// Wyevale sells the last of its near-150 garden centres to British Garden Centres
// This means Britain’s biggest garden retailer, which dates back to 1932, is no more
// Wyevale stores taken over by 57 different operators, including Dobbies & Blue Diamond, since sales process started May 2018
Wyevale has confirmed that it has sold its remaining batch of stores, meaning the garden retailer’s business has come to an end.
The last batch of Wyevale stores were bought by British Garden Centres last month.
Since it launched a sales process in May last year, Wyevale has sold all 145 of its garden centres via 57 separate transactions.
It said that than 90 per cent of its former stores continue to trade as garden centres, while more than 95 per cent of staff have kept their jobs while transitioning to new operators.
- Wyevale sells Bournville site to British Garden Centres
- Wyevale announces sale of John Browns Garden Centre
- Terra Firma seeks to offload Wyevale Garden Centres
A total of 37 Wyevale garden centres were sold to Dobbies across three separate transactions, 37 centres were sold to British Garden Centres in six transactions, 16 centres sold to Blue Diamond in three transactions, and five centres sold to Hillier.
Wyevale launched its sales process after a huge investment scheme saw it overhaul its business and return to profitability, which in turn helped to attract the interest of new owners.
The garden retailer, which dates back to 1932, also said it enjoyed an “exceptional” final spring season with record-breaking sales, and continued to trade favourably in its final few months as a trading business despite the backdrop of the final stages of the sale process.
Wyevale confirmed that the last transaction with British Garden Centres will now “trigger an orderly closure” process over the coming months.
This will include finalising all payments and obligations due to Wyevale’s key stakeholders, which the retailer said will continue to be met in full.
It’s estimated that the sale of Wyevale’s stores has given its private equity owner Terra Firma an estimated £450 million.
“In May 2018 we said it was the right time to launch a sales process for [Wyevale] following a large number of improvements made to the business under the new leadership team, resulting in our centres looking and performing better than ever,” chairman Justin King said in a statement.
“Our focus was on seeking new long-term owners for the centres and running the process in a way which protected and supported all our stakeholders, including [Wyevale] colleagues, while maximising returns for our shareholder.
“I am delighted that 16 months on we have succeeded in that goal with the vast majority of centres and colleagues remaining within the sector and customers now benefitting from a wider choice of garden centre operators.
“I would particularly like to thank Anthony Jones, our COO and his team for managing a complex disposal process with skill and dedication whilst maintaining a forensic focus on operations and trading, which has enabled a strong performance during key periods.”
Wyevle chief operating officer Anthony Jones said: ““I am extremely proud that the outcome of the sale means over 90 per cent of the centres sold will remain within the sector, and over 95 per cent of garden centre colleagues will transfer to garden centre operators.
“This result could not have been achieved without the tenacity of our teams, all of whom have repeatedly gone ‘over and above’ to achieve positive outcomes.
“The wide array of changes made to the business over the last three years have paid off – our centres have looked better than ever during the sale process and our customer satisfaction measures reached record highs.
“These improvements led to overwhelming interest from established garden centre operators and the ultimate success of the sale process.”