‘15 years of fun’ for Sidmouth Garden Centre manager James

Garden centre manager James Trevett claiming the customer service award at the first Sidmouth Busine

Garden centre manager James Trevett claiming the customer service award at the first Sidmouth Business Awards. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 9874-03-14SH. To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk - Credit: Archant

A welcoming face at Sidmouth Garden Centre for the last 15 years has taken its change of ownership as a prompt to leave the business – but will ‘never say never’ to opening a store of his own.

James Trevett says he turned down the chance to buy the award-winning business so he could focus on his family - and now plans to assess his options before his next move, writes Stephen Sumner.

After spending so long building the centre’s reputation as its manager, he hopes new owner Wyevale continues the commitment to customer service he made it known for.

“I’ve not been pushed,” said James. “I just decided to leave because, as soon as it [the sale] was made public, I had a couple of nice job offers which made me reconsider my priorities about how much I work.

“Rather than be the face of the change, I’m going to take a couple of months off to do some stuff with my family, then hit the ground running in January.

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“It’s been 15 years of great fun, hard work and seeing it develop, with the support from such a great bunch of people in Sidmouth and across East Devon.”

The Sidmothian said many customers feel possessive of the garden centre and are nervous of how Wyevale will develop it. But he said the chain, which boasts 150 stores, is committed to listening to what the public wants.

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“I just hope they [Wyevale] retain the service aspect,” said the 34-year-old. “You’ve always been able to buy anything we offer elsewhere. The only thing we do differently is go that little bit further.”

James started out working two days-a-week at the garden centre, focusing instead on skateboarding, where he had sponsorship from Red Bull.

Then responsibility was ‘forced’ upon him and his hours increased to six days-a-week as the business grew.

Sometimes compared as the ‘Rodney’ to former owner Ian Barlow’s ‘Del Boy’, James said he was ready to branch out on his own – but it needed to be the right opportunity.

“Ian always told me if you don’t enjoy something, don’t do it,” he added.

“It was getting to the point where I wasn’t enjoying it as much, so I turned down the opportunity to own it.”

James has been offered jobs that would allow him to reclaim his weekends, allowing him to spend more time with his wife, Francesca, and their two-year-old son, Reid. Francesca is eager to use James’ experience to open their own garden centre, but he is conscious of the commitment and time that doing so would require.

A Wyevale Garden Centres spokesman said: “We are grateful to James for the time, dedication and outstanding efforts he put into developing and managing Sidmouth Garden Centre during his tenure. We will continue to strive for excellent customer service, as it is a cornerstone of our values and objectives as a business. Moreover, we will maintain Sidmouth’s wonderful award-winning reputation in the area.”

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