Rivalry between Dobbies and Wyevale gathers pace

Tim Clapp's on-off move from Wyevale to Dobbies signals an intensifying of the rivalry between the two garden centre chains, according to insiders.

Clapp had been poached by Dobbies to be its main plant buyer - with Adam Dunnett taking over Clapp's role at Wyevale and Wyevale plant buyer Neil Fishlock moving sideways. This has been taken by sections of the industry as an indication that Dobbies owner Tesco is trying to weaken Wyevale.

A Wyevale source said: "Tim was picked up by Dobbies. He is someone who is good at his job in the plant buying area, but we wanted to keep him, so we offered him a bigger job and he stayed.

"It's a competitive situation that is growing more than before because geographically there was little overlap until Dobbies announced its expansion plans and Tesco offered it £150m to do so.

"But it's not an issue for us. We have staff from B&Q and have taken people from Dobbies. Wyevale already has the scale Dobbies aspires to. Being part of Tesco does not help it with plant sourcing."

The source added: "There are a limited number of people capable of the job, so that's why there will be squabbles over people such as Tim Clapp from time to time."

Dobbies director of property and development Stuart Wright said to succeed in reaching 100 stores in 10 years, Dobbies must recruit for its head office in Lasswade, Midlothian. He said: "We will need to expand our head office and are currently applying for planning permission. In the next few years, head-office staff numbers will grow significantly."

A representative added: "Things are changing so fast at the moment, and this is a work in progress."

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