Published: March 18, 2020 | Updated: March 19, 2020

Biz coronavirus update: Stewarts Garden Centres, Begbies Traynor, Lighthouse in Poole

Terry Head, Retail and Marketing Director, Stewarts Garden Centres, prepares to brief his delivery team.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Stewarts to embrace e-commerce for first time since 1742

A Dorset garden centre group is to offer online shopping for the first time in its 278-year history in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Stewarts Garden Centres, which has two sites in Dorset – Christchurch and Broomhill near Wimborne – says the move is in response to requests from customers.

Until now the family owned business has been reluctant to venture into e-commerce.

But Terry Head, Retail and Marketing Director, said he believed customers will appreciate the opportunity to continue gardening while restrictions on non-essential travel were advised by the government.

He said: “Our staff are keen to make this a team effort and have even offered to use their own cars to help meet the demand for home deliveries.

“As payment will be made online there will be no need for our delivery team to make direct contact with those confined to their homes other than from a distance.

“A large range of popular plants for spring planting and products for garden care is to be made available.

“If anyone has a request for something not listed, they can call us, and we will do our best to add an item to help their gardens be a pleasant retreat from the outside world.”

Although the company’s horticultural origin can be traced in Scotland, the Stewart family has had nurseries in Dorset since 1859 and still cultivates a large percentage of its own plants.

It was Edward Stewart who witnessed how garden centres were developing in North America after the Second World War.

He is recognised as being the first to introduce a dedicated garden centre with a shop that started to sell plants in pots in the UK.

The introduction of online sales is the latest stage in the company’s long history which dates back to 1742.

Terry said: “We don’t want to let the thousands of our customers down just because they may not be able to get to us.

“Free delivery within a 30-mile radius of our centres will be offered to anyone spending £50 or over.

“We hope that this will help those with time to spare to make the most of their garden and help against the inconvenience of staying at home during the coronavirus outbreak.”


Insolvency firm covering Dorset launches recruitment drive

A south west insolvency firm is looking to take on new staff as the economy faces uncertainty over the coronavirus outbreak.

Rescue and recovery experts Begbies Traynor announced the recruitment drive for its Exeter office which covers Dorset.

The opportunities are at various levels.

Plans for new staff were already underway to meet the demand for services.

But Ian Walker, Partner at the Exeter office, pictured left, said: “The outbreak of coronavirus will add to the pressures of the economy meaning businesses will need further support and advice.”

The vacancies include an experienced Senior Insolvency Administrator as well as professionals at all levels within the sector.

As part of Begbies Traynor Group plc, founded in 1989, the Exeter branch specialises in insolvency, and covers the south west.


Lighthouse to close until Tuesday April 14

Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts, is asking ticket holders to consider donating the cost of their ticket rather than requesting a credit or refund,

The appeal follows the news that there will be no performances, including cinema screenings, at the Lighthouse until Tuesday April 14.

In a statement, the charity said: “We have taken the very difficult decision that we must be socially responsible and close Lighthouse for all public events.

“During this time we are working with our artists, promoters and event organisers to reschedule events wherever possible.

“Please be reassured that ticket holders will be contacted directly, and we ask that customers do not call or email Lighthouse until further information is given.

“This is a very difficult time for everyone.

“Lighthouse is a charity and most of our funding comes from people seeing our shows and spending money on tickets, drinks and refreshments.

“Ticket holders are being asked to please consider donating the cost of their ticket rather than requesting a credit or refund.”