Dobbies Garden Centres' James Barnes gives views on Tesco

Dobbies Garden Centres chief executive James Barnes has spoken out on the chain's planning difficulties when building new sites

He has also admitted that it was competition from Wyevale Garden Centres that caused him to join his father's business from an investment banking career.

Barnes said in an interview with Business 7: "It was the direct competition from Wyevale Garden Centres a few years back which ultimately inspired me to come back to Scotland and join the business. Wyevale had been a very successful business and had reached the point of being a quoted company and was engaging in a lot of acquisitions.

"During those early days I was asked by Friends Provident to look at ethical — or green — investments and garden centres were considered to be a fit for that kind of portfolio.

"It was on the back of that and looking at the Wyevale story that ultimately inspired me to have a look at the great brand image we had with Dobbies. I thought it surely could be much bigger than what it was back then. And that really was my inspiration to leave the city and join Dobbies."

He added on plans for new sites: "The recession has opened up some great opportunities for us for new sites we could never have dreamed of bidding for previously. Unfortunately, we have also run into some planning issues as a direct result of Tesco being our parent company, despite the fact we generally support a lot of local businesses when we open a new site rather than go into competition with them.

"There have been cases though where anti-development protesters have latched on to an anti-globalisation platform to rally a planning protest, but I think we are able to deal with that because clearly we are a very different business to Tesco."

Barnes hopes to open 4 new Dobbies sites this year, 5 in 2011 and have 100 by 2018. There are currently 25 Dobbies.


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