Christmas sales boost garden centres

Garden retailers report significant increase in seasonal sales as consumer optimism returns.

Christmas: sales higher by up to a quarter thanks to festive products
Christmas: sales higher by up to a quarter thanks to festive products

A brighter forecast for the economy has led to Christmas sales being higher by up to a quarter since festive product went on the shelves in October, auguring well for garden centre cash flow for next year.

Blue Diamond managing director Alan Roper said: "We're up 22 per cent on Christmas this year because there's a certain amount of consumer optimism."

He added: "Footfall on the high street was down in October and I expected it to be stronger in the garden centre because last year was so wet, but the customers coming are spending more on Christmas. They've obviously decided they have money and are going to push the boat out."

Figures supplied to HW from garden centres have consistently put Christmas as a around a quarter of turnover and up by a quarter on last year over the previous six weeks.

Nick Davies, who resigned as Solus managing director last week to be replaced by former Gardman chief executive Mark Pearson, said: "The back end of the year turned round well. It was not a record year for Solus but we've had a fantastic last quarter and a record July.

"Christmas is going extremely well in garden centres so it's looking positive. We don't do Christmas lines but we do a lot of related Christmas products."

He added that bird care has been 20 per cent down this mild autumn but will spike as the weather turns.

MorePeople director Guy Moreton added: "We're having lots of strategic conversations about growing businesses in 2014 rather than just keeping profitability and turnover as it was."

Davies leaves Solus to start new business

Solus managing director Nick Davies is to start an unnamed new business following his departure from the garden products wholesaler, manufacturer and distributor.

Davies said he spoke to Gardman earlier this year about a job but had repeatedly denied he was leaving following the appointment of founder Simon Yealland's son Ross as commercial director.

Meanwhile, Gardman sales director Bernard Shannon, who was appointed in April, is set to leave in the New Year as part of a change in management at the business following new investment in late 2012.

The garden centre supplier is set to move its headquarters to Peterborough, where it has a showroom, from Moulton, where previous owner Paris Natar is the landlord.

Up to 18 staff among the company's 230 employees are being asked to consider voluntary redundancy.


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