industry news Wyevale sells Heathlands Garden

Centre to Squires Wyevale Garden Centres has announced it has sold Heathlands Garden Centre to Squires. The sale is expected to complete by early August, with WGC continuing to operate the centre until this date. Anthony Jones, chief operating officer at WGC, said: We are delighted to have sold Heathlands Centre to a highly respected operator, and that it will continue to be run as a garden centre. I would like to take the opportunity to thank our colleagues at Heathlands who have been so instrumental in making it the brilliant operation it is today and wish them all the best under new ownership.”

Sarah Squire, Squires chairman, said “We are delighted to welcome Heathlands to Squire’s Garden Centres. As a family business, firmly rooted in south-west London and nearby home counties, Heathlands is an excellent addition to our group. The centre brings us to 16 sites in all. We look forward to working with the team at the centre and really getting to know and understand the local community.”

The most recent sale was of Podington Garden Centre, which was sold to Cherry Lane Garden Centre. Earlier this month Wyevale Garden Centres announced the sale of a further 11 garden centres in four separate transactions to British Garden Centres, The Plant Area Limited (t/a Clandon Park Garden Centre), Coolings Garden Centres and Maidenhead Aquatics.

Christie & Co, the specialist business property advisor is managing the sale process on behalf of WGC. The company has said there still remains the

opportunity to acquire a small group or a portfolio of well performing garden centres located in attractive locations.

Garden centre sales still ahead

despite wetter and cooler May Garden centre sales are 13% up based on the calendar year to May 2019 vs 2018, according to the June 2019 issue of HTA Market Update. Houseplant sales remained strong in May, but sales of garden and outdoor ranges suffered in the wet weather. A wetter and cooler May meant garden centre sales were down on last year for the month of May, however a strong start to 2019 means sales remain up for year to May comparisons. Houseplants saw the highest increase at +22% for the calendar year to May, followed by growing media at +21% and hardy plants +15%. HTA director of membership, Martin Simmons commented: “May 2019 was considerably wetter and colder than May of last year across most of the UK; recording the highest number of rain days and coldest temperatures for the month of May since 2015. The good news is that the strong start we’ve had to 2019 so far has meant that sales are still ahead for the year to date. The extra hours of sunshine we’ve experienced in recent weeks is likely to have had a positive impact in encouraging more people to get back outside to enjoy their gardens and stock up on plants and products.”

This issue looks at garden centre sales, overall market performance and features a trend of the month focusing on the growing number of people working from home and the opportunities this could bring for the garden industry.

Gardening and health experts line up to launch skin cancer campaign

National garden centre chain Notcutts has teamed up with skin cancer awareness charity the Melanoma Fund and leading gardening experts to educate gardeners about the risks of skin cancer, which affects over 15,000 people every year. Established in 2016, the Melanoma Fund’s Watch Your Back! campaign aims to raise awareness of the importance of sun protection and early detection of skin cancer amongst people who spend a lot of time outdoors and are at a higher risk of developing the disease.

BBC Gardeners’ World presenter, Mark Lane, and professor David Stevens, international garden designer and author, are both backing the campaign and attended the official launch at Notcutts Tunbridge Wells Garden Centre. The higher risk of skin cancer in gardeners

GCU July 2019

was exemplified at the event, with melanoma specialists providing free skin health checks for 84 people, with seven referred to their GPs for further investigations.

Caroline Notcutt, vice chairman of Notcutts, said: “At Notcutts we’re passionate about gardening and encouraging people to get outside, but it’s important that gardeners are aware of the dangers of sun exposure and the long-term damage it can cause to our skin. Over 90% of UV rays can also pass through light cloud and cause sunburn, so it’s vital to cover up and apply sunscreen even on overcast days.”

All 18 Notcutts garden centres in the UK are supporting the Watch Your Back! campaign, displaying posters featuring celebrity gardeners and stocking SPF30+ sunscreen, sunglasses and sun hats. | 9

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