Evolution not revolution is the way ahead, says Barnes

Dobbies chief executive James Barnes has said the future for the garden centre chain is about "evolution, not revolution" and insisted fears Tesco will change Dobbies into supermarkets are unfounded.

Barnes, speaking at a Garden Industry Manufacturers' Association business meeting, reiterated Dobbies' expansion plan to build another 75 centres and to turnover £1bn a year by 2020.

He added that Tesco chief Sir Terry Leahy's retirement in 2011 would change nothing at Dobbies, despite Leahy being the inspiration behind buying Dobbies for £155m in 2007.

"The great thing about Tesco is consistency. I know (Leahy's successor) Philip Clarke and I'm very happy about how it works," said Barnes.

He said having a single UK chief executive officer would help Dobbies and "we and they recognise there is no point buying a brand and investing a little bit. That's not going to get you anywhere. It will be about scale and expansion."

Dobbies' new centres in Carlisle, Livingston, Glasgow and Ashford will open in April 2011. Peterborough, Liverpool and East Kilbride are in planning.

Barnes added: "Our buyers have been in place a lot longer than Tesco buyers, which we find frustrating ourselves when trying to coordinate things internally."

2011: £116m (28 stores)
2012: £155m (32 stores)
2013: £206m (36 stores)
2014: £250m (42 stores)
2015: £335m (49 stores)

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