He retired from Squire's last year after taking the group up to 15 centres, raising turnover past £45m and increasing staff numbers past 650 in his 30 years of service.
Espley joined in 1986 as garden centre co-ordinator before becoming garden centres director. He was managing director from 2003. In his time he oversaw developments or purchases at centres including Long Ditton, Crawley, Badshot Lea, Shepperton, Washington, Stanmore, Cobham and Milford.
A very well-known and widely respected figure in the industry - and a keen fan of Harlequins RFC - Espley is a member of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners and an RHS Council member.
He has not left the industry following his retirement, having taken roles including non-executive chairman at Tillington Group and vice-chairman at Greenfingers as well as non-executive director at Gavin Jones, which now runs Clifton Nurseries.
1966-70 Horticulture diploma, Pershore College
1971-80 Wyevale Garden Centres
1981-86 Operations manager, Kennedys Garden Centres
1986-2016 Operations director rising to managing director, Squire's Garden Centres
2011 Garden Centre Association president
2011 to date RHS Council member
2016 to date Non-executive chairman, Tillington Group
2017 to date Vice-chairman, Greenfingers
2017 to date Non-executive director, Gavin Jones
As the trade association for the sector, the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) helps its members flourish by representing, promoting and developing the garden industry. Key events include the HTA Catering Conference (13-14 June), HTA National Plant Show and Nursery Supply Show (20-21 June), HTA Garden Futures Conference (4 October) and HTA Marketing Forum (15 November).