The centres are located at Bicester, Cadbury, Cardiff, Endsleigh, Melbicks, Percy Throwers, Sanders and Weybridge.
WGC chief executive Roger Mclaughlan said: “We’re pleased to have agreed the sale of eight of our largest centres to Blue Diamond, one of the UK’s biggest and most experienced garden centre operators. We would like to thank our great colleagues at these centres, who have been central to our turnaround in the past few years, and wish them well for the next stage of their business’ growth and development under Blue Diamond’s ownership.”
Alan Roper, managing director of Blue Diamond, added: “We are delighted to be acquiring these fantastic centres. Over the next three years we plan to invest £16 million to remodel and transform them into destination centres modelled around our Redfields Garden & Living Centre in Hampshire, and our Blue Diamond Garden and Home store near Nottingham. We look forward to working with our new colleagues across the centres and welcoming them into the Blue Diamond family.”
In separate transactions, WGC has also agreed the sale of two further centres in Alfold and Binfield to Q Developments and Spitfire Bespoke Homes respectively, as well as the sale of a parcel of excess land adjacent to its Beaconsfield centre to Oakford Homes. All three sites are likely to be redeveloped for residential use.
WGC chief financial officer Anthony Jones commented: “These centres were previously identified for potential redevelopment as part of the company’s active portfolio management strategy. We continue to explore all opportunities on non-core centres as part of the ongoing sale process.”
The retailer said discussions on the sale to Blue Diamond and the individual centre sales started before the appointment of Christie & Co to explore offers for all or part of the remaining WGC business and that process is continuing. It noted that it has received a ‘significant number’ of offers for all or part of the remaining WGC business from national, regional and financial operators as well as local entrepreneurs.