I do not think many people would have imagined that Terra Firma would offer the Wyevale Garden Centre Group to the market with their garden centres on an individual basis and achieve such a success.
The success is not just for Terra Firma and the money that they have generated in the sale of their garden centres but for the whole of the garden centre retail industry and for the garden industry suppliers.
Many of the groups have considerably enlarged themselves as set out below - 11 have been sold to developers, 4 have been sold back to the landlords, one has been sold to a manager, Maidenhead Aquatics has bought 2, a lot of independents have purchased one or more and an individual garden centre owner now runs 5. There have been a number of new entrants into the industry and, in one notable case, a vendor has purchased back their garden centre and at the present time only three have been closed.
At the time of writing this article, an announcement has been made that The British Garden Centre Group has bought the final rump of circa 20 garden centres.
Quinton Edwards valued 88 Wyevale garden centres in December 2018 for a potential purchaser which unfortunately failed to materialise due to lack of funding.
We have acted in the acquisition of a number of Wyevale garden centres so 2018 and the first half of 2019 have been beneficial for us.
We are now finding that the interest in new garden centres coming on to the market is considerably less than usual on the basis that most of the normal potentially interested parties have taken themselves out of the market both financially and in management time, whilst they absorb the Wyevale garden centres that they have acquired.
Prior to the sale process starting, Wyevale had 142 garden centres, Dobbies 34, Blue Diamond 21, Squires 15, Cherry Lane 12 and British Garden Centres 10.
Dobbies now has 69 with 2 more Wyevales in the pipeline, British Garden Centres 47, Blue Diamond has 38, Hilliers 17, Squires 16 and Cherry Lane 14.
Having spoken to a number of suppliers at the Four Oaks Trade Show, there is a great deal of optimism about the future.
It will be interesting to watch Dobbies, Blue Diamond and the British Garden Centre Group integrating the Wyevale garden centres, investing in the infrastructure of buildings and improving the garden centre retailing.
If Bicester garden centre is anything to go by following its acquisition by Blue Diamond where we understand that it took £90,000 on Easter Monday following a refurbishment and a re-stock, with the staff being incredibly excited and motivated, then customers are in for a brilliant surprise.