From education to employment

Garden centre blooms after training investment

Sales at a garden centre in Kent have shot up after it invested in external training sessions from the National Skills Academy for Retail.

Cooling Garden Centre saw sales increase by 50% in February 2011, compared with revenue in the previous year.

The National Skills Academy offers a host of high quality training and services to both learners and employers in the retail sector.

Coolings felt compelled to contact the Academy in May last year after investment in a new gift shop, restaurant and ‘Nature Trail’ for children failed to make a return.

Gary Carvosso, managing director of the company, said: “We couldn’t be happier with the training we received. The trainer was professional and enthusiastic and clearly interested in our on-going success as a retailer in a changing world. The tips and advice given were specific to our business, could be easily implemented and have produced outstanding results.

“Before, we were struggling to profit from some of our extra facilities. We envisaged the new gift shop would encourage customers to spend more on a visit but this wasn’t the case; so we contacted the National Skills Academy for Retail for some business advice. Since the training, there has been a great atmosphere in the store. We are now all committed to continuing the centre’s success and pushing ourselves to be the best we can be.”

After an initial meeting at Coolings, the National Skills Academy for Retail’s trainer identified the company’s main area for improvement – merchandising.

Eight managers from the company then attended a one day merchandising training course, which included teaching techniques ranging from colour blocking to product placement in order to maximise sales.

The session – which was based on the Mary Portas guide to successful retailing – is aimed at giving small and independent retailers further knowledge, skills and tools need to compete in the tough retail sector.

Jane Rexworthy, head of the National Skills Academy for Retail, said, “We want to encourage independent retailers to be the best they can be. Our retail skills shops are an easy and accessible way for any independent retailer to get help and advice on making their business more successful.”

“If you require, our expert retail trainers can visit your business, see how it works and watch customers’ behaviours, in order to tailor the training and make sure it is the most useful for you and your business.”

After much success with the original round of training, Coolings has arranged for all their staff to attend a special evening aimed at encouraging them to take pride in the work they do individually and for the company.

Mark Astley

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