Report reveals Wyevale's 'transformative' results

Wyevale Garden Centres' full accounts for the year to 27 December 2015 have been posted at Companies House, showing "a year of transformation". Turnover was £253m, up from £249m, up 1.7 per cent.

Wyevale: programme has seen 78 centres refurbished
Wyevale: programme has seen 78 centres refurbished

 In 2014, sales decreased 4.8 per cent. Gross margin decreased two per cent (2014 increase 1.9 per cent) and concession income was up £1m at £17.3m. Operating loss was £16m, while profit in 2014 was £6.7m, after charging non-cash depreciation of £14.3m (2014, £10.4m) and exceptional items of £23.6m (2014, £8.8m) into the profit and loss account. Interest payable was £24.6m, with reported loss of £30.4m (2014, £2.9m).

Exceptional items for 2015 included £9m on transformational projects and £3m on group restructuring adviser and redundancy costs. The report said: "The directors expect the company to continue to grow and develop over the future years."

The key projects for 2016 were a central distribution centre and multichannel offer, although the latter has been delayed. The centre had £8m set aside for it, while £1.5m was spent on the multichannel offer.

A 2015 report posted on Wyevale's website said EBITDA was down from £56.1m to £55m, in a "challenging year for our profitability", which was "attributable to both unseasonal weather pattern and to adverse gross margin impacts resulting from the transition of the group's supply and stock management systems". It added that profit on the sale and leaseback of eight centres in December 2015 was £32.7m, helping to grow operating profit to £47.9m.

In June 2016, the group completed sale and leaseback of five freehold sites, raising a further £40.1m. Overall margin decreased from 56.5 to 54 per cent. Transaction numbers rose from 13.09 million to 13.23 million, with footfall conversion falling from 28.7 to 28.6 per cent. Average transaction grew from £18.95 to £19.28.

Wyevale bought four centres (two Armitages, Sidmouth and Wych Cross for a combined £21.6m) and closed one (Westonbirt) in 2015 and has bought two more (Woodcote Green and Crowders) in 2016.

The group has refurbished 78 centres since the start of its programme and added 125 concessions with 13 Costas, five Botanic Kitchens and nine Coffee Grounds. There were 93 concessions added in the year, with 47 restaurant refurbishments and 11 new play areas, five restaurants and 13 coffee shops. Food contribution went up from 16.5 per cent to 18 per cent, with 7.55 million transactions, up from 6.76 million.

Concession income grew from £18.1m to £20.7m, according to the report. The group spent £55.9m on property, plant and equipment for the business, up from £34.6m. Manned concessions numbered 659, up from 566.

Kevin Bradshaw, Stephen Murphy, Jason Danciger, Tim Patten, Sarah Fuller, Dan Zinner and Nils Steinmeyer have left Wyevale's management team. Roger Mclaughlan is the new chief executive and Anthony Jones is chief financial officer. Murphy said the "unexpected Brexit result and changes in the political landscape have created a volatile near-term economic backdrop. The immediate impact is uncertainty and the long-term prognosis is difficult to assess. However, the underlying fundamentals of the economy are positive and financial institutions are well capitalised and prepared."

Head of buying (horticulture and garden) Caroline Linger has left to join Crocus. Retail and operations director Colin Hughes has also left.

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