Tong Garden Centre is one of the biggest independently owned garden centres in Yorkshire, set in 17 acres of countryside. The centre was taken bought by Mark Farnsworth and Tom Megginson in May 2015 and the pair haven’t looked back since, investing £4million in improvements to the centre and trebling the turnover since taking over.
Within the first couple of years Mark started planning a significant redevelopment and began working with architects Pleydell Smithyman on designs for substantial redevelopment. “We had become aware of Newspan from industry press and attending GLEE; they were included on Paul Pleydell’s shortlist of recommended contractors – we were impressed from the outset by their approach. The team were extremely thorough and efficient, always responding promptly and their 3D visuals really helped us to understand what the new buildings would be like, as well as demonstrating that they understood exactly what we were trying to achieve.”
The new structures were due to run alongside the existing building, which included a new cold house for plant sales, new events space and a new soft play facility. Newspan immediately set about investigating the existing steel frame to minimise new columns and foundations with a system that would also support a new gutter down the length of the building. Mark and Tom were happy with the suggestion; “Their proposal of working off our existing building’s steelwork meant we didn’t have to interfere with existing foundations to put new steel in. It was a smart move that saved costs, risks and complexity.”
Existing steel frame utilised
Extending off the existing steel frame avoided adding columns to valuable retail space.
Ambitious delivery targets achieved
"The work ethic of the team on site was second to none and they seemed largely self-sufficient, needing very little input from us to get the job done".
Mark and Tom were very clear that on their desired handover date for each area of the project; “Our delivery targets were ambitious – the plant area had to be back in use for the busy Easter holidays, and our eagerly awaited soft play area needed to be fully up and running for the school summer holidays – but Newspan helped to organise a programme that enabled both of these important business objectives to be met, and delivered on it”.
With such a tight delivery phase the office and on-site teams maintained constant communication and through regular site visits. Newspan’s site team were committed, as always, and determined to maintain momentum throughout the project. “The work ethic of the team on site was second to none and they seemed largely self-sufficient, needing very little input from us to get the job done. Dan was our office point of contact throughout the design and build phases, ensuring continuity – he was first class throughout”, explains Mark.
The garden centre remained open throughout the entire project, with Newspan handing over areas a time for Mark to trade from. Whilst Tong were not only able to continue trading, they also maintained customer interest in the new additions to the site. Mark describes the reaction upon completion; “The response from our own customers so far has been extremely positive. The centre will come into its own now everything’s fully open. The indoor soft play centre has already increased footfall over the summer holidays, and we expect it to help us to achieve our ambition of being a venue with something for all the family, in all weather, as we move into the autumn. Christmas has always been a particular strength at Tong too; we’re very much looking forward to our first festive season in the new building.”
“We would absolutely recommend Newspan; we’re already looking at other projects and they will be very much part of our plans! The team were excellent, their care of everything from pricing through to completion was meticulous and we would certainly be happy to work with them again.”