Waitrose plans to become a serious contender in the horticulture market, expanding their inventory to include garden shops where customers can browse over 850 different seeds, bulbs, flowers and plants, and pay in the outdoor addition to the store via a mobile cashier. The move comes following the revelation that amongst Waitrose customers, gardening ranks second only to cooking as a favourite pastime.
The new gardening section will be launched in all ‘core’ stores as of mid-April, with 41 of them dedicating 120 sq ft or more to an outdoor area that will contain various plants, gardening tools and other accessories. They expect to offer a range of about 80 different tools and garden care products.
The retailer is also setting up a website (Waitrosegarden.com) that will offer over 5,000 products for horticulturists, including pots and tools as well as seeds and plants. The website, in partnership with Crocus, one of the UK’s leading online garden suppliers, will also feature advice and tips from Alan Titchmarsh, the TV gardener.
Titchmarsh recently joined up with Waitrose as part of the programme to encourage British gardening and horticulture. He will be supplying expert tips on the site, including video demonstrations and a seasonal top-50 list of garden products.
Rupert Thomas, marketing director for Waitrose, said that the garden shops will also change products with the seasons, so customers will find it easy to ‘follow through’ with their gardening projects. The gardening market was estimated at around £4 billion as of 2010; other large UK retailers are likely to follow Waitrose’ move to cash in on a strong and growing customer base.