Better broadband sows seeds of online success
Wednesday, 18 March 2020
Wednesday, 18 March 2020
An award-winning rural garden centre which turns over more than £2 million annually is continuing to grow - with help from a digital boost.
New Hopetoun Gardens in rural West Lothian has upgraded to a superfast fibre broadband connection after the £463 million Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Scotland roll-out connected more premises across the region.
Celebrating its 42nd anniversary, the popular garden centre has seen a surge of interest and increased footfall this year thanks to a fibre upgrade and high speed wi-fi now available throughout the venue.
Better connectivity has helped centre staff to promote New Hopetoun Gardens online, introduce new digital campaigns and process customers’ payments much faster.
The Digital Scotland team met centre staff to hear about their experiences and encourage more local take-up of fibre broadband services. The DSSB build, led locally by the Scottish Government and delivered on the ground by engineers from Openreach, now covers more than 23,200 West Lothian homes and businesses.
Founded by Dougal Philip and Lesley Watson, New Hopetoun Gardens was originally set in six acres of walled garden next to historic Hopetoun House – a 17th century country estate near South Queensferry – and later moved to its current home near the village of Newton to accommodate further development.
According to Dougal, their faster broadband connection has transformed how the business engages with customers and suppliers locally and across Scotland.
Gardening enthusiasts can see what the centre offers – from workshops, a gift shop and family tearoom to 20 small, inspirational gardens – before they even arrive, or use the online plant finder to identify potential purchases in advance.
Dougal said: “Greater digital connectivity through the DSSB programme has been a key enabler in helping us grow our business – we now generate more than £2 million turnover a year.
“From sales to marketing our business online through our website, social media and digital e-newsletters, we are able to reach our existing and new customers here in West Lothian and across Scotland.”
Dougal continued: “We are a close-knit team, some of our staff have been here since we opened the gardens. With extensive knowledge in horticulture - offering gardening advice to customers with and without green fingers - we pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service. Getting online has enabled us to continue our great tradition.
“A robust wi-fi connection means that payments can be made very quickly and more smoothly. Previously we found it a hassle because of a poor internet connection. It was embarrassing to tell customers that their cards had been declined just because it had taken too long to get authorisation. Faster broadband has eradicated this problem.”
Sara Budge, DSSB Programme Director, said: “It’s great to see local businesses like Hopetoun Gardens reaping rewards as a result of faster broadband speeds. Greater digital connectivity has a tremendous impact on the rural economy, and for the garden centre it has enabled them to grow and expand their business with fantastic results.
“Thanks to the £463 million DSSB programme more businesses and homes are able to access faster broadband, resulting in a better online experience. Just remember upgrades are not automatic - you need to place an order with your chosen service provider - and you can check availability at www.scotlandsuperfast.com/yourstreet.”
DSSB funding partners include the Scottish Government, UK Government through Building Digital UK (BDUK), BT Group, local authorities and the EU via the European Regional Development Fund, with Openreach leading the build on the ground.
Stuart McMillan, Openreach Partnership Manager, added: “New Hopetoun Gardens is a great destination for an outing whether you’re buying plants and gifts; seeking outdoor inspiration or expert horticultural help; or just enjoying a visit to the café.
“Better broadband has helped the business to build an online presence that matches their reputation for excellence and is boosting the bottom line. Increased connectivity can also build employee satisfaction and contribute to a better working experience – from processing payments to searching for stock online.”
Of the 944,000 homes and businesses now reached by the DSSB programme across Scotland, more than 60 per cent have signed up and are now benefiting from the faster broadband speeds available.
Fibre broadband offers fast and reliable connections at a range of speeds1 using Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) or Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology.
Research has suggested that every £1 of public investment in fibre broadband in Scotland is delivering almost £12 of benefits to the Scottish economy. The independent report commissioned by DSSB and undertaken by consultants Analysys Mason estimates the total benefit as £2.76 billion over 15 years.