An improvement in the weather during May and June after a wet first quarter led to strong trading and enabled us to record a good result for the first half of 2023.

Total sales increased by 20% versus the first half of 2022 with growth of 18% in the garden centres and 33% in the restaurants. Like for like sales growth, excluding the contribution from acquisitions, was also healthy at 11%, with garden centres increasing by 9% and restaurants by 22%.

The Group continues to outperform the market, with our like for like sales growth exceeding both the Horticultural Trades Association and the Garden Centre Association.  Plants, Fashion and Restaurants were particularly strong categories for us.

Like for like garden centre customer numbers increased by 7%, well ahead of the GCA, whilst average spend rose by 1% due to lower Garden Leisure sales following the boom enjoyed during the COVID years. Like for like garden centre stock levels decreased by more than £7m, or 13%, and cash flow was strong.

The Group completed two acquisitions during the period. Beckworth Garden Centre, a leasehold site, was purchased for £5m and fits exactly the Blue Diamond AB1 target demographic. It is located in Mears Ashby in Northamptonshire and has a total turnover of £9.3m, of which over 60% is restaurant and food related (£3.5m catering, £2.0m food sales), which we will develop further whilst significantly growing horticultural and gardening sales. A Blue Diamond clothing department will be added next year and we are targeting total sales of £11m.

Fosseway Garden Centre is a freehold site located in Moreton-in-Marsh with current sales of almost £9m, and was bought for £13m. The site is attractive for its scale and location, and being in the heart of the Cotswolds it has a population that also well fits the Blue Diamond target demographic. We are targeting sales of £12.3m at maturity.

Capital investment of £8m in the first half of 2023 has been predominantly allocated to the redevelopment of Blackdown Garden Centre and the three Van Hage properties acquired in November 2022, which have all been brought up to the Blue Diamond standard. The Van Hages contributed nearly £9m of turnover to the Group during the first half and are expected to make a significantly increased contribution during the second half of the year following their redevelopment. The second half of the year will see further investment in the restaurants at the Van Hages and the refurbishment of Fosseway.

Chairman Simon Burke commented, 'We are very pleased with our trading performance in the first half of the year and the quality of the acquisitions we have made. We remain concerned about the health of the UK consumer given the levels of inflation and interest rates, which must eventually have an impact on spending. We are expecting profit growth to resume this year although it will be more modest than the figures above suggest, given the cost pressures we continue to face, particularly in payroll, higher interest rates and the increase in UK corporation tax to 25%. We are focused on preparing for the impact of the expected peat ban at the end of 2026 and plan to add to our plant nursery capacity in the next 12 months to secure our supply chain.'

Richard Hemans MA FCA C Dir

Group Finance Director & Company Secretary


Direct: 01481 210285