Berwick Garden Centre celebrates its 40th birthday
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Nick Crabbie, a Berwickshire farmer looking for a diversification project, built a glasshouse and an outdoor plant display area on a site at East Ord owned by the former Berwick Borough Council in 1983.
In conjunction with a friend who had established a local production nursery, the plan was to provide a wider range of plants to be available locally, as at that time there was limited choice. But it soon became apparent that there was public demand for more than plants.
Over the years, a full offering of gardening hardware evolved and, in order to attract full-time staff, a pet department, farm shop, gift department and restaurant were added.
This formula proved so successful that it has spawned two other enterprises – Dunbar Garden Centre, built on a greenfield site almost 10 years ago, and Plantsplus Garden Centre near Ponteland (a former wholesale nursery) which has established a reputation for growing a large range of plants and hanging baskets.
Nick, now chairman of the company, said: “When we started out, the A1 Berwick-upon-Tweed bypass had not yet been built. We knew that a roundabout would be constructed close to our entrance and this was crucial to the choice of site.
“Berwick Garden Centre has been the catalyst for the success of our group of three garden centres and I am sure it will continue to inspire.”
From an initial staff count of one full time and one part-time employee in 1983, the business today provides employment to 165 staff across North East England and South East Scotland.
Cal Gowdy, manager of Berwick Garden Centre, said: “Forty years on we are trying to maximise limited space and build on our loyal customer base.
“We will shortly complete an extension to our car park, storage facilities and various in-house improvements which will lead to a much-enhanced shopping experience.
“We have a sound business model, which has withstood recent turbulence, and have built a great team who are looking forward to the next 40 years.”