Private equity firm Terra Firma Capital has put Wyevale Garden Centres up for sale, Retail Week can reveal.
The retailer, which swung to a £117.8m pre-tax loss in 2016, said it is open to all offers, including a piecemeal sale or a single suitor for the 145-store chain.
Terra Firma, owned by tycoon Guy Hands, has drafted in Christie & Co to seek potential buyers. It bought the garden centre chain in 2012 for £276m.
Wyevale chief executive Roger Mclaughlan – former boss of Toys R Us UK – told Retail Week that it is too soon to put a value on the company, but said he is confident the process will generate “a huge amount of interest from diverse parties”.
Despite the “backdrop of retail blues”, Mclaughlan deems it a good time to market the chain following its “record” trading over the May bank holiday.
Warm weather and in-store improvements drove a “spectacular” performance in May, Mclaughlan said, predicting the month will be “the most profitable” in Wyevale’s history.
He conceded that the year got off to a challenging start, with sales impacted by the Beast from the East, but said he is confident that the business will deliver sales and profit growth this year.
The garden centre chief added that the firm’s turnaround plan is at an advanced stage with the business in “much better shape than it was a couple of years ago”.
Mclaughlan insisted that, for now, it’s “business as usual” with the Wyevale management team “focused solely on delivering a successful summer”.
The garden centre firm attributed spiralling losses in 2016 to additional rental expenses from sale and leaseback transactions and the impact of the national living wage.
Hands secured a £100m refinancing deal for Wyevale with Hayfin and Barclays in September last year to help shore up the business.
In a statement, Wyevale chairman Justin King said: “The improvements made by the new leadership team at Wyevale Garden Centres supported by 6,000 dedicated colleagues, means that now is the right time to seek new, long term ownership for the business.”