A garden centre group in the South West has rebounded during lockdown, with sales up 50% during the peak season, thanks to a six-figure funding package from Lloyds Bank.
The Gardens Group, which owns Castle Gardens in Sherborne, Brimsmore Gardens in Yeovil and Poundbury Gardens in Poundbury, has pivoted its operations over the last twelve months with the support of a £900,000 finance package.
Like all outdoor attractions, the business was gearing up for its peak trading season when it had to close its doors during the first lockdown. The loan relieved some of the pressure on the business and allowed the garden centres to support their staff and suppliers, as well as their long-standing customers – by continuing to trade over the telephone and providing a local delivery service seven days a week.
Mike and Louise Burks founded The Gardens Group when they opened Castle Gardens in 1987 after graduating from the University of Bath with degrees in Horticulture. The business now employs more than 150 people.
Mike Burks, managing director at The Gardens Group, said: “Events over the last twelve months have challenged everything that Louise, myself and the team have worked hard at for over thirty years. The garden centres were closed for a large part of our peak trading season and we’re so grateful for the support we’ve received from Lloyds Bank to allow us to maintain our staff and support our loyal customer base.
“Gardening is really important for mental health and wellbeing and as a business we knew we were part of the solution, to give people across the South West an activity to focus on during lockdown. When I look back, I’m proud of how we were able to continue trading and play our role in supporting people across the community.”
Thomas Cheetham, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “The Gardens Group’s three garden centres are rooted in local communities across the region, and it was only right that they were able to pivot their business and continue trading during the ongoing lockdowns. Mike and Louise have been Lloyds Bank customers for more than 20 years and we’re proud to have supported them through a challenging period and it’s great to see them continue to prosper as we all look forward to restrictions easing in the months ahead.”