Garden centre chain focuses on ‘wellbeing’ spaces as it goes for growth
- Credit: Simon Dack/Vervate
A family-owned garden centre chain is celebrating another leap in profits — even as it spends millions of pounds upgrading its sites.
Woodbridge-based Notcutts had to pause its ambitious multi-million pound site improvement works during the coronavirus crisis but plans to press ahead as soon as it can, it said.
The company — which owns 18 garden centres across England — recorded another year of profit growth in the year ending February 2020 with operating profit up 13.5% to £1.72m. It followed an impressive 52.5% rise in operating profit in 2019.
MORE — Entrepreneurial duo become millionaires - seven years after plotting new business over cup of coffeeTotal sales rose 1.9% to £76.1m in spite of “significant” disruption as a result of its ongoing improvement programme, which cost £9.2m during the year.
Restaurant redevelopments were completed at Woodbridge, Cranleigh and Ashton Park, while the Booker, St Albans and Garden Pride (Ditchling) centres underwent full centre redevelopments covering retail areas and restaurants.
Each of the schemes included Notcutts’ trademark show gardens. Two further show gardens were added in Maidstone and Victoria (Pontefract) and a woodland heritage walkway was opened for customers in Woodbridge.
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The firm has secured planning permission for future improvement projects at its Oxford, Tunbridge Wells and Solihull garden centres and is now “well through” its programme of improvements, it said.
Chief executive Nick Burrows said they were “pleased” with progress, which was underpinned by “continued focus on great value for our customers and a successful cost efficiency programme”.
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“We completed further exciting projects to bring customers ever improving experiences in our garden centres. In addition the investment we made in our e-commerce platform has put us in a good position to serve customers through this growing sales channel,” he said.
“While we have now paused our development programme for a period as we navigate the new challenges of the current coronavirus situation, we hope to recommence further projects when this passes.
“Like others, we have made a number of adjustments to our business model to reflect the current unprecedented situation. We believe these will place us in a good position to gear up again quickly when more normal trading conditions return.”
Vice chairman Caroline Notcutt said the new additions to the centres showcase Notcutts’ horticultural and design credentials which extend back almost 125 years.
“They are real wellbeing spaces and as society becomes increasingly conscious of the enriching positive benefits of gardening and being outside with nature we see these as essential elements of our customer experience.”
The company — which was founded in 1897 by Roger Crompton Notcutt and is now in its fourth generation of family ownership — works with gardening for health charity Thrive to support training for social therapeutic horticulture through the Charles Notcutt bursary.
During the year Bridget McIntyre joined Notcutts as chairman.