The sale of 31 Wyevale centres to Dobbies Garden Centres for an undisclosed sum is the third transaction with Dobbies following the sale of five centres, plus a single site sale, both in October 2018.
The centres include: Altrincham, Andover, Beaconsfield, Brighton, Bury St Edmunds, Cadnam, Findern, Galton, Gosforth, Hare Hatch, Harlestone Heath, Havant, Hungerford, Keston, Leicester Rowena, Lelant, Marple, Moreton Park, Northampton, Pennine, Poppleton, Royston, Rugby, Shenstone, Stratford upon Avon, Stockton, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Thornbury and World's End.
The centres will continue to trade as WGC over the coming weeks with completion of the sales phased from late May through to the end of June.
Following the sale to Dobbies, WGC remains a top three garden centre operator in the UK with 60 centres and a further four centres that are operating under licence. The announcement comes as WGC reports strong trading in the first quarter of 2019 with sales up 26% year on year, profitability significantly improved and high levels of liquidity.
Anthony Jones, Chief Operating Officer of WGC, said “We are pleased to have agreed the sale of a portfolio of our centres to Dobbies Garden Centres. We would like to thank all of our garden centre colleagues for their contribution to Wyevale Garden Centres and wish them well for the next stage of their growth and development with Dobbies. I am delighted with our strong start to the year and am excited about trading for the rest of the main gardening season. Meanwhile, we also continue to evaluate a wide range of options as part of our ongoing sale process.”
Graeme Jenkins, CEO of Dobbies, said: “We are very pleased to have agreed this acquisition and look forward to welcoming our new customers along with 1,400 new members to our team.”
Separately, WGC today also confirms the commencement of a collective consultation process with all colleagues at its Syon Park Customer Support Centre (“CSC”). This process is required due to the potential reduction of at least 20 roles at the CSC and commences with the nomination and appointment of employee representatives before a 45 day collective consultation can begin.
Anthony Jones, Chief Operating Officer of WGC, said “I appreciate the commencement of a collective consultation process is unsettling for our CSC colleagues. We are committed to keeping all our colleagues informed as the consultation process progresses and any potential impacts are clarified.”
Christie & Co, the specialist business property advisor managing the sale process on behalf of WGC, have run a two-phase process that has achieved considerable interest from a wide variety of buyers. The opportunity to run one, a small group or a portfolio of garden centres has ignited interest within the sector and beyond, and there are still opportunities to acquire strongly located well-performing centres.