Tesco-owned garden centre chain Dobbies, the second largest in the UK after Wyevale, has bucked the sales trend of the past 12 months with an annual sales increase of 12% taking turnover to £97m.
And 2009 is already shaping up to be a strong year with sales of grow-your-own products boosting sales. In fact, the 24-strong chain has pulled in sales of £1m so far this year in the grow-your-own category - an increase of 82% against the same period in 2008. The company has sold more than 100,000 tomato plants in the past two months alone.
And things are only set to get better as the business takes advantage of the sales uplift, and the massive economies of scale provided by its parent Tesco, by expanding the store portfolio.
A 2,605sq m centre is set to open in Shepton Mallet this summer - the first in the portfolio to be converted from an existing Tesco store. An application has been made for an £8.5m in Aberdeen, which, if it gets the go ahead, could open in Spring 2010. And the company has just announced proposals for a new centre in Nether Alderley in Cheshire taking over from existing business S E Matthews.
The company said: "Dobbies will be working with S E Matthews and seeking to draw on the approved planning permission for relocation of the original Matthews Garden Centre (at another local site which is now considered undevelopable), in order to once more serve the gardening needs of the local community."