Dobbies, now the UK’s biggest garden retailer with 69 outlets following last week’s purchase of 31 from Wyevale Garden Centres, plans to put greater emphasis on plants and gardening, the group’s horticultural director has revealed.
Speaking at a Garden Industry Manufacturers Association day conference last Wednesday, Marcus Eyles told delegates that the newly-re-branded Dobbies was aiming for a three-way split with catering, plants and gardening and gifts/other merchandise each accounting for a third of the business.
He appealed to suppliers to work together with the group to provide innovation and new products to inspire contemporary consumers, especially millennials. (Core millennials are defined by researchers as those born between 1981 and 1996.)
He said the influence of social media was key in identifying products and services consumers now wanted – but the garden industry itself should be setting the trends, not social media. The emphsasis should be on ideas, inspiration and support, not hard work and boring jobs – an exciting opportunity for retailers and suppliers working together and sharing information.
Eyles is on a mission to significantly upgrade the Dobbies offer by Spring 2020 and confessed the timescale was a challenge for the business and its suppliers. He said he was aiming to have next year’s product range signed off during May and June and that Glee was too late to achieve change in time.
He suggested the industry should do more to promote the potential of grow-your-own, house-plants, sleek garden decoration and outdoor maintenance products (like robotic mowers) that saved time and effort.
He also said Dobbies would need more plants, and urged UK nurseries to consider upping production so it could continue to reduce reliance on imports from Europe.