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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: Dobbies to fill ‘Gap’ on the Promenade

At the opening of Dobbies in Tewkesbury last week, it was revealed the retailer is set to open another store in the county.

In an exclusive chat with editor, Mark Owen, Dobbies CEO, Graeme Jenkins, said the company would be opening up a small store in Cheltenham.

Little Dobbies is set to open in February 2023 in the former Gap store on the Promenade.

Last week, Punchline reported that a new tenant was keen to move in, but wanted some changes to the site. Owner Cheltine Ltd has applied to Cheltenham Borough Council to make substantial changes to the building, on the corner of Promenade and Imperial Lane.

There are currently five Little Dobbies stores - in Edinburgh, Bristol and three in London.

Graeme Jenkins said: "The idea is to bring an element of gardening into areas where you wouldn't otherwise get it so easily and conveniently."

So far, Little Dobbies stores have proved really popular. Eighty per cent of products sold are houseplants and related items, such as pots, with some outdoor plants in spring and a small section for home décor, cards, gifting and Christmas.

The Cheltenham store will be the largest Little Dobbies to date - at 2,700 sq ft. Mr Jenkins feels it is the perfect location for the concept.

He said: "We've done analysis on catchment and footfall to get the right pitch. Cheltenham was a big tick when we ran the analysis across the UK.

"We think the format is most interesting in urban villages like Richmond and Chiswick (in London) and also market towns where you've always had that strong high street."

He continued: "We're trying to make gardening as inclusive as possible. It doesn't matter what space you've got, whether it's indoor or outdoor or how big or how small, we're trying to help people get into gardening.

"We know from customer research, gardening is a real leisure activity. From a mental health and wellbeing point of view, lots of people recognise its benefit."

The letting of 106 Promenade was negotiated on behalf of the landlord by Cheltenham-based firm, KBW.

Richard Knightley, senior director of KBW, said: "We look forward to welcoming Little Dobbies to the town centre in the new year, as the retailer continues to roll out its new format stores in towns and cities throughout the country. The store was previously occupied by Gap, but there are plans to now reconfigure the space for Little Dobbies.

"The retailer will be the latest of several new additions to Promenade of late, following the openings of Dubarry of Ireland, Air Fine Art, Sweaty Betty, Franca Manca, Santiago's Tapas and Hatchards."

Dobbies strongly believes in the importance of bricks and mortar stores to complement digital retail. It plans to open five to 10 Little Dobbies stores a year for the next few years, as well as to continue the expansion of its large Dobbies garden centres.

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