Waitrose is ‘driving us out of business’ say Berkhamsted garden centre

Woods of Berkhamsted managing director Colin Campbell-Preston, and'manager Sarah Webb
Woods of Berkhamsted managing director Colin Campbell-Preston, and'manager Sarah Webb

A long-standing independent garden centre says it faces being driven out of business due to competition from a nearby supermarket.

Woods of Berkhamsted said the development of a stand-alone garden centre at the St John’s Wells Waitrose supermarket – less than 100 yards from Woods – has posed a threat to its business.

Managers at Woods, which has traded in the High Street for almost 40 years, are lobbying Dacorum councillors and planning chiefs to limit the sale of bedding plants at Waitrose.

Castle Ward councillor Stephen Claughton said: “It would be a great pity if Woods were to cease trading in Berkhamsted, given that it has been such an important feature of the town for so long.”

Cllr Claughton is shortly due to meet Dacorum Borough Council officers to discuss the planning issues.

Woods Garden Centre managing director, 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 trading of horticultural goods and plants by Waitrose,” he added.

“This standalone garden centre, adjacent to our store, poses an existential threat to our business.

“Apart from significant job losses, it would be sad for the town to lose another independent retailer.”

A Waitrose spokesman: “We’re very supportive of the local community and want to play our part in bringing people to Berkhamsted.

“We’ve been selling a modest range of garden plants for six years following a consultation with our neighbours and we have been engaging with the garden centre for a number of years on this,” the spokesman added.

Woods of Berkhamsted Garden Centre launched a petition in a bid to save the business from closing down.

To support their petition, which will be sent the managing director of Waitrose & Partners Rob Collins, click here