Strong December sales see Haskins group close 11% up

Garden centre group Haskins' 125th anniversary year has proved to be a celebration in more ways than one after its south coast sites recorded a seven per cent sales increase in December.

The combined December sales at the centres in Ferndown, Southampton, Worthing and Crawley ensured the group's annual turn-over in the 10 months of their current financial year rose by 11 per cent to £26.5m.

More seasonal gardening weather was a key factor in the improved trade, as was a strong team effort from staff, according to Haskins managing director Julian Winfield.

He said: "There has been a range of improvements made by everyone involved. These include a greater emphasis on horticultural training and staff retention, enhancements to the catering facilities and an improved gift- ware range."

Winfield added that the new fresh-from-the-garden sections at all the centres had been popular with customers. The addition of a farm shop at the Roundstone centre, in West Sussex, had also proved successful.

He said: "We are delighted with the sales growth. This gives us greater motivation to strive for higher standards across the whole business and confidently meet the challenges that, I am sure, 2008 will bring."

The company is planning significant capital investment projects including a £2m upgrade of the Ferndown site's restaurant to increase the number of covers from 240 to 400. Work is due to be completed in September.

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