Hodkinson also leaves his role as chairman of Wyevale, with Wyevale owner Sir Tom Hunter taking over.
Hunter’s West Coast capital investment vehicle owns 29 per cent of Country Homes and Gardens, which Marshall formed after Wyevale, then under different ownership, bought Marshall’s 12-year-old garden centre group Country Gardens for £111m in a hostile takeover in 2000.
Country Homes and Gardens grew to six centres then doubled in size to 12 centres in November 2006 when Marshall bought six of Wyevale’s smallest stores. Marshall with carry on in his role at Country Homes & Gardens.
Marshall said Wyevale will go back to basics:
Garden centres should fundamentally be focused on gardening.
Newly promoted Wyevale chief operating officer Andrew Livingston will work with Marshall to try and make the 123 centre group pay off some of its debt to the bank.
Hunter bought Wyevale for £445m in June 2006 and has since spent £100m on new stores but Wyevale’s profits have been small since then as Hodkinson has tried to update the group, which has suffered from a lack of investment.
A WCC representative said:
We believe that Nicholas’ leadership, experience and market knowledge, in conjunction with Wyevale’s current management team led by Andrew Livingston, makes for a formidable combination in steering Wyevale forward at renewed pace and with a new sense of purpose.
Hodkinson is believed to have wanted to scale back his role at Wyevale after having done, say insiders, everything possible to rebase the business on a sound footing. There’s only so much you can do when you’re carrying that level of debt.
Hodkinson will carry on his chairmanships at Furniture Village, importers Ultimate Products and a South African DIY chain.