by Richard Buckley, Editor, Business Eye

Garden centre operator Creative Gardens will open the doors to its three sites for the first time since March this week with new social distancing measures in place and is expecting high footfall as keen gardeners return to its stores. The family-owned business, which has centres in Donaghadee, Bushmills and Galgorm Castle, availed of a loan from Danske Bank through the UK government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to enable it to pay suppliers while cash-flow was down during the coronavirus lockdown.


Following the NI Executive’s decision to allow garden centres to reopen, Creative Gardens will ensure social distancing is upheld by marking organised queue spaces at the entrance to each centre and restricting the number of customers that can enter at one time.

Its centre in Donaghadee has created a new entrance to create a one way flow with separate entrance and exits and all centres are now equipped with sanitising stations, floor markings and a unique scanning at the cashier to ensure customers and staff have a safe experience.

Philip Gass, director at Creative Gardens said: “We are thrilled to be given the green light for opening, May is such a great month for gardening and we’ve got thousands of gorgeous plants in stock ready for our customers. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to ensure our centres are as safe as possible to ensure our customers have a calm and enjoyable experience whilst keeping everyone safe at the same time.

“We were very pleased to receive support from Danske Bank and we are now hopeful that the next few months will be good for business as people continue to make the most of their gardens heading into the summer months.”

Creative Gardens is run by Philip and his brother Oliver and sister Jenny Dumigan. It was set up in 1980s by their mother and father Diana & Nigel Gass.

The company said there will now be clear large zones at its till points with floor markings to allow for spacious queues to form and to enable cashiers to scan goods in customers’ trolleys while remaining at least two meters from the customer. It is also planning to continue to operate online deliveries for customers who continue to self-isolate.

Ian Beatty from Danske Bank said: “The business community has welcomed the Executive’s plan to get the economy moving again in a phased plan, and we are delighted to see Creative Gardens opening its centres as part of the first stage. Danske Bank was pleased to be able to support this family owned business with a CBILS loan while it was unable to open to the public.”

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Creative Gardens directors (L-R) Oliver Gass, Diana Gass, Jenny Dumigan, and Philip Gass

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