Dobbies beats the downturn blues

Scottish company records a total sales rise, although like-for-like sales drop in the first half of the year.

Dobbies Garden Centres has bucked market trends and recorded improved sales for the six months to 30 April, although sales on a like-for-like basis fell. The Scottish firm benefited from its expansion programme and saw a 7.4 per cent increase in total sales to £29.4m. Like-for-like sales were down three per cent. But improved trading in the seven weeks since 30 April has seen a 6.5 per cent rise in like-for-like sales, so like-for-like sales for the year are down just 0.2 per cent. Chief executive James Barnes said profits before tax in the first six months rose 3.6 per cent to £1.8m, which was good, considering the “difficult trading conditions”. Three new stores are planned in the next two years. * Speculation remains about a Dobbies takeover bid by Scottish entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter, who recently bought 3.69 per cent of the company through his West Coast Capital investment vehicle.

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