A garden centre firm which has branched out from its East Anglian roots has reported a 23.8pc turnover growth following the easing of Covid restrictions.

Notcutts said the "return of consumer confidence and a surging interest in gardening" had helped deliver a strong trading performance during the year ending February 2022, pushing turnover up to £79.6m.

Operating profits grew to £8.42m, it said, underpinned by "additional sales, strong gross margin and close cost control".

The 2021-22 financial year also saw Notcutts resume its capital development programme at several garden centres including its Suffolk base in Woodbridge.

The family-owned firm also has a Norfolk shop and restaurant in Norwich, and earlier this year it completed the acquisition of Frosts’ Brampton garden centre near Huntingdon - which became Notcutts’ 19th site across the country.

Chairman Bridget McIntyre said: “As we look forward to the year ahead we are delighted to have completed the acquisition of Frosts Brampton in August which is a great addition to our portfolio.

"I’m also especially pleased to see the continuing progress we are achieving in supporting colleagues throughout the business with their personal development and skills training."

Chief executive Nick Burrows said the firm had also completed redevelopment work at Woodbridge and was investing in new IT systems.

“It’s terrific to have completed phase two of our Woodbridge redevelopment project," he said.

"Woodbridge was the first Notcutts garden centre and also the site where it all began for us when the company was originally founded by Roger Crompton Notcutt in 1897.

"A sparkling new entrance, a new canopy with a rainwater harvesting installation, the introduction of wild meadow zones, extended car parking and the addition of a new garden buildings showcase were all part of this project.

"These works have complemented our new restaurant which was completed in March 2020 and our woodland nature walk which we opened in 2019.

“Significantly we have also invested in two new IT systems which are due to go live within our business later this year and will support new efficiencies in our core business and customer relationship management processes.

“Our e-commerce operation has also been strengthened with ongoing system development and the establishment of a new picking, packing, despatch and order management centre based at our Solihull garden centre."