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  • Combe Garden Centre anticipates positive rebound after shutdown

    The manager of Combe Garden Centre is optimistic the business will rebound once the Covid-19 pandemic is over.

     
    James Trevett said all staff at Combe will be furloughed to keep their employment safe.
     
    He said the business made several provisions before Boris Johnson announced the lockdown.
     
    Mr Trevett said: “We set up straight away to support customers self-isolating with free delivery. The day before we closed was bonkers – we had our second busiest ever day.”
     
    Mr Trevett said the garden centre closed its doors a day before Mr Johnson’s restrictions. He and the staff agreed it would be immoral to keep trading amid a pandemic.
     
    He said: “There were all these people running around knowing they were being locked down. We were looking at it saying, ‘it’s great for profits but it’s morally wrong’.
     
    “We were looking at all these people with no care for social distancing. I had a conversation with Combe Estate and agreed that we needed to close as a moral decision.”
     
    This week, the HTA asked the Government for financial help of up to £250m to help the industry avoid collapse. It warned that up to a third of producers could go bust.
     
    Mr Trevett said: “We were hoping to furlough staff to make sure no-one went without.
    “We can’t close like a car dealership. They can close their doors and the cars will be worth the same amount in three months.
     
    “We will have £100,000 worth of plants out the back which need daily attention.”
     
    Despite the challenge ahead, Mr Trevett said he is optimistic for the business’s future.
     
    He said: “Being a smaller garden centre sets us in a better position.
     
    “We have a local, loyal, customer base, and although I am not doing much now to give them what they need, I hope to in the future.
     
    “We realise that this is not going to be over overnight. We are in this for weeks, maybe months. Around 40 per cent of our annual turnover is made in the three months coming up.”

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