Having largely appeared to sit on its hands since strangely buying the Dobbies Garden centre chain in 2007, Tesco has finally started to put some food into the business.
Unlike the usual garden centre fare of the odd jars of jam and chutney and a so-so cafe, the new Dobbies outlet in Aberdeen has a much more chunky upmarket food offer. Thanks to the efforts of stores journalist John Ryan who trecked up to Scotland the place now has a whole foodhall no less (read his experience here).
This includes a butcher, lots of local produce to get the foodies excited, whole rows of bakery products and a swish cafe that ensures visitors can spend-away while not even having to catch sight of a plant or getting their fingers green in any way.
Not only is this a quantum leap away from Dobbies’ former food offer but it also represents an early move of the garden centre format onto a much broader leisure-destination footing. Although the food offer is very different to that of Tesco, there is no escapting the fact the food retailer has started to move the Dobbies garden centres to a food store variant.
This in no way suggests that they have any intention of going the whole hog and turning the existing estate of 25 outlets into Tesco stores, or even to an upmarket Dobbies Food Market for that matter, but we are seeing the first of what was an inevitable move to closer aligning the chain with that of the mother ship.