A GREEN-FINGERED couple who spent over 25 years cultivating one of the region’s best known garden centre chains have sold their firm to Scotland’s richest tycoon.
Newcastle couple Peter and Angela Barratt have sold the Peter Barratt’s chain to Wyevale Garden Centres, owned by entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter.
The business, which has annual revenue in excess of £20m, will retain the Peter Barratt’s brand name at its three centres in Gosforth, Newcastle, Beverley in East Yorkshire and Stockton.
Wyevale was unable to confirm yesterday whether the takeover would result in job losses or job creation at the Peter Barratt’s centres which employ around 400 people.
Peter Barratt, 52, said he was too young to retire but planned to take a well-earned break before eventually making a return to the business world.
He also said he was unlikely to make a new foray into the garden centre industry.
He said: “The takeover offer came out of the blue but we knew the market was consolidating, with the Tesco takeover of Dobbies, so we had to sit back and evaluate where the market was.
“The business wasn’t getting any smaller, we were looking to acquire more centres and we were at the forefront of the market.
“Angela and I want to take some time out but after that we’ll be looking to pursue other business interests but it’s unlikely to be in the garden centre sector.”
Sir Tom, who sold his Sports Division retail empire for £290m in 1998, bought Wyevale 15 months ago for £445.1m through his West Coast Capital investment arm.
He has since strived to build his garden retail empire into the market leader and last month lost out to Tesco in his bid to acquire garden centre giant Dobbies.
Earlier this month the tycoon completed the £15m acquisition of Somerset-based Sanders Garden World.
Sir Tom’s latest acquisition is another major step for Wyevale in extending its presence across the country.
Wyevale chief executive Barry Stevenson said: “We’re delighted to be the new owners of Peter Barratt’s and we’ve been a great admirer of the business for a long time as they are some of the most successful centres in the UK.”
Since its launch in the early 1980s Peter Barratt’s has become an institution among North-East gardeners. The company opened its first centre outside the region when it took over a purpose-built, six-acre site in Beverley, near Hull.
Peter Barratt’s was advised on the takeover by Newcastle law firm Ward Hadaway.