TONG Garden Centre has appointed a project manager to oversee the next phase of its £2m extension project.

The two storey extension at the front of the building will create a new entrance, additional restaurant and further retail space as well as improved staff areas.

Sarah Ritchie joins the Tong Garden Centre team in the newly created position of project manager. A chartered surveyor with 14 years’ experience, she joins the Tong Lane business following a career break to raise her young family and brings a wealth of experience to Tong.

Mark Farnsworth, Tong’s managing director, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sarah to the team. With a strong track record in the Leeds property market, latterly with BNP Paribas, Sarah is obviously well equipped to oversee the £2m extension project with full responsibility for the delivery of the project.

“We are then hoping to secure other projects for Sarah to manage as the business expands from our single site to a multi-site operation.”

Phase two of the £4m expansion starts in March. The two storey extension will be home to new staff facilities for its 200 strong team, a 180 seat restaurant plus 15,000 sq ft of retail space.

Phase one of the expansion opened in summer 2019 and included a new plant canopy, an indoor play area for Grass Hoppers and an events centre.

Mr Farnsworth has estimated that £2.5 million of the £4 million investment will be spent with Yorkshire firms. While this part of the project is expected to create an additional 25 jobs within the business.

“In our continued support of, and investment in, the Yorkshire economy, we have appointed Yorkshire tradesmen wherever possible,” Mr Farnsworth added.

Work on the extension is expected to be completed by September.

Work on the build will be carried out by many of the same teams who completed phase one.

Mrs Ritchie is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

She explained: “There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a building project move from its conception to completion and having a part in guiding it on its way.

“I’m excited for the challenge and thinking through and overcoming the practical issues we might face on the way.

“This particular phase of development is really important as it’s not just for the Tong customer but for the Tong staff so it’s a big responsibility to deliver.”

When she’s not working, Mrs Ritchie enjoys spending time outdoors, including skiing, netball, walking Tarka the dog and family time watching her sons play sport and relaxing at home.

Tong Garden Centre’s owners acquired the centre in 2015 and are currently are actively seeking additional sites to replicate the successful formula of the award winning Tong Lane site.