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Dobbies to plough 30 into three new Scottish Centres

GARDEN centre operator Dobbies plans to create 400 jobs in Scotland this year with a £30 million investment in three new sites. The firm has already invested more than £20m in two new Garden Worlds at Braehead in Renfrewshire and Livingston, West Lothian - both due to open in the next six weeks.

Dobbies has also gained outline planning permission for a store in East Kilbride, which would account for a further £10m investment. A full planning application has already been submitted. A total of about 250 jobs are being created at Braehead, which will open on 4 February, and Livingston, opening mid-March. A further 120 roles could be created at East Kilbride, and Dobbies' support centre in Melville, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, will also expand its team this year.

The group, founded by James Dobbie in Renfrew in 1865, has more than 1,000 staff in Scotland out of a 2,000-strong workforce across its 26 UK sites. The Braehead opening marks the retailer's 14th store north of the Border. In 2007, Dobbies became majority owned by retail giant Tesco, but remains headquartered near Edinburgh as an independently run company.

James Barnes, chief executive of Dobbies, said: "We are extremely proud to be a Scottish business and whilst we continue to grow throughout the UK, investment in Scotland has always been an intrinsic part of our business plans." Barnes said that, with the East Kilbride store, the company will be getting close to providing "full coverage" for its Scottish customers, although two further locations are still being considered. "We've had ambitions to open a store in Inverness for a number of years," he said. "It's been part of our project for some time to provide a good coverage in all areas of our homeland." Another Edinburgh store is also a possibility.

"Beyond that, our plans have been for some time to expand south of the Border," Barnes said. The firm has two stores under construction in England, in Kent and at Carlisle. Barnes said Dobbies planned to secure like-for-like growth at its existing stores by increasing its product range and cutting prices. One area that Barnes believes will grow is the "green market", with people increasingly using their gardens to compost, save water or generate energy.

Source : Dominic Jeff - The Scotsman

26 January 2011
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