Sales and profits rise at Woodbridge-based garden centres group Notcutts

Nicky Dulieu of Notcutts.

Nicky Dulieu of Notcutts. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Garden centres group Notcutts has seen a double-digit increase in sales, despite a “challenging retail environment”, according to its latest accounts.

Turnover jumped to £63.7million in the year to February 28, up from £55.8m the year before, and pre-tax profits grew £1.1m to £7.1m, although a significant proportion of this was from property disposals.

The Woodbridge-based firm, a member of the EADT/EDP Top 100 listing of the 100 largest companies in Suffolk and Norfolk, added that its five-year strategy to invest in improvements at its garden centres, including restaurants, was performing ahead of expectations.

Notcutts chairman Nicky Dulieu said the company was pleased with its financial performance for last year, and continued improvements this year.

“Our newly developed centres have proved really popular with our customers and this has reinforced our strategy to redevelop our garden centres over the next five years,” she said.

The accounts, posted at Companies House, highlighted redevelopments at the firm’s garden centre near Tunbridge Wells which were completed in March last year.

Notcutts said the centre had performed ahead of expectations, exceeding its investment criteria, and provided a suitable benchmark for its five-year strategy.

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It added: “We have also gained market share withing our core estate which saw sales growth of 6.5% above the average increase achieved by a comparator group of the Garden Centre Association businesses.”

Funding for the development plan will come from retained profits, sale of property and selling investments. During the year to February, the company sold farmland for £4.6m and its Cambridge garden centre for £1.3m.

However, the company said it did not believe a long-term investment loan of £1.6m to Pettistree-based John Woods Nurseries – which has subsequently gone into administration – was recoverable, and had therefore written it off.