Unmanned Concessions – Getting Started

Company: First Franchise

Unmanned Concessions are a relatively new format for garden centre retail but the concept has existed for years.  Also known as the ‘Department Store Concessions Model’, Unmanned Concessions are a new way to introduce ranges and brands in a cost effective, manageable, well merchandised way.

Concessions within garden centres have always been a means to introduce specialist, complementary products or services to garden centres.  The ranges that concession operators introduce are not ‘core’ garden centre product so they enable garden centres to introduce new retail attractions at no cost, guaranteeing a profit through the rents that are charged.

These operations within garden centres have traditionally been manned, shop-within-shop premises which have allowed specialist retailers to trade from sites under licence or lease agreements.  Due to the popularity and success of these operations, garden centres have caught the attention of other high street brands.

As a result, the upmarket brands that currently operate ‘Unmanned Concessions’ in department stores (and the like) have shown an interest in garden centres as the customer profile that visit both (retail) formats is ideally matched.  

Unmanned Concessions enjoy the same principle as Manned Concessions, but rather than occupying a full ‘shop within a shop,’ the “tenant” installs their ‘product displays’ within agreed garden centre locations.  The customer can view and purchase the item through the garden centre tills like any other that it stocks.  The difference being that the garden centre has not purchased the item it sells but retains a commission for the sale when it has been processed.  The displays are merchandised with stand out fittings and POS supplied by the operator.

The basic concept, simply put is:

  • The brand introduces their products to the garden centre
  • The garden centre allocates an area for a display on the shop floor/in the Plantaria
  • The stock and fittings are provided and delivered to the garden centre, free of charge
  • The concession sends a merchandising team to fit out the initial display as part of the install process
  • The customer shops the area as they would any other garden centre department
  • The item is paid for, by the customer at the garden centre till point
  • The EPOS system records the sale and the data is supplied to both parties
  • The garden centre retains an agreed commission value for every sale
  • The concession invoices the garden centre for the balance
  • The stock is resupplied based on the items that have been sold
  • The concession and garden centre can monitor sales and replace slow selling products with the best selling products
  • The replenished stock is delivered to garden centres with a planogram and the concession visits regularly to check the display and work with garden centres to maximise the sales potential.

Like their Manned counterparts, Unmanned Concessions are a means to add to the existing garden centre offer in a way that ensures the site owner’s profits are protected.  The benefits of introducing unmanned concessions are as follows:

  • New brands to enhance existing garden centre ranges
  • Small areas required to introduce these new brands, from display stands to 300sqft areas
  • Stock is provided free of charge, therefore no risk on stock holding.  Thus, if the item does not sell then the garden centre does not buy it
  • Straight forward ‘Trading Agreements’ in place to protect both parties for a long term partnership
  • Fittings and POS provided as part of the installation process to enhance the visibility of the display and maximise the sales potential
  • Merchandising support to minimise staff involvement
  • Easy to manage payment process
  • Subject to garden centres using ‘reasonable endeavours’ to prevent it the majority of Unmanned Concession operators will take the responsibility of stock loss in the event of theft
  • Normally, no additional planning permissions are required to introduce these brands as the complementary nature of the products would sit within existing garden centre uses.

The categories that Unmanned Concessions can introduce are limitless.  From clothing to gifts, landscaping to sundries, the beauty of Unmanned Concessions are that they can add to existing garden centre departments in a low risk way as they can sit comfortably alongside other own bought ranges and concessions as they do not require exclusivity.

For more information and advice about Concessions contact First Franchise, 01737 735041 or email info@firstfranchise.com

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