TRADING STATEMENT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2019
I am pleased to provide a trading update on Blue Diamond Ltd's trading for the year ended 31 December 2019 in advance of the final results that we expect to announce in the middle of May 2020.
- The Group has enjoyed another very successful year in 2019, with the acquisition of seven further garden centres from Wyevale in September, the integration of the nine garden centres purchased from Wyevale in 2018 and a strong performance from the core, pre-Wyevale centres all contributing to exceptional sales growth
Total sales increased by 42% with like for like sales growth, excluding Bridgford and the former Wyevale centres, of 8%. Total sales in the UK rose by 43% with a like for like sales increase of 9%. Total and like for like sales grew by 3% in the Channel Islands. Bridgford consolidated its outstanding result in 2018 by delivering sales growth of 26% in its first full year to record sales in excess of £12m.
The Group once again outperformed the Garden Centre Association. There were good results in all categories, but particularly strong performances in Garden Leisure and Fashion. Our year end debt levels were well within the parameters set by the Board and our lenders.
In September 2019 we took advantage of the opportunity to purchase seven more garden centres from Wyevale for £11m, including the renowned site at Bridgemere in Cheshire. We believe we have bought some excellent assets that will deliver significant returns in the future. We are focused on integrating these centres and plan to spend £2m of capital expenditure on them in the first quarter of 2020 as we prepare for the gardening season. These seven stores contributed sales of just under £5m under our ownership in 2019.
We have spent much time and resource on the integration of the Wyevale centres we purchased in 2018 and I am pleased to report that they have delivered over £50m of sales, with outstanding growth in customer numbers and average spend. We have spent just over £4m redeveloping these sites so far, including £1.8m on Bicester and £0.5m on Cadbury, which have seen sales growth of 72% and 53% respectively. We plan to spend another £10m on these nine sites in the next couple of years to maximise their potential.
In spite of the focus on the sixteen former Wyevale sites, the core business also performed particularly well, with like for like sales growth of 9% in the UK. Customer numbers grew by 5%, with growth in average spend of over 3%. There were notable performances from Redfields, Derby, Newbridge and Coton Orchard.
Chairman Simon Burke commented, "We are delighted once again with the performance of the business. In another demanding year, the team has managed to purchase seven further garden centres from Wyevale, integrate the nine previous acquisitions and still maintain focus on the core business. Against the backdrop of a very weak general retail environment, the Group continues to deliver exceptional results and outperform its industry. The fragility of the UK economy is still a concern, but we are confident that we can continue to deliver robust profit growth from the foundations we have built and the pipeline of new opportunities we have cultivated. I look forward to updating you further on our exciting development pipeline in due course."
Yours faithfully,Richard Hemans
Group Finance Director and Company Secretary