Belfast Telegraph

Gardman still part of gardening landscape after sale to Westland

Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

A Co Tyrone horticulture business has acquired a gardening product firm for an undisclosed sum.

Westland Horticulture in Dungannon, the name behind seeds brand Unwins and Peckish bird seed, has acquired Gardman Group out of administration.

Gardman had been owned by private equity group Rutland Partners, which also owned electrical retailer Maplin Group before it collapsed into administration earlier this year.

Westland has bought all trading assets, stock, infrastructure and Gardman brands, which include Cole and Bright, Grow It, Moulton Mill and Gardman Wild bird care.

Rutland Partners said the business had struggled to recover from a fire which destroyed a warehouse in Daventry. While progress had been made in rebuilding the firm, Rutland said it had required new investment.

Rutland partner Ben Slatter said "all jobs" were being transferred. According to its most recent accounts, Gardman Ltd had 206 staff.

Westland already has around 500 employees in Dungannon and other sites. It had annual sales of £130m in 2017 and pre-tax profits of £5m.

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Edward Conroy, managing director at Westland, said: "We have always believed that Gardman is an important part of the gardening landscape and we are committed to maintaining this for the long term."

It's another acquisition for Westland, which has also taken over plant food and compost firm William Sinclair.

Mr Conroy said Gardman was "fundamentally a strong business".

"It is imperative that in the coming days we keep our lines of communication open with customers and stakeholders alike," he added. "Westland is focused on delivering a strong future for Gardman categories which can only thrive from being part of the Westland family."

For now, it's very much business as usual"

Belfast Telegraph