Dec 9, 2021
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As gardening booms, Cotswold Designer Centre to add Dobbies to boost appeal

Dec 9, 2021

Experiences are becoming increasingly important as a way for malls to attract consumers. And incentive ideas to capture their imaginations come in all shapes and sizes.

Dobbies Garden Centres

So it’s interesting that premium retail and leisure destination Cotswold Designer Centre, which doesn’t open until autumn 2023, has chosen a garden centre as its key ‘leisure’ anchor.

Construction has begun on its new flagship Dobbies Garden Centre, and it’s a major project that won’t be completed until next autumn. Not surprising, given its size: at 74,000 sq ft, it will be the largest in South West England and is expected to serve more than 750,000 customers each year.

It will feature a full range of plants and houseplants, gardening accessories and products, outdoor living, pets, gifting and toys, as well as a cookshop, home décor, and a 10,000 sq ft restaurant.

With gardening becoming a growing leisure activity, and not just for the growing retiree demographic, the feature is "expected to be a major draw in an area that benefits from a catchment that includes Bristol and Birmingham as well as the millions of tourists visiting the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty each year”. 

Gardening and fashion have been drawing ever closer links in recent periods, a move accelerated by the pandemic. Whether it’s labels offering gardening advice via social media during lockdowns, Joules buying the Garden Trading business as a natural complement to its fashion offer, or Dunhill linking with a florist for a floral-inspired menswear collection, the trend is being seen across the price spectrum.

And Dobbies already has fashion links with Hotter Shoes choosing it for concessions targeting its key demographic.

Graeme Jenkins, CEO of Dobbies Garden Centres, expects the new mega-garden-centre to be “an exceptional shopper experience.”

Simon Tothill, Property and Development Director of Robert Hitchins Ltd, said: “Having [Dobbies] as our leisure anchor is a major asset to our scheme and a reflection both of the need for a mix of uses in retail destinations and the surge in popularity of gardening.” 

He added: “Momentum is gathering for Cotswolds Designer Outlet, which will delight guests when it opens its doors in 2023. Working with Realm, we are seeing very promising levels of interest from brands who are excited by the compelling prospects that [it] offers.”

The first phase of the premium retail destination will provide 75 units across 140,000 sq ft, alongside leisure facilities and landscaped areas. Phase two will bring the total footprint to 90 units across 181,000 sq ft.

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