Major garden centre signs as leisure anchor at Tewkesbury’s planned outlet centre

Dobbies Garden Centre, Tewkesbury CGI

Dobbies Garden Centres, the UK’s largest garden centre operator in the United Kingdom, has signed an agreement to lease with Cheltenham-based developer Robert Hitchins Ltd to open a 75,000 sq ft flagship garden centre next to the developer’s planned Designer Outlet Centre at Tewkesbury.

Dobbies, which is privately owned by Midlothian Capital Partners Limited and Hattington Capital LLP, and currently employs around 5,000 people, is the largest garden centre operator in the UK with 68 stores nationwide. It recently reopened all its garden centres following the partial lifting of restrictions after being forced to close due to Covid-19 in March.

The new Dobbies store, to be built at junction 9 of the M5 near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, will be the largest the garden centre operates in South West England.

Located on a greenfield site fronting the A46 trunk road, the garden centre will include an extensive plants and gardening department, food hall, cookshop, pet department, table service restaurant, soft play area for kids and its own 500-space car park.

It will be on the same overall 180-acre site as the proposed 195,000 sq ft Designer Outlet Cotswolds which will feature some 90 retail units, restaurants and cafés.

Infrastructure works to open up the site for development are due to commence in Autumn 2020 with the garden centre and outlet village planned to open in Autumn 2022.

Robert Hitchins says that detailed negotiations are under way with a number of high-quality retail brands which are considering opening stores at Designer Outlet Cotswolds, which has good location and communications links and its affluent and growing catchment.

The outlet village will feature aspirational brands across fashion, athleisure, footwear and lifestyle at up to 70 per cent off recommended retail prices throughout the year along withrestaurants and coffee shops.

Both the designer outlet and garden centre are part of a wider development by Robert Hitchins which will also include 850 homes, a school and a local centre adjacent to an existing M&S supermarket, Starbucks and BP petrol filling station.

Graeme Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer at Dobbies Garden Centres, said: “The new garden centre will be our fourth largest in the UK and the jewel in the crown for the South West region. With such an excellent location, right on the junction of a busy motorway, we look forward to welcoming local residents, passing motorists and visitors to the region.”

Simon Tothill, Property & Development Director of Robert Hitchins, said: “A Dobbies Garden Centre as the leisure anchor for Designer Outlet Cotswolds will offer a tremendous attraction for customers. Working closely with ROS Retail Outlet Shopping, one of the top outlet operators in Europe, we have managed to secure strong interest from major global brands which we hope to announce in the near future.  We have put much thought into the architectural appeal of the scheme and the spectrum of choice for visitors when we open. Dobbies will be a significant addition to the development.”

More than 21 million vehicles pass the site Designer Outlet Cotswolds each year and the development is within walking distance of the Ashchurch-for-Tewkesbury railway station which serves the Bristol to Birmingham main line. More than 9.8 million people live within a 90 minutes’ drive and the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) attracts over 23 million visitors annually.

The agent acting for Robert Hitchins on the Dobbies deal was Gilbert Evans.