Dobbies garden centres' James Barnes pays tribute to David Clark

David Nowell Clark OBE has died aged 73 after a long and courageous battle with cancer.

David Nowell Clark OBE has died aged 73 - image: Graham Carnie
David Nowell Clark OBE has died aged 73 - image: Graham Carnie

There will be a service to celebrate his life in Drymen Church, Main Street, Drymen, G63 1BQ on Monday 28 November at 2.30pm.  Please no black.  Family flowers only but donations if desired to Army Benevolent Fund or Cancer Research.

He was shairman and joint founder, with his wife, Jean, of Findlay Clark Limited based in Milngavie, Glasgow, one of the largest garden centre, landscape and nursery businesses in Scotland with branches in Aberdeen, Kinross and Paisley. The business was sold to Dobbies in April 2000.

Dobbies chief executive James Barnes paid tribute: "David was a wonderful person.  We had grown to know each other well over a period of 21 years (despite the generation gap!).  It was his love of the garden centre business and his love of fishing that brought us together.

"One of those strange coincidences in life - in 1988 I married Amanda McCay, whose stepfather, David Hume, was one of David’s greatest fishing partners.  In 1989 I joined Dobbies, one of Findlay Clark’s rival businesses in Scotland.

"The garden centre industry is a close knit one. Although we are all fiercely competitive, we all share similar issues, similar values and all have a natural affinity - perhaps greater than many other industries.  This closeness allowed David and myself to engage in many conversations over the years about our respective businesses and how we might see them grow and develop (and of course various fishing trips!).

"David’s career had taken him to chairman of the Garden Centre Association and chairman of the IGCA in the 1990’s.  His sense of humour was always to the fore and certainly endeared us to each other.  He would always commence and finish a meeting or conversation with a humorous story or, more commonly, a friendly jibe at me.

"The culmination of events was that in 2000 Findlay Clark Garden Centres became part of Dobbies Garden Centres plc (we had floated the business 3 years earlier).  To have built up a business for over 30 years and to sell to one of your major competitors is a big decision.  David always had the preservation of the business and the future security of his staff uppermost in his thinking, and I very much hope we achieved this objective, with many staff still employed in our stores today.

"For Dobbies, the coming together of the two companies was transformational.  The culture of the two businesses was very similar, and that made the integration process a very natural one.  It allowed us in one move to have coverage throughout Scotland, allowed us to build our brand and provided a great platform to launch our further expansion both north, but in particular south of the border.

"David will be terribly missed by his family, and indeed the extended family that was his garden centre business and all the friends he made within the wider industry.

"Jean, Robin, Alexander and Duncan, our thoughts are with you."


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