6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Business & Professional Life today CLICK HERE

Growing Burford Business

PUBLISHED: 15:25 15 October 2013 | UPDATED: 15:25 15 October 2013

Andrew Davies, Barclays

Andrew Davies, Barclays


Barclays helps garden centre boss create the country’s third biggest independent

It is something of a surprise to hear Cotswold garden centre boss Nigel Johnson reveal that he enjoys renovating his 12th century manor house home in his spare time.

It’s not the choice of pastime that comes as a surprise but the fact that the entrepreneur, businessman and father of three has time left for hobbies of any kind.

“I really enjoy doing up old houses,” explained the boss of Burford Garden Company, neatly positioned in ‘celeb central’, half way between Oxford and Cheltenham. “I must have worked on about 20 over the past 20 years.” That’s an impressive tally for a man who employs around 120 people in the third biggest independent garden centre in the country as well as chairing an award-winning charity.

It’s a far cry from the 18-acre field that was the garden centre site 37 years ago. That was when Nigel and his father Eddie, who ran a landscape contracting business, bought the land as a site for new greenhouses in which they could grow the plants they needed.

At that time Nigel was also developing his retail skills, running a restaurant and a Harley Davidson franchise while supporting his father in the landscaping business. When his father retired, Nigel was forced to admit that he wasn’t that keen on working in the nursery, and so he started to transform some of the greenhouses from growing plants to selling them – along with a wide range of other garden centre wares.

“Like most garden centres, we began by selling plants from the greenhouses and have steadily expanded over the years,” he said. Then, as now, the business turned to Barclays when it needed investment. “I have banked with Barclays since I was a boy and they have always supported me,” Nigel commented. “They have backed the business at every step, and as we have grown, so the bank has increased its stake.”

The garden centre now takes up about half of the site, leaving “plenty of room for the next generation to expand”, while the products on sale include gardening equipment, timber buildings, fashion and interior design accessories.

It also boasts an impressive range of antiques –currently including a Ming Dynasty terracotta horse – and an art gallery offering original but affordable paintings.

With a Masters Degree in Art from the University of Oxford, Nigel is keen to develop that side of the business, and expansion plans include a range of art studios and workshops for which there is planning permission. Nigel’s wife Louise is co-director of Burford Garden Company and heads up the food side of the business as well as the all-important buying operation that keeps the visitors coming back.

A few years ago Nigel felt he wanted to do something to help underprivileged people and so he joined Aspire, an Oxford-based homeless charity that then employed two workers and now has a team of 12. Now chairman, he has seen it grow and estimates that it helps about 75 people off the streets and back into employment each year. One of Aspire’s main aims is to give people work skills, which is where the Burford helps by providing its kitchen garden as a venue for horticultural training. Aspire was named as The Guardian’s charity of the year for 2013.

The company, supported by Barclays relationship director Andrew Davies, recently borrowed £100,000 from Barclays under the Government-backed Funding for Lending scheme in order to refit the kitchens and provide more space for local fresh produce.

“As always the deal went through quickly and without any fuss,” explained Nigel. “Andrew and his team are always happy to discuss new investment and Barclays continues to support our long-term growth plans.”

For corporate banking enquiries contact Andrew Davies

on 07775548803

or email andrew.j.davies@barclays.com

or visit www.barclays.com/corporatebanking

Related articles


More from Cotswold Life


“‘Flexitarians’ can do one though, being alleged vegetarians who still can’t resist the sizzling siren song of the bacon sandwich when no-one is looking.” Editor Mike Lowe is attempting to seek reconciliation with those he has annoyed… well, sort of.

Read more
Yesterday, 14:24

Choral carol services and grand instrumental performances, with the backdrop of some of the Cotswolds most picturesque locations, are perfect ways to embrace the festivities. We pick some of the best carol services and concerts to enjoy in the region

Read more
Yesterday, 11:35

“This letting to Oxford nanoSystems is a fantastic example of how we are able to provide first class facilities for growing technology companies at Abingdon Business Park.”

Read more
Yesterday, 11:28

One of the UK’s leading training and education specialists has launched a skills hub in Nuneaton

Read more
Yesterday, 11:19

“The logistics hub is another example of where we have worked in partnership to support skills needs in the area and link our student body with future job opportunities.”

Read more
Yesterday, 11:07

“It was fantastic to see how this project is making a real difference to the lives of young people at risk of social exclusion.”

Read more
Yesterday, 10:57

It has become the 90th store to accept the gift card in Cheltenham

Read more

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Wed, 15:59

From festive light switch-ons and Santa’s Grottos, to Victorian Christmas Fayres and late-night shopping, we’ve covered what’s on in and around the Cotswolds this season

Read more
Wed, 15:42

Property prices across Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds have risen steadily over the last few years, reflecting the trend across the country. But which area has shown the most dramatic hike in prices recently, and how does your postcode and house type compare with others in the area? You may be surprised to see the results...

Read more
Wed, 11:43

Wine Wednesday’s with Vintopia of Tetbury.

Read more
Wed, 10:37

Festive a la carte menu launches in Grey’s Brasserie from 26th November.

Read more
Wed, 09:31

Cotswold Life readers enjoy a complimentary glass of wine with our compliments when joining us for our Autumn Feast Lunch Offer.

Read more
Tue, 15:01

Harnessing the power of social media, charity awards and dreaming up new projects - it’s all in a day’s work for Gloucestershire children’s charity Pied Piper and its corporate supporters

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search