Couple buy garden centre at auction for £720,000

Gary and Brenda Groucott, who have bought Aylsham Garden Centre. Pic: Wymondham Garden Centre

Gary and Brenda Groucott, who have bought Aylsham Garden Centre. Pic: Wymondham Garden Centre - Credit: Archant

A husband and wife have bought a Norfolk garden centre and are planning to reopen it on October 31.

Aylsham Garden Centre; the venue has been purchased by new owners who plan to repen it on October 31

Aylsham Garden Centre; the venue has been purchased by new owners who plan to repen it on October 31. Pic: EDP - Credit: Archant

Brenda and Gary Groucott, who have been running the Wymondham Garden Centre in Tuttles Lane East for almost 20 years, are reopening Aylsham Garden Centre. They purchased the garden centre, in three acres, situated in Norwich Road, Aylsham at auction back in July. And they’re hoping to appeal to “new gardeners” who have been inspired to do work at home because of Covid.

They also hope to work with the local garden centres, particularly nearby Woodgate Nursery, also situated in Aylsham, rather than see them as competitors.

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But the news comes as a blow for organisers of a local charity who had bid in the auction too for the garden centre – but missed out by £20,000.

Aylsham Garden Centre; the venue has been purchased by new owners who plan to repen it on October 31

Aylsham Garden Centre; the venue has been purchased by new owners who plan to repen it on October 31. Pic: EDP - Credit: Archant

Action Community Enterprises (ACE), which was founded by Lou Gardiner in 2011, provides education and training through a range of projects, courses and study programmes to schoolchildren, young people and adults. It had wanted to buy the garden centre to convert into a training centre.

Mrs Groucott, who is currently working to clean up the garden centre, ready for reopening, said: “We are not going to open all the site but there will be a coffee shop, but there is a lot of work to do. We’ve always been gardeners, growing at home and we started with selling plants at car boot sales and grew the business.

“We hope to complement Woodgate Nursery in Aylsham, rather than be competition, we’ll sell plants but also everything for the garden like tools, and also we are opening a farm shop. We have a new team and Gary and I will go between Wymondham and Aylsham,” Mrs Groucott said.

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“We are very excited, speaking to other garden centres around East Anglia, most have had a really good season, people aren’t travelling abroad, going on holiday and may are at home so we’ve found new gardeners this year, people who have said their garden was a real mess and that they are now sorting it out.”

Gary and Brenda Groucott, who have bought Aylsham Garden Centre. Pic: Wymondham Garden Centre

Gary and Brenda Groucott, who have bought Aylsham Garden Centre. Pic: Wymondham Garden Centre - Credit: Archant

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Lauren Gardiner, manager of ACE, told this newspaper: “It was very sad and there was a lot of emotion at the time. We had £700,000 but couldn’t go any higher. We made a bid into the online auction but just missed out.” She said the organisation was continuing to look for premises.

Aylsham Garden Centre came up for sale with Auction House back in July offering 10,000 sqft of selling space with a plant nursery area and large customer car park.

The garden centre was once owned by a man who was jailed for stealing almost £500,000 from his elderly mother. Gary Woodley, of Norwich Road, Aylsham, was jailed for four years in October, 2018. A court heard that he stole £480,000 from 89-year-old Kathleen Woodley to pay off loans and fund his lifestyle between 2013 and 2016. The court was also told that Woodley, then 66, was likely to lose his business as a result of his actions.