Date: 16 March 2005
Originally published in: The Scotsman (UK)
Garden centre chain Wyevale has enlisted the services of Eighties pop singer 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 star had proven so successful it had decided to make her the “face of Wyevale” for 2005.
The singer, who ditched the microphone for a new career as a garden designer, will attend the relaunch of new centres, and front a newspaper campaign. Wyevale revealed its deal with Ms Wilde as it unveiled a fall in full-year pre-tax profits to £15.1 million, from £20.5m, in the 53 weeks to January 2. The fall was blamed on a £4.5 million hit from the closure of some outlets.
But sales rose 1.3 per cent to £192.5m, helped by non-gardening ranges such as pets and gifts and its garden centre restaurants. The Hereford-based company said the 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. Chief executive Bob Hewitt said improvements made at Wyevale’s latest redeveloped centres were already producing “excellent” year-on-year sales increases. The firm is planning a review of its strategy that could see it speed up the sale of underperforming sites. The review will also focus on three other areas – the acquisition of new sites, the further development of its retail format and on opportunities to realise more from its property portfolio.