• Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

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A FLOURISHING North East garden centre has secured its long-term future and safeguarded up to 50 jobs after acquiring its Woolsington site as the family firm celebrates four decades in business.

The award-winning Cowell’s Garden Centre, which was established in 1978 by Alan and Mavis Cowell, was left facing an uncertain future with the end of the business’ current tenure drawing closer and the landlord pursuing plans to develop the site for residential housing.

The search to secure a new home for the business, which is now run by co-directors Martin Cowell and Jane Keating, Alan and Mavis’ children, alongside financial controller Darren Woodmass began in 2012 when they first sought guidance from Gordon Brown, a consultant at Gordon Brown Law Firm LLP (GBLF).

With the family still struggling to find a suitable location by late 2017, Mr Brown recommended they put in an offer to the landlord to purchase the site – an offer which was accepted, with the deal having now completed.

Once the opportunity to purchase the site was identified by GBLF, and terms negotiated by Gerald Eve, the garden centre brought in its long-standing accountancy firm, Tait Walker to support GBLF on the deal. With Gordon Brown leading on the legal due diligence, legal deal structuring and documentation, Tait Walker’s associate partner Paul Shields provided strategic and financial advice and arranged the finance, which was provided by HSBC Bank plc, whilst corporate finance expert Chris McCourt had significant input into negotiating the purchase agreement.

Martin said: “Following a long period of uncertainty for the business, we can now call Woolsington our permanent home. We are extremely grateful to our team of trusted advisors at GBLF, Tait Walker and HSBC who all worked seamlessly as a team to help us navigate what was a complicated process. Working in such a collaborative way was integral to ensuring we were able to acquire the site. We are also very thankful to our dedicated team, which has remained loyal to us, as well as the local community who have supported us over the years. 

“We are delighted to have been able to safeguard the future of the business and our employees’ livelihoods as we celebrate four great decades, and we look ahead to the next 40 years, and beyond.

“Securing the site forms a key part of our strategic growth plan which will allow the business to thrive, as we further expand our range of plants and nursery products over the next three to five years, whilst creating new jobs.”

The successful family business, which produces over 60,000 plants per year, has bloomed from its humble beginnings of selling plants and fertilizer in a Kenton Bank Foot post office to being housed in the nine-acre Woolsington site, with three generations of the Cowell family helping the business to grow.

Gordon Brown, consultant at GBLF, added: “I am pleased to have instigated the acquisition of the Woolsington site by the Cowell family. After nearly four decades working in law, this deal epitomises the great pleasure that being a business’ trusted legal advisor can bring.

“When the family came to me for legal advice, they were at a crossroads as to how to secure the future of the business. Last year it became obvious to me that the solution was to seek the acquisition of the freehold, enabling them to safeguard the rights to permanent residency and future investment. Once it had been established that the landlord was prepared to countenance a deal, with the expert assistance of the others in the professional team we quickly achieved the required outcome for the client.

“Having achieved that outcome, Cowell’s Garden Centre’s future success is assured due to their acknowledged commitment to excellence in product and service offerings.”

Paul Shields, associate partner at Tait Walker, added: “Having worked with the Cowell family for many years providing business and financial advice, we were pleased to be able to support with the acquisition of the company’s Woolsington site. Although it was a complex transaction, by working so closely with the team at Cowells, GBLF and HSBC at every stage of the process we were able to deliver the best deal possible for the business.

“This deal gives Cowell’s Garden Centre the peace of mind and flexibility needed to grow the company and bring more jobs to the area, which had they not been able to secure the site, they wouldn’t have been in a position to do. We wish the business a successful future as it invests in its premises.”

Martin Glaholm, relationship manager for HSBC in the North East, said: “We place great importance on supporting local businesses, communities and economies. We are delighted to support a successful, long-standing family business such as Cowell’s in helping them secure a new home for the business and provide the platform it needed to flourish going forward.”

Cowell’s Garden Centre has built up an excellent reputation for offering one of the biggest selection of plants and garden accessories in the North East of England. Its hanging baskets have won gold medals at events such as the Chelsea Flower Show and the business has been awarded the prestigious Garden Centre of the Year Award by the Garden Centre Association as well as the Ruxley Rose Award for best plant area.

For more information on Cowell’s Garden Centre, call 0191 286 3403 or visit www.cowellsgc.co.uk.