Published: 10:49, 05 June 2018
| Updated: 14:17, 05 June 2018
All of the garden centres in the Wyevale chain have been put up for sale.
The UK's biggest garden centre operator, which has 145 stores nationwide, include outlets in Paddock Wood, Ramsgate, Tunbridge Wells, Chartham, near Canterbury, Hamstreet, near Ashford, and Gillingham.
It has been put up for sale by its owners, private equity company Terra Firma - founded by former Tonbridge school boy Guy Hands.
Terra Firma bought Wyevale Garden Centres (WGC) for £276m in 2012.
Christie & Co, the specialist business property advisor, has been appointed to explore a range of sales options for the business, from a sale of the whole business to individual garden centres.
And that means some of the stores could return to local, independent ownership.
The sale comes at an advanced stage of a turnaround programme for WGC, which has seen significant investment in the core business.
May's financial figures were the most profitable month in the company's history.
Justin King, vice-chairman of Terra Firma and chairman of WGC, said: “The improvements made by the new leadership team at Wyevale Garden Centres supported by 6,000 dedicated colleagues, means that now is the right time to seek new, long term ownership for the business.”
Roger Mclaughlan, chief executive of WGC, added: “Wyevale Garden Centres has 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.”
Christie & Co says offers for the Kent stores range from £200,000 for the leasehold of the Gillingham outlet to £5m for the freehold of its Tunbridge Wells site.
The Hamstreet store is at £1m for the freehold, Chartham £500,000 for the leasehold, Paddock Wood £400,000 for the leasehold and Ramsgate £1.3m for the leasehold.
A spokesman for the property company added: "This is a unique opportunity for independent business people and entrepreneurs to buy well invested local garden centres. Entrepreneurs will be attracted to a market with the prospect of enhancing an already resilient income and the potential to add their own profitable activities.
"These will also be of particular interest to creative buyers.Current garden centre operators seeking to complement or improve their existing business will also be attracted to the disposal, as break up opportunities of this quality rarely come to the market.
"The garden centre market is on an upwards trajectory largely due to demand from families with young children and the baby boomer demographic. 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."