Squire’s Garden Centres has reported a drop of 42% in underlying profits to £2.2m but said it was a “very good result” given the events of 2020.
The accounting period up to 31 July 2020 spanned pre-pandemic, the first lockdown and subsequent high demand when garden centres were permitted to re-open again in May 2020.
Given the period of closure during the peak spring trading window, total turnover dropped by 7% to £53.0m. Trade had been strong during the financial year up until closure.
After lockdown, sales (particularly in plants and core gardening) were very strong, with a higher average spend.
The believed it secured new customers, as more people were at home and wanted to enjoy gardening and spending time in their gardens.
Turnover was boosted by the addition of the newly-acquired centre at Wokingham (Heathlands), which joined the group on 1 August 2019. The performance of this site has exceeded expectations.
The centre at Frensham benefited from the newly refurbished Food Hall which opened shortly before lockdown, and as a stand-alone food shop was able to continue to trade while the rest of the centre was closed. During the year Squire’s completed a major extension of the shop and Café Bar at Milford.
Reopening its Café Bars from early July was more challenging and sales dropped substantially by 33%.
In common with many businesses the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme proved crucial for Squire’s, enabling the company to retain its workforce during the closure period.
Sarah Squire, chairman of Squire’s, said; “I cannot stress enough how significant the support, commitment and hard work of our colleagues has been as we navigated the period of closure and beyond.
“So many people have come up with innovative ideas, solved problems and taken on tasks outside their usual remit with willingness, determination and great good humour.
“Our suppliers have also been incredibly helpful while facing not inconsiderable challenges of their own.”