Wyevale posts upbeat sales report

"Significant improvements" lead to good prospects for 2005

Wyevale Garden Centres made “significant improvements despite a challenging retail environment” in the second half of 2004. The firm has also reported that like-for-like sales in the 10 weeks to 2 January were up by 8.8 per cent at Britain’s biggest garden centre chain. Sales increased by 2.7 per cent in the 27 weeks to 2 January 2005 but rose just 0.3 per cent for the whole year because “poor weather in early spring and the autumn” made plant sales “disappointing”. Finance director Steve Murfin said good merchandising and range accounted for Wyevale’s successful Christmas. He added that he was confident Wyevale would do well this year, particularly because non-horticultural products, including furniture, barbecues, wild bird care and pet care, did well in 2004. Plans by Wyevale to re-launch 11 centres are ahead of schedule and they will open before Easter. Investor Laxey Partners increased its shareholding in Wyevale from 12.4 per cent to 14 per cent this month.

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