The strong performance in the first half of the year continued into the second half, with our non-gardening categories driving sales. The Christmas category was particularly positive, with like for like sales growth of 24% (versus a decline of 4% in the market), following Alan’s decision to set up Christmas earlier and the reinvigoration of the range. 

Total sales for the year increased by 19% with growth of 16% in the garden centres and 38% in the restaurants. Like for like sales growth, excluding the contribution from acquisitions, was also healthy at 9%, with garden centres rising by 6% and restaurants by 24%. Our recent acquisitions Beckworth and Fosseway, along with the Van Hage sites we purchased in late 2022, contributed over £30m of sales in the year.

The Group continues to outperform the market, with our like for like sales growth exceeding both the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) and the Garden Centre Association (GCA). Our sales growth of 9% exceeded inflation and compared with the 2% reported by the HTA.

Comparable garden centre stock levels decreased by nearly £4m, or 8%, mainly in the Garden Leisure and Gardening categories.

Gross margin remained strong thanks to Fashion, Garden Leisure, Home and Plants, where improved purchasing and lower discounting were notable, and the restaurant margin expanded. Margin growth more than offset higher costs resulting from the tight labour market, the higher minimum wage, and early-stage losses in our nursery operations.

We continued our capital investment programme in the second half with further redevelopment in the Van Hage centres and the refurbishment of Fosseway. In 2024, our investment will focus on upgrading existing centres along with a number of solar arrays to reduce our energy spend and carbon footprint.

Chairman Simon Burke commented, 'We are pleased with our performance during 2023, a year that included a successful gardening season, a strong Christmas trading period and the impact of recent acquisitions. We expect to report continued, positive growth in profits when we announce our results in the middle of May. The economic environment remains challenging, and we expect 2024 to be a year of consolidation with our focus on operational performance, the integration of recent acquisitions and the redevelopment of the existing estate. We remain confident we can continue to outperform the market and grow profitably.’


Yours sincerely,

Richard Hemans MA FCA C Dir

Group Finance Director & Company Secretary


Direct: 01481 210285