Interview with Guy Grainger, CEO of Forest Garden Group

Guy Grainger, CEO of Forest Garden, visited Hall's Garden Supplies to discuss this year's sales and future projects with our Senior Partner, Robert Hall.

Created by Robert Hall on Friday, 31st of October, 2014.
Updated on Wednesday, 4th of April, 2018.


Guy Grainger and Robert Hall

During Guy's visit we managed to find 10 minutes to chat with him. If you want to know the current thoughts of the CEO of the UK's largest supplier to the gardening timber industry, and arguably Europe's largest supplier, here he answers some important questions:

Robert: Over the last 12 months Forest Garden have integrated with M&M Timber Products. Is that integration complete?

Guy: Yes, it’s been very successful for both companies. Of course, with any acquisition there will be concerns, such as job security among staff, but hopefully M&M employees see that the Group has invested in their business and that the improved performance has come through. For us, it’s been a very good integration, it has exceeded our expectations and is virtually complete. M&M are adding value in terms of not only enabling Forest to support them develop their own market sector; which is more the specialist fencing market, but they are also demonstrating their ability to positively assist in supporting the Group’s product development process. So, it has been a really good first year having them as part of the Forest group.

 

Robert: What will M&M Timber Products add to the Forest range?

Guy: M&M bring to the Forest offer its range of higher end garden buildings and structures. Forest, by its nature is a high volume manufacturer with a lower price offer, whereas M&M is a lower volume operation but with a higher price offer. Together, the two businesses complement each other, resulting in more range depth and customer choice.

 

Robert: Will you retain the M&M brand and, if so, how will you distinguish it from Forest/Larchlap?

Guy: The M&M brand will be retained, promoted and developed for its more specialist market sectors. M&M sell into the agricultural, landscape and timber play equipment markets where their brand is well established with a high reputation. M&M will provide product to be sold under the Forest brand and channels.

 

Robert: Your new sleeper garden furniture range has been very successful. You’ve added more products for 2015, so are you anticipating increasing your presence in the garden furniture sector?

Guy: Yes, we are. We are conscious that garden furniture is a very competitive market awash with foreign imports. We wanted to find a way to develop a simple range which played on our strength of a UK manufacturer using UK grown timber. The range has been very successful since its introduction and so we have further extended the range with new introductions for next year, for example, low level tables and wider benches that integrate with planting. We see this as a growth area for Forest but we are realistic in our ambitions in what is a very competitive sector.

 

Robert: Were these products developed in-house by your development team? What products would you earmark to do well in 2015?

Guy: Yes, they were all developed in house. We have a proactive development team of about 13 people who bring together a great skill set from technical through to production through to marketing through to sales. At Forest, a focus for product development over the last 2-3 years has been more towards outdoor living. With the potential of a warmer climate, people will spend more time in their garden doing other things aside from just gardening, so our range development has been about creating outdoor spaces to allow people to just enjoy being in the garden. For example, the Venetian Pavilion creates shelter but also airiness, our Barbecue Shelter allows people to enjoy outdoor cooking whatever the weather and our simple bench seating range enables people to relax and share a meal outside in their garden. So, essentially, we are talking about product ranges that do other things apart from growing plants, and that’s where we see current range development.

 

Robert: How do you see the role of garden centres going forward regarding the Forest garden brand? Do you think garden centres will become more involved/important tools for displaying Forest products?

Guy: I think it is interesting if you look at our category sales into garden centres over the last 5-6 years. From our perspective, sales of sheds, structures and fencing has moved more towards the Multiples, Grocers and online retailers over this period, leaving the garden centres to focus more on outdoor living structures and “grow your own” products, with the risk that they miss out on the growth of online sales. So one of the initiatives that Forest launched last year to help garden centres recapture some of this business, and for which we won this year’s GIMA award for best new point of sale, was Forest's ‘Take me to the till’ sales and merchandising solution. This aims to capture traffic in-store and convert it to an online sale for the retailer. ’Take me to the till’ is a merchandising unit which has product cards on it, each with the same content that you would expect to find on a product web page. The shopper takes the card to the retailer’s checkout where it is processed, enabling the product to be ordered and delivered straight to the consumer’s garden. So, whereas Garden Centres may not have the space or inclination to display large products like sheds or structures, they now have the opportunity to sell a wide range of them simply by having one of our units in-store.

 

Robert: Will you be policing online selling in any way?

Guy: We have a standard set of terms upon which we sell to our customers. As you would expect, these will only vary depending on the length of our relationship and the value sales between our businesses. We do not differentiate between, or police, our customers; it is up to customers to decide their selling prices, we only publish suggested retail prices for our products.

Robert: Thank you Guy, we appreciate your time.

Guy: Thank you Robert, my pleasure.

Related Articles

Forest Launches New Storage Range

Forest Launches New Storage Range

Forest have been making high quality timber garden products for over half a century. David Coton has had the chance to see their brand new storage range that has recently been launched.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Thursday, 14th of September, 2017.

Forest Introduce The Easy-Fit 6ft x 4ft Shed

Forest Introduce The Easy-Fit 6ft x 4ft Shed

David Coton reviews the Easy-Fit 6ft x 4ft that has been added to Forest's impressive range of garden sheds, a compact storage unit that is much easier and quicker to install than any shed of the same size.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Tuesday, 5th of September, 2017.

Supplier Spotlight: Forest Garden at Hampton Court Flower Show

Supplier Spotlight: Forest Garden at Hampton Court Flower Show

As a yearly visitor to the Hampton Court Flower Show, I'll be enjoying much of the show's inspiration and fabulous florals this year, but I'm equally excited to see the fantastic gardening range provided by Forest Garden Products.

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Friday, 23rd of June, 2017.

Forest Launch Noise Reduction Fence Panels

Forest Launch Noise Reduction Fence Panels

With gardens becoming smaller, neighbours closer and roads busier, we all suffer from different forms of noise pollution. But, as Andy Taylor reports, Forest have now come up with a new kind of fencing that minimizes this nuisance.

Author: Andrew Taylor

Written by Andrew Taylor.
Published on Monday, 13th of November, 2017.

comments powered by Disqus

Author

Robert Hall

Senior Partner at GardenSite

View Profile

RSS

View RSS Feed

Follow Us!

Tags

Recent Articles

How To Attract Wildlife To Your Garden

How To Attract Wildlife To Your Garden

In order to promote and enhance biodiversity and conservation of our wildlife, there's a selection of habitats and boxes you can purchase that are specifically designed to attract various small animals and insects to your garden. Here we look at some of the products available which also make unusual and very engaging gifts.

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Monday, 23rd of April, 2018.

What To Do In The Garden In April

What To Do In The Garden In April

With warmer weather and an early Easter, the garden centre is busy at the moment with customers stocking up on summer bedding plants - snapdragons, cornflowers, cosmos, verbena, phlox, petunia, As well as filling planters, hanging baskets and borders with colour that will last all summer, there are always plenty of jobs to do in the garden during April and David Coton has these suggestions.

Author: David Coton

Written by David Coton.
Published on Thursday, 29th of March, 2018.

How Can I Help To Save Our Bees?

How Can I Help To Save Our Bees?

Every gardener must have noticed a decline in the bee population over recent years. Intensive farming that demands the use of toxic chemicals, climate change and parasite infestation have all been put forward as potential causes, it's a worrying trend but one that we can all help to reverse.

Author: Martyn Loach

Written by Martyn Loach.
Published on Thursday, 22nd of March, 2018.

Trimetals Launch Two New Guardian Sheds

Trimetals Launch Two New Guardian Sheds

As an excellent alternative to conventional products, Trimetals' storage solutions blend top quality manufacture with contemporary style. Their range has now been extended to include two new maintenance free sheds and Robert Hall has all the details.

Author: Robert Hall

Written by Robert Hall.
Published on Monday, 12th of March, 2018.