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Garden chain plants online delivery idea

One of Britain’s biggest garden centre chains is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Amazon and Asos by launching a next-day online delivery service.

Dobbies said that it would team up with a subsidiary of Ocado, the online grocer, to enable customers to order anything sold at its garden centre for a delivery to their home.

Nicholas Marshall, chief executive of Dobbies, said: “Online, excluding food, is now approaching 40 per cent of UK retail sales and rapidly growing.

“Yet online garden retailing is just a few per cent. The garden centre industry is at least ten years behind the rest of the retail world. The gardening market in the UK is worth £4 billion. The potential is therefore enormous.”

Andrew Bracey, chairman of Dobbies and a former chief financial officer of Ocado, said: “Someone watching Monty Don on a Friday evening on Gardeners’ World can sit on the sofa and order the plants he planted on the programme, for delivery the next day, with the compost and tools that are required.”

The chain of 34 garden centres said that it would launch its online store early next year and would deliver nationwide. It signed a five-year agreement with Speciality Stores, an Ocado subsidiary, meaning that it can benefit from the technology and warehouses of the company. Ocado will have a specialist plant facility next to its warehouses for Dobbies deliveries.