Wyevale Garden Centres has announced it has sold its remaining trading business to British Garden Centres. Since the sale process began in May last year, Wyevale has sold 145 garden centres in 57 separate transactions, with over 90% continuing to trade as garden centres and over 95% of garden centre staff remaining.
A total of 37 centres have been sold to Dobbies in three separate transactions, 37 centres will go to British Garden Centres in six transactions, 16 centres were sold to Blue Diamond in three transactions, and five centres have been sold to Hillier.
Wyevale has transformed beyond recognition in the past three years, with significant improvements across the business, according to a company statement issued yesterday.
“The team has delivered better prices and ranges, much-improved stock availability and high operational standards, all underpinned by great customer service from engaged and experienced colleagues.
“This proved the perfect backdrop to the sale process and has ensured that each centre has a new owner who is committed to building their own business off this strong foundation.
“The WGC team have built strong relationships across the industry and sought to match each centre to the right buyer, resulting in key operators purchasing centres across multiple transactions.”
The business enjoyed an ‘exceptional’ spring season, with record-breaking sales, and has continued to trade favourably in recent months, against the backdrop of the final stages of the sale process.
“This year’s success is attributable to the extraordinary efforts of WGC colleagues, who together made WGC a better business,” the company said.
“The sale to British Garden Centres will now trigger an orderly closure process over the coming months, including finalising all payments and obligations due to WGC’s key stakeholders, all of which will continue to be met in full.”
Justin King, executive chairman of Wyevale Garden Centres, said: “In May 2018 we said it was the right time to launch a sales process for WGC following a large number of improvements made to the business under the new leadership team, resulting in our centres looking and performing better than ever.
“Our focus was on seeking new long-term owners for the centres and running the process in a way which protected and supported all our stakeholders, including WGC colleagues, while maximising returns for our shareholder. I am delighted that 16 months on we have succeeded in that goal with the vast majority of centres and colleagues remaining within the sector and customers now benefitting from a wider choice of garden centre operators.
“I would particularly like to thank Anthony Jones, our COO and his team for managing a complex disposal process with skill and dedication whilst maintaining a forensic focus on operations and trading, which has enabled a strong performance during key periods.”
Anthony Jones, Wyevale’s COO, said: “As we move to the conclusion of this complex sale process, I want to pay tribute to everyone at WGC for their tremendous support and hard work. Their expertise combined with a tireless dedication and commitment to delivering for both customers and their fellow colleagues during this period of great uncertainty has been phenomenal.
“I am extremely proud that the outcome of the sale means over 90% of the centres sold will remain within the sector, and over 95% of garden centre colleagues will transfer to garden centre operators. This result could not have been achieved without the tenacity of our teams, all of whom have repeatedly gone ‘over and above’ to achieve positive outcomes.
“The wide array of changes made to the business over the last three years have paid off – our centres have looked better than ever during the sale process and our customer satisfaction measures reached record highs. These improvements led to overwhelming interest from established garden centre operators and the ultimate success of the sale process.
“I would like to thank all of our colleagues, suppliers, partners and customers for their unwavering support and I wish them all the best for the future.”