The Directors of Squire’s Garden Centres are pleased to report that they have just filed their annual accounts at Companies House for the year ending 31 July 2020. The accounting period spanned pre-pandemic, the first lockdown and subsequent high demand when garden centres were permitted to open again in May 2020.
Unsurprisingly, given the period of closure during the peak spring trading window, total turnover dropped by 7% to £53.0m. Trade had been strong during the financial year up until closure. After lockdown sales (particularly in plants and core gardening) were very strong, with a higher average spend. We certainly believe we secured new customers, as more people were at home and wanted to enjoy gardening and spending time in their gardens. It is now our job to encourage these customers to build on their enthusiasm for horticulture and their outside space.
Turnover was boosted by the addition of our newly-acquired Centre at Wokingham (Heathlands), which joined the Group on 1 August 2019. The performance of this site has exceeded expectations. Our Centre at Frensham benefited from the newly refurbished Food Hall which opened shortly before lockdown and (as a stand-alone food shop) was able to continue to trade while the rest of the Centre was closed. During the year we completed a major extension of the shop and Café Bar at Milford. Garden Centre sales have continued to be very healthy in our new financial year.
Reopening our Café Bars from early July was more challenging. As in the garden centres, we placed safety at the forefront, but we are conscious that this area of our business continues to face considerable headwinds. Café Bar sales dropped substantially (by 33%).
In common with many businesses the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme proved crucial for us, enabling us to retain our workforce during the closure period.
Our underlying profit before tax dropped by 42% to £2.2m (LY: £3.7m). Although no business takes pleasure in seeing its profit drop, we believe this is a very good result, given the events of 2020, and one which reflects a huge amount of hard work on the part of our teams.
Sarah Squire, Chairman of Squire’s, said; “I cannot stress enough how significant the support, commitment and hard work of our colleagues has been as we navigated the period of closure and beyond. So many people have come up with innovative ideas, solved problems and taken on tasks outside their usual remit with willingness, determination and great good humour. Our suppliers have also been incredibly helpful while facing not inconsiderable challenges of their own.”