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Garden centres go for growth.

Byline: By Rebekah Ashby

Diy chain B&Q yesterday unveiled plans to cut 400 head office jobs as the home improvement market gets tougher. Are things any rosier in the North-East for garden centres? Rebekah Ashby reports on how 21st Century garden centres are prising away trade from the DIY superstores and going for growth.

The country's biggest DIY chain B&Q is pruning 400 jobs because of a slowdown in high street spending which appears to be particularly hitting the home improvement market.

And research has shown that national spending on DIY is expected to fall by 1.6% to pounds 16.4bn this year after five years of impressive growth.

But one sector, which is already upping its DIY ante, is sharpening its shears and arming itself with all the tools to take a chunk of the DIY retailer's business.

Richard Perks, director of retail research at Mintel, says: "The big competition for garden centres has to be the DIY superstores because they cream the market. It's challenging because they go for the high volume products such as chemicals and seeds.

"Where the garden centres have carved out their niche is to have great authority on offer in plants and garden products, which the DIY stores don't have the space for.

"They also have the space to make themselves into destination sites for all the family. It's a reasonable strategy and I think it's working."

North-East garden centres, including Heighley Gate, probably the biggest in the UK, are proving they have the originality and know-how to try out new ideas and make them work, thus beating the multiples at their own game.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 7, 2005
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