Dobbies new flagship store
Dobbies has just opened a new flagship store in Tewkesbury this month. We spoke with Graeme Jenkins, chief executive of Dobbies Garden Centres about this milestone for the business.
The opening of the new flagship store, your biggest in the Southwest, is a milestone for the business. Why Tewkesbury, what’s the strategy behind this particular location?
In line with our strategic plan and commitment to giving our customers a shopping experience that all the family can enjoy under one roof, Tewkesbury is an excellent location and complements Dobbies’ existing estate. It provided a great opportunity to showcase the full Dobbies’ range and being part of the upcoming Cotswolds Designer Outlet adds further to the full day out experience that our customers can look forward to.
This is a massive store, with 70,000 sq ft and expecting more than 750,000 people each year. Why was it important to scale the business at this moment in time?
Through successfully and consistently delivering on our strategic plan – one which has over the past few years seen the biggest growth in the company’s history – our focus is on continuing this momentum and Tewkesbury was an ideal opportunity to do this by launching our flagship store in this part of the Southwest.
Dobbies just keeps going from strength to strength. What’s the secret for such business expansion?
As well as consistently delivering on our strategic plan while responding to changing market needs, our focus remains on offering our customers great value, quality and sustainability while offering an exceptional shopping experience that all the family can enjoy. This spans Dobbies’ range of plants, houseplants, gardening products, seasonal items, pet range, cookshop, home décor, gifts and toys, as well as our foodhall, Little Seedlings play area and restaurant where breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea are served.
We’ve had an agile approach and lowered our prices on hundreds of our customers’ favourite items, ranging from gardening items and winter heating to Christmas decorations and gifting. The rollout of our little dobbies stores, which was a result of listening to customers’ needs in urban areas, is also supporting our growth strategy.
Dobbies takes great pride in being part of communities across the UK, from supporting community and charity initiatives to our in-store programme of events such as our Little Seedlings club, our free Grow How demonstrations and festive programme which are popular with our customers.
The new store was officially opened by broadcaster and Dobbies ambassador Jo Whiley. What are the most important elements about finding the right ambassador for your business?
It is important they share the same passion for gardening at all levels and the huge benefits this brings as well as supporting our commitment to great value, quality and sustainability.
What are the most popular product categories in physical stores? Are they different from what’s trendy on your online store?
It depends on the season as to what sells best. We are continually working to develop what’s available from dobbies.com and the range can vary between stores, as they aren’t all the same size. Plants and gardening always perform well, as does outdoor living in the summer, and Christmas in winter.
Did you consider the most environmentally friendly materials when designing the flagship store interiors?
Through our sustainability policy and #sustainabledobbies campaign, we are continually looking at ways to reduce the impact of our operations and ensure sustainable ways of working. The purpose-built store at Tewkesbury features heating and lighting generated by efficient low carbon energy technologies while rainwater harvesting has been incorporated for plant irrigation.
All timber used in the fitout is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. EV charging points will be available in the car park and through the Too Good to Go food surplus scheme, Dobbies will save fresh and delicious surplus food that would typically be wasted.
Dobbies received the award for the Sustainable Garden Product of the Year 2022 at the Chelsea Flower Show with the John Innes peat-free range. Do you have any new sustainable products coming up soon?
With sustainability integral to our ethos, we are continually looking at introducing new environmentally friendly products and business practices. Our festive range includes sustainably grown real Christmas trees, potted trees, recyclable wrapping paper and cards, recyclable crackers, and we are liaising with suppliers on more sustainable baubles and decorations for the future.
Across all departments, we are increasing the visibility of sustainable options – ranging from sustainable furniture and wildlife-friendly plants to fertilisers and pest control – and we reinforce best sustainable practice through our free Grow How demonstration events. We are also increasing the number of plants grown in peat-free compost and offering houseplants in coir pots, as well as pot and compost packaging recycling.
In addition, we are building on our track record of developing sustainable packaging across all our products, with the overarching aim to drive out single use plastics in our protective packaging. As well as our market leading peat-free compost, we offer a full range of peat-free products to cover all gardening requirements.
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