Major flagship Dobbies Garden Centre starts to take shape as leisure anchor for Cotswolds Designer outlet


Construction has begun on a new flagship Dobbies Garden Centre at Cotswolds Designer Outlet, a premium retail and leisure destination taking shape in one of the UK’s tourist hotspots.

When complete in autumn 2022, the 74,000 sq ft Dobbies Garden Centre will be the largest in South West England and is expected to serve more than 750,000 customers each year.

The centre will serve as the leisure anchor for Cotswolds Designer Outlet, featuring Dobbies’ full range including plants and houseplants, gardening accessories and products, outdoor living, pets, gifting and toys, as well as a cookshop, home décor, and a 10,000 sq ft restaurant.

Cotswolds Designer Outlet, which is currently under construction, is a 180-acre mixed-use scheme by leading developer Robert Hitchins Ltd. When complete, it is expected to be a major draw in an area that benefits from a catchment that includes Bristol and Birmingham as well as the millions of tourists visiting the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty each year. It is located on Junction 9 of the M5, bordering the A46 trunk road and adjacent to Tewkesbury.

Graeme Jenkins, Chief Executive Officer of Dobbies Garden Centres, said: “At Dobbies, we are committed to delivering our growth strategy and this is an exciting milestone in our plans.

“We are focused on a customer-first approach, and those visiting will be able to enjoy a full day of shopping and dining, with the UK’s latest retail destination, featuring household name premium fashion brands, just a short walk away. It will be an exceptional shopper experience.”

Cotswolds Designer Outlet will offer 16,000 sq ft of cafés and restaurants, as well as premium fashion, athleisure, footwear, and lifestyle brands. Its proximity to the M5 motorway and the Ashchurch for Tewkesbury railway station makes it the most accessible outlet shopping destination in South West England – and among the most accessible in the UK. The designer outlet will be leased and managed by Realm, one of the UK’s leading specialist operators of designer outlets and retail destinations.

Expected to generate sales of £88.6m a year, attaining an average sales density of £455/sq ft, Cotswolds Designer Outlet is expected to perform to a similar standard to London Designer Outlet, which is also managed by Realm. Further, it has 11.8 million people living within a 90-minute drive, and 5.8 million within 60 minutes, ranking it among the top 10 UK outlet centres on the size of the market within its immediate catchment. The catchment includes affluent towns such as Cheltenham and Worcester, as well as larger cities like Birmingham, and features an annual tourist expenditure of £3.6bn, according to CACI.

Simon Tothill, Property and Development Director of Robert Hitchins Ltd, said: “Cotswolds Designer Outlet, nestled in a world-famous tourist destination, will be a visitor attraction for people far and wide. We are pleased to be working with Dobbies, the UK’s leading garden centre retailer. Having them as our leisure anchor is a major asset to our scheme and a reflection both of the need for a mix of uses in retail destinations and the surge in popularity of gardening. Momentum is gathering for Cotswolds Designer Outlet, which will delight guests when it opens its doors in 2023. Working with Realm, we are seeing very promising levels of interest from brands who are excited by the compelling prospects that Cotswolds Designer Outlet offers.”

The first phase of the premium retail destination will provide 75 units across 140,000 sq ft, alongside leisure facilities and landscaped areas. Phase two will bring the total footprint to 90 units across 181,000 sq ft. The premium outlet shopping destination, which is taking shape alongside hundreds of new homes, is expected to open its doors in autumn 2023.