New gift area gives Stewarts a boost

New gift area gives Stewarts a boost

Martin Stewart’s decision to give his gift area a design makeover at GardenLands, Christchurch has certainly paid dividends with a significant increase in footfall and sales in that department.

Until the refurbishment, Martin, Managing Director of the pioneering Stewarts’ business, described the gift area as simply part of the shopping runway on the way to the coffee shop.

But extensive collaboration on design with leading shopfit company, Stagecraft, has resulted in what he describes as a “strong classy shopping destination” benefiting from solid oak and glass display units and bespoke shelf units, significantly enhanced by the strong use of LED lighting. Stagecraft staff completed the work in two phases – phase one before the Christmas rush and phase two in the Spring.

“Our gift area is not as big as many garden centres, but with clever design it has been given a much stronger identity. It has attracted increased footfall and sales have been excellent, despite the tough economic times combined with the wet and cold spring weather.”

He is so pleased with the impact on the business that he is considering similar major works at his Country Garden Centre at Broomhill, Dorset. Gift area Manager, Zoe Harmsworth, explained: “The area probably hadn’t been upgraded for about 15 years, but with such a busy period ahead we simply couldn’t close down the gift area. So we moved stock around while Stagecraft completed one half of the job. They were extremely professional.”

GardenLands, established in 1961, is believed to be the first purpose-built garden centre in the UK, following the setting up of the family’s first garden centre in adapted sheds at Ferndown in 1955. This after they had introduced the pioneering concept of container grown stock into the country, thus transforming the industry into an all-year-round business, rather than one that only generated income between October and March each year.

For Stagecraft’s part, this was the first contract where they had used LED lighting to such a great extent.

“Previously customers couldn’t see the stock on the bottom shelves but with new lighting the whole area has been transformed. Our new units have created more shelf space and the oak and glass finishes have given us that classic and timeless look which is what we wanted to achieve,” added Zoe.

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