Dobbies released figures last month showing a level turnover after exceptional items for the 16 months until February 2009. This includes exceptional charges of £4.6m for fighting off Sir Tom Hunter's bid to take over the 25-centre Edinburgh-based group. With interest of £3.6m, this meant an after-tax loss of £244,000.
Sales for the 16 months reached £122.6m with a gross profit of 50.1 per cent, with net profit at £8.9m before exceptional items.
Brown said sales were "flat" in 2008, which "we were not too disappointed with". She said there had been "significant growth" since then. She added that Dobbies had exceeded "pretty punchy" targets this year and gains were "not dissimilar" to industry averages of 10 to 11 per cent.
Brown said plants and gardening sectors had done best, with "surprisingly good growth in furniture", given the recession.
She said the weather meant that stores in England did better than Scottish centres. She said the new 2,787sq m (30,000sq ft) Shepton Mallet centre, smaller than the average 4,645sq m (50,000sq ft) Dobbies centre, had also performed above expectations.
She added that converting the ex-Tesco store had been a success, particularly as many commentators thought that Tesco would be converting Dobbies outlets into supermarkets after the chain bought the garden centres in 2008.
Brown said more new stores might follow the smaller format.
Dobbies plans to open three sites next year and four in 2011. Next to open is Aberdeen in March 2010. Plans are in progress for centres at Houston Mains, Nether Alderley, Carlisle, East Kilbride and Lisburn.
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