- Sector: Leisure
- Region: South East
Blue Diamond is the second-largest garden centre group in the UK, operating 37 sites and employing 3,700 members of staff. The company offers plants and flowers, gardening supplies, furniture and, in some stores, restaurants. However, it hasn’t always been a garden business.
In its earliest guise, Blue Diamond emerged as the Fruit Export Company in Guernsey in 1904. The company was created by a group of successful local businessmen who still have family links to the organisation today. Now, Blue Diamond is recognised as a Guernsey success story and continues to be owned and managed on the island with plants still at the heart of the business.
In 2018, Blue Diamond acquired nine stores of a collapsed garden centre chain. “These centres had a collective turnover of £36m and we grew the turnover of these businesses by 42% in one year to £51m. Our retail ethos is to unlock extraordinary growth from existing mature businesses,” says Alan Roper, Managing Director of Blue Diamond. In September 2019, the company purchased a further seven centres.
To combat the seasonal nature of garden centres, Blue Diamond’s offering of home retail and restaurants help make up 40% of the company’s turnover. Its hospitality offering makes the centres more of a destination than simply a place to buy gardening supplies and plants. It also has a number of children’s play areas within the centres, so they are suitable for all the family.
“The sector has evolved constantly for more than 30 years and there has been significant diversification that we have mirrored. Approximately 80% of our customers are female and we focus on their needs and expectations within a garden-centre environment. Focus constantly on your customers’ needs and you remain relevant through natural evolution,” says Alan.