The garden centre supply market "has changed massively", according to Gardman chief executive officer Stewart Hainsworth, who is taking product out of B&Q to concentrate on higher-profit garden centre sales.
"What's happened is phenomenal with one major player (Solus) falling over." But he said Gardman has taken advantage, with revenues and profits up. Choice, Hillier and Klondyke are new customers, having left Solus.
Gardman is moving from 55 to 70 per cent of its product in garden centres and withdrawing brands including bird food from B&Q from January 2015. "I'm interested in profit more than turnover," said Hainsworth
He hopes to grow exports from five to 10 per cent in three years, excluding Australia where Gardman has a joint venture operating.
The focus is to "uptrade" the consumer with products that have a point of difference. Bird care is one-third of Gardman's business. Hainsworth said the new Ernest Charles brand is uptrading customers. Bird seed (12.75kg) and fat ball (x50) tubs are price sensitive but at £12.99 and £7.99 they "don't need to be cheaper than that. Anyone can throw away margin." He said Dobbies is £15 for 12.75kg packs and Wyevale £17.99.
The bird food market was down 30-40 per cent after the mild winter but Gardman was only down by 15 per cent, he added.
Gardman has also developed garden tools and solar lighting upmarket, with Moulton Mill tools and Cole & Bright security and colour-change lighting. He said the lighting market was up 40 per cent to £7m and could grow quickly to £10m.
Gardman serves 1,600 garden centres, with 950 deliveries a week and 40,000 transactions a year, with "no one else at that scale".
Glee attracted some 7,066 visitors this year, down from 7,700 in 2013. The nursery atrium will return in 2015.