Our Advisory Board

  • Paul Playdell, Pleydell Smithyman

    Founder and director of Pleydell Smithyman – a specialist Design and Business Consultancy – establish 28 years ago, Paul has nearly 40 years of consultancy experience in the garden centre sector.

    Heading up a multidisciplinary team including business advisors, planners, architects, and designers, Paul works with a wide portfolio of leading garden retail and rural businesses and organisations to develop visions and strategies for business development,  create innovative design solutions, and manage the delivery of change.

    With a reputation for being creative, yet commercial and pragmatic, Paul and his team work with many of the country’s leading independent garden centres and family chains, from greenfield development through to extension and improvements including cafes and restaurants, food halls and farm shops as well as retail and leisure facilities.

  • Peter Burks, CEO, Garden Centre Association

    Peter Burks, the CEO of the Garden Centre Association, is a fully trained horticulturalist and has worked in directorial and senior management positions for garden centres nationwide for more than 40 years. Peter has a degree in horticulture from the University of Bath and is very well known in the industry. His family also has an extensive background in horticulture. Peter ran garden centres with his parents until they retired and three other members of the Burks family work in the industry too. He helped to set up and went on to run the multi award-winning Sanders Garden World in Somerset for more than 10 years. The garden centre was named as GCA ‘Garden Centre of Year’ twice during this period. Peter then became Regional Manager for the south west for Wyevale Garden Centres, before taking on the role of General Manager for Trelawney’s in Cornwall, and managing Fermoys Garden Centre in Devon, which is part of the Blue Diamond group of garden centres. The GCA represents more than 200 garden centres nationwide. Through sharing information and its inspection programme the GCA helps members to achieve high standards in customer service, plant quality and reliability. For further information, please visit www.gca.org.uk.
  • Mark Farnsworth, Managing Director, Yorkshire Garden Centres

    Having obtained a law degree from Leeds Metropolitan University, Mark embarked on a career in food and drink with GlaxoSmithKline and Nestle.  In 2011, he left Nestle to start a farm shop and café which was followed by the acquisition of Tong Garden Centre in 2015 with business Partner, Tom Megginson.  In 2022, the Yorkshire Garden Centres group acquired two sites from the Stephen H Smith business at Otley & Bingley, they also opened Tingley in September 2023.  The group now employs 470 people.