Meet the MD: Nigel Wait from Newbridge Nurseries near Horsham

Nigel Wait receiving his award for Most Improved Garden Centre from Tim Mason

Nigel Wait receiving his award for Most Improved Garden Centre from Tim Mason - Credit: Archant

Newbridge Nurseries near Horsham was recently awarded the prestigious Most Improved Garden Centre 2014 Award by the Garden Centre Association. Owner Nigel Wait gives his recipe for business success

What’s your business ideology?

We are a family business and believe a business should continually evolve and develop. Offering new products and services to keep the customers interested in visiting is a must! We’re so proud to have been awarded the Most Improved Garden Centre Award for 2014 and we attribute this success to the fact that every department throughout the garden centre has been developed, especially the plant area and restaurant.

What are the most important characteristics for a business in your industry?

As an independent garden centre, of which there are very few nowadays, it’s important to discover what you can offer that’s unique. Our Stook’s café at Newbridge is certainly not what you’d expect to find; fresh local and often organic ingredients are used to create mouth-watering meals and light lunches with a Middle Eastern influence. A lot of the vegetables and herbs used at Stooks are grown on-site.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

To always value the feedback of your customers. They are the life-blood of your business and where possible you want to appeal to them as much as you can. Everyone in our team at Newbridge has excellent customer service skills and we all work extremely hard to ensure the customers are well served. With the inclusion of gifts, garden furniture and barbecues, we have many other strings to our bow so we are not solely about plants.

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Do you have a hero? What do you admire about them?

My father was undoubtedly my biggest inspiration and we had a brilliant working relationship. Being able to establish our growing nursery, Barnsfold, on a very small budget in the early Sixties made me appreciate how hard it is to start a business.

What’s your greatest achievement?

Winning the award for most improved garden centre this year is a very proud moment for us, especially as the award is from the Garden Centre Association who cover the whole of the UK. It’s been an excellent year for our family business so far, as our other wholesale nursery Barnsfold Nurseries won Ornamental Grower of the Year at the 2014 awards.

Are you more technophile or Luddite?

This is an easy one to answer. A visit to our modern nursery at Rudgwick will see the investment we have made into new machinery over the last 30 years, something no Luddite would have agreed to.

Is there one gadget you couldn’t be without?

I am afraid my laptop has been my companion for many years, and it’s something I cannot do without. Being able to find an email from the past and establish what was and was not said is absolutely invaluable, especially when your memory is failing.

You’re stranded on a desert island: what book, film and luxury would you take with you?

My dog Tiffany. I am not a great film buff or reader but I could walk round a desert island several times with the sea on one side and a piece of driftwood in hand for Tiffany to retrieve.