Garden centre consolidation surge uncovered

Research reveals accelerating rate at which larger groups are buying smaller garden centres.

Garden & Leisure: owner change
Garden & Leisure: owner change

Garden centre consolidation is accelerating, with more than 25 per cent of leading independents bought by groups since 2005.

Comparing the 2005 Garden Centre Association (GCA) membership directory with 2014's, more than a quarter of centres listed have been bought by groups including The Garden Centre Group (TGCG), Dobbies, Notcutts, Squire's, Klondyke, Blue Diamond and Hillview.

Some of the 40 centres to change ownership include Garden & Leisure, which had seven members, all now owned by TGCG since 2013.

Barton Grange sold Bolton to TGCG in 2013 and Woodford to Notcutts. Blooms of Bressingham went to TGCG. Heighley Gate went to TGCG, which also bought Old Barn Nursery, Sanders and Woodlands. Worcester is also now owned by TGCG.

Burford Garden Company was part of the Garden Store before Hillview took over this year. Byrkley is now part of Klondyke, as is Wilmslow, Holland Arms, Lady Green and Weaver Vale. Blue Diamond bought four independents - Garden Centres of Cheshire, Grosvenor, Matlock and Redfields.

Notcutts purchased Rivendell along with six other NWF centres, including other GCA members Wheatcroft and Dukeries.

Other changes include Hurrans West Hagley going to Webbs after the Hurrans group closed.

Dobbies bought Sandyholm as a departure from its new-build policy. Squire's bought Secretts in 2013, Ullesthorpe went to Palmers and Van Hage Bragbury Lane is no longer a garden centre with the site having now been built on for housing.

The GCA now has more than 170 full members, up from 156 in 2005.

Garden Centre Association view on market consolidation

Will Armitage, president, Garden Centre Association

"My view on market consolidation is mixed. Garden Centre Group chief executive Kevin Bradshaw, speaking at 2013's conference, couldn't believe how fragmented our industry was. We were surprised because we didn't think that, because we do things together - we are a mass of independently owned centres. There are still more privately owned centres than those owned by groups and there's room for both. I liken it to restaurants - most of the food is bought from national organisations but the best restaurants are independent. It poses a threat and an opportunity but because we work together and communicate we help each other to meet the challenges."

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