Squire’s financial results encouraging despite a challenging year

Squire’s Garden Centres has reported a drop in turnover for the year ending 31 July, which the group says is a “good result” considering the impact of COVID-19. The accounting period spans pre-pandemic, the first lockdown and the weeks of high demand following the centre’s reopening in May 2020.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the period of closure during the peak spring trading window, total turnover dropped by 7% to £53m. Trade had been strong during the financial year up until closure. Post-lockdown sales particularly in plants and core gardening were very strong, with a higher average spend. Squire’s believes it secured new customers, as more people were at home and wanted to enjoy gardening and spending time in their gardens.

Turnover was boosted by the addition of Squire’s newly-acquired centre at Wokingham (Heathlands), which joined the Group on 1 August 2019. The performance of this site is reported to have exceeded expectations. Its centre at Frensham benefitted from the newly refurbished food hall which opened shortly before lockdown and, as a stand-alone food shop, was able to continue to trade while the rest of the centre was closed. During the year, Squire’s also completed a major extension of the shop and Café Bar at Milford, and garden centre sales have continued to be very healthy in its new financial year.

Whilst cafés could reopen from early July, there were plenty of challenges to overcome, and café sales plummeted by 33%. Squire’s says the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme proved “crucial” for it, enabling it to retain staff during the closure period.

Squire’s underlying profit before tax dropped by 42% to £2.2m (LY: £3.7m)., which the group says is a “good result given the events of 2020, and one which reflects a huge amount of hard work on the part of our teams”.

Sarah Squire, chairman of Squire’s, said; “I cannot stress enough how significant the support, commitment and hard work of our colleagues has been as we navigated the period of closure and beyond. So many people have come up with innovative ideas, solved problems and taken on tasks outside their usual remit with willingness, determination and great good humour. Our suppliers have also been incredibly helpful while facing not inconsiderable challenges of their own.”

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