FLOWER POWER: Fiona Dean, director of Ravensworth Nurseries
FLOWER POWER: Fiona Dean, director of Ravensworth Nurseries

A POPULAR plant nursery is to invest £1.1million in a major expansion.
Ravensworth Nurseries is developing an “upmarket” retail garden centre to go alongside its nursery after receiving funding from Reward Finance Group.
Having been established for more than 50 years, the
family-run business, which is the largest grower of poinsettias in the North of England, has developed a reputation for supplying home-grown plants, starter plants and seedlings to retail outlets and garden centres across the UK.
It also supplies hanging baskets and plants for council parks and high streets. Ravensworth Nurseries is also popular with local gardners.
With land available on its 36-acre site and being near the A66, the business said it was a natural progression to expand the garden centre, possibly adding a cafe in the future. The plans were put on hold when the coronavirus pandemic meant the business had to close to the public.
However, the company created a new website in just days to offer deliveries. It hired some vans and used members of the team, who usually deliver to other garden centres, to drop off the orders. The move led to a rise in the number of visitors to the nursery now lockdown restrictions have been eased.
Director of Ravensworth Nurseries Fiona Dean said this gave them more confidence to expand the site.
Ms Dean said: “Having recruited experienced business consultant Bob Morton to review the business, he identified the opportunity to create a significant increase in revenue by creating more of a leisure destination, where visitors can browse our homegrown plants, as well as garden products and accessories, and potentially enjoy a drink and a bite to eat in
the cafe.
“The move will augment our successful core business of supplying the trade.
“Although we appreciate it is a significant investment, we were disappointed by the negative reaction from the banks we approached for funding.
“Fortunately, Bob introduced us to David Jones at Reward Finance Group, who quickly provided the funds to develop the complex.
Mr Jones said: “This is a fantastic family business which has built an excellent reputation as a top-class nursery over its 50 years of trading. With the ability to grow their own plants, it makes perfect sense to expand and improve the retail experience. As well as making an increased margin on the sale of the plants and trees, there will be no additional distribution costs, as the greenhouses and growing areas are next to the garden centre. This puts them in a perfect position to tap into the growing demand by consumers for plants that are ‘grown not flown’.
“Having looked at the business plan and with the right security in place, we were very happy to provide the funds to help the business grow.”