independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Plantagen growth stunted

AS Total Produce subsidiary Uniplumo considers opening its second garden centre under the EasyGarden brand, it will be hoping not to take a leaf out of Norwegian firm's Plantasjen's growing manual.

In 2007, Plantasjen acquired a 50pc stake in Gardenworks, a company with garden centres in Malahide, Co Dublin and Dunleer, Co Meath.

Plantasjen, which trades as Plantagen in Ireland, is owned by private equity giant Apax Partners. It had intended to open 30 additional stores in Ireland by 2017.

However, it hasn't opened any since then. The economic environment is the top reason to have stunted growth, no doubt. And bad summers.

It's possible that a string of abysmal summers that have kept consumers out of their gardens hasn't helped things either.

Grafton Group, which owns the Woodies DIY and Atlantic Homecare hardware and garden centre outlets here saw demand slump a couple of years ago, although things have picked up a bit since for items such as garden furniture.

Meanwhile, the accounts for Gardenworks make for pretty thorny reading. Plantasjen now fully owns the Irish Gardenworks operation, which in 2011 made a near €1m loss.

That year the Irish unit also received €862,000 in funding from the Norwegian parent, on top of €1.4m it received in 2010. It owed the parent firm €5.2m at the end of 2011.

The Viking raiders must really rue the day they invaded Ireland.

Irish Independent

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