As 2015 draws to a close, Forest Garden – the UK’s leading supplier of core and decorative garden timber products – looks back at a year that has seen the business enter an exciting new chapter following a period of significant investment.
The past 12 months have been incredibly busy for the market-leaders. The start of year saw demand for fencing remain strong following peak demand as a result of the 2014 storm damage, fully vindicating Forest’s strategy of running production throughout the off season to hold greater stocks ahead of the year. Whilst they fulfilled peak seasonal demand, this does not mean that the team has been resting on its laurels. Throughout 2015 everything from Forest’s home delivery service and merchandising support, to its product offering has been subjected to revision and improvement.
The introduction of the new 5,000sq ft. display area in early 2015 – believed to be the largest of its kind within the Forest’s product sector – helped to kick-start this year of investment. The exciting addition at the heart of the company’s head office in Worcestershire is now home to more than 80 garden timber products, including the latest in timber fencing, sheds, summerhouses, greenhouses, arbours, decking, grow-your-own accessories, planters and furniture. The real benefit, however, lies in the fact that the space offers customers and supply partners the opportunity to book the showroom to give their trading teams ‘real life’ product, merchandising and technical training, which they in turn can share with their own customers. The full breadth of Forest’s portfolio can also be clearly seen, thanks to the wealth of inspirational displays.
Expansion of market-leading product portfolio
2015 also saw Forest expand its product offering to incorporate more lifestyle driven ranges, with garden furniture taking centre stage. Offering a stylish and affordable alternative to what is currently available on the market, Forest’s new furniture collections are representative of its aims to provide retailers with the most comprehensive and profitable product selections that it possibly can.
The company’s shed range has also undergone a makeover in preparation for 2016, and the new range will benefit from a clear product hierarchy, that offers simple trade-up options for the consumer. Retailers will also benefit from this development, as it makes it much easier for them to sell higher value products to their increase sales values.
Finally, 2015 was the year in which Forest converted its timber post offering to incised, usage class-4 products, complete with an underwritten 15 year guarantee against rot. This development will already provide retailers and trade outlets with the confidence that Forest products will perform in the long-term, reducing the need for costly replacement.
Enhancements to home delivery & in-store sales support tools
Forest already offers a suite of tools to help garden centre and builders’ merchant customers maximise sales of its products, however throughout the year a number of enhancements have been put into place to further bolster the overall offering, including improved point of sale, and full-load deliveries. Home delivery is one area that has seen the most significant investment as highlighted by its TMTTT and FTIF initiatives.
Take Me To The Till (TMTTT), is Forest’s most-popular and proven sales tool. During the 2015 season, Forest added a number of design updates and display additions, which have helped drive sales throughout the season. The latest updates to hit stores included high-level directional POS, new signage for the ‘Squircle’ display unit which helps customers to locate the unit in-store, and promotional ‘wobblers’ that help retailers to clearly communicate seasonal special offers and RRPs. Additionally, Forest also introduced two-part order pads, enabling those retailers without access to automated order systems to also benefit from access to Forest’s product portfolio.
TMTTT also ended the 2015 season with award winning, having scooped the Best In Store Merchandising Support award at the annual Homebase supplier awards.
Forest Garden’s dedication to ongoing improvements of its home delivery service was also taken up a notch with the introduction of the new First Time in Full (FTIF) initiative. FTIF has been put in place to measure the success of Forest’s Home delivery service, making it easy for the team to identify areas of improvement, whilst accessing live data to ensure optimum service is achieved throughout the whole delivery process. The ultimate aim of this new introduction is simple – that all products are delivered complete and without fault each and every time. Created via a dedicated back-office programme, specifically designed to make FTIF a reality – with both front and back-end support – Forest is able to quickly and effectively amend the home delivery process, as well as improving internal disciplines such as enhanced quality checks.
John Gomersall, sales and marketing director at Forest Garden, said: “This year, more than any other, has seen Forest make significant investments across the board, and we believe that our retail customers as well as end-users will benefit from this continued level of investment.
“With a proven product portfolio, we are now better placed to look at ways to improve our service and customer support levels, with TMTTT and FTIF representative of this investment. Our product showroom is also demonstrative of our approach to our product portfolio. Not only can we better display our full offering, but it also provides us with the opportunity to work closer with our customers, arming them with the necessary tools to drive sales of our products year-round.
“There is no doubt that the enhancements we have undertaken in 2015 have helped to shape the future of Forest Garden, and have also helped stand us in good stead for the coming season. Planning for the 2016 season is very much underway, with further investment already earmarked for the coming year, with an emphasis on our stock capabilities and further home delivery improvements. We look forward to revealing further details as we enter 2016, and also look forward to working with our retail customer to help them profit further from stocking our market-leading offering.”
Find out more
Forest’s products are available from garden centres and other stockists across the country, as well as through online retailers. To see the full range visit www.forestgarden.co.uk