Independence versus a Monopoly
Are independent Garden Centres giving us a good deal or is it better to have a Monopoly with one or two chains fighting it out to get us the best prices?
The advantages of a Monopoly can mean a good deal for the consumer as prices can come down considerably. You also know what you're getting in most of their stores and this can be comforting and the service is usually good.
With the right team it can be very advantageous to have a Monopoly
On the other hand Independent Garden Centres might offer a special atmosphere, service and products. This could mean a slightly higher price but then not everyone wants to be the same and having a choice of products might be found with independents.
Recently I've heard some worrying comments about our garden centres being bought up for their brown site value. Does this mean that in 10 years time houses will be build on the land? Also I've heard that their buying power can be used to put pressure on manufacturers not to sell products to independent Garden Centres. If this is true then this paints a very different picture.
Personally I like the convenience of making my purchases in one location. Sainsbury's for example provide good quality product at reasonable prices but then the down side are the carbon costs plus all the packaging and chemicals used growing the produce. In an ideal world I'd prefer to be able to buy my meat & vegetables locally grown or at least in this country and organically if possible and at a reasonable price.
I wonder what will happen to our Garden Centres in ten years time. I think initially it will be a good thing for the customer, but I can see the real value in the land and the temptation and pressure to sell the land to developers in the not too distant future.
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