Woodcote Green looking ahead after Wyevale sale

Woodcote Green Garden Centre general manager Phil Barnden has said no big changes are planned following the centre's takeover by Wyevale Garden Centres last month. "They are not going to mess up a winning formula," he said. "I hope they can learn from us."

Woodcote Green: now part of Wyevale Garden Centres
Woodcote Green: now part of Wyevale Garden Centres

Owner Chris Milan will retire but Barnden, commercial manager Jon Hoare and financial controller Andy Robinson will remain, as will Milan's son and daughter. Wallington-based Woodcote Green, which won in the best garden centre category in last year's Garden Retail Awards, turns over £14.8m a year.

"Everything's staying the same," said Barnden. "They just want to see how we do it. I'm quite comfortable about the whole thing. If you came here five years ago it was different to today and it will probably be different in another five years' time. Things evolve. It is a unique proposition for them and a unique garden centre, and they intend to keep going like that. They're taking on an extremely successful business and we're all committed to continuing that. The most important thing is making sure the customers are reassured."

Barnden said Woodcote Green had a "stonking" Christmas and is keen to start spring trading. He pointed out that Wyevale is experienced in taking over garden centres and said it would handle the process "correctly".

Trading boosted by new restaurant at Garsons

The new restaurant at Garsons Garden Centre in Esher, Surrey - an octagonal glass atrium built on a steel frame - turned over £30,000 in the first week of trading last month and expects to turn over £1.5m each year.

The kitchen and restaurant design and install was completed by International Food Service Equipment (IFSE), under project manager Helen Peacock. Compass Instore, under regional manager Helen Cotter, runs the catering at Garsons, which is undergoing a £4.3m investment in its retail areas. Hodges is builder and Malcolm Scott Consultants was planner.

The restaurant has up to 450 covers - 300 inside and 150 on the outside terrace, overlooking local fields. "With the design, while looking ahead we also aimed to reflect on our history, when trading at London's Borough Market," said Garsons director Ben Thompson. "This is echoed in the steelwork and timber cladding. The business's origins are also featured pictorially on the internal low-height walls."

The restaurant furniture was supplied by Abbey Leisure Furnishings. Kitchen equipment includes Winterhalter warewashers and Electrolux units. The centre also uses IFSE's Table Tracker to ensure correct food delivery. Hodges was the builder.

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