GCR recently caught up with garden centres across the country, investigating how the sale of all 145 Wyevale Garden Centres has affected the industry.
Over recent years, garden centres have evolved into much more than just places to buy plants. Evolving to become wider leisure and retail destinations. With the addition of play centres, restaurants and activities. Sought to improve customer experience.
On September 10th, 2019, Wyevale Garden Centres sold its remaining trading centre to British Garden Centres.
Wyevale Garden Centres began to sell its centres last May. Since the process started, Wyevale have sold 145 garden centres across the country. 90% sold, continue to trade as garden centres, with 95% of the staff remaining.
Who bought Wyevale centres?
Dobbies Garden Centres bought a total of 37 centres. This deal increased the number of Dobbies centres to 69. Making it Europe’s largest garden centre business and grows its annual sales to over £300 million.
Dobbies CEO Graeme Jenkins said “We are very pleased to have agreed this acquisition from Wyevale. We look forward to welcoming our new customers. As well as 1,400 new team members to Dobbies. Set to drive the growth of the business and deliver against our strategic plan”
Justin King, executive chairman of Wyevale Garden Centres said: “In May 2018 we said it was the right time to launch the sales process of WGC. Following many improvements made to the business under the new leadership team. Resulting in our centres looking and performing better than ever”
The sale of Wyevale garden centres was set to present a unique opportunity for a wide range of buyers. Whether that be financial institutions, current garden centre operators, independent businesspeople or entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs were expected to be predominantly attracted into the market. With the prospect of enhancing an already resilient income stream by adding their own profitable activities into underutilised space which has a host of latent uses.
“Current garden centre operators seeking to complement or improve their existing business will also be attracted to the disposal. Opportunities of this quality rarely come to the market” – CEO Wyevale Garden Centres, Roger Mclaughlan.
What Garden Centres Think
The buyers of Wyevale are set to expand their national footprint. Strengthening their position in the UKs garden centre industry.The selling to local and hyper-local centres, will give them the opportunity to have more freedom within their centres.
Blue Diamond expanded their portfolio to 36 centres through the acquisition of various Wyevale sites. Alan Roper, managing director of Blue Diamond said: “Geographically all the centres are a perfect fit. Enabling us to deliver our full Blue Diamond proposition”
Wyevale Hay Lane Garden Centre in Swindon was sold to Studley Grange Limited. Managing Director, Tony Miller expressed that “I’m over the moon to bring the garden centre back in-house. Allowing us to fully integrate the garden centre with the village”
Finally, speaking with Dylan Penhaligan and Chrissie Chaplin, directors of Findon Garden Centre on their views on the recent purchases’ they said “Findon Garden Centre is now a local, independent, family-run garden centre. We have years of experience in horticulture retail. Including, in Dylan’s case, two years of managing Findon Garden Centre. We are both looking forward to working with our colleagues and greeting our customers”.
Although 90% of Wyevale stores have continued trading, under different management, some stores were left for closure. Wyevale Syon Park unfortunately had to close its doors. However, owners of the sight have begun the reviewing process of their options. Exploring new opportunities for the site. Investigating long term investments that will benefit the local area. Focusing on business opportunities to complement and improve the visitor offer.
The closing of Wyevale Garden Centres over the country is a sad site to see. Having said this, local and hyper local business are now thriving, thanks to the sales. Having the freedom to tailor their sites to the local community and local trends.