Strong performance keeps Wyevale on track

Garden centre group reveals sales increased by 13.7 per cent in first quarter

Wyevale Garden Centres has increased sales for the 16 weeks to 24 April by 13.7 per cent. Chairman David Williams reported the strong sales performance and reaffirmed the company’s direction when he addressed delegates at the Wyevale annual general meeting on 27 April. Like-for-like sales increased by 11 per cent. Williams said he was encouraged by Wyevale’s performance, in particular the 11 redeveloped sites completed in March, which have outperformed underlying like-for-like sales by 8.6 per cent. The strategy review is under way. London property consultant Strutt & Parker will conduct a detailed survey and analysis of all Wyevale sites. Williams said the latest figures were “extremely gratifying”, especially as B&Q owner Kingfisher has reported an expected drop in underlying sales of six per cent for the first quarter of this year. Williams said Wyevale still wants to buy larger destination centre format sites but his primary focus is to drive returns at its existing 114 outlets. It retails more than 28,000 different plant lines across 40,000sq m of outside space and 29,000sq m of covered space. Operating profits for 2004 fell to £26.9 million from £27.7 million. Share price rose on 27 April by 2.5p to 485p. Investor Laxey Partners has increased its stake to 16 per cent and property investor Jack Petchey to four per cent in the £270 million company. Non-executive director Peter Williamson, who retired at the end of April, has sold more than 500,000 shares this month at 470p, raising £2.5 million.

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