By creating a unique offering this small business has managed to outperform its sector despite Brexit and a pandemic following its launch in 2018.
Leaf Creative Design was awarded GloucestershireLive Small Business of the Year at the glittering awards ceremony in 2021 in recognition of their success in very challenging trading conditions due to a strong USP and vision, a talented team and creative alternative revenue streams. This small business looks after its community and the environment too which were also factors taken into account by the judging panel.
Key business points:
- Founded by multiple award winning garden designer, Peter Dowle, and his partner, Angela Delaney, Leaf Creative commenced trading in October 2018.
- Leaf Creative is a specialist plant centre with restaurant based in Huntley.
- 23 highly trained staff who are encouraged to interact and advise/support customers.
The winning entry:
Leaf Creative source and grow incredible plants that are aimed at satisfying the needs of not just keen gardeners, but also, landscapers and designers, where they have an extensive range of plants from young plants to mature specimens. The on-site restaurant, The Fernery, offers customers locally sourced, healthy menu choices that change with the seasons.
Peter’s vision was that a visit to Leaf should be a ‘festival of experience’ which is a retail mantra that the team always work to ensuring that customers want to re-visit, as evidenced by a rapidly growing customer base. Despite operating in very challenging economic and social conditions (Brexit and COVID), the business experienced growth significantly above the sector norm. After significant setting up costs in the first year of trading, they went on to produce a profit in their second year despite the effects of the pandemic. Sales in their second year were up by 54% and were expected to finish 39% up for the year of their entry. This was despite The Fernery being closed (apart from for take-away) for long periods and the plant centre was initially closed to visiting customers.
The many reasons for this success include a frequently changing layout/stock to inspire customers and encourage return visits as well as their garden design capability offering customers professional support and guidance to help them fulfil their garden project. They have also developed alternative revenue streams outside of sector norm, such as evening dining events, parties, yoga classes, trade fairs (local food, beer, craft etc) and outdoor kitchens.
The business focuses on local suppliers helping to reduce unnecessary travel/delivery miles. They became 100% peat-free ahead of the majority of suppliers (compost), a conscious decision which was made due to research showing that removal of peat is extremely detrimental to the environment. They have a plastic plant pot recycling centre, where they take black pots which cannot be recycled and work with a local charity, who clean and re-use them.
Leaf provide educational support to local schools helping to build the knowledge of future gardeners and designed a ‘mindful garden’ for Lydbrook Primary school, which was opened by HRH Princess Anne in 2020. The year before they built their first show garden, named the Leaf Creative Garden, at Malvern show 2019 and were awarded a gold medal and Best in Show with the garden featuring on BBC Gardeners World.
The Gloucestershire Live Business Awards 2022 will open for entries in March.