Value garden centre group Cherry Lane is celebrating its 21st anniversary. The business has grown from three sites to 17 and has a month of events, activities and treats planned for customers to mark this milestone.
Cherry Lane was established in 2001 with the purchase of three garden centres in East Anglia – Pulham Market, Fritton and Long Melford – by parent company QD Group. QD, which made its name on the high street as an independent, family-run discount retailer and opened its first store in Norwich in 1985, had been looking to diversify and the chance to take on three existing garden centres was an opportunity CEO Nick Rubins was keen to take.
Nick explains: “We already understood discount retailing and used our knowledge to create a value garden centre offering. Cherry Lane was seen as a disruptor in the industry because we wanted to do things a bit differently by offering value and selling different items. It did make things challenging in the beginning, but we really believed in the Cherry Lane brand and stuck to it. As we acquired additional sites, our quantum opened more and more doors.”
Cherry Lane has grown its business solely through the acquisition of existing garden centres, with its most recent acquisition, Riverside in Hockley, Essex, bringing the Group total to 17 across East Anglia, East Midlands and Yorkshire. This remains a route preferred by Cherry Lane. Nick explains: “When we take over a garden centre, it is so important to look after the people who work within it and listen to the owners about how they have achieved their success over the years, to embrace it and develop the same key ingredient going forward. We’re an independent, family run business and uphold these values when we take on new sites. One of the key benefits of our business model is that we’re flexible – we don’t use the same template in every single Cherry Lane. We look to see what the garden centre has and how we can enhance it. Garden centres have a community-based feel and we’re always keen to maintain and build on that.”
In 2012, Cherry Lane acquired a garden centre in Beverley which had its own on-site nursery operation. This marked the start of Grown by Us, Cherry Lane’s homegrown plant range which is sold throughout the business. A further four on-site nurseries have been added to this in the past 10 years, enabling the business to produce in excess of 1.2 million seedlings annually.
The company also bolstered its environmental credentials with the introduction of its Value Our Planet initiative in 2019, aimed at cutting waste and carbon emissions throughout the business. New product lines have been brought in aimed at helping consumers to shop more sustainably.
To celebrate Cherry Lane’s 21st anniversary, the group is running a host of activities in-store that kick off this week and last until 3 July. Among the festivities will be competitions, giveaways and gifts for customers. The garden centre will be bustling with birthday excitement, as well as offering massive savings for customers across its outdoor summer ranges.
Cherry Lane is also looking to reward great causes in the community to mark this milestone. 21 special hardwood garden benches are being donated in the local communities around each Cherry Lane garden centre to local groups, clubs or charities, with nominations being invited from customers to help identify worthy recipients.
After 21 years, Cherry Lane is still growing and Nick Rubins remains very positive about the future. “It is a very exciting time for us and we are looking ahead to bringing more garden centres into our family. It doesn’t seem like 21 years since we bought the first three Cherry Lanes, but the celebrations are a fitting tribute to all our staff who have been with us over the years, many for a very long time, and our customers and suppliers too.”