Notcutts recorded another year of profit growth in the year ending February 2020 with operating profit up 13.5% to £1.72m. This followed a 52.5% increase in operating profit on the prior year. Gross margin improved by 1.4% points to 48.9%.
Total sales of £76.1m were up 1.9% despite significant disruption to normal trading patterns as Notcutts continued with its progressive redevelopment and garden centre improvement programme.
Capital expenditure was £9.2m in the year. Restaurant redevelopments were completed at Woodbridge, Cranleigh and Ashton Park. Full centre redevelopments, covering both retail environments and restaurants were completed at Booker, St Albans and Garden Pride (Ditchling). In each of these schemes Notcutts’ trade mark show gardens were included as part of the developments. Two further show gardens were added in Maidstone and Victoria (Pontefract) and a woodland heritage walkway was opened for customers in Woodbridge.
Commenting on these results Chief Executive, Nick Burrows said: “We are pleased with our progress during a year in which we were able to deliver further growth in operating profit. A continued focus on margin and a successful cost efficiency programme helped underpin this achievement. This during a year when we completed further exciting projects to bring customers ever improving experiences in our garden centres. In addition the investment we made in our e-commerce platform has put us in a good position to serve customers through this growing sales channel.”
Burrows was also pleased to have secured planning permissions for future improvement projects at Notcutts’ Oxford, Tunbridge Wells and Solihull garden centres. “We are now well through our planned programme of improvements” he said. “Whilst we have now paused our development programme for a period as we navigate the new challenges of the current coronavirus situation, we hope to recommence further projects when this passes”. Burrows also added “Like others, we have made a number of adjustments to our business model to reflect the current unprecedented situation. We believe these will place us in a good position to gear up again quickly when more normal trading conditions return”.
Notcutts introduced further show gardens and a stunning woodland nature walk in the year. Caroline Notcutt, Vice Chairman, hosted events for customers, partners and local communities at a number of grand opening events. She commented. “These additions continue to showcase Notcutts’ horticultural and design credentials which extend back almost 125 years. They are real wellbeing spaces and as society becomes increasingly conscious of the enriching positive benefits of gardening and being outside with nature we see these as essential elements of our customer experience.” Caroline Notcutt added “We have also continued our work with Thrive to support training for Social Therapeutic Horticulture through the Charles Notcutt bursary”.
During the year Bridget McIntyre joined Notcutts as Chairman. Upon her appointment in January 2020 she commented “Living in Suffolk, I have always been a customer of and admired Notcutts. I am delighted to be able to join the board and work with the team of this great family business.”