A Jet site in Essex has carved out a lucrative business selling plants and flowers on its forecourt, with sales totalling £18,500 over Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

Janu Patel, owner of the New North Road site in Ilford, said flower sales equate to one fifth of the site’s total sales. This is despite the fact that there’s a large Tesco, Co-op, Lidl and a florist all within a short distance.

Flowers weren’t always such an important part of the site’s business. When Janu took over the freehold on the site more than 15 years ago, the shop was selling around £12 of flowers each week.

Janu saw an opportunity to boost sales and attract new customers by significantly increasing the shop’s flower range. In the first few months, he displayed £400-500 worth of bouquets each week and was losing money.

Since then, however, Janu and his staff have turned the site’s plant and flower range into a business success, with average weekly flower sales of around £2,000.

Janu sources his flowers directly from Holland and has between two and three deliveries of fresh flowers every week. New North Road’s staff share Janu’s passion for flowers and regularly compete with each other to see who can sell the most bouquets.

Janu commented: “Forecourts have traditionally been the butt of jokes when it comes to flowers, so I love the fact that we are completely breaking down all the stereotypes associated with forecourt flowers.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved here over the years. I don’t even need to advertise my flowers as we’re now renowned for our beautiful displays and ranges.

“The plants and flowers have definitely had a knock on effect on sales of other shop items and some of our customers travel from quite a distance just because they know and trust the quality of our flowers.

“In an increasingly competitive market, forecourt operators have to do something to make them stand out from the crowd. It just so happens that our something is flowers.”

Chris Murphy, Jet’s territory manager for the South East, added: “Janu is a real credit to the Jet network and a great example of a forward-thinking dealer who spotted a gap in the market and went for it.

“I’ve seen at first-hand how committed Janu is to the site and how passionate he is about offering his customers the best quality and range of flowers. He’s hit on a fantastic opportunity and deserves every success. I can’t imagine there are many – if any – other forecourts managing to beat £18,500 of flower sales in two weeks.”