Hannah’s Blog – Our Director tells her story

Hannah Powell is our Communications & HR Director and, together with her two brothers Simon and Tristan, makes up the third generation of the Bourne family who have run Perrywood. Hannah is going to regularly share what it’s like to run a family business which now has two sites – Perrywood Tiptree, which has a history back to the 1950s, and Perrywood Sudbury, the fledgling site which Perrywood bought in September 2018.  

The question I get asked the most is what it’s like to work with my family, and to see them so often. For me it would be weird if I didn’t see them all the time so it’s just normal to me really. We split up our roles but work very closely:

  • Alan (Dad) is still very involved in the business and does all the plant buying and leads the Plant Area teams.
  • Simon (Brother) is our Retail Director looking after the coffee shops and all non-plant retail areas.
  • Tristan (Brother) is Operations Director, with responsibility for storage & logistics, health & safety, facilities and building projects.
  • Karin (Mum) has retired from the day to day running of the business, but is still involved at board level and we all have lunch at their kitchen table so she is still in touch with what’s going on.

We all get involved in new developments and meet regularly to discuss both medium to long term strategy and short-term priorities. We grew up as children sitting round the kitchen table and discussing Perrywood with Mum and Dad; cashing up the money from that day’s takings and talking about the day’s events. So, when you bear that in mind, fast forward to today and I don’t find us all sitting in our open plan office and discussing Perrywood so strange.

People also ask what I actually do! For me there is no such thing as a typical week. On Monday this week Tristan and I were shown round Boxted Fruit Farm, and was fascinated to see their anaerobic digestion plant which provides electricity and heat for their farm plus their sister business, Stoke By Nayland Golf Club. Meeting other business owners is hugely inspirational and something I like to do locally and nationally, via the Garden Centre Association network. There is always something to learn and pick up from each other.

This is part of the AD plant at Boxted Fruit Farm. These huge tanks take in apple pomace (bits of apple not taken for juice) and maize and generate electricity and heat.

On Tuesdays I don’t normally work, but with some time out of the office on Monday I used it to catch up on some tasks from home. I balanced this with going to tai chi and tending to my houseplants.

On Wednesday I was in the office doing a variety of tasks. I was helping out with HR tasks; including amending some contracts, occupational health referrals and supporting our managers within the business. We have a new HR Manager starting next month who will be taking much of this away from me, so I can focus on other things. I also met with one of our Communications Managers, Louise, to discuss our support for Kids Inspire, one of our nominated charities this year. We also talked about our Christmas party and Summer get together for the Perrywood family, chose the Santa’s Grotto presents for 2019. I am also doing a management course, so I reminded myself of the homework and made sure I was progressing it.

Thursday I was at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show! I don’t go every year but it really is the best place to go if you love plants and the gardening industry. It’s a feast for the eyes, hugely inspiring and I always come away buzzing with ideas for work and my own garden, and of course far too many pictures.

Greenfingers Charity Garden

Walker’s Forgotten Quarry Garden, featuring an old digger bucket as a pond.

On Friday, again it wasn’t my day to work, but I’m not in the office much next week as it’s half term. I spent today trying to plan ahead and ensure that any loose ends are tied up. During half term I will use evenings and my daughter’s screen time to reply to emails and keep projects going. When I go away on holiday I do switch off completely; during the rest of the school holidays I like to keep in touch with what’s going on.

Juggling running a business with being a Mum to a six-year-old and a husband who works full-time in London is perhaps one of the biggest challenges. Juggling diaries and competing priorities can be tricky. It’s the transition from term time to holidays and back again which is the hardest especially during the long six-week Summer break.

Next month I plan to share with you more about what I have been working on around employee happiness and wellbeing. If you have any questions you’d like me to answer, please do email them to info@perrywood.co.uk with FAO Hannah Powell in the subject line.