Firm bids to move in with £17m investment

AN award-winning and family-owned garden group is looking to plough £17 million into the Woking area to build another all-new ‘destination centre’.

Recognised by the horticultural industry as starting the UK trend of building new destination centres instead of expanding
traditional ‘greenhouse’ outlets, Haskins Garden Centres Ltd – which has a £31m turnover – wants to tackle the next phase of expansion on a site near Woking.

Founded in 1882, the company’s first new build was opened in Ferndown, Dorset, in March 1994 on a former industrial site. Haskins went on to demolish and rebuild two other garden centres: one in Southampton’s  West End in April 1996, and most recently Roundstone near Worthing in 2012 at a cost of £13m.

Chief Executive Julian Winfield said: “We want a fresh start to build a centre matching or exceeding the size of our largest
single-storey one near Worthing, which is a true destination centre, complete with a 550-seat restaurant.

“This will generate more than 150 new full and part-time jobs. We would prefer a brownfield site rather than to knock down an existing garden centre and are budgeting between £16m and £17m for the project.”

Land Consultant Steve Strongman is now retained to liaise with councils, agencies and direct with landowners to search for appropriate sites. But the competition for land from residential property developers means the company now needs to rely on forward thinking land owners and planning committees to help resolve the situation.

He said: “The positive impact a Haskins Garden Centre will have on a community should not be overlooked. In every way it’s
a very green and pleasant business to have as a neighbour and, unlike many of the big garden groups, each centre is encouraged to support local charities and organisations, rather than have a national commitment.

“You need only look at the Haskins website to see this in action.”

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