I would like to provide further clarity and reassurance on the subject of the large number of plants which Haskins has had to dispose of due to the COVID-19 lockdown, as recently reported in the media.
Haskins has, as reported, experienced losses in the region of £125,000 relating to perishable plant stocks across all five of our centres, which were already ordered or committed to at the point where we had to make the decision to close all Haskins’ garden centres to the public. A large proportion of these plants were donated to NHS staff, local care homes, schools and community groups at the beginning of the lockdown, as well as to our own staff.
We closed our centres with short notice following the Government’s guidelines on the 23rd March to close all non-essential retail, and consequently decided to halt our collect and delivery service. This is because we felt that while it would have been of benefit to our customers, we did not believe it fell into the bracket of ‘essential travel’ and as such, would not be responsible of us to continue to operate. In addition, we felt that it would be logistically difficult to ensure the safety of our staff. As a consequence, we were sadly unable to continue delivery outreach to community groups, and therefore the remaining perishable plants were recycled within our own green waste facility to be turned into compost.
We have a responsibility to our team members and the reality is that the lockdown has created a huge financial impact on the business, from which it will undoubtedly take years to recover. By discussing with the media the value of perishable plants which have been lost, we hoped to communicate the impact COVID-19 has had on the business. Despite these losses, we are determined to safeguard the long-term future of Haskins, and in turn, the employment of our staff.
At present, we have furloughed 92% of our staff with small teams left at each garden centre site to water and care for our other plant stocks, ready for when we re-open.
We hope to be able to open our garden centres as soon as possible, but only when it is safe to do so and within the Government’s guidelines. We are continuously monitoring the situation and are using this time to learn from our colleagues across the retail sector, so that when we can open our doors again, we are best equipped to offer our valued customers a safe and enjoyable experience, as they have trusted Haskins to deliver for its many years of business.
CEO of Haskins Garden Centres