Dobbies Garden Centres has reported record £97m sales, 12 per cent up on last year, in part due to surging sales of its ‘Grow Your Own’ produce range. Easter 2009 trade was up 73 per cent on last year, thanks to the later holiday dates and the warm weather.

Sales of £1 million for the Grow Your Own range were up 82 per cent like-for-like against the same period in 2008 across Dobbies’ 24 stores in Scotland and England, with more than 100,000 tomato plants sold in the last two months alone.

Chief executive James Barnes said the positive sales support Dobbies’ immediate expansion plans. The company has an application in progress for a new £8.5 million centre in Aberdeen, due to open in Spring 2010, and a new store at Shepton Mallet, Somerset - the first redevelopment of a Tesco store to a modern garden centre - will open in June this year.

Barnes added: “We have responded to the surge in demand for Grow Your Own by complementing new product with demonstrations, workshops and presentations to our customers and local schools. We have plans to expand the range, which provides customers with real value for money while building on the rise of environmental consciousness.”

Tesco bought Dobbies for £155.6 million in June last year after agreeing to buy acquisition rival Tom Hunter’s stake in the business, ending a long-running three-way ownership battle for the garden centre group.