Bybrook Barn Garden Centre had fallen far from its heyday when Longacres managing director Nigel Long saw the potential in the site, completing the purchase on 31 July 2016. Turnover has grown impressively ever since, following a series of physical changes and improvements at the centre. Longacres replaced the flooring, block paved outside, updated all display stands, installed a new restaurant, infant’s play area, baby facilities and toilets, improved the muchloved lake feature and introduced an outdoor children’s play area. There is now a new staircase to the mezzanine, on which garden furniture and barbecues are displayed. There is a new warm air heating system and roof, making the building more energy efficient in both winter and summer. The whole site was previously running on temperamental 1.2MB/second ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) technology. This has been replaced with a 100MB/second leased line to ensure a stable connection for the centre’s tills, back-office machines and VPN (virtual private network). The number of tills has been increased from five to nine and a new electronic point-of-sale system was introduced in October 2016. A drivethrough facility is also on the way at Bybrook Barn and staff numbers have doubled. The number of followers on Facebook has also doubled, while promotions and community involvement increase awareness in the local area. Online “digital alerts” on a local news website have proved to be the greatest source of traffic to the event page, with high average click-through rates. Longacres also ran a campaign to increase the centre’s visibility on Google Maps. The planteria (pictured) has been revamped, including an undercover area and displays. There is also a new crafts area and floristry section. Digital advertisements in-store highlight new ranges, products and areas to the garden centre’s customers. Strategically placed in high-footfall areas, these screens are more eye-catching than a static poster and Bybrook Barn has even included “how to” video segments. The centre is on track to qualify for inclusion in the Horticulture Week Top 100 Garden Centres industry ranking by year three. The long-term aim for Bybrook Barn is for it to place among the top 10.