What distinguishes you from other garden centres?
Creating moments of happiness. At our garden centre, people enjoy a fun day out with the entire family, even if it looks a bit different these days. Basically, we are a kind of amusement park that you walk through, the only difference is that you don’t have to pay an entrance fee. You can find a lot of inspiration for your house and garden and we have something for everyone. Our male guests, for example, love the grill factory. Here you will find the latest gadgets and techniques for grilling. Although Leurs garden centre is a large company, we believe in a personal approach. We want to ensure the personal and cosy atmosphere for our guests.
What impact does the corona crisis have on your shop?
We have many international guests and border traffic is becoming increasingly difficult. It is still allowed, but people find it scary. Dutch visitors come from a radius of 100 km and German visitors easily drive 200 km to get to us, but now you notice that people stay closer to home and don’t drive that far to visit a shop. So we can see that our clientele is getting smaller. When it comes to creating moments of happiness, that is still possible. We place everything extra wide and spacious. For example, we spread the Christmas show throughout the entire shop, so that everything is spread over 20,000 m2. We also extended our opening hours in order to spread the crowds evenly. During weekdays we are open every evening until 20.00. We encourage people to avoid the weekends and visit us on weekdays.
What measures did you take to ensure safe shopping?
We have taken a number of measures. For example, we only allow a limited number of people to enter. We have also put stickers on the ground throughout the shop, drawing guests’ attention to keep 1.5 m distance. And we have placed plexiglass at the cash registers and counters. When it gets busier, colleagues with orange vests stand in crucial places in our shop. These are prevention workers who only pay attention to safety. Does everyone keep enough distance? Don’t people stay in crowded places for too long? Are our guests keeping a good pace?
There is also a host or hostess at the entrance who points out the corona rules to our visitors. We have included a mouth mask in our house rules. We want to cooperate in everything so that the corona virus can be stopped. Our guests appreciate that very much.
Do people need a merry Christmas and a nice Christmas show this year even more than usual?
That is certainly true. People go on holiday less often, eat out less and want to make their home very cosy. In the summer we noticed that our guests are very occupied with their home and garden. We are convinced that people come to us for the nice items to create a cosy atmosphere. We also notice a big shift to online shopping in our webshop. We are currently focusing on our webshop, to ensure that a large part of our assortment can be found online. Moreover, we are very quick in shipping the products. Our expectation is that online sales through the webshop will only increase until December. In addition, people who don’t like to come to our shop at the moment can make a virtual tour through the Christmas show on our website. This way you already get a good idea of the current trends.
What role does hospitality play in your shop?
We are particularly strong in gastronomy. Many of our visitors also eat and drink something at our restaurant. Because the restaurant is not allowed to open at the moment, we have set up a food court in the parking area where you can get a nice sandwich, a waffle or fries. However, you have to take the food with you to the car.
You have 1.2 million visitors per year and almost as many German and Dutch customers. Do you have to appeal to these two target groups in different ways?
That is exactly what we are not doing. The German guests really like the fact that our product range is wide and that they can see different products than in Germany. We do notice that our German guests generally lag a little behind the Dutch guests when it comes to new trends. If you look at our Christmas show, every year we show new trends in addition to the classic themes. This year, for example, Christmas ornaments with animal prints are very popular. The Dutch are open to this, while the Germans are more traditional.
What kind of team is behind Leurs? What kind of people are you looking for?
Our team distinguishes us from other shops. Our people are our most important asset and that’s what makes the difference. It’s the way they present the products and speak to our guests. We believe the most important thing is that our team members convey enthusiasm and create moments of happiness. You learn the trade and knowledge with us, but you have to have a sense of hospitality. As managers, Bart and I want to be there for everyone: for our team and for our guests.
More information about garden centre Leurs