Lack of fit with core strategy behind charity's decision to hand over garden centre

Caulder's which earlier this week confirmed that it was due to take over the operations of Erskine Garden Centre on 1st November, says the centre, formerly run by veteran soldier's charity Erskine, was no longer seen as part of that organisation's core aims.

Caulder's approached Erskine Garden Centre in Bishopton, Renfrewshire, and now bought the business. It will lease the site from Erskine for 25 years.

Erskine's decision that the garden centre was no longer part of its core operation, follows a similar decision by the Prince's Trust charity in relation to Fulham Palace Garden Centre in London this summer.

Fulham Palace is still up for lease to any retailer.

Caulder's owner Colin Barrie said: "It [Erskine Garden Centre] didn't really fit in with their strategy - they care for veterans and have five homes throughout Scotland. The chief executive and management of the charity were spending time in the garden centre and I think they thought 'why are we doing this? This is not what we should be doing.'"

"It had been run at arms length by the charity and didn't make sense for them. They must have decided seven or eight years ago to spend all this money on it - it cost £3.9m to build."

Caulder's has a programme of capital investment to bring the centre "into our way of doing things" by March 2015.

The four centre group based in Scotland will look to expand in the future. It has centres at Kirkintilloch, Mugdock and Braidbar.

Barrie said Dobbies and Klondyke, which are the biggest groups in Scotland have been "quiet" although Dobbies has plans for East Kilbride.

He added that trade has been 5-6 per cent up this year, a feeling matched by others at a Choice meeting in Glasgow recently.

Barrie said business had been "steady" with few peaks and troughs, with furniture, plants and coffee shop the best sectors.


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