Phase two of £10 million development at Scotsdales Garden Centre commences


A £10 million pound investment programme which will further embed its roots into the local community has reached a key construction milestone at the Scotsdales garden centre at Great Shelford.

MD Caroline Owen, along with other family members and some of its longest serving staff, took the chance before construction starts in earnest, to gather on-site behind the garden centre, where a series of outbuildings have been demolished to make way for the start of phase two, the construction of a new restaurant.

This phase follows on from the recent completion of phase one, which has improved the plant area and garden shop, and seen an impressive new glazed Planteria area built, all with the aim of fulfilling a vision, to deliver excellent value and expertise to Scotsdales’ core gardening customer, whilst promoting the benefits of outdoor living, so that everyone can appreciate ‘all the good things in life’.

Working with Barnes Construction, Stanley Bragg Architects and other local consultants , this significant investment will make Scotsdales an even better place to work and shop and will set up the business for future success. 

Scotsdales has been run by the Rayner family for over 50 years and was originally founded by Cambridgeshire farmer David Rayner in 1968.

In the early 1980s, David’s daughter, Caroline Owen, joined Scotsdales and with her vision, helped develop the business to become one of the largest garden centres in the UK with outlets in Great Shelford, Fordham and Horningsea.

Family is at the heart of Scotsdales, with David acting as an active Chairman of the garden centre until last year, when he sadly passed away at the age of 94.  Today, Caroline leads the company as Managing Director, with the support of her brother Ben as the Financial Director, as well as involvement from other generations of the Rayner family throughout the business. 

Caroline is a widely celebrated champion in the garden retail sector nationally, with high level positions and multiple awards. She is the only person to be president of the Horticultural Trades Association for two periods, and she is currently the chairman of the Tillington Group (an association of some of the best independent garden centre businesses in the UK).

She has won multiple awards including the Pearson memorial medal in 2011, and the lifetime achievement award in 2013. Her knowledge and expertise within the retail community, along with her welcoming and friendly persona, is something the team at Scotsdales is immensely proud of. 

A video clip of Caroline talking about the investment Scotsdales is making can be viewed here, but she is delighted with how the work is progressing and comments: “The work being done shows our commitment to investing in our business and the local community, to give our staff and our plants the best possible environment, and to offer our customers an amazing garden centre experience.

The garden centre at Shelford has had little work done on it since 1990, and the plans to develop the site have gone back many years. We began work in summer last year, with the aim of investing in the future of the business and making Scotsdales standout.  With horticulture being at the heart of what we do here, the new weatherproofed plant area and gardening department were the priority, and we are delighted with the space that has been built.

This development has also given us a chance to look at our carbon footprint, with a vast number of upgrades, including the installation of solar panels, being installed throughout. We are now really excited to move onto phase two: construction on the new restaurant area, the enlarged food hall and improving some of the facilities and retail areas.

“We are happy to be working with some of the best in the business to see our vision delivered. I have no doubt that this significant investment will make Scotsdales an even better place to work and shop and will set up the business for future success. We cannot wait until the work is completed in 2025.” 

Liz Gage, House Plants Manager has worked at Scotsdales for 37 years. She, together with her colleagues, Liz Smith (44 years of service) and Sam Carlton (41 years of service), joined the family onsite to see this next phase commence.

She said: “I’ve worked at Scotsdales for almost 40 years, and I’ve seen it grow and evolve in so many ways, but this development is spectacular. It will greatly enhance our customers’ experience and bring even more possibilities to our beloved Garden Centre. It’s very exciting and I feel immensely proud to be a part of this journey.”

Picture: L to R Caroline Owen, Managing Director, Ben Rayner – Financial Director , Becky Critchley-Salmonson – Category Manager with Edo & Rosa Critchley-Salmonson , Johnny Critchley-Salmonson – Marketing Manager, Fleur Hjaltun-Rayner – PA to the Managing Director, Liz Smith, House Plants , Matthew Ramplin, Associate Divisional Director, Barnes Construction, Liz Gage, Plant Manager, Scott Casey, Senior Site Manager, Barnes Construction, Sam Carlton, Facilities Manager and Jack Noddle, Assistant Site Manager, Barnes Construction.

A video of Caroline Owen speaking about the investment can be viewed here.

Photos credited to Pagepix

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