Dobbies, one of the UK's leading gardens and homes retailers, will tomorrow open the doors to its first Northern Ireland store.
The £8.6m Dobbies Garden World in Lisburn forms an integral part of the company’s expansion plans employing 120 people in the main garden centre as well as at its farm foodhall and restaurant.
Garden World will open under a flurry of floral-shaped men’s loos – unusual urinals handcrafted in the shape of Northern Irish wildflowers. The opening will also celebrate the arrival of egg-laying hens, on sale at Dobbies for customers looking to lead a greener ‘good life’.
Jeffrey Donaldson, MLA and MP, Edwin Poots, MLA and Paul Porter, Mayor of Lisburn will be in attendance at the launch along with BBC celebrity gardener Brendan Little.
St Aloysius Primary and Killowen Primary & Nursery schoolchildren will cut the ribbon to officially launch the new centre to the public, after pupils won a competition to design a secret garden which will be created at their schools with help from Dobbies plant experts.
Mr Poots said: "It has been exciting to observe the development of Dobbies since work commenced just 22 weeks ago. The professionalism in the delivery of the project was most impressive and I have every confidence that will be replicated in the management of the new Garden Centre and the service provided in it.
"This investment at a time of financial turmoil, has been a great boost for Lisburn and Northern Ireland."
James Barnes, chief executive of Dobbies, a Scottish business with headquarters outside Edinburgh commented on the company’s newest garden centre which is designed to work in harmony with the environment: "We are delighted to open our first Garden World in Northern Ireland which we believe is a concept for a new-generation of garden centres in the Province.
"The Garden World is in keeping with our provenance and heritage as expert horticulturalists since 1865 whilst providing a modern destination for today’s consumer. We’re looking forward to welcoming our first Northern Irish customers, who we hope will love Dobbies and our new-concept Lisburn centre.”
The most environmentally-friendly garden centre in Northern Ireland will also house a farm foodhall specialising in the very best locally-sourced produce, as well as a 350-seater restaurant and al fresco dining area, and an educational greenhouse resource centre where Dobbies will host events, such as how to grow their own fruit and veg, for customers.
There are also demonstration gardens, a specialist aquatics department and stylish outdoor living and gifts.
Built with natural construction materials such as a timber frame, and other renewable energy systems such as grey water recycling, the new Dobbies will herald the most environmentally-friendly garden centre in Northern Ireland.
Dobbies has also appointed a community champion who will be responsible for building links with local communities through the Dobbies 'Here We Grow 'campaign which offers free equipment, support and expertise to the local groups, schools and charities to get growing.
The Lisburn community champion will also manage the Dobbies Little Seedlings Club which encourages children to take an interest in gardening.
Dobbies in Lisburn will welcome customers this weekend with an array of events – from gardening demonstrations, to face painters and a jazz Sunday lunch. For more information visit Dobbies Garden World, Strawberry Hill, Saintfield Road, Lisburn. For store opening times or enquiries telephone 028 9262 6960 visit www.dobbies.com