Review of 2015 in the Garden Industry

  • Bicester, one of the 8 garden centres bought by Black Rock for £112.5m
  • Charles Notcutt, who died in July

Here is a summary of some of the stories on Gardenforum during 2015. The easiest way to find more details is to use the search box.

William Sinclair

  • The year started with news that the Gem factory at Oswaldthistle was to be sold.
  • Quickly to be followed by a profit warning in January because of falling sales in a competitive market.
  • In March, CEO, Peter Rush left with immediate effect, to be replaced by a turnaround specialist.
  • Shares dropped again in April as the new CX warns of further exceptional costs.
  • In May, Peter Williams, the long standing FD stepped down.
  • At the end of the same month the company said it was confident of long-term success for the business if it was able to raise new funds.
  • At the beginning of June the company announced that sites would close with around 100 job losses as it restructures and consolidates on Ellesmere Port site. At the end of the month its future was said to be uncertain without raising new funds within weeks.
  • On July 31st Sinclair went into administration and was bought by Westland Horticulture. See story.

Scotts Miracle-Gro

  • The year started with the news that Martin Breddy, general manager of the UK, had been axed following Michel Gresnier, president of Scotts International and Barry Sanders, COO of the group in the US. Sheila Hill became head of the UK operations. See story.
  • In May Scotts closed all the brands acquired when Solus went into administration except Chapelwood. UK boss Sheila Hill promised to make Chapelwood number one in the UK within 3 years. See story.
  • Pressure to ban over-the counter sales of Roundup started in June with pressure from a French minister. The matter should have been put to rest by the EFSA decision in November that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans. See story.
  • UK marketing director, Paula Parker, has left as Scotts Miracle-Gro cuts out a layer of management in the UK.
  • In December Scotts Miracle-Gro said it does not make economic sense to invest heavily in its European business and is in discussions with another party regarding a partnership. UK head, Sheila Hill explained Scotts’ new strategy and how it is actively looking at additional investments in Europe. See story.


  • Westland’s Crest Garden links with Toolbank as the wholesaler moves to claim some of the space vacated by Solus.
  • On 31st July Westland bought William Sinclair out of administration (See above) and then explained their plans for the group. See story.
  • Then Westland ran into trouble with conservationists over the continuing extraction of peat at an archaeological site at Mayne Bog in Coole, Co Westmeath.

Other Supplier News

  • Gardman was bought in a management buy-out, led by chairman Jonathan Halford and backed by private equity in June.
  • Shoot, the gardening website, seeking to raise £350,000 new capital from a crowd funding website, gets £500,000 in a month. See story. The company then won £50,000 from MassChallenge UK that rewards entrepreneurial start-ups.
  • Vitax bought Organico Ltd, the manufacturer of 6x and Groworganic. See story.
  • Barbecue supplier, Swiss Grill Limited (07465749) was put into liquidation on 30th of December 2014.
  • Li-Lo Leisure bought Westwoods Global, which supplies garden centres with garden sundries and accessories such as tools, hanging baskets, bird feeders and pet beds.  See story.
  • Sales director David Higginson purchased the entire share capital of Evesham-based New Leaf Plants following Peter Hoddinott’s retirement.
  • Stax announced a new, multi-channel trade centre in Glasgow and a new £1m transactional website. See story.
  • Seed and bulb supplier G Plants moved into new offices and warehousing covering 50,000 ft.² in Blackburn as part of a £600,000 expansion plan.
  • Paris Natar’s Smart Garden Products acquired Outside-in Designs in May.
  • Big losses at Smart Garden were all said to be part of the plan as the company invests in rapid growth, almost doubling sales in 2 years. See story.
  • Bonnington Plastics offered to share its tactics to beat the substitute sellers on Amazon who were costing the company £50,000 a year. See story.
  • The Newey Group confirmed the group’s acquisition of Eagle Plants Ltd. The business would relocate the short distance from Banbury to the Young Plants Limited HQ.
  • In July, Volmary acquired the entire share capital of Delamore, following a partnership deal announced in May 2014.
  • Delamore then purchased the Young Plant business of Botany Bay Nurseries in September. See story.
  • John Woods Nurseries, a buyout from Notcutts Nurseries has been placed in administration in November. See story.


  • The new Percy Throwers Garden Centre opened in March.
  • In June, Wyevale bought Armitage’s Pennine and Birchencliffe garden centres owned by the GCA chairman, Will Armitage, and his parents. See story.
  • Wyevale announced the acquisition, in October, of Sidmouth Garden Centre on the South coast of Devon, bringing their store total back to 150.
  • In the same month the group completed the purchase of Wych Cross Garden Centre at Forest Row in E Sussex, recognised nationally for its rose collection.
  • Wyevale Garden Centres’ new e-commerce website has gone on test in December with a panel of existing customers. It aims to be the best gardening website in the UK.


  • The garden centre group appointed a new chairman, Nicky Dulieu, in January. See story.
  • Charles Notcutt, President of Notcutts Garden Centres died in July.
  • Nick Burrows became the new Notcutts chief executive in September.


  • Plans to develop a joint Tesco/Dobbies store at East Kilbride were abandoned.  There are now no Dobbies stores being developed and there is no indication that the shop within shop concept will be repeated.
  • Comments reported to have been made by Wyevale’s CEO, led to speculation that a sale was imminent. Gardenforum was always sceptical.
  • In December Dobbies revised the value of its assets downwards by £54m causing a loss before tax for the year of £48m


  • In March CEO Stewart Hainsworth left Gardman to return to the drinks industry where he spent most of his earlier career.
  • Sales director Steve Harper left Gardman in August, eight months after joining the company.
  • Gardman announced the appointment of Pete Utting as Chief Executive in November.
  • Richard Carr ex Hozelock and William Sinclair joined Fiskars to lead the company's growth plans as Commercial Director of the UK business.
  • Simon Burke, ex Chairman of Hobbycraft and former CX of Virgin Entertainment is the new chairman of Blue Diamond Group of garden centres.
  • Dennis Espley has picked next April as the time to step down as MD of Squire’s, 30 years after joining the business.
  • Other departures included Food and beverage director Jason Danciger leaving Wyevale Garden Centres and Andrew McIndoe leaving as MD of Hilliers in October; sales director, Steve Harper left Gardman in August after 8 months with the company.
  • In August Klondyke announced that David Yardley would succeed Bob Hewitt as chief executive at the end of 2016, when Hewitt becomes part-time chairman.
  • John Pearson the chairman and co-founder of Burston Nurseries, Burston Rose & Garden Centre and Hertfordshire Fisheries in St Albans died on Saturday 25th July.
  • Andy Royce, garden centre agent based in Bourne died in May.
  • Dave Stafford died in March

Garden Centres

  • BlackRock acquired the freehold of 8 garden centres, whose tenants are Wyevale, Notcutts or Squire’s for £112.5m, from La Salle Investment Management. See story.
  • Blue Diamond acquired Newbridge Nurseries, near Horsham at the end of January.
  • New owners of Tong Garden Centre promised dramatic growth in May.
  • A band of industry veterans came together to form Rosebourne, a vehicle to develop a new style group of food and plant centres and announced it first site. See story. Work started on the new site near Andover in November.
  • Marlows DIY and Garden Store, on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds, was acquired by the Darlington based Con Mech Group.
  • The survival battle by Hare Hatch Sheeplands continued with some hope of a planning reprieve in the local newspapers, although the owners rejected this.
  • Floralands Garden Centre in Nottinghamshire has joined the Homes & Garden Group stable. The sale was a leasehold deal.
  • The National Trust officially reopened Morden Hall Park garden centre in May as a peat free garden centre.
  • In July Yorkshire’s Langlands Nurseries expanded again with the purchase of Garden Style at Rhinegold.
  • New owners re-launched Cranborne garden centre in Dorset as a specialist in unusual plants.
  • Carr Farm Garden Centre in the Wirral opened a restaurant and two new concessions.
  • Home & Garden, a sister company to Chessum Plants, has acquired its 8th garden centre in March despite being formed only last year. See story.
  • Online garden furniture retailer White Stores has opened its first concession at Yarnton Nurseries Garden Centre in Oxfordshire
  • Morden Hall garden centre re-opens as a peat free garden centre, operated by the National Trust. See story
  • B&M, the discounter, is opening garden centres across the country, many in sites vacated by Homebase. See story.
  • Cranborne garden centre, well-known for its old fashioned roses, was re-launched in May.
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