UK: garden center group sees sales soar despite spring Covid wipe-out

Sales surged 26 per cent at British Garden Centres in 2020, despite the first full year of trading as a much larger group being hampered by Covid - wiping out most of the key spring season. Turnover hit £61.8 million from £49 million for the Lincolnshire business, having taken on the significant Wyevale portfolio.

A total of 45 new locations were added, split between it and new entity BGC South - which also saw similar sales of £63.5 million in a first full year. It took the total number of sites under the brand to 58.

Headquartered at Alford, with the flagship store and BGC South headquartered in Brigg, as a company it retains the original Woodthorpe Hall Garden Centres name - but switched to the brand several years ago. It has recently added GardenstoreOnline.

In his strategic report accompanying the results, director Robert Stubbs said: “The year represents the first full trading period since the substantial acquisition programme in 2019 and has been dominated by the Covid-19 global pandemic. Despite the challenges faced in integrating those new centres against the backdrop of Covid-19 the directors are pleased to report a very good year of trading.”

Mr Stubbs said despite early challenges of adverse weather - three storms led to widespread flooding in January and March 2020 - good early progress was made with refurbishment and development until “the Covid-19 global pandemic brought the business to a standstill in March 2020”.

“Whilst the garden centre industry was one of the first sectors to re-open, the garden centres were fully closed for seven weeks and only able to offer quick delivery service during the latter part of those seven weeks. This enforced closure came at the busiest time of the year resulting in a significant volume of stock wastage that had to be written off.

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