Squire's has reported a good performance for 2022, well above pre-pandemic levels. The year was never going to match the record results of 2021, and the company's budgets and aspirations reflected this. Sales dropped 2% overall to £68.2m (2021: £69.5m). Within that total, Garden Centre sales dropped by 9% to £59.9m (2021: £65.8m), while Restaurant sales more than doubled to £8.3m (2021: £3.7m). Profit before tax dropped to £4.0m (2021: £7.9m) (underlying, adjusted).
Demand for plants and horticultural products remained above pre-Covid levels in FY2022, as gardening and outdoor living, in general, remained popular. However, like other operators, Squire's experienced supply challenges in many categories, resulting in higher stock levels than usual at the year's end. In the current year, the supply chain has recovered, and stocks are returning to more normal levels.
Restaurants were open throughout the year, unlike the previous year, hence the large sales increase in that part of the business. Post-year-end cost price increases and challenges in the labor market remain influential. Customer numbers at Squire's Garden Centres dropped by 3%, while in the restaurants, they rose by 130%.
Squire's new e-commerce offering recorded sales of nearly £1m in its first full year. The company remains pleased with the steady development of this channel.
During the year, Squire's continued to invest, notably in the Wokingham garden center, which was acquired in 2019. In January 2023, Squire's acquired a longstanding supplier to the group, Barnsfold Nurseries, which grows superb bedding plants on the Sussex/Surrey borders. The synergy between the two companies and their shared values makes this a very exciting relationship for the future. The capital expenditure program in the garden centers for 2023 will focus on more moderate improvements across a number of centers rather than one large project, including a number of investments aimed at carbon and energy cost reduction. We look forward to continuing to work on our sustainability program and remain committed to our charitable and community involvement.
Sarah Squire, Chairman, comments: "As we move forward into the post-Covid world, I am pleased with the set of results we have posted again this year. Once again, I am full of admiration for my amazing colleagues in our Centres and in Group Office, who worked so tirelessly in a constantly changing landscape throughout FY2022.
"Experience teaches us that the weather is still likely to have the greatest effect on our results for 2023. The view ahead of us may be an unpalatable combination of war; energy cost increases; stubborn inflation; wage pressures; higher interest rates; and volatile consumer confidence. However, despite all this, we believe we are well-placed to withstand the storms around us. We will continue to champion plants and gardening and work hard to maintain standards and give our customers the best service we are able. This means we can view the future with confidence.'
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Squire's Garden Centres