Close

We've updated our personal data policies and Fair Processing Notice and you can read them here.

Buying or selling a business? Contact our team +44 (0) 20 7227 0700
Search for a business Search for a business
03 March 2020 | Retail

Deal of the Year – Wyevale Garden Centres (WGC)

We are delighted to have been shortlisted for the Property Awards 2020

Sign up & receive email alerts Sign up now

The Property Awards 2020

The Property Week event is the UK’s leading and most prestigious annual awards dedicated to the full spectrum of the commercial property industry, celebrating excellence in commercial property.

So why has Christie & Co been shortlisted along with some of the biggest names in the property industry?

The true collaboration between Terra Firma Capital Partners, the Wyevale Management Team, Addleshaw Goddard and Christie & Co was key to the success of the project.

We had a fantastic team with complementary skillsets from all parts of Christie & Co who were in daily contact with the client and external advisors.

The last deals completed around 20 months from the date Christie & Co was appointed by Terra Firma to market all 145 Wyevale Garden Centres (Project Douglas).  

We carefully designed a marketing campaign that reached over 60,000 people from our extensive global data base promoting an aggregate guide price of c.£444 million.

57 individual transactions were brokered by optimising our UK and international network. 3,246 non-disclosure agreements were processed, and we managed a mammoth 817 unconditional offers, exceeding the aggregated asking price.

Why was the deal so ground-breaking?

‘Project Douglas’ was a landmark deal not only in the garden centre and horticulture sector, but it was also the first of its kind for several reasons:

  • We significantly added value to the modest enterprise value of the business which had been tested to a limited degree ‘behind closed doors’ within financial circles.
 
  • The real estate portfolio of 145 freehold and leasehold properties across England & Wales had a number of interesting alternative use angles.
 
  • WGC was by far the biggest garden centre operator in the UK with 146 garden centres, the next biggest was Dobbies who at the time operated 34. 
 
  • Private Equity rarely makes the bold move to ‘break up’ such a significant portfolio with such importance in a particular sector.
 
  • It resulted in the most expensive garden centre transaction ever as Woodcote Green sold for close to its guide of £33million.  

The enterprise value based on aggregate profitability was massively enhanced through a carefully choreographed and orderly exit strategy that leveraged the full market to achieve optimum pricing.

A complex process and challenges we met

The process proves that an orderly offer of business assets through open marketing can significantly enhance proceeds when compared to a corporate deal.

The sheer scale of interest we achieved was made only possible by offering all sites individually, in sub-groups or as a portfolio. The challenges of processing 3,246 NDAs and 817 unconditional offers were met by embracing Christie & Co’s IT capabilities and marketing team. 
 
The necessary competitive tension created an average of six acceptable offers per property. This helped the Christie & Co team to keep deals firmly on track.
 
The sell side teams careful communicated common messaging to staff, suppliers and other third parties to keep the business alive and well throughout the sale process. 

Funding

Most deals were debt funded, supported by valuations undertaken by fellow professionals.  Some secured lending was sourced by sister company Christie Finance who were able to quickly react to the needs of buyers. Other buyers used their existing facilities and a few deals were cash funded - particularly where developers were involved.
 
Some ground rent strip funding was employed by large scale operators backed by real estate investors.  Several subsequent traditional sale and leaseback transactions were reported after the initial vacant possession deals had been announced.

What impact has the sale had?

We have already experienced an increase in garden centre activity; particularly refinancing and an associated upsurge in valuation instructions as owners look to take advantage of improved values. This will enable either crystallisation through disposal, creation of a new raft of landlords or simply asset improvement through business development plans.
 
Throughout the process members of the Christie & Co team received many compliments on how professionally the process was managed – often from other agents and advisers.

Former CFO & CEO Anthony Jones was kind enough to say the following about Christie & Co, regarding our work throughout the process:
“I have no hesitation in recommending Christie & Co to anyone in the Gardening sector. Their team were integral to the success of our sale process (Project Douglas). They were collaborative from day one providing well founded and thoroughly researched initial advice and guidance that proved to be a strong foundation for the process. The initial marketing campaign was extremely well-planned and delivered buyer interest levels that surpassed all expectations with multiple interest on most sites. Their skill set also helped the wider project team identify and work through several complex property issues and get transactions over the line. Having a regional network helped when we needed someone local to represent the client and their Finance division also came in useful on a few deals. They are a great team who really know their stuff and ultimately became a key part of our team...”.

If you discuss how to maximise the value of your business, call us on 020 7227 0759.
 

 Steve Rodell MRICS

 Managing Director Retail

 T: 020 7227 0759
 E: steve.rodell@christie.com