Discount retail group QD, which owns Cherry Lane Garden Centres, is promising customers everything they need for a cracking Christmas this year. With shelves already brimming with decorations, lights, food and gifts, the retailer has been working ahead with suppliers for many months to ensure everything is available for the festive season.
Sourcing and securing supply of festive products this year for QD’s 48 outlets, which include 15 Cherry Lane Garden Centres and 28 QD – QualityDiscounts.com stores, has created some unprecedented challenges for the retailer, but its commitment to delivering for customers has seen the company rise to the occasion.
James Collins, trading director for the QD Group, explains: “Previously, our buying team would have typically visited each supplier in the Far East and across Europe at least four times to agree our seasonal ranges and develop exclusive products for Cherry Lane and QD. However, this year, due to Covid-19 restrictions and countries being in lockdown, we have had to do this all remotely. It’s a totally new approach but we’ve found new ways to work with suppliers to ensure we deliver the products our customers want this Christmas.”
The Group also began its Christmas forecasting much earlier to ensure key festive items were given priority for shipping. This included juggling three to five different shipping lines simultaneously and working closely with suppliers to get product sent into the warehouse well in advance.
While international shortages of computer chips and national lockdowns have affected manufacturing of products such as smart lights and crackers for some retailers, by working ahead, QD’s team has been able to source these items and get them on the shelves in good time. The Group has also shifted its focus to buy more products from the UK and Europe to ensure shorter lead times and offer customers new items.
In addition, investment has been made by the QD Group to scale up its online operation. James Collins adds: “We’re finding that some customers still prefer to shop from home so we’ve been expanding the e-commerce side of the business to offer our range, still at the same great prices, for home delivery.”
Sustainability has also been high on the agenda at QD since the company launched its Value Our Planet strategy in 2018. The Group now has more than 50 ranges of environmentally friendly products in-store, including its largest ever selection of recyclable cards, crackers, gift wrap, bags and gift tags, plus a plant-based, zero plastic sticky tape which is compostable and biodegradable. QD stores will also be stocking real Christmas trees grown and potted in the Cherry Lane nurseries this year, not to mention energy efficient LED lights and artificial trees made from 100% recycled plastic.
The QD brand was established in 1985 by the company’s CEO Nick Rubins’ father, and current Chairman, Danny Rubins. The first store was located in Anglia Square, Norwich, where it is still open today. QD prides itself on its family focus and local roots.
Nick Rubins, CEO of the QD Group, said: “As a family-run business, we can be much more agile than many of the national chains. We rely on great communication – internally, with our suppliers and talking directly with our customers too – and have been able to make decisions quickly to ensure QD secures everything for a brilliant family Christmas this year – and all still at our great value prices. At the same time, we’ve continued our focus on becoming a more environmentally responsible business, cutting our waste and offering customers a wider selection of eco products. Last Christmas was low key and uncertain for so many people across the country, we’ve really pulled out all the stops for 2021 to help customers enjoy fantastic celebrations together this year.”
The QD Group is an independent, family-owned chain of High Street value retail outlets. There are currently 28 QD - QualityDiscounts.com stores across the country, plus 15 Cherry Lane Garden Centres, four Thing-Me-Bob stores and Lathams of Potter Heigham.
For more information on QD, visit www.qualitydiscounts.com.