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Gloucestershire Business News

Growing garden centre reveals major investment and new restaurant plans

A family business already a well-established garden centre has revealed how an increase in profits and footfall has helped it seed new restaurant plans.

Its annual figures for 2019 reveal turnover grew from £6,848,248 in 2018 to £7,389,066 in 2019, footfall is up, profits also rose, there is £3.7 million-plus of cash in the bank and £6 million-plus of equity.

And a chat with Tim Greenway, director of Highfield Garden World, reveals the business believes it can continue to make progress against tough retail headwinds.

"Retail is hard, there is no other way of saying it," said Mr Greenway, as if to check Punchline's enthusiasm at the Whitminster-based business's results.

Nevertheless, Highfield has managed itself well enough to be on the verge of investing millions over the next few years, most notably to expand its restaurant, but also other facilities on its site.

"Favourable weather early in the year resulted in strong growth compared to the Beast front the East weather in early 2018," said Mr Greenway, revealing some of the factors which have aided progress.

"2019 has seen continuing improvement in trading with both turnover and total gross profit showing growth year-on-year, along with a growth in footfall on the year of 5.3 per cent (plus-26,652) and membership of our customer loyalty programme now stands at 16,500."

Earlier investment saw a reconfiguration of the site to create a restaurant which overlooks the Severn Vale and added another significant string to Highfield's bow.

Expansion has seen the family make the brave move of hiring a business manager, Tim Armstrong, who Mr Greenway describes as "excellent".

"We have grown to 160 staff, with concessions as well, probably 170 people working on the site. We took the decision four years ago that the business had grown so much that we needed a general manager," said Mr Greenway, 58, who admits the move took some adjustment on his part to get used to, but has proved the right decision.

Nevertheless, Highfield remains a truly family business, with Joan, his mother, one of three directors and his sister and eldest daughter also working for the company.

"I started here when I was 14 years old - pulling weeds to earn pocket money," he recalls, when we ask how he first got involved.

Now the decisions are somewhat larger, but it is still about clearing the way for growth.

"We have planning permission to put in 110 to 120 more car parking spaces and to extend the restaurant to at least 100 to 150 covers, additional retail space as well," said Mr Greenway.

"We are very pleased at that will be moved forward in stages. Over the next five years we plan to invest £2 million into the business. The last big spend was £2.5 million, and that was six years ago now. You cannot stand still."

According to its annual report its core focus remains gardening it also stocks non-gardening ranges, including home and garden furniture, books, foods, giftware, toys, bird food and cookware as well as a pet and aquatic department and seasonal offerings such as Christmas decorations, trees and lighting.

Read more: New housing development launches in Whitminster 

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