LEADER grant leads to job creation and business growth

A retail nursery near Aylesbury is expected to generate 20% growth and create at least six new jobs after building a tea room with the help of a £50,000 LEADER grant.

Hartwell Nurseries, a family owned business also dealing in landscape supplies, has serious ambitions for growth and turned to LEADER for support with a project designed to increase their sales and customer experience, and create a positive knock-on effect for other local businesses.

“Visitors to Hartwell Nurseries previously had nowhere to sit down, enjoy a bite to eat and enjoy the rural landscape while shopping,” said Neil Bowness, Director of Hartwell Nurseries. “The new tea room will enhance the customer’s retail experience but also increase business by enticing new customers to the nursery.”

With Hartwell Nurseries located on a popular cycle route and footpath, the potential for increased footfall is high. Neil estimates that the building of the tea room will generate 20% growth year on year and necessitate hiring six new full-time employees to run it. “Additionally,” said Neil, “we believe a further three jobs will be created throughout the nursery, through increased footfall from the tea room in the first year.”

LEADER funding can drastically reduce the cost of a project, something Neil can attest to. “The funding enabled us to build the tea room at a reasonable cost,” said Neil. “The £50,000 grant helped make this project possible, while also reducing the risk to the business and ensuring our cash flow was not impacted.

“Without LEADER funding, this project could have been delayed for at least two years. In that eventuality, and without the predicted increase in sales generated by the tea room, it is unlikely we would be expecting to hire at least six new staff members.”
Given this, it was important to Neil that the LEADER team was there every step of the way: “The LEADER team was a constant point of contact, and this included making site visits to see the work in progress. They were very helpful, always supportive, and made everything as simple as possible.”

Will Dallimore, LEADER Programme Manager, said: “One of the key aims of the LEADER Programme is to help rural businesses create jobs, so I’m delighted we have been able to support Hartwell Nurseries with an expansion that could add up to nine new staff members and increase revenue by such a great margin.”

The building of the tearoom is not just designed to increase Hartwell Nurseries’ sales, but also to help other local businesses by using, wherever possible, locally sourced products, thereby supporting local suppliers, growers and producers. “Not only that,” says Neil, “but the tea room will also act as a daytime tourism attraction, bringing people out to our rural location of Hartwell that is on the way to other tourist destinations like the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre and Waddesdon Manor.”

This is another plus side to the project, as Will says: “This project is a particularly striking one given the emphasis placed on supporting the local business community by increasing footfall in the area. Neil’s vision of Hartwell Nurseries as part of a wider tourism package within Buckinghamshire is also welcome as this meets another of LEADER’s objectives to promote the tourism offer in the county.”

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