Bents Garden & Home at Warrington is preparing to celebrate its 80th anniversary in 2017.
In 1937, Alfred and Margaret Bent started to sell roses from the front garden of their small terrace house. Since then Bents has evolved from a small specialist plant-based business to one of the country’s largest garden, home and leisure destinations, all of which is celebrated in a short film in which customers are thanked for their support.
Events planned for the year include seasonal surprises and random acts of kindness, all anchored by a spectacular summer garden party planned for the weekend of 7- 10 July.
Bents is now a destination that is no longer just focussed solely on the garden but also encompasses home, lifestyle, leisure and a day out. Under the guidance of three generations of the Bent family, it is a £20m turnover operation employing more than 430 people.
MD Matthew Bent said: “As a family business we’ve never been ones to rest on our laurels. We’ve always followed our passions, taken chances and strived to innovate. And that is exactly how it all started in 1937 when my grandparents started to cultivate roses as a hobby in the front garden of their terraced house at 404 Warrington Road, just meters away from our current location. Little did they know that it would be the start of something so unique and special.”
Milestones passed over the course of 80 years include the introduction of Christmas and catering, both helping to make it an all-year attraction and pioneering a number of key trends within the garden centre industry.
2007 saw the opening of the UK’s first Open Skies glasshouse (pictured), an all-weather destination where customers can shop for plants, and more recent years have seen the opening of a £10m extension housing new home and leisure departments, including a food hall.
Now, with its six dining destinations, adventure play area, landscaped lake and on-site nursery (where 60% of its plants are grown), Bents is a very different entity to the one Alfred and Margaret set up. But Matthew Bent says the business has worked hard to maintain the family ambiance for which the centre has established such a fine reputation. “I think my grandparents would be very proud if they could see us now,” he said.