TRADING STATEMENT FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2021
The strong trading performance in the first half of 2021 continued into the second half of the year, which enables us to report another excellent financial result for the full year. Our restaurants were open for the whole of the second half and the garden centres benefited from people still travelling less and spending more time and money in their homes and gardens.
Total sales increased by 27% meaning that our annual turnover will exceed £250m for the first time. Like for like sales grew by 25% in the garden centres and 28% in the restaurants. The acquisitions of the remaining 75% of Orchard Park Garden Centre in Dorset and 100% of Mere Park Garden Centre in Shropshire contributed over £3m of sales. Ignoring the distortions of the pandemic in 2020, we once again outperformed the Garden Centre Association when comparing growth between 2021 and 2019.
We have continued to invest in our store portfolio with expenditure of £11m on the planned extension and redevelopment of Newbridge Garden Centre and the refurbishments of Brambridge Park, Cadbury, Melbicks, Sanders, Weybridge and Bridgemere Garden Centres. The restaurants have been upgraded or expanded in most of these stores. We have also opened a central warehouse in Nottingham to optimise our Far East supply chain and expanded the capacity of our Nursery at Bridgemere, which is now the main plant supplier to our Group.
We acquired Mere Park Garden Centre, a freehold property, in November 2021 and plan to invest £0.5m in 2022 as we move the centre towards its target turnover of £5m by 2024. We also purchased Blackdown Garden Centre, another freehold property in Somerset, on 7 January 2022, and will invest £3m in a complete redevelopment of the store, which has the potential to reach a turnover of £8m by 2025. Our debt levels remain very low.
Chairman Simon Burke commented, "The positive trading environment resulting from the pandemic has been even more pronounced in 2021 than in 2020 as people remained at home and in their gardens, whilst shopping trends are shifting away from the High Street. The performance has been outstanding and we will report an exceptional profit for the year. However, we believe that the 2021 performance is unlikely to be repeated as the pandemic recedes and the world normalises in 2022. Given the likely fall in demand, along with pressure on margins from supply chain challenges, increases in wage costs, and inflation in areas such as energy, we are therefore preparing for a more subdued outcome in 2022."
Yours faithfully, Richard Hemans
Claire Williams, who has been a director since January 2019, has not sought a renewal of her contract and left the Board at the end of December. We will make a further announcement about a replacement director in due course and in the meantime, we thank Claire for her contribution during her time with us.
Group Finance Director and Company Secretary