Celebrations making the 70th anniversary of the Gordon Rigg garden centre at Walsden are now in full flow.
Anniversary events are being run at the Walsden and Rochdale branches each weekend until September 6, and while celebrating the garden centre’s history, the family-run business is also looking to the future, as Peter Rigg explains.
That means developing the business, which is one of the biggest garden centres in the north, in line with the values established by Peter’s father Gordon when he began it all with a quarter-acre smallholding at Walsden near his home and next to Bottoms Mill.
Peter said: “After 70 years it’s fantastic that Gordon Rigg continues to thrive as a business and we are still very much a family run firm that is built on the same values that formed the company’s foundations back in 1945.
“The industry has changed hugely over the years with the introduction of modern packaging making plant buying much easier and more convenient.
“The demise of garden greenhouses also means customers generally prefer to buy fully grown plants, complete with flowers, rather than nurturing and growing plants themselves.
“However, our Walsden site still operates an extensive traditional nursery, where we grow tens of thousands of plants every year, which sets us apart from many of our competitors and means we can cater for all requirements.”
Peter said customers come to visit Rigg’s from all over the north, with some of the keenest gardeners travelling from all over the UK - in the case of the Walsden site often making a day of it.
“People are continually surprised by our vast product range and the size of our garden centres.
“This is particularly true at Walsden which covers a huge floorplan and often people can spend up to half a day with us shopping and enjoying lunch in our café.
“The catering side of the business is continually growing and this was enhanced greatly when we opened a highly successful bistro at our Rochdale centre.
“Another area where we are currently investing heavily is in our online presence. We’ve recently launched our fully redeveloped mobile friendly e-commerce site that we’re continually developing and this has the potential to become another big growth area for us over the next couple of years which is hugely exciting,” said Peter.
Rigg’s has more than 60,000 square feet of retail space, employing 190 people across its two garden centres and their adjoining restaurants as well as The Bottoms Mill Shop and Cotton Weavers Café in Walsden, Todmorden.
Last year the company’s turnover hit £10million.
The business was founded by the late Gordon Rigg, who passed away in 2004, when he was just 26. The company is now owned and managed by Gordon’s son Peter Rigg, his wife Pauline and their children Anthony and Fiona.
It was recently voted the North of England’s best garden centre by Which? Magazine.