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Clive Groves, director of Groves Nurseries

Business Questions – Clive Groves

Describe your business.

The nursery in Bridport supplies plants for our garden centre and our successful internet shop. There is also a restaurant. We have a small traditional nursery in Beaminster.

How long has it been going?
The business was established in 1866 by my great-great grandfather. My father bought the West Bay Road site in 1963; it was previously the town’s football ground.

Are you a family business? If yes, what advantages and challenges does this bring?
Yes, very much so, the advantage is that we all get on well together because we have the same mind-set. Also, people tend to trust local families whose history they know.

What was your first-ever job?
I have never worked for anyone else. My first job within the business was working in the seed store in West Street, next to the fish and chip shop. It was hard work at times, carrying one and a quarter hundredweight bags of peas and beans up steps, but it toughened me up, I don’t know what health and safety would make of it now!

How did you come to be doing what you do now?
It just evolved, really. I never had an inclination to do anything else. I loved plants, especially my violets, of which we have the National Collection. I have just bred two new violets, called
Eliza May Groves and Madeleine Mary Groves. Four-year-old Eliza May and Madeleine Mary (two) are the two daughters of my eldest son Charlie.

Eliza May and Madeleine Mary Groves with their violets
Eliza May and Madeleine Mary Groves with their violets

What are the biggest challenges of running a business in West Dorset?
I guess for us it is the lack of a large population like a city nearby to draw customers from, although we are addressing this problem through our internet shop.

And the benefits?
Because of the lack of population, we hope to fulfill the local people’s needs and thereby not attract competition. We also gain a huge inspiration from our beautiful surrounding coast and countryside.

Who has been your biggest influence?
It varies as I journey through life, first my parents, they set the standards and now my wife and children, who I not only love, but respect.

Three key words to describe the way you do business?
Customers come first.

Anything you would have done differently?

Best piece of advice to anyone setting up their own business?
Start small to make sure you have got it right, work hard and believe in yourself. Keep your customers informed and be honest at all times.

In an ideal world, what will your business be doing in five years time?

We already have plans for a new restaurant, more undercover areas and walkways, for customers’ convenience, more parking and an area for workshops, conferences and so on. Exciting times – and we have two children, Charlie, who is now MD and Becky at Little Groves, with the savvy to make it happen!

Clive Groves, Director, Groves Nurseries in Bridport and Little Groves in Beaminster.


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