Garden centre recruitment

Recruitment in the garden centre sector

about 5 years ago by Claire Smith

​MorePeople's CEO, Guy Moreton, was interviewed recently by Garden Centre Retail magazine about recruitment processes and practices within the garden centre industry:

What does the state of the recruitment market in the UK’s garden centre sector look like?

In our experience the garden centre sector is a difficult one to recruit for, largely because there are just not enough people currently working in horticulture/garden & leisure, and certainly not enough being attracted to start a career in the industry. Compared to other graduate careers, salaries are traditionally quite low, which makes it very difficult to entice candidates of the right calibre.

That said, there has been a lot of consolidation recently in the market, which is having a positive impact on recruitment. Larger garden centres or garden centre groups tend to have more to offer in terms of career opportunities, progression, training and development, hence their retention rate tends to be better.

Looking wider at the retail sector in general, there has been a huge amount of change over recent years, particularly in terms of the sustainability of the high street. Garden centres are managing to buck this trend by adapting their offering to include more food and leisure facilities that add to visitor appeal.

Do garden centres recruit well?

Generally speaking, the standard of recruitment in garden centres is not as good as the other sectors we work in, namely fresh produce, agriculture and food manufacturing.

We appreciate that recruitment is difficult for some of the smaller garden centres who perhaps don’t have dedicated HR people. Attracting the right calibre of person, or even knowing what the right type of person for their business is, can be a huge challenge. This is where using a specialist recruiter is very effective as we can help the centre to present a more professional image and widen the reach for attracting possible candidates.

What processes would you recommend?

Obviously we would say this, but garden centres would benefit hugely from utilising the services of an expert for their recruitment. We have two dedicated recruitment consultants for the garden industry, plus a wealth of knowledge from having worked in the garden sector in a previous life, so we will have access to a lot more people than they would themselves.

On a more basic level, garden centres often rely on local advertising for their recruitment, which not only limits their reach but also means that applicants are likely to be customers, making a professional recruitment process even more important. In our experience, garden centres only acknowledge shortlisted applicants, which risks them losing customers and is a missed marketing opportunity!

What does MorePeople offer to the UK’s garden centres?

As the market leader in garden centre recruitment, we offer real expertise in the sector and over 18 years of experience. We are experts in recruitment with a proven track record in helping garden centres to attract better candidates than could be found through in-house recruitment. We thoroughly pre-interview candidates to make sure they are good fit for the company before putting them forward for a role, taking the time and hassle out of the process for businesses.

In your opinion, how will the garden centre recruitment market be affected by Brexit?

Brexit is just adding to the feeling of uncertainty for all types of retail, including garden centres, so there is a general air of caution around recruitment as we await an outcome to negotiations.

A larger concern for garden businesses is how they will manage product imports after Brexit, which will impact on both budgets and staff requirements. Many plants, in particular house plants, are currently imported from Europe and not subjected to any border controls. A ‘no deal’ scenario would certainly see additional requirements for importing plants, including the need to apply for a Phytosanitary Certificate.

What can garden centres do to make working in this sector a viable career path?

Garden centres need to offer better packages to attract fresh talent to the industry. I’m not solely referring to salary here, but also to better opportunities for training and progression and other elements that help to create job satisfaction. As more garden centres are consolidated into bigger groups, there tend to be more opportunities for the people who work there, so we feel this is a positive change for the industry.

Click here to see the current garden centre vacancies that we are recruiting for