A Wiltshire garden centre business owned by the same family since opening in 1884 is future-proofing itself against spiraling energy costs and enhancing its green credentials after securing £400,000 funding from Barclays.
Whitehall Garden Centre at Lacock near Chippenham, which also owns and operates a site near Bristol, is installing three biomass energy cabins using the finance package from the bank.
The business, now owned by the fifth generation of the Self family, says the cabins will help slash fuel costs by between 40% and 70% across its two locations, which total 105,000 sq ft. Two will be installed at Lacock and one at its Whitchurch Garden Centre south of Bristol.
The £10m turnover business, which last year had around 500,000 customers and employs around 200 full-time and part-time staff, recycles more than 80% of its waste – equivalent to 200 tonnes a year. But, as further expansion beckons, it wanted to go further and cut its energy bills. The business has diversified significantly over recent years and is now as much a tourist destination, adventure playground, farm food retailer and cafe as a traditional garden centre.
Managing director Peter Self said: “This is a significant investment for us and comes as part of the wealth of improvements we have made in recent years.
“The age of the premises means the heating and water system installed decades ago has become outdated. This is a great opportunity to modernise our energy supply and in doing so ensuring we continue to operate as cleanly and greenly as possible.”
Barclays Corporate Banking relationship director Martin Crook added: “We have worked closely with the family over the last year and it has been great to see the garden centre invest in this way.
“Supporting businesses such as this is important to us and this is an excellent example of a well-managed company with a strong business model which is set to continue to grow and exceed their customers’ expectations now and in the coming years.”
Whitehall Garden Centre recently won the prestigious Wales and West Garden Centre Association Area Award for Environment and Community Commitment for 2014 for the second year running.