From The Editor - Focus shifts to major multiples

Since 2013, when the then Tesco-owned Dobbies jumped from taking 12 to 19 places in the Garden Retail Top 100 list - and Wyevale Garden Centres leaped from 10 to 14 - the major multiples have made little of the running in our annual review of the garden industry, tracking the turnover of individual sites.

Instead, for the past three years the big story generated by the Top 100 Garden Centres each year has centred on the UK's leading independent garden centres, the top 10 of which between them piled on an extra £13.5m in turnover in 2015 - the second year in a row that the UK's largest independent garden centres achieved growth at this level.

Now all eyes are focused once again on the major multiples as details of their refreshed strategies begin to emerge following a year of takeovers and/or senior management changes at the corporate end of the market.

In this issue the key themes emerging from one of those players, Dobbies, now owned by Midlothian Capital Partners and Hattington Capital following its sale by Tesco earlier this year, are revealed in deputy editor Matthew Appleby's exclusive interview with new chief executive John Cleland.

They include plans for the addition of shopping villages to boost revenue from existing sites plus some new site development. Particularly striking is the big investment Cleland has made in customer and "colleague" feedback, and plans being developed for more buying control for individual centres, "some decentralisation" and greater involvement of local producers.

Next issue we'll hear from Homebase, soon to become Bunnings, with a full report on its plans - alongside the 2016 Garden Retail Power 100, which will reveal the impact of the latest senior management changes across the garden retail sector. Watch this space.

KATE LOWE, EDITOR — kate.lowe@haymarket.com


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