Warren Haskins (top) and Julian Winfield work on the floor filling plant display.
In March 1994, the purpose built Haskins Garden Centre was officially opened on a former 10 acre industrial site at Longham. The success of the brand new garden centre started a country wide trend to break away from the traditional greenhouse and shed style gardening shops and create more comfortable environments for both shoppers and the plants they sell. Warren Haskins, who in 1969 took over the company business at the age of 20 following the sudden death of his father, developed the original Haskins centre at Tricketts Cross in Ferndown until Sainsburys purchased the land in 1993 and Warren, with the consultancy of Ernest Wertheim, a garden centre guru from San Francisco, decided to purchase the Longham site.
“We saw staffing levels leap from 60 people at the old Tricketts Cross centre to over 100 at the new Longham centre,” says Warren. “The total number now employed exceeds 190 with the growth of our head office which is also on the site and supports a total of 4 centres, two of which have been rebuilt to similar designs, the latest was our £12 million Roundstone Centre near Worthing in March 2012. We have been able to emulate the success of the Longham centre also at our West End centre in Southampton.”
Warren Haskins as Chairman, with Julian Winfield, who is the Chief Executive and also celebrates 20 years with the company, both returned to the shop floor as part of the celebrations to put out stock and help serve customers: “It’s been a very long time since I helped on the shop floor. There have been so many changes with the introduction of technology and systems which our current team just take for granted.”
In October 2008 the Longham centre received an extensive £3 million update which included doubling the size of the restaurant which now seats 400, also major refit of the retail area and renovation of the signage and landscaping.
“The centre still looks fresh after 20 years and the layout continuously evolves to meet the demands of our customers and maintain high standards expected by our discerning visitors.”