Arboretum maintains momentum despite post-Covid normalisation

Garden centre brand has expanded into Dublin in past year and is investing heavily in redevelopment of Kilquade site

Fergal Doyle (r), co-owner of Arboretum with his brother, chief executive Barry Doyle (l), said he is "super happy" with the garden centre's performance last year. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

The co-owner and chief operating officer of garden centre brand Arboretum said he is “super happy” with the group’s performance in the year to the end of January with revenues well ahead of pre-Covid levels despite a slight decline from the previous year.

After-tax profits at Arboretum Garden Centre, the company behind the group’s flagship operation at Leighlinbridge in Carlow, topped €864,000, down from €1.4 million in the 12 months to the end of January 2022, recently filed accounts show.

Revenues declined modestly from close to €8.9 million to €8.7 million as Covid spending habits normalised somewhat in the year, said Fergal Doyle, co-owner of Arboretum.

He said the most recent set of results compare with “a gangbusters year” in 2021 in which revenues jumped €6.6 million in 2020 to €8.9 million.

READ MORE

“The year before would have been the remnants of the Covid spending around high ticket items, such as furniture and barbecues,” he said. “That was the same for everybody else as well.”

Overall, he said the performance was pleasing, particularly given that there were additional costs associated with “scaling” the business ahead of the opening of Arboretum’s new Urban Green outlet above Chapters Bookshop on Parnell Street in Dublin, which opened to the public in May.

The group, which is owned by Mr Doyle and his brother, chief executive Barry Doyle, has recently broken ground on the €4 million redevelopment of its site in Kilquade, Co Wicklow. Once completed in spring 2024, the 2,390 sq m (25,726 sq ft) garden centre will span six acres, incorporating a food hall, a fashion section and an expanded health and wellness department.

Having increased staffing levels in Carlow by 20 per cent to 97 in the year, Mr Doyle said there were costs associated with expanding the group’s headcount. Recent accounts for Arboretum Kilquade also indicate a jump in staffing levels from 25 to 34 in the year to the end of January.

He said the market for labour has been “challenging” but that this is a global phenomenon with “massive crises” unfolding in catering and retail in Australia and elsewhere. “So it is difficult but I am we’re super happy that we’re not sitting on our hands in terms of innovation, looking for new products and jumping back into that normality [ ...] There is a marketing element to the Urban Green space as well, putting ourselves into Dublin, and then obviously the development in Kilquade so despite all the kind of stuff happening out there, we’re very confident that we’re doing the right thing and spending the money at the right time.”

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times