Blue Diamond Group Acquisition of Van Hage Garden Centres
You may have noticed some changes taking place at your local Van Hage store…
In November 2022, Blue Diamond acquired the three Van Hage Garden Centres: the flagship store at Great Amwell Ware, Chenies, between Amersham and Rickmansworth and the Van Hage centre on the PE1 retail park at Peterborough.
Blue Diamond is one of the largest garden centre groups in the UK and The Channel Islands and was originally The Fruit Export Company in the beautiful island of Guernsey.
The company was created by a group of prominent local businessmen with family connections and in 1904 it became the present-day Blue Diamond Group. The Group is still managed on the island and employs around 4,200 people within 42 garden centres across the UK & Channel Islands.
Van Hage Great Amwell is one of the leading garden centres in the country, and more importantly has been a huge part of the local community for over 70 years, starting in Broxbourne back in 1958.
I would visit Van Hage in the early nineties for inspiration. I was in awe of what they had achieved and never imagined that one day, we would be the proud owner of this business. The Van Hage family were pioneers and went on to lead the Garden Centre industry as we know it today. Blue Diamond will continue the Van Hage story.
I recently met with two members of the family, sisters Jacqui and Mary An. They reminisced about the Van Hage history from ninety years ago, when Peter Warmerdam, the father of Theodora Van Hage, started growing bulbs in the UK, to the present day. You can watch the video here.
A Future With Blue Diamond
I understand and appreciate the significance that the Van Hage brand has had to the local community over the last 70 years. Our main aim is to restore the site to its former glory with the respect and dignity it deserves. I would like to take this opportunity to reassure customers that the changes and refurbishments are aimed at preserving the Van Hage name and enhancing the customer experience.
We have now started to apply our unique ‘Blue Diamond’ touches and significant investment in all 3 stores will see better facilities, wider product ranges and modern-day retailing standards. New restaurants, re-designed shopping areas, commitment to excellent horticultural standards and great personal customer service are all key to the Blue Diamond model.
Whilst the spirit and image of Van Hage centres will be preserved where possible, the reality is the buildings and shop fit require refurbishment. Blue Diamond will be committing significant resources and budget to upgrade the shopping experience.
Another of our significant improvements is the refurbishment of the windmill at the Great Amwell site.
One of my fondest memories of Van Hage was the windmill, which had fallen into disrepair. Preserving this landmark of the history and brand is important to us, and we can now enjoy it for years to come.
For over 65 years the Windmill has been part of the Van Hage family, becoming a greatly loved icon. First built in 1958, it has stood the test of time, including the journey in 1972 from its original location at Broxbourne to its current home on the front lawn.
Watch the historic video of the windmill when it was in Broxbourne, including one of the Van Hage family members, Mary-An.
The Van Hage family have said:
“The Board and Shareholders of Van Hage & Co. Holdings can today confirm the sale of our Trading company, Van Hage and Co. Ltd and our Garden Centre business to the Blue Diamond Group. Making the decision to pass the Group into new hands was not an easy one to make; it has been a central part of all our lives, and many of our staff and suppliers over the decades.
It was our priority to ensure that the Company and our colleagues would be passed into the hands of new owners who would have the vision and resources to ensure the continued thriving of Van Hage.”
The Van Hage family will also retain involvement as they remain the landowners for the Great Amwell site.
Thank you for bearing with us whilst we have been busy re-developing, but now we are ready to welcome you to what we believe will be the best garden centre in the UK.
We at Blue Diamond look forward to getting to know our new staff and customers and are excited to introduce the Blue Diamond experience across the Van Hage Garden Centres.
Alan Roper, Managing Director of Blue Diamond Garden Centres.
For a taste of what is to come, watch our video.