Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

Morrisons to make a move for Garden Centre Group

Published: 3 October 2011
Grocer named as one of several interested parties who have requested sale documents for the former Wyevale chain after it was put up for sale by Lloyds last month.
Morrisons to make a move for Garden Centre Group
While the Garden Centre Group this morning refused to comment on the sale or any of the interested parties, a report on This is Money has named Morrisons as one of a number of firms who have expressed interest in the garden retail chain over the past few days. Also listed were private equity groups Bridgepoint and Duke Street Capital.

The UK's fourth biggest supermarket chain, Morrisons looks set to venture into the garden retail market, having already announced in April that it would roll out garden centre products across 30 of its stores.

With 131 centres in the Garden Centre Group portfolio, the move to buy would put Morrisons in direct competition with rival grocer Tesco, which acquired the now 26-strong Dobbies garden centre chain in 2007.

It is said to be the third time Morrisons has looked to take on the Garden Centre Group - considering an acquisition in 2005 and then again in 2006

Following the news that GCG was up for sale, rumours were rife in the press that Tesco would make a move to buy the group. However, several reports now suggest Tesco is out of the picture.

Among the other interested parties named are PE firms Bridgepoint, which owns Hobbycraft and Pret a Manger, and Duke Street Capital, which operates value retailer The Original Factory Shop.

Offers for the Garden Centre Group are expected to fall shy of the £300m mark. The group, then Wyevale, was acquired by Sir Tom Hunter's investment vehicle West Coast Capital in 2006 for £445m. It then fell under the control of the Bank of Scotland, part of the Lloyd's group, in a debt-for-equity swap in 2009 after major stakeholder the Baugur Group went into administration.

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