We spoke to Sam Lyle, co-founder of luxury Christmas tree business, Pines and Needles about Scotland, the Royals and puns.
How did you and your brother get into this business?
It was an idea of an older brother of ours called Jake who had a dry cleaning business in Maida Vale. Our dad was clear-felling an area of woodland that happened to be a type of tree called the Norway Spruce, which is the traditional Christmas tree, and our brother Jake thought, ‘why don’t I sell them outside my dry cleaning shop’? I was thirteen at the time, my brother Josh was fifteen, and we agreed to sell them for him for a bit of pocket money. And we’ve been doing it ever since!
What’s the connection to Scotland?
We were born in Scotland and our dad’s a farmer, so we grew up there. We gradually started planting trees up there and this increased more and more, until about 2011 when we started workig full-time on the Christmas trees. Before that it was a part-time gig.
What helped snowball (excuse the pun) the business?
It’s just grown organically every year. We’ve expanded online and been able to open a few more stores, and it’s just gradually grown.
What is that makes your trees so special?
That’s a good question! Basically we take a lot of care in cultivating them. The conditions in Scotland are ideal for Christmas trees because they don’t grow too quickly. They’re more bushy and full, and we spend a lot of time hand-pruning them to ensure they’ve got a good shape. We then only select the best ones.
How was it that Prince Harry and Meghan purchased a tree from you?
That was really just a stroke of luck! They just came in like any other couple on a romantic experience coming to buy their tree. The store got very excited!
Where are your stores?
We’ve got stores around London. Our flagship stores are in Battersea Park, Victoria Park and Wimbledon Park. We’ve got over 20 stores in London and one in St Albans, and Bournemouth as well.
How did you come up with the name ‘Pines and Needles’?
That was my brother Josh’s girlfriend, Tina. She was the brains behind that.
Is it just the Norway Spruce you sell or have you *ahem* branched out?
About 85% of all Christmas trees sold in the UK are the Nordic fir and we follow that trend too. It’s much better for families and softer to touch. It lasts much longer.
Christmas is the busiest time of year for you, but what is your focus for the rest of the year?
February is the time for relaxation and then from March onwards we’re planting, and then it’s pretty full on cultivating through the summer. Then in the autumn it’s about selecting and grading the trees.
For more information and to order your tree for delivery, visit www.pinesandneedles.com