Dobbies Garden Centres has announced the acquisition of a further 31 centres from Wyevale, following its deal last autumn to take on six sites, including Woodcote Green Garden Centre.
The latest purchase increases the Dobbies estate to 69 centres, taking annual sales to over £300million and making it the largest garden centre operator in the UK. The company said the store portfolio is “highly complementary to Dobbies’ existing estate”, and completion of the deal will be phased across May and June 2019, with centres continuing to trade under the Wyevale name until sales are completed.
The latest round of centres taken on by Dobbies in this deal are: Altrincham, Andover, Beaconsfield, Brighton, Bury St Edmunds, Cadnam, Findern, Galton, Gosforth, Hare Hatch, Harlestone Heath, Havant, Hungerford, Keston, Leicester Rowena, Lelant, Marple, Moreton Park, Northampton, Pennine, Poppleton, Royston, Rugby, Shenstone, Stratford upon Avon, Stockton, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Thornbury and World's End.
Dobbies CEO Graeme Jenkins said: “We are very pleased to have agreed this acquisition from Wyevale and we look forward to welcoming our new customers, as well as 1,400 new team members to Dobbies as we drive the growth of the business and deliver against our strategic plan.”
In two purchases in October last year, Dobbies took on six of Wyevale's largest sites: Gloucester; Heighley Gate; Huntingdon; Woodbridge, Woodcote Green, and Woodlands.
Chairman Andrew Bracey said: “We are delighted to have now acquired a total of 37 garden centres from Wyevale. Since acquiring Dobbies in 2016 we have doubled it in size, expanded Dobbies’ national footprint and strengthened our position as the UK’s leading garden centre operator. All of this will benefit Dobbies’ customers with broader ranges, national coverage, a leading online offer and great prices.”
The latest sale leaves Wyevale with a portfolio of 60 centres, and a further four centres that are operating under licence. The announcement comes as WGC reports strong trading in the first quarter of 2019 with sales up 26% year on year, profitability significantly improved and high levels of liquidity.
Wyevale Garden Centres COO Anthony Jones said: “We are pleased to have agreed the sale of a portfolio of our centres to Dobbies Garden Centres. We would like to thank all of our garden centre colleagues for their contribution to Wyevale Garden Centres and wish them well for the next stage of their growth and development with Dobbies. I am delighted with our strong start to the year and am excited about trading for the rest of the main gardening season. Meanwhile, we also continue to evaluate a wide range of options as part of our ongoing sale process.”
Separately, Wyevale Garden Centres today also confirms the commencement of a collective consultation process with all colleagues at its Syon Park customer support centre. This process is required due to the potential reduction of at least 20 roles at the CSC and commences with the nomination and appointment of employee representatives before a 45-day collective consultation can begin.
Mr Jones commented: “I appreciate the commencement of a collective consultation process is unsettling for our CSC colleagues. We are committed to keeping all our colleagues informed as the consultation process progresses and any potential impacts are clarified.”
Christie & Co, the specialist business property advisor managing the sale process on behalf of WGC, have run a two-phase process that has achieved considerable interest from a wide variety of buyers. The opportunity to run one, a small group or a portfolio of garden centres has ignited interest within the sector and beyond, and there are still opportunities to acquire strongly located well-performing centres.