Gavin Whittaker

Gavin Whittaker is the brand’s original UK franchise owner, was Granite Transformations’ first ‘millionaire’ in turnover terms and still continues to top the network revenue charts. Yet he constantly refines his operation and shares his market intelligence with franchise colleagues.

Garden centre concession sites now generate more than half of his annual sales leads, particularly manned displays at Polhill Garden Centre in Sevenoaks and Ruxley Manor Garden Centre in Sidcup. He is now targeting 50 monthly appointments from manned garden centre displays, augmented by walk-in high street business from his retail showrooms in Tunbridge Wells and Sidcup, as well as call centre and online enquiries. With more and more of his installations now including replacement doors, he is looking at average order values of £6-7,000 plus and regards garden centre visitors as vital to his expanding customer base.

At Ruxley Manor, he runs a small display stand, which is manned for three or four days a week, and Gavin noted that, when it was staffed, there were considerably more customer leads. So when Polhill Garden Centre called to offer a manned concession site, Gavin grasped the opportunity of even higher visitor footfall. Negotiations led to a carefully-selected 3m x 3m plot, manned seven days a week to reflect garden centre opening hours.

The garden centre’s core 55-75 demographic is perfect for Granite Transformations’ market and, funnily enough, most business is completed during the week when gardeners prefer to do their shopping, rather than the weekends when Polihill attracts a more ‘touristy’ crowd.

“It has certainly renewed my faith in the power of impulse buying,” says Gavin. “People walk around the garden centre with no intention of spending money on kitchen worktops - then they see the product.”

With three other unmanned garden centre sites around his franchise area and likely to be upgraded, Gavin would definitely regard manned displays as the more cost-effective means of generating leads.

Naturally, Gavin hasn’t achieved all this success on his own. His wife Sally is Office Manager, fellow shareholder and first-ever employee Alex Coombs is Operations Manager, while Carol Walker, Lisa Whittaker and Jenny Smallwood are the lead Showroom Hosts, all of whom have contributed to the franchise’s continued growth.