March 8 2014 Latest news:
Friday, February 22, 2013
The Highway Garden and Leisure business is to be bought by Norfolk retailer Roys of Wroxham in a multi-million pound deal following the retirement of its founder, Joe High.
It is hoped the contracts will be signed on Monday, with Roys taking over the running of the garden centre and nursery in Framingham Pigot on the A146 Beccles Road.
However, with the final details of the undisclosed deal still being thrashed out, the date could still slip back.
Under the deal, Mr High and his wife Janet are expected to remain living in their home on the 18-acre site, but will have no involvement in the business.
It is thought that the existing Edinburgh Mill concession and restaurant and coffee shop will also be staying. Highway was put up for sale in November and specialist agents Quinton Edwards said it quickly attracted a lot of interest from potential buyers.
The Berkshire-based agents previously advised in the £276m sale of the national chain Garden Centre Group, which includes Blooms of Bressingham, to the private equity group Terra Firma, owned by entrepreneur Guy Hands, last March.
No details of the sale price have been released and neither party wanted to comment publicly until the deal had gone through.
But Simon Quinton Smith, from Quinton Edwards, said Highway was a “most amazing opportunity”.
“Joe has worked there for 50 years and took it a long way, but it has a long way to go,” he said.
“Hopefully Roys of Wroxham will take it to the next level, both in terms of increasing turnover and profitability.
“One day it will be trading and run by Joe and the next day it will be run by Roys. The customers shouldn’t see any change at all, until Roys decide what they are going to do with it.
He added: “It should be the ‘killer’ garden centre, both in terms of its 18-acre size, the fact that it is fronting a main road and that Norwich is right on the doorstep. Selling the average garden centre in East Anglia is difficult because there isn’t a lot of interest,” he said. “But Highways was very special. We had many bids and a couple of people wanted to come back and rebid, but we didn’t let them as we had already agreed to do it. We have strong back up if it didn’t happen.”
A “shoo-before-shooting” policy to control pigeons has been described by a leading Norfolk farmer as “completely bonkers”.