Tesco-owned garden centre group Dobbies has hired Michael Hughes, former general manager of operations for Australian grocer Coles, to help drive its business.

Hughes joins this month as retail operations director to help Dobbies achieve its target of creating a 100-store chain with £1bn of sales. At present it has 29 stores.

Before joining Coles in 2010, Hughes had spent most of his career at Asda, in roles including regional operations manager and head of new business operations.

Dobbies reported pre-tax profit up from £9.7m to £9.9m in the year to February 28. Total sales were £112m, up 8% on the previous year. Like-for-likes were down  0.8%, “reflecting a difficult winter trading period”, the retailer said.

Stores opened in the year included Shepton Mallet, Somerset, Aberdeen, Lisburn in Northern Ireland and Braehead, near Glasgow.

Hughes was placed at Dobbies by headhunter Anthony Gregg Partnership.

Tesco bought Dobbies in 2007 for £155.6m after a drawn-out battle for control with entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter.

With Tesco as its parent company, Dobbies has been able to make efficiency cost savings through enhanced purchasing power, according to Retail Week Knowledge Bank.