Christies of Fochabers garden centre secures Clydesdale Bank backing

Highlands garden centre Christies of Fochabers has won backing from Clydesdale Bank which will help drive "significant changes" to the business, says the family firm. Clydesdale Bank has now supported the firm with "a substantial banking facility".

Although Christies was one of the first businesses in Scotland to become customers of Clydesdale, the company switched banks 20 years ago when pursuing a new business venture. After that bank transferred its account to Edinburgh, Christies returned to Clydesdale last year.

Ronald Christie said: "Returning to Clydesdale Bank has been a shot in the arm for our business. Unlike others on the High Street, Clydesdale Bank recognises the importance of maintaining local expertise. Now we have access to experienced staff on our doorstep who we can speak to daily if need be.

"The key to growing our business is attracting more visitors. With the help of Clydesdale Bank we intend to make significant changes to the garden centre within the next few years by expanding our restaurant and developing our children’s play area.

"Improving our facilities will help to enhance the customer experience and offer a complete family day out. Christies of Fochabers has been around for almost 200 years and we plan to be around for many years more - hopefully with the next generation of our family at the helm."

Billy MacLeod, head of business development for Clydesdale Bank in the East of Scotland, said: "As one of our earliest customers, it is a pleasure to welcome the return of Christies of Fochabers to Clydesdale Bank.

"Since the Bank first began providing banking services to the garden centre, our team has developed a considerable knowledge of the business. We are now drawing on that insight to help the family-run firm achieve its growth aspirations and preserve Christies of Fochabers for generations to come."

The family run business is also the biggest private forestry grower in the UK, producing some 10 million trees annually.

The garden centre underwent an expansion in 2007 and has continued to upgrade with new frontage and the introduction of a play park last year.

The firm, which employs nearly 100 staff and had a turnover of £3.2million last year, is managed by husband and wife Ronald and Christine Christie. The couple, are the fifth generation of the family to lead the business. Their son Neal is a director of the firm.

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