One of the oldest Hawke’s Bay sites for garden supplies - which has blossomed as a result of Kiwis’ changing societal habits since Covid-19 lockdown restrictions were eased in the middle of last year - has been placed on the market for sale.
The Garden Depot Hastings has been retailing trees, palms, shrubs, and flowers, along with a full selection of pots, soil mixes, fertilisers, seeds, and gardening equipment under various brands for more than 50-years.
The location first traded as Wilson Nursery in the 1960s, before being bought by the Whittaker family and renamed Whittakers Garden Centre, which sold out in the 1990s to branded garden centre operator Palmers. Mitre 10 then bought the business and carried on as Palmers Garden World, which was bought by current owners the Durrant family in the early 2000s and relabeled into its current format.
Under its present structure, The Garden Depot Hastings operates two complimentary businesses – the high-profile retail garden centre, and a contract landscaping entity which sources its products from the site and other nurseries.
Now The Garden Depot Hastings business at 1308 Pakowhai Road, is being marketed for sale for $1.6million plus stock and GST through Bayleys Napier. Salesperson Rodger Howie said the garden centre could be bought as a ‘turn-key’ business.
“The owners would also consider selling just the landscaping division as a stand-alone business separate to the gardening supply arm. The Garden Depot Hastings’ landscaping services include hydro seeding, soil screening, profiling, mulching, weeding, maintenance, and planting - with a strong book of forward orders,” said Howie.
“The landscape division has a wide client base a covering both commercial and residential customers. Their clients have been with them for a long time and have good working relationships.”
Howie said The Garden Depot Hastings operated from a 9,068-square metre freehold premises which encompassed 20 customer car parks to allow trading seven days a week between 8.30am and 5pm.
In the 2019/2020 financial year, The Garden Depot Hastings turned over more than $1.5million in revenue. Total sales for the current financial year were on track to exceed $2million – including several large projects which came on stream in the final quarter of last year.
Building infrastructure at the Pakowhai Road property features a retail shop used to house packaged and perishable stock, and an office, while most of the plants are laid out in neat rows outside – leaving trees, shrubs and flowers free to absorb natural light and rainfall. A well patronized food and beverage establishment – The Potting Shed Café, leased to a food and beverage tenant – also operates from within the 1,055-square metre building.
Adjacent to the public retail areas is a nursery amenity – including plastic houses – where a large portion of The Garden Depot Hastings’ stock is grown to minimise the need for buying stock from wholesale growers.
“As with many parts of New Zealand’s economy, the garden supplies landscaping sector has rebounded strongly from the initial shock of the first Covid-19 lockdown,” Howie said.
“With more time on their hands in the new ‘normal’ life without international travel, many homeowners in Hawke’s Bay have been upgrading their dwellings and improving their gardens with their new-found leisure time. The Garden Depot Hastings has been a beneficiary of this change in societal habits – as evidenced by the company’s robust trading figures over the past 10 months.
“Operating seamless growing, wholesaling, retailing, and landscaping divisions gives The Garden Depot Hastings a vertically-integrated chain for not only generating strong revenues across multiple channels, but above-average margins in all parts of the business.”
Along with the husband and wife owners who work on growing the business, The Garden Depot Hastings’ retail operations employ three full-time, and four part-time staff. Meanwhile, the nursey has one full-time employee, while the landscaping division employs three full-time personnel, with the option of bringing in casual workers for larger projects.
Depending on the seasons, The Garden Depot Hastings’ showroom displays and nursery beds hold between $300,00 - $500,000 worth of stock. In addition, the business has $465,000 worth of plant and machinery to service both the landscaping and garden centre facilities.
“The Garden Depot Hastings business has always taken pride in one of its prime points of difference - employing knowledgeable and passionate staff, who have indicated a willingness to transition that expertise over to any new owner/operator,” said Howie.
“As a specialist plant and garden supplies centre, The Garden Depot Hastings staff have always remained very focused on their product ranges – in effect becoming specialists rather than generalists. That has always been appreciated by the business’s clientele – which come from across Hawke’s Bay to visit the centre.
“On a geographic perspective, The Garden Depot Hastings also benefits from Hawke’s Bay’s generally temperate climate – which allows for gardening activities year-round. That benefit is further compounded by the high proportion of residential dwellings in the Bay sitting on full sites, and lifestyle blocks, rather than the smaller subdivided residential sections and apartments now common in New Zealand’s bigger cities.
Howie said that for a digitally-savvy potential new owner with an eye towards growing revenues through marketing, there was an opportunity for The Garden Depot Hastings to increase its customer reach through the introduction of on-line ordering and delivery services – which could have products trucked out from the Hastings hub to a vast catchment area embracing Wairoa to the north, Taihape to the west, or Waipukurau to the south.
“The Garden Depot Hastings could do for garden supplies what Uber Eats did for food delivery,” he said.