Millbrook Garden Company posts improved turnover figures

But the directors have warned of the impact Homebase's new owners Bunnings could have on smaller garden centres.

Millbrook turnover was £6.81m, up from £6.22m, in year to 31 January 2016, with operating profit at £180,000, up from £68,000.

Directors said Homebase's new owner Wesfarmers "had a great impact" on small garden centres in Australia and so could be "significant" to the sector in the UK.

They added: "Wyevale has slowed its acquisitions in the run up to a possible sale of the company."

On National Living Wage, Milbrook said "the budget increase in gross profit is set to make sure the pay increases are affordable". Millbrook aims to maintain a salary differential and says it pays above the NLW. 

Millbrook operates three garden centres in Kent and Sussex at Staplehurst, Crowborough and Gravesend.

Directors said that 2015 saw the best signs of increased customer confidence since the financial crisis.

Cafe income has increased, they said, particularly at Staplehurst where there has been a new cafe since March 2015, while events have also boosted turnover.

Millbrook closed its plant production nursery at Crowborough in January 2016, saying: "A small unheated nursery can no longer compete with the large automated nurseries on price, quality and availabilty of stock early in the season." Millbrook has a plan to build houses on the old nursery.

Customer loyalty membership is now 54,000.

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