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Dobbies sales top 100m

DOBBIES, the Tesco-owned garden centre chain, will continue its expansion drive despite a guarded outlook after booking a sharp rise in full-year profits.

Newly filed accounts for the Midlothian-based firm, which is controlled by the country's biggest supermarket following an ownership battle with Scots tycoon Sir Tom Hunter, reveal it made an operating profit of just over £9.8 million in the 12 months
ADVERTISEMENTto 28 February.

That compares with £8.9m in the 16 months to the end of February 2009 - the different time frames reflecting changes to the group's reporting period.

Dobbies announced in April that annual sales had passed £100m for the first time, with the result - £103.8m - confirmed by the Companies House accounts. Pre-tax profits, meanwhile, rose from £5.3m to £9.8m.

At the time of the spring sales update, chief executive James Barnes laid out ambitious growth plans for Dobbies to be a £1 billion business with 100 stores in the next ten years.

The group, which was founded in 1865 and has 25 outlets across Scotland and England, has expanded its core horticultural offering over the years to encompass home and garden departments including furniture, pets, toys and gifts.

Writing in the annual report, the directors said they remained "cautious with regard to the macro consumer environment in the short term". But they added: "The prospects for the continued growth of the group remains optimistic, particularly given consumer demographics and rising environmental consciousness, combined with new store opportunities and the resultant economies of scale."

The report noted that planning permission had been obtained for a number of new sites including Braehead, near Glasgow, and Livingston.

During the year, Dobbies' headcount rose by almost 90 to 2,074, although overall staff costs fell to £24.8m from £29.2m a year earlier.

Also disclosed in the annual accounts was the remuneration of the highest-paid director - most likely Barnes - at £317,000, compared with £346,000 in the pervious 16-month term.

On a pro rata basis, Dobbies' annual sales were up by 9 per cent from £95m.

Takings were boosted by a full-year contribution from a new store in Southport and Sandyholm Garden Centre, acquired in April 2008. There was also several months' contribution provided by a new outlet in Shepton Mallet, which opened in June last year. Stripping out those factors, sales rose by 6.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis.

Source : Scot Reid - The Scotsman

06 August 2010
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