Garden centre boss urges sector to close

by | Jan 25, 2021 | News | 0 comments

A garden centre boss is urging the industry to close until retail restrictions are lifted, unless they are offering essential items.

Chris Bonnett, who runs Bonnetts Garden Village in Brentwood, has voluntarily shut his doors ‘to keep staff and customers safe’ as the latest wave of COVID-19 infections spread across the country.

He believes garden centres should only open if they’re selling essentials like pet food and fuel. He also says he is concerned that “lockdown fatigue” will force shoppers to browse the aisles of any retailer allowed to remain open rather than stay at home.

The gardening sector was hit hard last year when the first lockdown was announced with outlets being forced to shut their doors to the public. During the November lockdown, garden centres were given essential status which has been retained this time round.

Chris, who also runs GardeningExpress.co.uk, said: “I took the decision to shut my garden centre when I saw local cases growing at an alarming rate. We will open when they’ve dropped enough for it to be safe.

“For me this is about being a responsible retailer and employer. I do not want to put my staff or customers at risk and while infections remain at a high level, so the right to do is to remain closed.

“I have no issue with truly essential retail – in fact I applaud retailers who are supporting their local communities and getting food, fuel and other essentials they need to them. What does concern me is that as lockdown fatigue begins to set in again, people will head to garden centres just for something to do and to get out of the house. Not only does it put them and other customers at risk, but also staff who have worked tirelessly to serve the community safely.”

Chris Bonnett continued: “What I’m calling for is a voluntary code of conduct for ‘essential retailers’ to help stamp out the spread of the virus. We should be increasing restrictions to keep people safe.

“Retailers need to self-police. If something isn’t essential, then don’t sell it. If garden centres don’t follow the rules, then my fear is that our essential retail status will be stripped away.

“Big high street retailers are already setting the tone by suspending click and collect and shutting down parts of their operations. We need to be doing the same on a voluntary basis.

“We saw in the first lockdown that the sector really suffered in a key selling period for us all and we don’t want that to happen again.

“Think about customers too. Mentally getting out in the garden as the weather warms up will give them a huge boost. Let’s make sure infections are down then so we’re able to fully open for them. 

“Now more than ever, we should unite against this virus in the short-term, so we can all enjoy the garden and benefits it brings to people and their well-being over the long-term.”

more latest news ➡

Bents promotes Emma Kelly to Commercial Director

Bents promotes Emma Kelly to Commercial Director

Bents Garden & Home has taken a significant step as it plans for the future by promoting Emma Kelly to Commercial Director, a position that has been specifically created to support the management structure at the family owned and run business. Emma has been...

Longacres partners with Smiemans for expansion

Longacres expansion set to get underway

Longacres, the UK's largest independent garden centre, is to be extended by Smiemans Projecten in early 2025. The work includes the garden centre's cold sales area and restaurant. The wide-span extension will be constructed with high performance polycarbonate and...

New logo for the Bransford Webbs Plant Company

A fresh, new look for The Bransford Webbs Plant Company

The Bransford Webbs Plant Company is proud to unveil a new company logo, launching at The 2024 National Plant Show at Stoneleigh Park. An evolution of the original Bransford Webbs logo introduced almost twenty years ago; the heritage shades of purple and green have...

GCA CEO Peter Burks hosting a free sustainability webinar this month with the focus on water and ‘navigating the green minefield’

Free sustainability webinar for GCA members

Garden Centre Association (GCA) members will hear from a trio of sustainability experts during a free webinar this month (June 2024). The GCA is hosting the online event on June 26 from 3-4.30pm and it will cover water conservation and how to navigate environmental...

Read GCR's latest edition!

Subscribe ToThe Wednesday Word

Subscribe To
The Wednesday Word

 

Get all the latest news, events & more straight to your inbox every Wednesday.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This