Expansion helps to increase Blooms' sales by 33 per cent

New centres increase profits for Gloucestershire-based firm

Additional trading space created by buying new stores and redeveloping existing garden centres helped Blooms of Bressingham to post a 33 per cent increase in total sales last year. The Gloucestershire-based company reported sales of £21.3m, helped by the opening of new centres at Gloucester and Rugby in spring 2005. Profit before tax rose from £0.7m last year to £3.6m. But Blooms chairman Charles Good said like-for-like sales were down 1.8 per cent, reflecting the industry’s poor year. Good said he believes sales growth will continue at a measured rate throughout this year but predicts that “the next three years will see growth accelerate again as we bring on substantial amounts of modern additional space”. Redevelopment of the Bicester store, which is due for completion in spring 2007, will create the company’s largest garden centre. In addition, there are plans to expand four other stores. Chief executive Jon Kitching said the profit increase was achieved in difficult trading conditions for the industry, with plant sales — which make up 31 per cent of sales — noticeably down on 2004. He identified reduced customer spending and poor weather as key factors. He added: “Our strategy to acquire and develop larger centres is proving to be the right decision as they are performing better due to their more extensive product ranges and larger restaurants.” The tough trading environment has continued this year, with like-for-like sales in the 16 weeks to 21 May down by one per cent.

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