Garden centre grows its food offering and creates jobs with £1.3m help from Reward Finance Group

21 Jan 2022

Crimple Garden Centre, in Harrogate, has invested £4 million to create a 20,000 square foot food hall, incorporating a 160-seat restaurant, leading to the creation of 60 jobs, with the help of Reward Finance Group.

Owned by Graham Watson since 2013, the garden centre has built an excellent reputation for its collection of high-quality plants, shrubs, flowers, and gardening accessories, as well as providing expert horticultural advice and tips.

With impressive footfall and a prominent roadside location, Graham was keen to increase the retail offering by building one of the UK’s largest food halls, featuring more than 50 specialist producers, many of whom are local. These include a butcher, bakery, fishmonger, deli & cheese counter, fruit & veg, and food to go.

In addition to his own money, Graham approached Reward Finance Group to provide an additional £1.3m working capital investment to complete the scheme.

David Jones and Karen Paige visited the garden centre where they were shown plans of the striking design for the food hall, which mirrored the agricultural buildings in the area with a series of timber clad interconnected barn-like structures.

The highly sustainable building has a saw-tooth roof, which allows for natural ventilation, with PV solar panels. In addition, climate-controlled windows keep the temperature constant saving electricity used on heating and cooling.

The refrigeration equipment has been fitted with a heat recovery system producing 1,275 litres of hot water per hour, meeting the needs of the whole building.

Even the shopping bags are sustainable as they are made from potatoes.

Speaking about the deal, David Jones, said,

“Having backed Graham on a previous successful business venture, I was aware of his ability to make things work. In addition, as I live close to the site, I was more than confident that the new development would be a huge success.

“Crimple is in an excellent location on a main arterial road into Harrogate, helping to draw high visitor numbers. Therefore, the addition of a large, top quality food hall, will provide a further appeal to draw in the passing traffic, as well as attracting people from Harrogate, Leeds, Bradford, and York.

“Reward had no hesitation in providing the top up funding required to help bring the food hall to fruition. The shareholders already owned the site and were paying the majority of the build costs themselves, so it was an easy decision.”

Graham Watson added, “I was delighted that David and Karen were impressed with the designs for the food hall and bought into my vision. They also recognised my confidence in investing around £3m of our own money into the scheme, leading them to very quickly providing the additional money needed to turn the concept into reality.

“Other potential funders had made cheaper offers but with complications. James Gwynne from Commercial Expert then introduced us to Reward who came in and just got the job done, quickly and with the minimum of fuss, and pretty much just left us to it.

“Since opening a few weeks ago, I am delighted to say their faith was well founded, as revenue has significantly exceeded projections.”