Date: 16 March 2005
Originally published in: Manchester Online website (UK)
Written by: Louisa Nesbitt
Garden centre chain Wyevale today said it had recruited Eighties pop icon Kim Wilde in the battle to win more customers. The company, which has 114 centres in the UK, said a Christmas advertising campaign featuring the former pop star was so successful it had decided to make her the “face of Wyevale” for 2005. The singer, who has ditched the microphone for a new career as a garden designer, will attend the relaunch of new centres, front a newspaper campaign and pen her own gardening column.
The moves were announced as the firm revealed that non-gardening ranges such as pets and gifts had contributed to an improved annual sales performance. These areas of the business, as well as Wyevale’s restaurants, had helped reduce the firm’s dependency on the British weather.
Although pre-tax profits fell to £15.1m in the 53 weeks to January 2, from £20.5m last time, this was due to a £4.5m hit from the closure of centres. Sales rose 1.3 per cent to £192.5m during the year. The Hereford-based company said the sales improvement had continued into the new financial year with like-for-like sales 9.5 per cent higher in the nine weeks to March 6. The company is carrying out a review of its strategy that could see it speed up the sale of underperforming sites.