Garden centre chain Notcutts celebrates high margins as efficiency drive boosts profits

Notcutts' heritage garden at its Woodbridge garden centre Picture: NOTCUTTS GARDEN CENTRES

Notcutts' heritage garden at its Woodbridge garden centre Picture: NOTCUTTS GARDEN CENTRES - Credit: Archant

A national garden centre chain based in Suffolk has seen its profits soar by more than 50% following a successful cost-cutting drive.

Members of Notcutts Group board Julian Herbert (CFO/company secretary), Caroline Notcutt (vice chair

Members of Notcutts Group board Julian Herbert (CFO/company secretary), Caroline Notcutt (vice chairman), Nick Burrows (chief executive), Nicky Dulieu (chairman), Bryan Laxton (non-executive director) Picture: NOTCUTTS GARDEN CENTRES LTD - Credit: Archant

Woodbridge-based Notcutts saw profits go up by 52.5% to £1.5m, while sales remained level at £74.7m in the year to February 2019.

Gross margin rose by 0.6% points - even while four of its garden centres saw disruption to trading over extended periods while £10.5m worth of redevelopment and improvement projects took place.

MORE - Garden centre chain sees profits drop as it targets footfall and market shareRestaurants at Woodford Park and Dukeries (Worksop) garden centres were given a makeover, while Booker and Rivendell (Widnes) Garden Centres retail centres and restaurants were completely redeveloped. Notcutts' new show gardens were included as part of the facelifts, which are in line with a five-year upgrade plan for the whole estate of 18 garden centres.

Meanwhile, the company rolled out a new website and e-commerce platform, and new branding. Developing e-commerce and digital capability is seen as key to attracting emerging millennial customers to gardening.

Garden and restaurant terrace at Notcutts Woodford Park Garden Centre Picture: VICTORIA TETLEY

Garden and restaurant terrace at Notcutts Woodford Park Garden Centre Picture: VICTORIA TETLEY - Credit: Archant

Chief Executive Nick Burrows said: "We are pleased with our progress during a year in which we were able to deliver good growth in operating profit. A focus on margin and a successful cost efficiency programme helped underpin this achievement. This during a year when we completed our new brand rollout and launched a new website and online store."

The firm is now two thirds of way through its planned programmed of improvements, which will now move to its Woodbridge centre, as well as Garden Pride (Ditchling) and St Albans Garden Centres, due to be completed in 2019/20.

The fourth generation family business, which is 100% family-owned, employs 1,300 people nationally, including 120 in Woodbridge, where the business began.

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Its board consists of Nicky Dulieu (chairman), Caroline Notcutt (vice chairman), Nick Burrows (chief executive), Bryan Laxton (non-executive director), Andrew Notcutt (non-executive director) and Julian Herbert (chief finance officer and company secretary).

New restaurant at Notcutts Booker Garden Centre Picture: TREVOR BEYNON

New restaurant at Notcutts Booker Garden Centre Picture: TREVOR BEYNON - Credit: Archant

Ms Notcutt said the new show gardens - now in 14 of the 18 centres - were attracting customers in great numbers.

"They are an important part of the Notcutts brand and customer proposition now and really showcase Notcutts' horticultural credentials which extend back over 120 years," she said.

As well as its garden centres, the company has a portfolio of property, farming and land interests.

Restaurant at Notcutts Rivendell Garden Centre in Widnes Picture: NOTCUTTS GARDEN CENTRES

Restaurant at Notcutts Rivendell Garden Centre in Widnes Picture: NOTCUTTS GARDEN CENTRES - Credit: Archant