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HIGH STREET WAR: Petition to stop closure of independent garden centre

 Published on: 4th September 2019   |   By: News Desk   |   Category: Uncategorized

A petition has been made to save a popular independent garden centre from closure after the impact of competition from a nearby major supermarket chain.

Woods of Berkhamsted, situated along the Berkhamsted high street faces being driven out of business due to the Waitrose & Partners on St Johns Well Lane offering a stand-alone garden centre, less than 100 yards from Woods.

Pleas have been made to the senior managers at Waitrose asking them to reduce their offering of bedding plants…etc, but Waitrose appear to show no compromise.

Woods has stood in the high street for almost 40 years and are planning to lobby Dacorum councillors and planning chiefs in a bid to get Waitrose to halt its “predatory” approach.

Woods Garden Centre owner, Colin Campbell-Preston, said: “We have now reached the point where our business may no longer be viable.

“The biggest problem is the huge competition from the unfair, and potentially illegal, trading of horticultural goods and plants by Waitrose. This stand-alone garden centre, adjacent to our store, poses an existential threat to our business.

“Woods is a proud member of the Berkhamsted community through the work we do with schools, charities, theatre groups, encouraging young and old to get involved in creating a beautiful and sustainable environment.

“However, after almost 40 years we may soon cease to exist. Apart from significant job losses, it would be very sad for the town to lose another independent retailer.”

Mr Campbell-Preston says Waitrose’s behaviour is counter to its own mission and values statement which claims to “contribute to the wellbeing of the communities where it operates.”

He added: “We believe that Waitrose, with its predatory approach, offers nothing to the local community, and is flying in the face of its own mission statement, and is certainly breaking the spirit of the law, if not the law itself.

“We have tried on numerous occasions through dialogue and meetings to ask Waitrose to reduce their offering. Unfortunately, they have shown no willingness to compromise.”

A spokesperson from Waitrose said: “We are sorry to hear that Woods of Berkhamsted feels this way as we’ve always tried to be very supportive of the local community and play our part in bringing people to the town.

“The garden centre has a fantastic range of gardening products – far wider than ours – and offers gardening expertise we don’t. We’ve been selling a modest range of garden plants for six years after a consultation with our neighbours and reduced our range of garden products several months ago after conversations with the owners.”

To sign the petition, visit http://chng.it/cKPjzKn8

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