Business support funding keeps garden centre group trading despite being forced to close

May 1, 2020

A family-owned garden centre group which celebrates its half-century this year is continuing to trade through the coronavirus crisis after securing funding from Barclays under the government’s business support scheme.

Whitehall Garden Centres, which has its headquarters at Lacock, near Chippenham, was forced to close its three outlets at what would have been a peak time in the horticultural calendar due to the lockdown. 

Not being able to trade during the Easter break had a particularly devastating effect on income at the firm. Its Lacock site attracts thousands of visitors a week – from diehard gardeners to green-fingered beginners.

The business, which was founded in 1970 and is now owned and run by the fourth generation of the Self family, has also diversified in recent years to become a leading visitor destination in its own right with farm shops, a Christmas grotto, ice rink and a pet and aquatics centre.

The firm also owns and operates Whitchurch Garden Centre in Norton Lane, Bristol, and Woodborough Garden Centre, near Marlborough.

It is now managed by Peter and Claire Self and their daughters and employs more than 275 people. Total visitor numbers are more than half a million a year.

The funding, under the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) will enable the business to meet its working capital requirements.

Having been forced to close its doors, it has since launched an online offering to give expert gardening advice during the lockdown. It has also donated unused spring bedding plants to local schools and organisations supporting NHS staff.

Managing director Peter Self said: “Our sincerest thanks must go to Barclays for the speed and efficiency with dealing with our application, from presentation of our business plan to drawdown was only six working days, a credit to all involved.

“Being supported at this critical time has given us the confidence to plan for our future and gave us funds to pay our colleagues and suppliers, enabling the management team to focus on how we can best service our loyal gardening customers, with our online home delivery and click collect services, both now being expanded at pace as part of our future offering.”

Barclays Bath relationship director Martin Crook added: “This is a business that we have worked closely with over a number of years and when the request came in for support I was determined to help as quickly as possible.

“Horticulture, like many other sectors in the current climate, is finding trading conditions really tough and it’s vital that we support where we can. This, coupled with the strength of the management team, has enabled us to respond quickly to this request and to provide the required funding within days.”




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