Country Homes & Gardens chief executive Marshall replaced Hodkinson this week. Hodkinson also leaves his role as chairman of Wyevale, with Wyevale owner Sir Tom Hunter taking over.
Marshall said he was delighted Hunter had given him the role, particularly because Wyevale, then under different ownership, bought Marshall's garden centre group Country Gardens for £111m in a hostile takeover in 2000. Marshall has rebuilt his empire to 12 Country Homes and Gardens centres since then, including six bought from Wyevale in November 2006.
Marshall with carry on in his role at Country Homes & Gardens, where he says the six new centres have grown their turnover by 45 per cent in the last two years. He added that this is "absolutely" the reason why Hunter, who owns 29 per cent of Country Homes and Gardens, recruited Marshall for Wyevale.
Marshall said: "Plants are why people go to garden centres and will be our focus. We want to have the best plants of any garden centre group." He said this did not contradict Hunter's aim to make Wyevale destination centres with broader ranges. "These can be one and the same," said a representative for Sir Tom, Ewan Hunter. "Nicholas talks about the gardening base but that doesn't mean you can't grow your product base."
On Wyevale's high level of debt, Marshall said: "Everybody who has any level of debt is concerned. Fortunately, the Wyevale shareholders are major players and have the support of the banks."
Ewan Hunter added: "This is all part of a planned transition. Jim was to restructure the business. Nicholas Marshall is a star of the industry and the right man to take the business forward to the next level. There's no hidden agenda."
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