Barton Grange upbeat after “year of change”

Barton Grange Group, the business which operates a hotel and garden centre near Preston, has reported a slight fall in revenue and pre-tax profit during a “year of change”. But the company said trading so far this year has been good and it remains “confident” about the future.

The group posted turnover of ?21.6m for the year to 31 January 2014, down from ?22.1m a year earlier. Pre-tax profit also dipped ? from ?1.7m in 2013 to ?1.5m.

The group operates a number of businesses ? a hotel, garden centre, three nursery divisions and a landscaping company. In total, more than 450 staff are employed for the group.

The largest contribution to its revenue is its garden centre. During the year, turnover was up 7.6 per cent and profit by 22 per cent in this aspect of its business. But revenue fell at its hotel following a period of difficult trading.

Writing in the directors’ report accompanying the annual accounts, Barton Grange said it has “become experienced at surviving periodic downturns” throughout its 60 year history.

Since the year end, Ian Topping, a director and member of the founding family, decided to leave the group and has been paid ?3.5m for his stake.

But the company is upbeat about its future.

“I am pleased to report that our overall trading in our first quarter of 2014 has been good and I am confident that the group will remain respectably profitable in this current year,” said chairman Edward George Topping in the directors’ report.

“Barton Grange has survived the downturn respectably well, remains solvent and profitable and well able to invest for the long term.

“I know the current year will provide new challenges but I remain confident in the future.”

The group can trace its history back to 1945 when Edward and Ada Topping bought a small mansion in Barton and converted it into a hotel, which opened in 1951.

Its first garden centre opened next to the hotel in 1963. Its current garden centre, at Brock north of Barton, opened in 2008.

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