Endsleigh Garden Centre put on sale by multi-millionaire owner

Plymouth’s popular Endsleigh Garden Centre has been put on sale by the moneybags tycoon whose firm only bought it less than five years ago – and it could sell for millions of pounds.

The garden centre, on the A38 just outside Plymouth, employs about 100 people, and has a restaurant.

It is one of 145 garden centres being sold by Terra Firma, the private equity company owned by Guy Hands, Britain’s 455th richest person with a £265million fortune.

Terra Firma is shedding the entire Wyevale Garden Centre business, which snapped up Endsleigh in late 2013, either as one package or sliced into individual garden centre sales.

The portfolio also includes garden centres in St Ives, St Austell, Bude, Barnstaple, and Torbay.

They could go for as little as £200,000 for a leasehold interest, or up to £35million for the freehold of an entire centre.

The cost of buying the whole caboodle has not been announced, but Terra Firma paid £276million for garden centre business TGCG in 2012.

It has since added lots of other garden centres, including Endsleigh, one of seven Garden & Leisure Group centres it swallowed in 2013.

Terra Firma has appointed specialist property adviser Christie & Co to market the Wyevale Garden Centre estate, which includes horticultural centres and “major leisure destination venues”.

The sites range in size from one to 108 acres and are described as “profitable standalone business opportunities”.

Wyevale Garden Centres has invested “significantly” in the business and the majority of sites have restaurants and cafes, many with children’s soft play areas.

Christie & Co said there are extensive opportunities to enhance the existing operation by introducing further income generating activity on each site.

It said out-of-town garden centres are seen as more resilient to the retail meltdown which has hit city centre shops, with Ikea, for example, recently opening on the edge of Exeter.

However, Wyevale Garden Centres reported a £120million loss in 2016, the most recent results filed at Companies House.

Steve Rodell, managing director – retail at Christie & Co, said: “The garden centre market is vibrant and on an upwards trajectory.

“In recent years garden centres have become much more than places just to buy plants, evolving to become wider leisure and retail destinations with play centres for children, restaurants and other activities designed to improve the shopping experience.

“These attractive consumer fundamentals with multiple income streams mean the market is likely to be resilient to headwinds experienced by the high-street.

“The sale of Wyevale Garden Centres presents a unique opportunity for a wide range of buyers from financial institutions, existing garden centre operators, independent business people and entrepreneurs to buy well invested local garden centres within the price range of £200,000 to £35million.

“Financial institutions will be attracted to a strong business that is a platform for consolidation of the sector.

“Entrepreneurs will be particularly attracted into a market with the prospect of enhancing an already resilient income stream by adding their own profitable activities into under-utilised ancillary space which has a multitude of potential uses.

“Current garden centre operators seeking to compliment or improve their existing business will also be attracted to the disposal, as opportunities of this quality rarely come to the market.”

Roger Mclaughlan, chief executive of Wyevale Garden Centres, said: “This investment provides a fantastic opportunity for new long-term owners looking to enter the market and existing operators seeking to expand their current operations.

“Wyevale Garden Centres has been transformed beyond recognition over the last few years, and our customers are responding really positively to all the improvements we’ve been making, with improved ranges, high stock availability and exceptional garden centre standards.

“Our improved business has engaged colleagues and put customers at the heart of what we do.

“Thanks to the hard work of all of our colleagues, we remain firmly on track to grow our sales and profits this year.”

 

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