of the Westland family went through all of these major changes over the summer period. We did it with the knowledge that we would come out stronger, healthier and fit for purpose for the next 10 years. The whole operation is running very smoothly now."
“The other challenge Gardman faced when we bought it, was stock availability. The majority of our stock is coming from far away and the lead times are therefore long. For the 2020 season ahead we placed a lot of orders. They started getting delivered into us from October onwards, so by the time garden centres are stocking up in January, we can start to send out orders in full ready for the season ahead."
Sustainability is high on the Gardman Crest agenda for 2020 and beyond. “We're a bit ahead of the game on sustainability because we were in a situation where we could change our stock, our range and packaging, and as a result, we have upgraded many of the products too. If you devalue your product, you'll become an advocate for landfill. That is definitely not what Gardman Crest is all about."
Nick joined the family of Westland six years ago and during that time there is one thing all retailers were craving for: “Loud and clear these savvy retailers were telling me they wanted better management of their stock. Customers are now able to mix any products from within the Westland family in their order. Once their order is placed on a designated day the order is then picked and packed and sent on the same vehicle rather than two separate vehicles. So, whilst we might be two separate companies, we now deliver only one invoice.”
As Nick headed off to support his sales team during their really busy period taking in orders ready for shipping in January he said: “We've gone through the process of rebuilding and we're very much ready for business in the New Year.”