About Holland Hydroponics, our history and the future...
Holland Hydroponics first shop was opened in 1996 in Heywood near Middleton to the north of Manchester. The name Holland Hydroponics was chosen to represent the famous horticultural excellence of the Netherlands as renowned in Britain and around the world.
Back when it all began, with the Prince's Youth Business Trust grant, our founders were able to take just £50 per week in wages. Back then, Holland’s were just happy to be able to afford an extra light system for display, and advertising was a distant dream. All of Holland’s customers were coming from word-of-mouth or passing trade.
We attempted to give the best customer service possible - friendly, helpful and informative - as we still do today. After-sales service is another of our strengths and we are happy to give out advice to anyone who calls. We are proud of our record of customer satisfaction. Thus we have built our great reputation and had a large amount of new custom from word-of-mouth.
Luckily, at the time the business got started over 15 years ago, there was little or no local or even national competition. The range of fertilisers, lights and other goods was incredibly restricted and generally supplies were irregular and not dependable. The development of the industry in the first 10 years since our incorporation was remarkable.
Our second store opened in Affleck's Palace, a trendy multi-storey market/mall converted from an old Victorian building in the very centre of Manchester. This was successful enough that it was decided to leave the shop in Heywood and concentrate on the one Affleck's Palace. About this time, Manchester became famous - we like to think it was because of us, but possibly some good bands were responsible.
After changing to a larger unit we moved out of Affleck's Palace into a similar establishment next door called the Coliseum. Again we upgraded to a larger unit – then moved to Swan Street. We stayed in this shop for over four years and with a shop window that far more people passed by, trade picked up rapidly.
The Burnley shop to the north of Manchester is now in its eighth year of successful trading as Holland Hydroponics (Formerly Mr. Botanical).
The Swan Street shop was then transferred in 2005 to the new premises at Rondin Road, a unit just off one of the main roads supplying the city. We now have 11,500 square feet of display, stores and warehouse and our store is filled with systems, lights, foods and a whole host of other hydroponic equipment. We also have a large car park and private loading bay, which have pleased our customers greatly. A packing area for the mail orders has also been integral in the development of the mail order and internet sides of the business.
We are now in the second stage of a total revamp of the website and the production of our second all-colour catalogue is complete and is now available to customers (request yours here). As yet we only send mail orders within the UK, but internet and postal orders are an increasing part of the business.
We keep as big a range of all the different brands as we can, and will always try to obtain any item for a customer who requests it. We source pots, equipment and nutrients from all over the world and always seek out the highest quality and the latest growing techniques. We have the biggest range of hydroponics accessories of any retail store in the UK. We also pride ourselves on our competitive pricing. There are so many more wholesalers now and we keep good relations with all of them.
From our humble beginnings we are now comfortably able to advertise in magazines, roadside billboards, buses and flyers. We still get a lot of word-of mouth referrals as our reputation has spread further. We now have fifteen workers at our Manchester store.
Though we have always been lucky to have employees with wide and deep knowledge of the trade and excellent customer skills, we also hope to spend more time on training courses for our staff to ensure they are at the leading edge of current understanding.
How do we see the future of the hydroponics industry? Home gardening, indoors and out, has always been a popular hobby in Britain and we must encourage more hobbyists to make the most of their house plants all year round with high technology plant care solutions. Fewer people than ever now have gardens. Nutrition, taste and safety are the most important aspects of our food. Why should we settle for less just to save money for a grow business? We all know how important vitamins and minerals are to our health, we can get them all from our food if that food is fresh and well-produced. Why send a green tomato from South Africa to London before it even starts its journey to the customer? Why only grow 40 types of vegetables because they are the profitable varieties that package easily? More organic feeds, simple growing systems and low intervention pest control all bring the perfection of a proper old-fashioned organic market garden to anybody's living room.
We hope that in the future, indoor gardening will become the choice for more people wanting to take the control of their food supply away from the "super" markets, offering watery lettuce, the Frankenstein tomato and unripe fruit and fill their homes with abundant, natural, fresh, living plants.