Garden Centre Group sales up 17 per cent over Christmas

Garden Centre Group sales were up 17% on the 2010 Christmas season and 6% on 2009.

Garden Centre Group chief executive Nicholas Marshall - image: HW
Garden Centre Group chief executive Nicholas Marshall - image: HW

Full year sales rose 8% on 2010 and were up 5% on 2009. 

Last year's gross margin percentage has been maintained at 2010 levels despite the increase in VAT to 20%.

Over the six-week Christmas period sales figures include:

    * Restaurant sales up 31%
    * Plants up 90%
    * Christmas lights up 26%
    * Pet products up 147%
    * House plants 12%
    * Natural Christmas trees up 5%; replica tree sales up 9%
    * The volume of transactions was up 20%
    * The Group’s newly launched website and "click and collect" plant service has attracted considerable interest with visitors to our web site up more than 70% on the prior year in the run up to Christmas.
    * Parents continue to focus on making Christmas special for their children with:

-        bookings for breakfast and tea with Father Christmas up over 100%

-        bookings for visits to Santa's grotto up over 30%

Figures exclude the acquisition of the operations of Country Homes and Gardens in August 2011 as well as any site closures or sales during the year.

CEO Nicholas Marshall said:

"The Group has had an outstanding Christmas period with sales significantly ahead of the two prior years.  We have got the mix of products and pricing spot on and our customers have responded well to that offering.

"By any measure, the full year results have bucked the garden and broader retailing trend with considerable growth in revenues and stable gross margins despite the VAT increase at the beginning of the year. This strong trading performance is built on the foundations of an organisation that is investing in its people, products and outlets in order to achieve strong growth in very difficult trading conditions."

Four private equity groups are still in the running to buy the 130 centre chain for around £300m, with the sale due to be completed this month.

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