Member of the Week - Mackenzie & Cruickshank Garden Centre

Mackenzie & Cruickshank Garden Centre has existed as a family business since 2004 when Peter & Heather Wilson purchased a call centre with a vision of transforming it into a Garden Centre.  Following the completion of 3 extensions, the most recent being a £500k construction of a brand-new Plant Market & expansion of their undercover area, they have a site with 3000m2 of undercover trading space, a 160-seat coffee shop & 85 space car park.  All of this enables them to trade all year in Plants, Pots, Compost, Garden Sundries, Outdoor Furniture, Pet Food, Bird Food, Gifts, Christmas Decorations & Christmas Trees whilst their coffee shop ‘The Potting Shed'- home of the perfect scone’ tends to our customers food and drink needs.    

M&C work hard with over 250 suppliers and travel thousands of miles across the UK and Europe to ensure they are constantly bringing new products to the North of Scotland.  As members of the Choice Independent Garden Centre buying group, they ensure they are bringing excellent value to customers.

We spoke to Ali Wilson, second generation aspiring garden centre owner, who has returned to the business after 10 years working at Procter & Gamble in Research and Development. Ali talked us through his duties and responsibilities at Mackenzie & Cruickshank: “I’m currently working across all departments to understand how the centre operates.  My specific responsibilities include buying for our Garden Sundries, Garden Furniture, Pet and Christmas departments, whilst also taking charge of our sites conversion to a full EPOS system through 2018 into early 2019.”

We asked Ali why he would like to feature as member of the week: “Plant sales are hugely important to our business model from March to September. Interestingly, what people may not realise is that with the relatively short growing season here in the North of Scotland, the back end of the year sales for Gifts, Coffee Shop, Christmas Trees, Christmas Decorations are key. Following on from a successful Winter Market weekend, we still have lots more on offer through late November and into December. Hence, this was a great opportunity for us to further share what we are up to with our Chamber colleagues."

Mackenzie and Cruickshank have a jam-packed Christmas calendar of events:

-Cash for Kids Festive Feast Shopping Night: 30th November - 6pm-9pm
Bring or buy a toy for the Cash for Kids Toy appeal; Traditional Christmas Dinner; Entertainment; special gifts promotions, including a raffle.

-Kids Christmas Week: 2nd, 3rd, 9th & 10th December – All Day!
Festive fun for all the family – fairground rides, bouncy castles, face painting, huskie demonstrations, take away coffee & Father Christmas.

-Meet Father Christmas: 2nd, 3rd, 9th, 10th, 16th & 17th December -1pm-4pm
Meet Father Christmas, receive a present and have your photo taken. No pre-booking required. £7.50 per child.

-Christmas Trees
Available from Friday 1st December.

M&C have some exciting plans over the next months. The end of 2017 sees them being able to expand their Christmas department into their new Plant. 2018 will be their first full season with the new expanded undercover space, enabling an all year-round plant shopping experience, providing a stunning backdrop for visually appealing shoppable plant displays, and allowing them to source more interesting plants and maintain a much better product for their customers.  This will be a key pillar in optimistically attempting to increase their site turnover by 10%.   

Mackenzie and Cruickshank also aim to further expand their site with a 4th extension to increase the indoor gift and plant area and additionally, transforming recently purchased land into 20 additional car parking spaces.  In addition to this they will be preparing for the go live of a full EPOS system in Jan 2019.

M&C recently took home the award for ‘Best Independent Garden Centre Buying Team’ at the at the 2017 Glee Power Buyers List, recognising their buying talent in the garden centre industry.

Ali told us what he values most about Chamber membership: “The ability to network and reach different businesses outside of Moray, specifically into Highlands & Islands. We this helping us in 3 areas: Making new business connections that can help us with day to day operations; learning new business skills from different industries and reapplying them to the garden centre trade and hopefully tapping into a new customer base."

We asked Ali what his ‘top tip’ is to other members to make the most of their membership: “Get involved and make sure you sign up for Christmas lunch!”

Facebook: @mandcforres