A garden centre near Bournemouth Airport is set to close after the ‘Beast from the East’ dealt a trading blow.
Home and Garden, which owns Plowmans Garden Centre in Christchurch Road, has gone into administration. A buyer is being sought for the business.
Administrators, Mazars LLP, are continuing to trade at the garden centre, as well as seven other sites across the country run by Home and Garden.
Plowmans is holding a closing down sale in the meantime.
Customers told the Daily Echo they would be sad to see the garden centre close. It is well known for being home to the West Parley miniature railway.
Sandra Woon said: “We’ve visited Plowmans over the years and I think it’s a shame it’s closing. But I think it was also a shame when it stopped being independent.
“I think the staff have always been helpful here and interested in what they sold. It was always a bit more down to earth and had a nice, old-fashioned feel.”
John Pride said: “This garden centre is in competition with others around here, so if it closes there won’t be as much competition. Plowmans are a bit cheaper than everywhere else.
We often come down here for a coffee and bit of cake,” he added.
Another customer, who did not want to be named, said: “It’s sad if it has to go – I know there’s a garden centre just opposite but Plowmans provided something for the community – a café and the railway.
“One of the staff members in the cafe told us it was quite sudden and she had no idea why it was closing. I’m more concerned, if it does go, what’s going to be in its place?”
Plowmans, which used to be owned by businessman Vic Plowman, was acquired by Home and Garden in 2015. The group, which has headquarters in Bedordshire, formed in 2013.
Adam Harris, joint administrator, said “unexpected, severe weather conditions at the beginning of 2018 have materially impacted the group’s cash flow”. The ‘Beast from the East’ in March also affected trading.
“Home and Garden is a well-established business with historically strong margins, and would represent a good opportunity for interested parties,” Mr Harris said. “A sale would preserve jobs and provide the best outcome for stakeholders and creditors, and I welcome all enquiries.”
Offers are being invited from interested parties to acquire the business either as single acquisitions or multiple sites.
It is believed that the intention is to trade the garden centres through the next eight to ten weeks while a buyer is sought.