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Redevelopment work takes toll on Haskins sales

Published: 30 January 2013
Sales at Haskins' four garden centres in southern England fell by 11% to £21.8m in the year to February 26 2012, according to new accounts filed at Companies House.
Redevelopment work takes toll on Haskins sales
Margins, stockturn and productivity all suffered as the company poured resources into updating its facilities.

Large-scale redevelopment was the main reason for the fall in sales, according to the directors' report: the Roundstone centre, in Angmering, West Sussex, was completely rebuilt during the year, and while it traded through most of the work it was closed completely for seven weeks in January and February. The result was a 31% drop in sales at the centre - but when it re-opened on February 27 it immediately exceeded sales expectations.

There was heavy investment at the West End, Southampton outlet as well, with the restaurant being totally rebuilt and the rest of the centre given a facelift. But this disruption left West End's sales down 6.4%.

Given this level of disturbance and investment, it's not surprising that most of Haskins' key ratios suffered. Gross margin slipped from 36.1% to 33%; operating margin from 12.4% to 5.9%; and net margin from 14.4% to 7.4%. Stockturn dropped from 5.2 times to 4.4 times, return on capital from 18.4% to 7.9%, and because staff numbers were maintained through all the development work, salary costs rose from 22.3% of turnover to 25.1%.

The board emphasised, however, that the redevelopment means Haskins "now has some of the most modern and profitable garden centres in the country". Restaurants with seating capacity of 400 or more and enlarged gift departments make the centres less dependent on weather-sensitive garden sales.


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