Former chef’s Newcastle landscaping firm plants seeds of growth after lockdown success

A couple’s gardening business in Newcastle is set to expand and create jobs after a heyday in lockdown.

Michael Bell-Saunders’ MBS Gardens company is now fully booked for the remainder of 2021 thanks to increasing demand for garden remodeling during the pandemic and word of mouth.

Mr Bell-Saunders has announced plans to expand MBS Gardens and hire new employees so that he can embark on larger commercial projects in 2022 with the support of the North Tyneside Business Factory.

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The former head chef founded MBS Gardens in 2018 to provide landscaping and design services to private clients in and around the northeast.

Initially working on smaller gardening projects, the company has grown to provide complex gardening and landscaping services to both private and commercial customers across the region.

He said: “The business really started as a personal challenge to see if I could make self-employment a success for myself and my family. Looking back on a full order book by next year, I am pleased that I made the right decision to go out on my own at a difficult time.

“I used to be a head chef, but the antisocial hours didn’t suit a young family, so I switched to landscaping to encourage my own creativity and apply some of the skills I’d learned in gardening management.

“I really got to work thinking that maybe it could be something I could do about running my own business. I accepted the challenge and within a week MBS Gardens was on sale. “

With two children and a then three-month-old baby at home, Mr. Bell-Saunders founded the company with the support of his wife, who had just been fired from her position as a university professor.

They created the basis for MBS Gardens. Ms. Bell-Saunders took care of the back office business, while her husband managed all garden design, offers and manpower.

He said, “We have been fortunate to have an excellent reputation, moving from residential projects to commercial work for schools and local authorities. We have also expanded the garden design side of the business to offer a 3D computerized design service to transform outdoor spaces from concept to completion.

“The design side of the store has proven incredibly popular given the demand from people who really want to redesign their outdoor space after the lockdown.”

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The company is now working with North Tyneside Business Factory to manage the scaling of their business as it enters a new phase of growth.

He added: “Our business consultant at Business Factory, Janice Ross, was an invaluable source of advice and guidance as we began looking at how we could grow the business sustainably. We want to enlarge our team, but also further develop our current customer base in order to enable more tendering options for longer-term contracts for the design and maintenance of commercial landscaping. “

North Tyneside Business Factory is the North Tyneside Council’s business support program, supported by the ERDF and provided by TEDCO Business Support.

Janice Ross, Business Consultant at North Tyneside Business Factory added, “The hard work and dedication of Michael and Gemma have not only resulted in a solid new business pipeline, they are also taking steps to secure the future of their business with new growth Strategy for creating jobs and opportunities. “

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